By Erik Taubøll, chair of Local Organising Committee EAN 2019
Dear EAN members
The 5th EAN Congress held in Oslo from June 29 to July 2 is now over and it’s time to look back. The Congress was a great success for EAN and for us in the local organising committee in Norway. The number of participants was the highest ever with 6919 registered delegates, and the number of submitted abstracts was also an all-time high at 2250. The number of applications for the tournament for young investigators was up by about 40% for basic research and by more than 20% for clinical research. These figures illustrate the high and rapidly increasing activity in our society. At the same time, the EAN definitely managed to make its mark on the city of Oslo with 24 EAN banners on both sides of Karl Johan, the main street of the city.
The opening lecture was delivered by the Norwegian Nobel Prize winner from 2014, Edvard Moser, discussing “Space and time in the brain”. To give the opening ceremony a Norwegian flavor, this was followed by an artistic performance by “Frikar Dance Company”, a Norwegian dance group using elements of traditional folk dance in a very modern way performing in typical national costumes.
The prestigious presidential symposium included excellent lectures from Bart De Strooper (Brain Prize Lecture; The prodromal, cellular phase of Alzheimer’s Disease: towards a novel understanding of the disorder), Ulrich Dirnagl (Brown-Séquard Lecture; Do we need to reinvent translational cerebrovascular research?) and Pamela Shaw (Romberg Lecture; Translational Neuroscience to improve outcomes for motor neuron disease. Are we winning?).
The overarching theme for the congress in Oslo was “Neuroinflammation – Science. Synergies. Solutions”. The role of neuroinflammatory processes is currently a hot topic in both understanding neurological diseases and in developing new therapies for brain disorders. Inflammatory processes are not only involved in the classical neuroimmunological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, but also in diseases such as Alzheimers disease, ALS, epilepsy, movement disorders, stroke and migraine, conditions previously considered “non-inflammatory”. It is now generally acknowledged that there are strong interactions between neurological diseases and the immune system in many different ways. Balancing the positive and negative effects of neuroinflammation is therefore crucial. A better understanding of the mechanisms involved will give new insights into the causes of neurological diseases and hopefully open completely new treatment strategies for the benefit of our patients. The different aspects of neuroinflammation were highlighted in numerous sessions, symposia and focused workshops during the Oslo congress. We hope that this has brought us one step closer to our goal of new treatment strategies for our patients.
Science and education are of course essential in a congress. But just as important is to get together, to meet with colleagues and friends, and to make new contacts and friendships. It is our true hope that this congress has laid the foundation for new friendships and has inspired to future collaborative work. Networking and inspiration are essential. During the congress, young neurologists visited the Department of Neurology at Oslo University Hospital, and the City of Oslo arranged a networking event in the City Hall with welcoming words from the deputy Mayor of Oslo.
Organising a congress like this has been of great value for Norway, both for us in the local organising committee and for the Norwegian Neurological Association. This congress has been a boost for Norwegian neurology, and neurologists all over the country have been heavily involved in both organization of the congress, in the scientific programme and the many teaching courses.
We thank you all for coming to Oslo and the 5th EAN Congress earlier this summer and hope to see many of you back in Norway. We will also wish our colleagues in France the best of luck in preparing for the 6th EAN congress in Paris next year.
Head, Local organising committee, 5th EAN Congress, Oslo
Professor of Neurology, Senior Consultant, MD, Ph.D., FEAN
Head of ERGO – Epilepsy Research Group of Oslo
Department of Neurology
Oslo University Hospital – Rikshospitalet