The August Bank holiday weekend is always greeted with a sigh of relief from the Research Development Team as it signals the sending off of the International Symposium on ALS/MND abstract book to the publishers.
The book includes teasers/previews – called abstracts – of all the talks and posters that will be presented at this year’s symposium. It is the result of many months of hard work by the team, hours of editing and proof reading, and the sending and receiving of hundreds of emails.
But why is the symposium such a big deal and why are the MND Association involved in organising it?
The birth of the International Symposium on ALS/MND
It all started in Birmingham…
The key to defeating MND lies in fostering strong collaboration between leading researchers around the world, and sharing new understanding of the disease as rapidly as possible. This was the MND Association’s reasoning behind the creation of the International Symposium on ALS/MND.
The first was held in Birmingham in 1990, and was attended by 50 MND researchers. From then on it has grown and grown, and is now a truly international event. In order to attract a wider international audience and invite local experts to speak the location changes each year. Previously it has been held in locations including Sydney, Chicago and Milan.
Last year in Brussels we had 848 people attend, showing how large the global MND research community has become. We expect a similar number of people to attend this year.
What is the symposium for?
The symposium is the largest medical and scientific conference specific to MND and is the premier event in the MND research calendar for discussing the latest advances in research and clinical management.
The symposium is focused on working for the future and present needs of people living with MND through showcasing new scientific ideas and exchanging expert knowledge from around the world. This will help with our mission for ‘a world free from MND’.
It is also a fantastic opportunity for researchers from different countries to meet up and share ideas, and maybe even plan a research study together. New researchers who are beginning their career in scientific research into MND can meet established researchers and maybe even make contacts with people who they will work with further on in their academic career.
Throughout the symposium there are smaller meetings held, where researchers with specific topics of interest can discuss the latest goings on and the progress of projects they are involved in.
So it is a busy three days for everyone attending, with plenty going on!
Symposium 2015: Destination Orlando
This year’s symposium, the 26th, will be held in Orlando, USA on the 11-13 December.
The themes and titles of the of main presentations are able to view online now and more details will be added in the run up to the symposium, with the final list and details of all the presentations (talks and scientific posters) available to view online a few weeks before the event itself.
Want to find out more about scientific posters? Then read our blog post about them here.
Who can attend the symposium?
The symposium is mostly aimed at a ‘specialist audience’ of researchers, healthcare professionals and clinicians. Some of the healthcare professionals in attendance include many UK MND care centre co-ordinators, as part of their continuing personal development. Members of the Association’s research, conferences and communications teams also attend.
People living with MND and their carers can and do attend, but the symposium is principally aimed at specialist MND researchers.
Symposium from your sofa
Fear not, you will be able to keep track of all that is going on in Orlando from the comfort of your own home.
For those without specialist knowledge the symposium can be incredibly complex, and our job is to attend and translate this. This way we are giving people living with MND a real insight into what is going on in the world of MND research – hopefully without too much of the science jargon!
We will be writing daily updates from the symposium for our MND Research Blog on the research that has been presented each day.
Why not have a look at what we did last year to give you a taste of what to expect in December?
We will also be tweeting presentation teasers in the run up to the event, updates from the sessions at the symposium, photos, and any breaking news that develops over the three days.
If you do not currently follow us on Twitter then why not sign up now? Follow us at @mndresearch or keep up to date with the latest symposium news by using the hashtag #alssymp.