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Dr Niall Hyland reflects on the past four years and looks to Pharmacology 2020

Published: 11 Dec 2020
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As our annual meeting Pharmacology 2020 approaches, so does the end of my term as VP Meetings. It seems timely to reflect on the challenges we have faced over the last year as well as the many successes over the past four. Prior to being elected as VP Meetings, I had the opportunity to contribute to the development of the Society’s five-year strategy. At the core of the strategy are our objectives of increasing the visibility and influence of pharmacology and therapeutics. One of the best ways we can do this is through excellence in scientific meetings and by leading the dissemination of world-class research related to pharmacology and therapeutics.

With the support of Meetings Committee, Affinity Group Co-Chairs (now Community Networks) and the Society Meetings Team, we have been working hard to meet these objectives.  You will have noticed the inclusion of commissioned content at our annual meeting over the past two years. This content represents cutting-edge and emerging areas relevant to pharmacology and therapeutics and is informed by our Scientific Advisory Panel, journals, and Networks ensuring that our meetings remain current. We have also fostered existing relationships with partners and developed new relationships with others to enrich our international networks and collaboration with sister organisations worldwide.

The launch of our Pioneers in Pharmacology stream in 2019, recognising pioneers in pharmacology and drug discovery, has been incredibly well received, and will celebrate the work of John Fozard this year. We have continued to solicit and support member-submitted material to our meetings programme – and this remains at the heart of our annual meeting. Reflecting the reach of pharmacology and therapeutics across the United Kingdom, the annual meeting is on the move once more and working closely with our journals, the best of our annual meeting abstracts are published once again in the British Journal of Pharmacology and the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. To ensure the sustainability of our annual meeting, and after careful consideration and engagement with our members, we introduced a registration fee, remaining mindful, however, to continue to offer free registration to our undergraduate members and reduced rates for early career researchers.

Despite our trepidation of relocating the annual meeting to Edinburgh (and charging a registration fee!), Pharmacology 2019 exceeded all our expectations. Therefore, it was with great excitement in March this year, at our last face-to-face meeting at The Schild Plot, that we finalised our scientific programme for Pharmacology 2020 to be held Liverpool. However, with restrictions implemented a short time later to curb the spread of Covid-19 worldwide, our meetings programme for 2020 was disrupted, with some of events unfortunately having to be cancelled.
 

Despite the challenges Covid-19 posed for our events, quick decision making, the agility of the BPS Meetings Team and with time on our side, we set about repurposing Pharmacology 2020, into a five-day interactive event, with a truly global reach.
 

This year, Professor Piet van der Graaf from Leiden University in the Netherlands will open our meeting with a plenary lecture on Systems Pharmacology. We will celebrate 75 years of the British Journal of Pharmacology, reflect on anti-viral pharmacology and public health with the Chinese Pharmacological Society (CNPHARS), and explore the pharmacology of safe and efficacious medicines with The European laboratory research & innovation group (ELRIG). Basic, clinical and education content will be integrated across our symposium and workshop programme with daily interactive oral and poster sessions selected from our submitted abstracts.

Sir Patrick Vallance, Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) and Head of the Government Science and Engineering (GSE) in the United Kingdom will close Pharmacology 2020 and deliver our British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Live Lecture.  Rest assured that we have also developed an exciting programme of meetings and events for 2021 and have already begun planning for Pharmacology 2021.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the tremendous support from everyone at the BPS over the past four years, and in particular the Meetings Team and Meetings Committee. I have also had the pleasure over the last year to work alongside Prof Cherry Wainwright as Deputy VP Meetings, and I have no doubt that Cherry will continue to grow and develop the meetings programme at the Society with great enthusiasm.

In the meantime, take care during these uncertain times and I look forward to joining you all, from wherever you are in the world, at Pharmacology 2020.
 
 
 
 

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