The symposium programme committee

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The 24th International Symposium on ALS/MND is now only one month away and we are now beginning to make the final preparations for the meeting.

All 497 abstracts were published online yesterday and are available by means of open access via our website. These abstracts have had a long journey from when they were originally submitted back in May and judged by the symposium programme committee in June.

But who are the symposium programme committee and what do they do? Dr Ludo Van Den Bosch (Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven), who is a volunteer on the committee, kindly agreed to tell us more.

Who are they?

A group of volunteer scientists and clinicians make up the symposium programme committee. These usually include MND scientists and clinicians from that year’s host symposium country (Italy) and next year’s (Belgium).

What do they do?

Dr Ludo Van De Bosch
Dr Ludo Van Den Bosch

Put simply, there would be no meeting without a programme committee! We select the topics for the different sessions, choose which speakers to invite and fill in the gaps in the programme by selecting the best submitted abstracts!

The programme will determine whether or not the meeting is appealing enough to attract leading MND scientists and clinicians from around the world to attend.

It is like choosing the headliners of a music festival and combining these with promising, up and coming, young bands – the potential headliners of the future! We believe that this good and balanced mix will guarantee that the symposium is a success.

The analogy of the programme being like a music festival can be even further extended. Because of the very good reputation of the symposium, many researchers register without having a close look at the programme (or even before the programme is known). This is like ‘booking tickets’ early before the headline acts have even been announced!

However, the reputation of the symposium and the fact that many researchers register before the programme has been announced does not make the work of the programme committee any easier. We need to ensure that the high expectations of the meeting are continually being met, year after year.

Why did you get involved?

I have always had very good contacts with the Motor Neurone Disease Association and in light of the organisation of the 2014 meeting in Brussels, I was asked to join the programme committee. I gratefully accepted this invitation and it is my intention to make the meeting in Brussels a huge success, with the meeting in Milan teaching me how to do so!

What is your best part of the symposium?

Being a scientist, the stereotypical answer would be that the best science will be presented by the best scientists in the different scientific sessions. However, the possibility to meet and discuss with colleagues is in my mind even more important than the oral presentations.

In line with this, I am convinced that it is extremely important to focus (even more) on the poster sessions. Although platform presentations are prestigious, I believe posters are a very efficient and personal way of sharing information with others. Poster presentations allow you to delve into the depth and knowledge of the work enabling highly detailed discussions. As long as we do not understand the mechanism leading to ALS, this remains crucial!

View and download the Symposium abstracts online via our website now!