Why associations chose these cities for their medical meetings

How cities are using their own medical experts to win international association meetings and leave a lasting legacy. By James Lancaster.

Team effort secures Radiotherapy for Copenhagen

An ambitious engagement project and a strong local organising committee convinced The European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology, ESTRO, to choose Copenhagen for its 2022 Annual Meeting.

The five-day meeting, at the Bella Center Copenhagen, is likely to attract 6,000 delegates. The Danish bid for the event was comprised of two parts; an engagement project and a functional bid.

The groundbreaking engagement project with the overarching theme ‘Improved cancer outcome through collaboration’ offers two areas of focus. Through projects and events, it aims to showcase and translate Danish experience and expertise to ESTRO members before, during and after the congress while also using the congress as a catalyst to improve radiotherapy in Denmark and Europe.

Umberto Ricardi, president of ESTRO, says: “We are very impressed with Copenhagen and the Danish engagement project, which is perfectly aligned with the ESTRO 2030 vision “Optimal Health for All, Together”. This vision aims to improve the outcome and health by enabling and catalysing large networks. Therefore, we are excited to go to Copenhagen in 2022 but also very much looking forward to the engagement work that will take place before, during and after the actual congress.”

The national radiotherapy research center under the Danish Comprehensive Cancer Center, DCCC Radiotherapy, has been instrumental in putting together the engagement project and securing the winning bid. The center encompasses all cancer departments in Denmark treating patients with radiotherapy as well as the Center for Nuclear Technologies at DTU Nutech, The Danish Centre for Particle Therapy at Aarhus University Hospital and all Danish universities.

“To host the ESTRO 2022 is a huge honour and it offers a significant opportunity for DCCC to bring together and showcase all our national strengths as well as learn from our international network. Danish radiotherapy professionals have had a continued relationship with ESTRO over the course of several decades and we are excited to take lead on this groundbreaking engagement project and create lasting impacts both locally and globally,” says Cai Grau, DCCC Radiotherapy.

Copenhagen will be the focal point for the congress, with preliminary events, meetings and symposia all over Denmark, ensuring it is a national effort and a testament to Danish collaboration.

Kit Lykketoft

Kit Lykketoft, director of Conventions, Wonderful Copenhagen CVB, says: “It’s been a really exciting process for us as a CVB to be actively involved in not only the functional part of the bid but also the engagement project. ESTRO is a perfect example of the increased focus on creating impact and legacies for congresses held in Denmark. We’re convinced that this is the way forward in terms of the way we collaborate with international associations and national stakeholders.”

Congress shows Brisbane’s cutting-edge ENT innovation

Australian’s innovations in the ear, nose, throat, head and neck (ENT) will be showcased as the Asia Oceania Otorhinolaryngological Head and Neck Surgery Congress (AO ORL-HNS) returns to the country for the first time in 40 years.

The five-day conference will take place at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC) in March 2023. It is expected to attract some 1,500 clinicians and specialist surgeons working with the ear, nose, throat, head and neck.

Host organisation The Australian Society of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery (ASOHNS) hopes the congress will foster relationships and ongoing regional programs to drive Asia Oceania to the forefront of cutting-edge medicine.

Australian Otolaryngologists enjoy a high profile internationally and have been at the forefront of many life changing developments in the field. These include the cochlear implant, which has changed the lives of thousands of people around the world.

Ian Frazer

Brisbane and Queensland figure prominently in the head and neck space, evidenced by the recent news of human trials of a head and neck cancer vaccine developed by BCEC Advocate and celebrated scientist Professor Ian Frazer.

Fellow BCEC Advocate, Princess Alexandra Hospital cancer specialist Professor Sandro Porceddu, is working with Professor Frazer on the human trial testing of the vaccine.

The successful bid for the congress was led by leading ear nose and throat surgeon Associate Professor Bernard Lyons, past Secretary-General of The Asia-Oceania Association of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Societies (AOAOS) and now President-Elect.

