The 92nd Annual Meeting of the British Association of Dermatologists took place at the ICC Birmingham 3rd - 5th July 2012.
Report by Tee-wei Siah (Newcastle) and David Brass (Newcastle)
Birmingham: population just over 1 million and, after London, the largest centre of higher education in the UK. Birthplace of George Cadbury and twinned with Chicago, Leipzig, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Milan and Lyon;
Birmingham can lay claim to the development of the industrial steam engine and Brylcreem. This year, at the International Conference Centre (ICC), it played host to the 92nd Annual Meeting of the British Association of
Dermatologists. Taking place over 4 days, with over 1000 delegates attending, the conference always promises content and variety. It didn’t promise sunshine unfortunately, although I am told there are some things that are even out of the BAD president’s control. I was attending Monday’s and Tuesday’s scheduled events. Using the parental Manchester abode as a stopover down from Newcastle proved a good idea. Aged P no.1 asked, “What it was all about.” My answer tried to compete with a Catherine Cookson adaptation that was on TV. I failed with a succinct reply, being dismissed with, “Great. Get me some E45 anti-itch”. I tried to assure Aged P that the ritualistic, robotic acquisition of emollient samples was not my conference attendance raison d’être. Cookson had won however, and as some chap from Newcastle with a hairy chest and a billowy shirt rode off on a horse, I retreated to think harder about what in fact the meeting was “all about”. It is a difficult thing to easily summarise; as each individual will get something entirely different from the experience.
Quintessentially, the conference is a celebration of all things dermatological; a yearly review of science, research and opinion; a chance to network, to make new acquaintances and see old colleagues; an opportunity to seek advice from experts, to update oneself on current concepts, evidence based treatments and gather clinical pearls. Each of the four days has a varied programme of events with representation from numerous dermatological subspecialties.
Monday afternoon hosted the trainee programme, chaired by Dr Haque-Hussain and Dr de Berker. As ever, the speakers were enthusiastic and concise, the slides were clear, and in the case of the talks on genital dermatoses by Dr Sterling and Prof. Bunker, almost leg-crossingly so. We had tips for managing neonates with blistering from Dr Moss, advice from Dr Farrant on approaching patients with hair loss, and whilst we analysed each other’s facial creases, an update from Dr Griffiths on methods for assessing and treating the ageing visage. We also had an explanation of Mohs micrographic surgery by way of a 3D computer designed model. The meeting concluded with the quiz; and fortunately no external judication was required to settle any allegations of cheating. On Tuesday it rained again. At the introduction to the cutaneous allergy meeting, I heard this year’s Prosser White Oration, delivered by Dr Taylor, visiting consultant from Cleveland, Ohio. His audience were treated to an excellent talk of his ‘adventures and lessons learned in occupational dermatology’. The reason behind the naming of eponymously titled speeches is usually worth knowing. I discovered that Dr Robert Prosser White was an occupational physician hailing from Wigan who was an authority in his time; founding the (then) Wigan Infirmary dermatology department. A widely read author, he wrote the much-lauded text ‘Occupational Affections of the Skin’ and also published several poems. As well as being a philanthropist, he was (according to his obituary), a “very fine character...breezy and cheerful [but with] no time for the uninterested or the slacker.” Suitably enlightened, I successfully navigated my way to Hall 8b for the excellent talk by Dr Fiona Child on cutaneous graft vs. host disease. Clear and comprehensive, she delivered her presentation to a packed hall with standing room only at the back. Onward to the historical meeting. This year commemorated the 200th anniversary of Robert Willan’s death (1757-1812). I confess to not knowing a great deal about the founding father of modern dermatology, but as my old history teacher used to say, “To know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been”. He also used to say, “Where there’s muck there’s” instead of using my surname, which perhaps takes the shine away from his eminence. Nonetheless I attended the historical symposium on Tuesday morning in order to receive some enlightenment. I was not disappointed. For the guest lecture we were taken on a colourful journey by Dr Levell, explaining how Willan, amongst other accomplishments, ‘created sense out of confusion’ not only by defining the dermatological terms that we use to this very day but by producing