I was lucky enough to attend the ECCMID conference in Vienna last week, a mass gathering (11,000+) of people interested in infection and microbiology.
I have summarised a few of my takeaways from the conference below:
Bi-lingual presenters: It always amazes me how well presenters can present in what is often their second language. It makes me somewhat envious. One day I will manage to give a presentation in French!
Conference bags: Conference bags are becoming a little dated in the sense that all their contents could now easily be summarised on a USB stick or a Smartphone app. Still, they are often regarded as a souvenir. Maybe they also make you feel like part of a tribe…
“Kiestra” dinner: BD hosted a dinner for prospective and current Kiestra users at the conference. This was a rather lavish affair held in the opulent surroundings of the Palais Coburg, and I felt a bit like royalty for the evening. BD make a particular point of looking after their clients, and this conference was no exception.
Parallel Worlds: At any one time there were 12 parallel sessions taking place at the conference. There were a couple of my colleagues from NZ who also attended the conference whom I never met during the whole four days. Parallel worlds… Or maybe they were just avoiding me!
Networking for introverts: Being an introvert, I always find networking difficult at conferences, preferring to go and hide behind a poster! Nevertheless I did manage to catch up with a few old colleagues, and meet a few new people, and speak to the odd complete stranger!
A multiplex of PCR platforms: The exhibition hall was saturated with a whole array of multi-plex PCR platforms. Not all of them will survive the competitive market, but they are certainly driving each other down in terms of price and turnaround time, which is obviously good for the customer.
Whole Genome Sequencing: I got the impression that there was not a huge amount of progress over the past year with regards to Whole Genome Sequencing in diagnostic clinical microbiology. Even for a large regional laboratory network like my own, I still think we are several years away from making a successful business case for such technology.
CDSS on the rise: The big mover this year for me was Clinical Decision Support Systems. Everywhere you looked there were apps and software related to clinical decision support, including some very sophisticated ones such as Treat Systems. I look forward to seeing how this field progresses over the next few years.
Vienna: Vienna as a city was very nice, modern and clean. It also felt very safe. The conference facilities were good, and the public transport was excellent. A good place for a conference.
WECCMID? I do worry however that ECCMID is fast becoming WECCMID in disguise. The vast majority of ECCMID conferences have been held in Western Europe, and delegates from eastern Europe seemed rather few and far between. Time to expand the horizons and pull that iron curtain down?
It was a generally good conference and I left it somewhat inspired, full of new ideas for research, presentations and even blog posts!
However now that I have left the slightly artificial world of conferences, I am now back to reality, back to the daily grind of the clinical microbiology laboratory, and back to my cubicle.