He said: “This meeting is potentially the largest meeting to be held in the field of otolaryngology head and neck surgery in Australia. It is a unique opportunity for Australia to interact on a scientific basis with our neighbouring countries in the Asia Oceania region. I very much look forward to being involved in planning this meeting with the help of the expert team from the BCEC.”

Lyons worked with Professor Ben Panizza, President of The Australian Society of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Dr Phil Fisher, and the team at the BCEC in collaboration with Tourism & Events Queensland, Brisbane Marketing, and Tourism Australia, to secure the conference.

The event is expected to deliver AUS$4.5m to the Brisbane and Queensland economies while fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing, optimising healthcare across the region.

BCEC general manager Bob O’Keeffe said: “We believe the Centre has an important role to play in helping deliver these meetings for the future growth and development of Brisbane and the contribution to the knowledge economy.”

Queensland Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones added: “Queensland is a leader in innovation and I am sure delegates will be inspired by the local case studies and examples they learn about while here.”

Pediatric surgeons bring heart congress to Washington, DC

Washington DC’s highly effective ‘Ambassador Circle’ has secured numerous international medical meetings over the years and its success shows no signs of abating.

The US capital sells its know-how to meeting organisers through what it calls ‘vertical sectors’, such as education, technology, biotech and pharma, transportation and the like.

Recent wins include the 2021 World Congress of Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery, which is meeting in continental USA for the first time, and should attract 5,000 delegates.

In this instance Dr. Gil Wernovsky, a pediatric cardiologist affiliated to the Children’s National Medical Center, in Washington, and cardiac surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Jacobs, helped pitch for the event.

Jacobs said the chance to ‘educate others’ inspired him to help bring the rotating congress, which is held every four years, to the US. “Every time I go into the operation room to operate on little babies I have the opportunity to save a  life. But the opportunity to educate others is an opportunity to save  hundreds, maybe thousands of lives. And the motivation to teach others is the motivation to host the World Congress of Paediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery in the United States,” he said.

Another big win for DC’s Ambassador Circle is the General Session of the International Association for Dental Research, taking place next year and set to attract 6,000 delegates.

Washington is a medical learning hub, with numerous several university hospitals and research institutes. It is home to more than 180 medical associations, organisations and foundations. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the most revered medical facilities in the US, provides more than $30bn in funding for extensive research across the medical field.

The area’s life science cluster – DNA Alley – is home to some 170 biotech companies and pays the wages of almost 60,000 private sector and government employee. Research and development makes up the majority of life science employment in the metro area and pharma, medicine and vaccine manufacturing are amongst the most rapidly growing industries.

Largest hospitals in Washington (number of beds)

MedStar Washington Hospital Center (742)

Providence Hospital (467)

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (395)

The George Washington University Hospital (364)

Children’s National Medical Center (313)

Sibley Memorial Hospital (235)

United Medical Center (210)

Howard University Hospital (190)

Dublin’s pain relief history helps it gain congress

Ireland’s history in pain management and its hub of pharmaceutical companies has helped Dublin win the bid to host the 12th European Pain Federation Congress (EFIC) in 2021.

The congress is expected to bring some 3,000 multidisciplinary clinicians and researchers from the fields of pain science to the city, contributing over €4m to the local economy.

Convention Centre Dublin

Ireland has a long history in pain management research with the first subcutaneous injection administered for pain relief invented by Dublin doctor, Dr Rynd in 1844.

Ireland’s Life Sciences sector has grown to reach global significance, with collaborative clusters in Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Medical Devices and Diagnostics.

Joanne O’Brien, president of the Irish Pain Society (IPS), presented the successful bid, along with letters of support from both the former Lord Mayor of Dublin Nial Ring and Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to EFIC’s Executive Board in Brussels.

O’Brien says: “The Irish Pain Society is honoured to welcome the 12th EFIC to the vibrant city of Dublin, home of Dr Francis Rynd, inventor of the first hypodermic needle, a game changer in modern pain management. We are delighted that our own University College Dublin Associate Professor Brona Fullen will be President of EFIC at this time, and together with the Scientific Chair, Prof Eija Kalso, will bring together the world’s leading experts to exchange knowledge, ideas and the latest advances in the field of pain science.”

