Welcome to the ‘Symposium Blogathon’

Welcome to the ‘Symposium Blogathon’

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Welcome to our ‘Symposium Blogathon’ – a series of blogs counting down to the start of the 32nd International Symposium on ALS/MND’. Every weekday throughout November we will be publishing a blog, giving an overview of different topics and themes that will be discussed at this year’s event, which will once again be held on a virtual platform, from 7-10 December. This blog will give a general overview of the Symposium, and what to expect.

People living with MND, their carers and families, are at the heart of everything we do, and our reason for organising the Symposium every year. Although aimed primarily at researchers and healthcare professionals, hosting the event on a virtual platform presents the perfect opportunity for the general public to attend. This year we have 13 plenary speakers, an additional 15 oral presentations and around 350 poster presentations spanning all aspects of MND research, drug discovery, clinical trials and clinical management and care.

Last year saw more than 1,800 delegates, from 48 countries, register for the online event, including many people from the wider MND community. Registration is now open, costs £60 and gives you access to all of this:

  • The virtual platform, viewable on laptop, desktop, mobile and tablet,
  • The full programme of plenary and oral presentations with live Q&As, and live poster sessions.
  • The ePoster hall – explore all the posters at this year’s event on demand, watch ‘lightning explainer’ videos to support content, and talk to authors.
  • The Sponsor/Exhibitor Hall – browse and explore various resources with the opportunity to talk with sponsors and exhibitors in real time or schedule meetings.
  • Meeting hub – meet and connect with other attendees to chat, call and schedule meetings.
  • The mobile app – containing lots of useful information, networking, agendas, exhibitor searches, messaging and notifications.
  • Gamification – earn points as you take part in various aspects of the virtual event to win prizes each day.
  • On-demand access to content for at least 30 days after the event.

Our wider audience

As well as researchers, many healthcare professionals attend the Symposium to help expand their existing knowledge of MND. All fields are represented at the Symposium from respiratory experts to physiotherapists. It is a chance for them to hear innovative talks and view exciting posters from experts in their field and learn about new techniques and ways to improve their practice. Helping to educate healthcare professionals is a priority for the MND Association as this will help those affected by MND have a better multi-disciplinary care plan, as well as improving their quality of life.

Presenting at the Symposium

Plenary speakers

Every year we invite a number of plenary speakers who are experts in their respective fields, and this year is no exception. Thirteen world experts in MND research and clinical care will provide an overview of a variety of topics across the ALS/MND research and clinical management spectrum. You can read abstracts of these platform presentations online. We will meet our plenary speakers in upcoming blog articles and will discuss their presentations in more detail.

Oral and poster presentations

Researchers who would like to present at the Symposium must submit an abstract – an overview of their research and findings. A Programme Committee then decides who will be given the chance to present either with an oral presentation or a poster presentation. This year, we offered a very limited number of oral presentations (in addition to our plenary speakers). Some submissions will not be given the opportunity to present in either format.


This year 15 presenters who submitted an abstract were offered the opportunity to present their work in a platform presentation. Abstracts for these can be found in the abstract books (available 17 November). Some of these presentations will be explored further in upcoming blogs.


Giving researchers the opportunity to talk about their work with the wider MND research community with a poster means that more exciting and innovative work can be shared. Poster content will be supported with a ‘Lightning Explainer’ video, and live poster sessions will allow opportunity for question and answer sessions with presenters.

You will be able to read all poster abstracts online once the abstract books are published on 17 November.

Registered attendees can listen to all presentations live and take part in Q&A sessions. They also have on-demand access to all posters and can meet with poster presenters to discuss their work during the scheduled poster sessions each day.

The Symposium Programme

This year’s Symposium Programme Committee:

  • Ammar Al-Chalabi (Chair of Programme Committee), Professor of Neurology and Complex Disease Genetics, King’s College London
  • Brian Dickie, Director of Research Development, Motor Neurone Disease Association
  • Nick Cole, Head of Research, Motor Neurone Disease Association
  • Annemarie Hübers, Associate Physician, Geneva University Hospitals
  • Kathi Schweikert, Consultant Neurologist, University Hospital and Rehab, Basel
  • Nick Goldup, Director of Care, Motor Neurone Disease Association
  • Markus Weber, Professor of Neurology, University of Basel
  • David Taylor, Vice President, Research, ALS Canada

The full programme is now available on the Symposium website and the abstract books for all presentations are now available. The abstracts provide a short scientific overview of each presentation and are intended to give readers a general understanding of what the presentation will cover.

Reporting at the Symposium

Over the past few years, we have supported our non-scientific audience with content about presentations through the Periodic Table of MND Research. This year, we are trying something different. This blog article is the first in a series of twenty-two articles that will be published on every weekday throughout November. Each blog will cover a different topic and will highlight individual oral and poster presentations, giving a ‘taster’ for what is to come. The blog article will also signpost to other blogs and resources that are relevant and may be of interest. We feel that disseminating research information in ‘bite size pieces’ will make it less of a task to keep up to date with what’s happening at the Symposium.

And the winner is …

Each year several awards are presented at the Symposium. Registered attendees can watch the award presentations on the online platform live.

The International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations Forbes Norris and Humanitarian Awards

The purpose of the Forbes Norris Award is to encourage a combination of two major qualities: management of and advances in understanding ALS/MND, to the benefit of people living with the disease. Find out more on the Alliance website.

The winner of the Forbes Norris Award 2021 is Professor Adriano Chio.

The Humanitarian Award is intended to recognise and encourage individuals and/or groups whose work makes, or has made, a contribution of international significance for people affected by ALS/MND. Find out more on the Alliance website.

The winner of the Humanitarian Award 2021 is Dr David Taylor.

The IPG Award

The IPG Award recognises young researchers below 40 years of age who have dedicated their scientific work to investigate the causes and treatment of motor neuron disease. After receiving the award, the winner will give their research presentation.

The winner of the IPG Award 2021 is Dr Silvia Pozzi.

The Healey Centre International Prize for Innovation in ALS and the Lalji Family ALS Award

The Healey Centre International Prize for Innovation in ALS is awarded to a team of investigators who have made a significant advance in the ALS field impacting the development of novel therapies for ALS.

The Lalji Family ALS Award is a global prize celebrating excellence in research for an individual or team of investigators who are making transformative breakthroughs in the science of repair of neurological function in ALS. Their goal is to identify and recognize therapies to regain lost function in ALS patients.

Stay informed

If you have come across this blog through the Symposium website, or a general search, please subscribe (top right hand corner of page) and you’ll be notified every time we upload a new article.

You can also follow our research account on Twitter. We tweet about up to the minute research and will be tweeting throughout the Symposium #alsmndsymp #drivingmndresearch.

Take a look at the schedule of blogs for November as we continue counting down to the 32nd International Symposium on ALS/MND with our ‘Symposium Blogathon’.