Conference Time

There’s a thread over on on the Doc2Doc website about the ERS over in Munich. A couple of trainees asked about what to do and where to go – one of the more senior members over there thinks that conferences have become bloated, oversized, and are now so big that they have become too large to function effectively.

The ERS is a massive meeting – 24,000 delegates at Barcelona last year, and probably as many this year. But such a large meeting will draw big name speakers, and thus quality of presentations. There’s too much to see, of course – not possible to be in every place at once – and some of the sessions are so big that it’s very daunting to get involved in the discussions.

I fondly remember going to CHEST in 2004, in Seattle. Seattle is a great city – well worth the flight across to the West coast, I think- but the meeting was organised in a very different way to the giant ERS/ATS norm of today. Each session was very small, often only 12 or 15 people, of which 6 would be presenting. It lead to a very lively discussion in every session, between the people who were either really interested in the topic, or the real experts in the field. In some ways it’s like the spoken poster sessions at the Winter BTS.

There’s still the question of whether 20,000 people should get onto planes, and fly all the way to Munich for a conference that could be broadcast over the internet. The TED talks very successfully broadcast all through the year – we even had a TED-Med broadcast from Dundee recently, and we’re thinking of having a TED-Ed session later in 2015. The cargo footprint of the ERS must be astronomical – but the boost to the local economy of Munich, and Barcelona last year, Amsterdam next year, cannot be ignored.

I have a Maltese colleague who works in Dundee with me, but trained in the North East of Enlgand; he arranges one night out with his Maltese colleagues, one with his Liverpool colleagues and one with the Dundonians – hard to get together with so many people without meeting up at a conference.

I’m not going to the ERS this year – I was at the ATS this year, and the ERS last year, not to mention the excellent Summer BTS in York. But if you are in Munich, remember to visit the Thorax stand – there’ll be plenty of chat from our Editors, and a free copy of Thorax, probably.

Finally – do you want to be the next Editor in Chief of Thorax? We’re looking for one, or two – see the Journal Website for more info. If you don’t fancy the big seat, do you want to write a Thorax blog? Drop me a line – we’re looking for guest bloggers!

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