The bid was supported by Dublin Convention Bureau (DCB), Fáilte Ireland and host venue the Convention Centre Dublin (CCD).

Adrienne Clarke, head of Conference Sales at the CCD, adds: “We are looking forward to welcoming EFIC to Dublin after working closely with IPS, DCB and Fáilte Ireland. With more than 75 pharmaceutical companies operating in Ireland, including the top 10 in the world, Dublin is a great fit for this type of congress.”

Healthy returns as Adelaide scoops major bio-med conference

Adelaide’s decision to build one of the largest life science hubs in the Southern Hemisphere has started to pay dividends after the city scooped a major bio-medical conference.

The city, in South Australia, is expected to host more than 2,500 international delegates at the triennial World Congress on Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering in 2024.

The event held every three years is one of the largest – and arguably the most important – gathering of medical physicists, biomedical engineers and specialists from related fields.

The AUSD3.6bn Adelaide BioMed City is home to the new Royal Adelaide Hospital and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), the University of Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences Building, and the University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute.

The congress will attract the most innovative companies and leaders in the field to Adelaide.

The president of host organisation, the International Union for Physical and Engineering Science in Medicine (IUPSEM), Professor James Goh, said the enthusiasm of the South Australian bid alongside a presentation of the destination’s technology and research went in its favour.

He said: “To have this congress in Adelaide – to bring in the world leaders – to showcase the latest developments and technologies at the exhibition presents significant opportunity in trade and investment for South Australia.”

Damien Kitto, CEO Adelaide Convention Bureau, said: “I congratulate Team Adelaide and the local bid team led by University of South Australia’s Professor Eva Bezak. We have world class personnel, innovation and facilities in this city. However waiting for the world to discover us is not an option – bringing it to our doorstep with events such as this is invaluable.”

Eva Bezak

Professor Bezak said: “It will be an honour to be able to showcase the wonderful achievements that Adelaide has made in recent times in building the Biomed City and establish new relationships and partnerships leading to new collaborations and investment.”

“Whilst we will of course have the traditional industries such as standard imaging, radiation, oncology, cardiology, nuclear medicine etc, we must be futuristic and look toward those types of industries on the horizon and on the rise and this is who we will also bring to Adelaide.”

Delegates from an expected 89 countries including members from:

  • International Union for Physical and Engineering Science in Medicine (IUPESM)
  • International Organisation for Medical Physics (IOMP)
  • The International Federation of Medical and Biological Engineering (IFMBE)
  • World Health Organisation (WHO)
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
  • United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR)

Maastricht eyes mental health legacy ahead of 2027 congress

Maastricht is embarking on a mission to improve women’s mental health in Europe ahead of hosting the World Congress on Women’s Mental Health (IAWMH) in 2027.

For four days in March 2027, MECC Maastricht will host some 1,200 clinicians and researchers from all over the world with a full focus on women’s mental health.

Founded in 2001 to improve the mental health of women everywhere, the IAWMH’s goal is to set up a network of national and international communities.

In the run-up to the large international congress, the intention is to set up a Dutch branch of the IAWMH together with WOMEN Inc. and other women’s organisations in the Netherlands.

This association of public health employees and experts in the field wants to organise a regional European congress in Maastricht every two years (in the alternating years the IAMWH isn’t held).

In so doing, the association aims to keep the momentum going, reinforce the European network and over the years, to solidify the commitment for the 2027 edition of IAWMH in Maastricht.

The 2027 IAWMH National Organizing Committee comprises a local core of knowledge in the sector: Patricia van Wijngaarden-Cremers (MD PhD), Prof. Rutger Jan Van der Gaag (MD PhD) and Prof. Iris E. Sommer (MD PhD). All three committee members have experience in organising international conferences and will be working alongside MECC Maastricht and Klinkhamer Group.

Other important Dutch parties lending their support include mental health organisation Dimence, Netherlands Psychiatric Association, Radboudumc (Radboud University Medical Center), and UMCG (University Medical Center Groningen).

