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July 4, 2012

Usefulness of Medical Conferences—Reply

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Jody W. Zylke, MD, Senior Editor.

Author Affiliation: Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California (

JAMA. 2012;308(1):31-33. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.6378

In Reply: Mr Cumberworth and colleagues claim that medical conferences are useful for medical students and junior physicians because they can help launch research and clinical careers. Such reward systems are indeed enforced in many countries. They make conferences popular, but sometimes they promote equation of research with massive production of junk. As a result, medical students claim scores of conference abstracts, applicants for purely clinical consultant posts list hundreds of posters in their curricula vitae, and some congress-prolific professors may display their names in thousands of meeting items. Serious science probably has little to do with these “disappointing pieces of over-hyped research, all destined for oblivion,” as Horton described them recently.1

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