The deadline for submitting abstracts for the International Symposium on ALS/MND has now officially passed and this year, 354 abstracts were submitted to us for consideration from a total of 25 countries.
However, the deadline is by no means the end of the journey of the abstracts – it is only the beginning!
This morning we all (at least mentally) took in a deep breath and rolled our sleeves up as we prepared to have ‘all hands on deck’.
Time then spiralled away from us in a whirlwind of printing the abstracts, sorting them into their different themes (genetics, multidisciplinary care etc) and then photocopying each theme onto different coloured paper –which is a mammoth sized task believe me.
While sorting, the urge to have a sneaky read of the abstracts with the most intriguing titles becomes almost too strong. However, in doing so we could easily lose a few days as each abstract is roughly 450 words! So for now, we’ll feel content in knowing that we’ve received a strong set of abstracts that we hope will be presented at this year’s symposium – the reading will just have to wait until later on this year!
The dust is now settling from our manic morning and our reign of the photocopier has come to an end. The result of all this are the piles of coloured paper which now lay waiting to be sent to each member of the Programme Committee – of which Dr Brian Dickie sits on as well as eminent researchers and clinicians from across the world.
They have the difficult task of deciding whether each individual abstract should be rejected or accepted as well as what form of presentation it should be given – ie poster, work in progress or an oral presentation.
With 154 people requesting a talk this year and about 80 spaces available, deciding which abstracts should be given the platform for 15 minutes and which should be offered a poster (or rejected) is a difficult decision that is not taken lightly.
We organise the symposium every single year and seeing it develop from a trickle of abstracts to a wave of hundreds and then to be moulded to form the world’s largest medical conference on MND is one of our proudest moments. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that this year will be no exception!