The 85th Annual Meeting of the British Association of Dermatologists took place at Glasgow SECC 5th - 8th July 2005.
Report by Dr Allan Highet (York)
When I agreed to write some notes about this year’s annual meeting, I realised I have been attending BADs for over 25 years.
The most obvious change is the loss of the clinical meeting, last held in 1991. This last event of the annual meeting was always the highlight for me. However, as the number of delegates rose year by year, the size of the annual meeting outgrew the accommodation available in most towns and cities, and it became clear that these valuable sessions were sadly no longer feasible.
Sartorially there has been a gradual trend to less formal attire, the main exception being the dermatological surgeons who request black tie for their dinner. For the BAD dinner there is a clear option of lounge suit or black tie, and there seemed to be approximately equal numbers of each. This did not seem awkward to me. During the daytime sessions open necks and ties now co-exist happily.
There persist, in contrast, two notable and overlapping strengths of British dermatology; firstly, then atmosphere of collegiality and mutual support, and secondly, respect and co-operation between academic and clinical. Because of the increasing numbers in our speciality, one can no longer expect to know personally most of one’s colleagues throughout the country, but meetings offer an opportunity to make new acquaintances and friends, and the ambience of congeniality remains.
Short papers on original research, usually given by registrars, formed the main content of the annual meetings 25 years ago. It seemed to be understood that the main point was to give the registrars experience at presenting, clearly in itself worthwhile, but for many in the audience including myself this was not educationally particularly useful. This point has become increasingly accepted and by 2005 this format no longer dominated the main sessions. The smaller number has meant better quality.
Of this year’s presentations of original work, the most memorable I heard was the most unexpected: an international collaborative study, presented by Dr Bataille, found no association between sunbed use and melanoma. The scientifically most impressive for me were two papers given by Dr Helen Young on vascular endothelial growth factor in psoriasis, one of which had been awarded the 2005 prize for best oral presentation by the British Society for Investigative Dermatology.
The special interest sessions are now well established and attract large audiences.
The evolution towards more didactically useful formats was further developed this year:
•The Trainee Pre-conference Session on "Genetics for Dermatologists" is just the type of session I had wished for; a pity I was disqualified by seniority!
•I am particularly keen on Lunchtime Focus Sessions as you get a decent lunch without queuing. Two were on offer on each of the full days. I managed to attend epidermolysis bullosa, phototherapy, and hair and nails, all of which were enjoyable and informative.
•The Registrars’ Symposium included talks by Professors Friedmann, Munro and Reynolds which aimed at promoting an investigative approach amongst clinicians by illustrative examples of their own work. An interesting personal note was the picture of Colin Munro’s place of work in Glasgow which included a nearby block of flats in which my grandparents had lived.
•Guest speakers in the plenary sessions included Professor John Cookson on "Creating a new medical school" (Hull-York), and Professor Richard Trembath on "A geneticist’s view of dermatology". The BSPD had Dr Eichenfield on "Neonatal dermatology", and Professor Lehmann addressed the photodermatology group on the XPD gene.
• In "Systematic review 2005" Sir Iain Chalmers emphasised the need to assimilate the accumulated experience of previous research, and gave examples of inadvertent clinical mismanagement caused by failure to do so.
•The Arthur Rook oration was given by Professor Stephen Katz from the National Institutes of Health of the USA. He outlined his role in promoting dermatology within American medical research, leaving his British audience envious of the funds available to our transatlantic colleagues.
•The Therapeutics Factfile had three fine presentations on atopic eczema, fumaric acid esters and photodynamic therapy. Michael Cork’s paper on epidermal barrier function impairment in atopic eczema, and how these considerations might affect treatment strategy, was a model of clarity. I would suggest that this session could be expanded.
•The Continuing Professional Development Update on the final morning appears to be modelled on the similarly placed session at the American Academy meetings. Apart from its unwieldy title, and a challengingly early start for those who had attended the annual dinner the previous evening, this is the right way to conclude. The presentations were all first rate. We need more of this.
The AGM will be remembered for the members’ approval of proposals to extend the president’s term to two years, and to appoint two vicepresidents, one with responsibility for academic matters, the other for clinical and service issues.
Outside events will have been imprinted on the memories of all who attended. The demonstrations associated with the G8 summit in Gleneagles were predicted and at least partly explained the very strong police presence in and around the hotels. The awarding of the 2012 Olympics to London was announced during the meeting. But sadly the most vivid associations will be with the evolving news of the terrorist bombings in London.
On a happier note, my wife Margaret accompanied me to a BAD for the first time and greatly enjoyed the organised outings: a tour of the city on the Tuesday afternoon, and a sail on Loch Lomond followed by a distillery visit on the Wednesday, each enhanced by excellent guides.
The venue for the annual dinner at Stirling Castle was spectacular. We were greeted by pipers on arrival, and during the reception on the lawn we had distant views over hills and plains lit by a low sun in a clear sky. The meal in the great hall was superb, including the best venison I have tasted, and the evening ended with a demonstration of highland dancing accompanied by a pipe band.
The officers and staff of the BAD are to be congratulated on such an excellent meeting.