Prof. Jayashri Kulkarni, president of the IAWMH, announced Maastricht’s win on International Women’s Day in Paris during the eighth edition of the congress.

The MECC Maastricht is undergoing a substantial 49 million Euro expansion over the next two years, which will allow it to host events for up to 5,000 guests.

Homecoming congress recognises esophagus expertise in Tokyo

The World Congress for Esophageal Diseases is expected to be bigger than ever when it returns in Tokyo in 2022, in recognition of the important role that Japan plays in research and treatment of the esophagus.

The event is a homecoming for the city: the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus (ISDE) was founded by Dr Kōmei Nakayama in 1979 and the first ISDE World Congress was held in Tokyo in 1980. The event aims to promote the exchange of scientific and medical knowledge among specialists in fields related to the esophagus.

ISDE President Prateek Sharma said: “Japan is known for their cutting-edge treatments in the field of endoscopy and surgical procedures. This is a great opportunity for members and attendees from around the world and from Japan to observe, learn and share information on the esophagus.”

Japan is known for its innovation in the medical sector, with Tokyo, particularly the area around Nihonbashi, a growing hub of life sciences and drug discovery activity.

The ISDE 2022 World Congress is expected to attract 1,100 delegates from more than 40 countries, and take place September 26-28, 2022 at the Keio Plaza Hotel.

The event will be co-hosted by the Japan Esophageal Society, which will also hold its JES Annual Meeting just prior to the World Congress at the same venue. The JES currently has over 2,000 members of which about 1,200 usually attend the Annual Meeting. The congress is being framed as a perfect opportunity for medical professionals in Japan to stay on and study the latest trends in the field as well as communicate with professionals from around the world.

ISDE Executive Director, Mark Ferguson, said: “The 2022 Congress in Tokyo, Japan marks the 4th time this meeting has been held in this country and honors a longstanding relationship between ISDE and the Japanese Esophageal Society (JES). We anticipate this meeting will have the highest attendance numbers of any of our congresses to date.”

The immediate past President of ISDE, Dr Yuko Kitagawa, is based in Tokyo, where he is a surgical oncologist and clinical and translational researcher, mainly in the areas of gastrointestinal cancers. He is a chair of the Japan Esophageal Oncology Group, and a Professor at Keio University. He is working as a principal investigator for several important nation-wide clinical studies including sentinel node mapping for gastric cancer and multimodal treatment for esophageal cancer. 

Lyon’s oncology hub attracts major cancer congresses

Lyon’s leadership in oncology treatment and research has been recognised with two major events heading to the French city this year.

The 51th Congress of the Société Internationale d’Oncologie Pédiatrique (SIOP) will be held 23-26 October and is expected to attract some 2,000 delegates; and the 14th European Congress of Neuro Oncology (EANO) from 19-22 September, with 1,000 attendees.

Lyon holds 5th place in Europe in terms of scientific and medical publications in the domain of cancer. Under the network of Synergie Lyon Cancer Foundation, a number of key players in oncology are making strides in the fields of cancer escape, immune-monitoring, and the emergence of new targeted therapies.

These include the Hospices Civils de Lyon (HCL)  and the Léon Bérard Centre. These two establishments represent the second largest national concentration of oncological expertise in France after the Institut Curie de Paris.

Lyon has a long history in oncology specialism. Professor Léon Bérard founded the first anti-cancer centre in the city in 1923; the centre wholly dedicated to oncology bearing his name was opened in 1950.

The second major event for Lyonnais oncology was the installation of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 1967. The IARC is now part of the WHO and employs more than 300 researchers. It collaborates with different organisations in Lyon such as the INSERM, the Ligue Contre le Cancer, the Cancer Research Centre of Lyon and care centres, forming a closely knit scientific and medical network.

Other major players include the Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1; the CLARA Cancer Cluster which works to speed up the implementation of new translational research projects within the region, and Lyonbiopôle, the international cluster specialised in infectology.

