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An update from our meetings team

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Published: 27 Mar 2019
Category: Meetings update
By Roxane Metzger, Niall Hyland

The Society’s annual meeting which took place in December, was the biggest and (in our opinion) best so far. We welcomed approximately 1,200 people to London for three days of cutting-edge science and fantastic networking and received some excellent feedback from all involved.

We switched up a few things for the conference last year and the improvements will keep coming for the years ahead.

2018 saw some changes to the usual programme format as we added commissioned sessions into the mix – Dr Mene Pangalos from AstraZeneca made a welcome return to the meeting and our closing session on artificial intelligence (AI), featuring a cross-disciplinary panel encompassing the worlds of drug discovery and big data, came up as one of the feedback favourites of the event. With positive responses to both sessions and that of Professor John Mattick, we have already started working with the Society’s Scientific Advisory panel to commission three more sessions for 2019.

In an effort to be greener, we moved away from print and onto our meeting app more for the event. While we were thrilled to see a 60% increase in app usage in comparison to previous years, we know there is still more to be done to make the app more user-friendly and accessible.

The meeting attracted a record number of abstract submissions with over 450 submissions vying for coveted places in the programme. It was a great pleasure to see so many members – especially our younger members – presenting their research, both at their posters during breaktimes and in oral presentations – often for the first time. To continue to encourage conversation between attendees and presenters, we will be sticking with the new format of providing a longer lunch break to allow time for everyone to visit the posters and meet with the authors.

Giving opportunities to young pharmacologists is absolutely core business for us as a Society, congratulations to everyone who took part and to all those who won one of the 21 prizes awarded during the three days.

The record abstract numbers were matched by the high number of symposium submissions we received early in 2018 for the conference. Membership participation at the event was at an all-time high and we hope to continue this trend to produce excellent content in subject areas that mean a lot to attendees.

We have partnered with a number of organisations in the past including the European Laboratory Research & Innovation Group (ELRIG) and the British Society for Cardiovascular Research (BSCR) to generate symposia relating to the special interests of our members. While we will continue to develop our relationships with other societies, it is the Society’s membership that leads the way in producing key sessions for the event. 2019 will see the launch of a 'Pioneers in Pharmacology' stream at the conference – these key note lectures will not only honour revolutionary pharmacologists but also showcase current advances related to their pioneering work. We will be encouraging members to submit their abstracts specific to this stream via the abstract submission process.

The biggest change planned for 2019 was announced during the Society’s AGM – from this year we will be moving our annual meeting out of London and starting a rotation around the UK. The QEII has served us well over the years, but in order to better serve our members who are based all over the UK (and the world) it was decided that we should move and the first stop is Edinburgh. We are excited to take the conference to Edinburgh as not only is it arguably the most beautiful city in the UK, but it is also a small and walkable city which we hope will feed into the networking and community feel of the event.

Pharmacology 2019 isn’t only changing city, it is also changing days! Following in the footsteps of many of our American and European equivalents we will be running the meeting from Sunday to Tuesday (15-17 December). We hope that this will enable more people to attend without needing to take three days out of the office.

By the time you are reading this, we will already be sifting through the submissions for symposia and workshops for the conference. If you missed out on getting involved in this way, be sure to set aside some time before the beginning of September to submit an abstract instead.

We look forward to welcoming everyone to Edinburgh in December and to another record-breaking year.

News on Events Sponsored by the Society: The Scottish Cardiovascular Forum

The 22nd edition of the Scottish Cardiovascular Forum, proudly sponsored by the British Pharmacological Society, took place on 2 February 2019 in Inverness.

This annual event brings together researchers from Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It is an excellent opportunity for first-time presenters, with students at its centre. Short three-minute presentations were introduced this year for first and second year PhD students, further increasing their involvement. The vast majority of presentations at the conference were made by students or early career researchers.

The keynote lecture was delivered by Professor Damien Bailey who is currently a Royal Society Wolfson Research Fellow, Professor of Physiology and Biochemistry (University of South Wales, UK) and Head of the Neurovascular Research Laboratory. His talk titled: Life without oxygen! cerebrovascular modulation of blood flow to the oxygen-starved brain, was a great success.

All our hard work paid off! The Civic Dinner was a real highlight, as was the keynote lecture. The student three-minute pitches worked really well and will likely be kept in subsequent meetings.

Professor Ian Megson FBPhS, organiser of the Scottish Cardiovascular Forum

The Conference welcomed 95 delegates at the Centre for Health Science in Inverness, UK. Several prizes were awarded to presenters, including oral and poster presentation prizes aimed specifically at students, jointly funded by the British Pharmacological Society and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The three-minute Oral Prize was awarded to Um-May Sumya, of the University of Aberdeen. The Poster Prize was won by James Hislop, also of the University of Aberdeen, and the Free Communications Prize by Tanguy Blehaut, of the University of Edinburgh.

The Roger Wadsworth Prize, entirely funded by the Society, went to Pola Verschoor of the University of Aberdeen. Pola’s article on the meeting was also included in the latest BSCR bulletin.

The Society funds events run by its members through the Meetings Committee, Affinity Groups and Education Committee applications. If you are a member organising a meeting that would help the Society’s aim to promote and advance pharmacology, we’d love to hear from you!

Apply for funding for your own event.


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Published: 27 Mar 2019
Category: Meetings update
By Roxane Metzger, Niall Hyland

About the author

Niall Hyland

Niall was appointed Lecturer in Pharmacology in the School of Medicine at University College Cork in 2008. He also holds a Faculty position at the APC Microbiome Institute where his research focuses on the microbiota-gut-brain axis. Niall has a PhD in Pharmacology from King’s College London and trained in both the USA and Canada. He is Co-Chair of the Society's Integrated Systems Pharmacology Affinity Group and on the editorial board of the British Journal of Pharmacology. He also contributes to the activities of the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility and The American Gastroenterological Association Institute Council.

Roxane Metzger

Roxane works within the Meetings and Events team at the Society, collaborating with the rest of the team to coordinate various aspects of the Society's workshops, prize lectures and of the annual conference. Roxane also manages external meeting grant applications, liaising between applicants and the Meetings Committee. Roxane graduated from UCL with a BA in History, and has experience working in administration in medical and third sector organisations.

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