The International Symposium on ALS/MND

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Every year in December the MND Association organizes the largest medical and scientific conference specific to MND in the world.

The International Symposium on ALS/MND attracts over 800 researchers, clinicians and healthcare professionals, representing the energy and dynamism of the global MND research community. The symposium in Chicago last year had a record attendance of over 900 delegates with 419 abstracts presented. This year’s event promises to be just as successful with a record number of 510 abstracts!

What is the symposium?

The aim of the symposium is to enable leading researchers around the world to foster strong collaborations and encourages the sharing of new knowledge of the disease as rapidly as possible. To find out more see our website.

This year’s symposium will be held in Milan, Italy from 6 – 8 December and we will be reporting live from the event via this blog. We will be blogging about the exciting clinical and scientific MND research developments discussed at the event; from biomarkers to clinical trials and genetics.

We will also be tweeting from the symposium, as well as posting updates leading up to the event, using the hastag #alssymp.


Abstracts or ‘scientific summaries’ are an overview of a particular piece of research. These summaries briefly explain a piece of research to give the reader a ‘taste’ of what is to come.

All 510 abstracts have been proof-read by myself, Lucy and Belinda in preparation for them to be published Open Access on 4 November 2013. Once published these abstracts can be read by the research community, whom can then register to attend the symposium if they want to find out more!

These abstracts give us an exciting ‘hint’ of what is going to be discussed at this year’s symposium but we won’t know the juicy stuff until the day so-to-speak.


As well as organising and processing all of these abstracts, we also have to compile a programme (that is now available to view online here). This programme shows the schedule of talks, themes and topics to encourage researchers to register to attend the event.

An experience!

This is Lucy’s first experience of the preparation of the symposium and she summarised her thoughts about the event below:

“I’ve found that organising the symposium is very much like organising a wedding! There’s a lot to do, but you can only do certain things at a certain time – which can be a bit manic at times! For example: Once the withdrawal deadline had passed we had to edit, proof read, check and number all of the abstracts in three weeks!

“I was surprised, being from a science background, that I found the clinical work more interesting than some of the scientific abstracts. In particular what I found interesting was how the work is really changing the day to day lives of people living with MND and making a difference to actual people.”

Milan has already broken the abstract record, we’ll have to wait until December to see if anymore records can be broken!

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