Networking to progress in the world of science: Mini-Symposium on MND

Conferences and symposia are a crucial part of the research world – not only for the amount of knowledge that is communicated to large audiences but also for the exchange of ideas on a more inter-personal level. Novel ideas are created there as well establishment of collaborations that might lead to new research projects and clinical trials – all in all, putting a bunch of researchers in a venue with a projector, coffee and biscuits can only lead to good things!

One of the recent events that I had the pleasure to attend was a small-scale conference – the Mini-Symposium on generic disease mechanisms in MND and other neurodegenerative disorders. Held at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School in late June, this event was a precursor to the inauguration of a new MND Care and Research Centre for Sussex, directed by Prof Nigel Leigh.

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(left to right) Prof Martin Turner, Dr Brian Dickie, Prof Dame Pam Shaw, Prof Nigel Leigh and Karen Pearce.

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Countdown to the symposium

We organise the International Symposium on ALS/MND every year and it is regarded by the global MND research and healthcare communities as the conference to hear about and discuss advances in their respective fields.

In two weeks time, we’ll be in Orlando, Florida making our final preparations for this years’ three day conference that begins on 10 December. As all of our equipment has been shipped to America ahead of our arrival, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that it’ll all be waiting for us at the hotel!

I’m sure with less than two weeks to go, delegates of the symposium are also reaching their final preparations, such as finishing off their posters (maximum of 1metre square), preparing their speeches and trying to work out a ‘to-do’ list of things they want to achieve at the symposium – such as meeting a researcher they’re interested in collaborating with, or simply to learn more about a new topic. Once we arrive in two weeks time, we’ll be setting up the order for the poster session. With nearly 300 posters split into 11 themes this isn’t going to be an easy task and will be a rush against the clock to finish before keen poster presenters sneak into the poster room to put up their work for all to see. Until then, it’s a waiting game for everybody where we’re all eager for the symposium to begin on 10 December.

This year, I will be blogging from the symposium to keep you up-to-date with our highlights and insights. To help me report on the clinical sessions at the symposium are Kevin Thomas and Jane Connell, who are our regional care development advisers for North Wales and East Midlands respectively.

We’re extremely excited to be reporting via our blog this year and we hope that you will enjoy reading our posts on the highlights and insights from the International Symposium on ALS/MND from 10-13 December 2010.