The brains behind the conferences

Glasgow will welcome seven neurology or neuroscience-related meetings in 2022, bringing up to 10,000 international delegates to the Scottish city. And it's no coincidence.

The meetings are testament to Glasgow's rich association with neurology, which include several landmark moments in the field, including the first successful brain tumour removal surgery performed in 1879 at Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary hospital.

More recently, in 1974, Professor Bryan Jennett, the University of Glasgow’s first chair of neurosurgery, worked with Professor Graham Teasdale to create the Glasgow Coma Scale, which is used across the world to describe the level of consciousness after a brain injury.

Alongside the city’s longstanding reputation as a centre for world‐class research in neurology, Glasgow Convention Bureau’s conference ambassadors work hard to attract academic conferences to the city, and in turn, show off their city and its expertise. Overall, more than 70 per cent of meetings held in Glasgow are led, or supported by, one of the city’s academic institutions.

This collaboration between subject experts, associations and the destination means the conference content goes beyond the venue walls and into the wider community, bettering society’s understanding of topics and issues that would otherwise remain between delegates.

“An ask is often made of the meetings industry to align closer to policy and with key sector strengths within the destination,” said Aileen Crawford, head of tourism and conventions at Glasgow Convention Bureau.  

“For the meetings industry, it’s important that we’re clear where the conference world and innovation meet for the betterment of society. When we look at the prestigious neurology and neuroscience meetings taking place in our city this year, they represent the research successes from our academic past, present and future.”

The University of Strathclyde

The University of Strathclyde

Future progress

Looking to the future, progress continues with ambassador Professor Anthony Chalmers, chair of clinical oncology at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Cancer Studies. He and his team are working on improving treatments for people with a fast‐growing type of brain tumour called glioblastoma.

Chalmers is leading clinical trials - using different combinations of radiotherapy and drugs - to find better ways to treat this disease, whilst acting as local host for both the meeting of the European Association for Neuro‐Oncology and the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO), taking place in Glasgow in 2024.

For him, in-person meetings are a useful way to advance science.

“Conferences offer a unique opportunity to sit down with a group of enthusiastic and committed researchers from anywhere in the world to take a clinical problem and turn it into a properly formed research concept," he said.

"At meetings, we see experimental data for the first time, both clinical or preclinical, and have the opportunity to discuss it with the researchers themselves.”

Glasgow recently bid farewell to its second of seven brain-related conferences taking place in the city this year. The international BRAIN & PET BRAIN conference on cerebral blood flow and metabolism took place at the Scottish Event Campus from 29 May to 1 June, but the conference content purposefully spilt out into the city.

Brainy Bairns

As part of the BRAIN and BRAIN PET 2022 conference, Glasgow Convention Bureau took the subject matter beyond the walls of the conference venue and into the local community. The team connected the organisers with Brain Health Scotland; Glasgow City Council’s Education team; Network Rail and Buchanan Galleries to arrange a variety of events aimed at helping people to better understand how making healthy choices affects our brain.

To successfully do this, the team worked with artist and neurologist Dr Lizzie Burns and 100 young people from six Glasgow schools to create models representing brain health.

On Saturday 28 May, the public was invited to participate in Glasgow Brain Health Awareness Day at Glasgow Central Station. The event featured brain health activities for families, including the chance to ‘build a brain’ and make your own neurons. There was also a giant inflatable brain that saw 500 adults and 4900 children interact with throughout the day.

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