This network also has strong collaborations with the pharmaceutical companies in the region, such as Merck, Sanofi and bioMérieux, and they participate in the creation of innovative start-ups such as ERYtech pharma and Netrispharma.

EANO is being helmed in Lyon by Jérôme Honnorat of the Institut de cancérologie at HCL. Following an education day on the main topics in Neuro-Oncology, the program will focus on brain tumors biomarkers and treatment with discussions on the main clinical trials. Novel developments in immune-oncology and in neuro-oncology will be presented, with a special focus on paraneoplastic neurological syndromes.

Christoph Bergeron

SIOP’s chair of the local organizing committee, Christophe Bergeron, has worked at the Centre Léon Bérard for the past 22 years as head of the paediatric department and is the co-founder of IHOPE – the Paediatric Haematology and Oncology Institute in Lyon which is dedicated to cancers and leukemia of children.

He says: “We hope that SIOP 2019 in Lyon will be an important moment to share research and knowledge and help us to cure more children and to cure them better.”

Medical meetings leave legacy to ‘Make Glasgow Healthier’

Glasgow is using major medical meetings held in the city as a platform for championing and improving public health, delivering legacy benefits to local residents.

Glasgow Convention Bureau is leading the People Make Glasgow Healthier campaign, with support from the Scottish Government, the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), local industry and the city’s academic community.

The campaign reflects the city’s award-winning People Make Glasgow brand and nods to Glasgow’s influence in the medical meetings sector. The initiative is geared at taking key themes and messages – from obesity and organ donation to smoking cessation and cancer research – beyond the walls of convention venues and into communities; informing and empowering citizens.

2019 is a milestone year for Scotland’s largest city, with 13 medical association conferences taking place through to November, set to attract more than 20,000 UK and international delegates.

Aileen Crawford, Head of Conventions at Glasgow Convention Bureau, says: “Glasgow has a proud history of medical innovation that continues to this day, through world-leading research from our universities. Together with our city and national partners, Glasgow Convention Bureau is leading the way in which conferences can realise tangible benefits for their host destination which go beyond the bottom line for our tourism economy.”

The People Make Glasgow Healthier campaign started in March this year, when a record number of delegates attended the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare at the SEC. The organisers, together with city partners and the Scottish Government, ran a Health Week at venues across the city.

Local health groups and volunteers were engaged to provide advice and information, including a ‘Quit Your Way’ smoking cessation event and organ donation registration teams. The activities reached more than 1,000 members of the public and resulted in 50 new registered organ donors.

Scottish Public Health Minister, Joe FitzPatrick says: “As one of the world’s foremost healthcare conferences, we felt it was really important that the presence of the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare in Glasgow had a positive impact on the people of the city. That is why we were very keen to have some of our cutting-edge public health campaigns on show while the forum was underway. Our CPR Ready, organ donation and smoking cessation campaigns were showcased in various locations and generated positive interest from local citizens.”

The initiative continued at The European Congress on Obesity, held at the SEC in April, through a public event at the Glasgow Science Centre.

Managed by the University of Glasgow, in collaboration with Glasgow Convention Bureau, the event presented research on population health, childhood obesity and physical activity. Attractions for the public included a pedometer step challenge, with 260 children and adults taking part.

Gillian Bell, engagement and communications officer, Public Health Sciences, University of Glasgow, says: “With such a major conference happening in the city, we were keen to engage a non-academic audience with the University of Glasgow’s research around obesity, physical activity and population health. Glasgow Science Centre was the ideal venue to get children, parents and tourists visiting our stands and taking part in our activities to help build a healthier city.”

Euan Woodward, executive director, European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO), adds: “A key mission for EASO is to advocate obesity as an urgent and relevant health priority to policymakers, research funders, health professionals, the media and the public.

“We were delighted when Glasgow Convention Bureau approached us with the idea of activating our public health message to the people of Glasgow, while the congress was taking place. The resulting family activity day, delivered by the University of Glasgow at the Glasgow Science Centre was an excellent example of the positive health impact a conference can bring to a destination.”