Tag Archives: microbiology conferences

“Notes from ECCMID 2017”

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.

Ho hum…


“Boston Tea Party”

I like a party, but am not very fond of tea….

I am currently en route to Boston for the ASM/ Microbe conference. I have never been to Boston before, nor have I attended a conference in the USA, so really looking forward to it. Maybe I will come across some characters as described in this post!

I think when you go to a conference as big as this, with lots of parallel sessions and sideshows, you need to have a very clear idea of what you want to focus on before you go. Otherwise it is very easy to suffer information overload.

Therefore my objectives are as follows:

  • Improve my knowledge of antibiotic stewardship.
  • Find out what future innovations are being planned for the Kiestra TLA
  • Become really familiar with the current Rapid PCR platforms and their test profiles.

Anything else is a bonus. 

And I certainly hope to see plenty of Boston as well.

So no more blog posts for the next week. Look forward to getting down to some serious writing when I return, hopefully with the batteries recharged, and with lots of new ideas!


“Conference stereotypes”

A lighthearted post for the weekend… which may or may not be applied to microbiology conferences. 

Conference Crawler: Every institution has one, possibly even every microbiology lab. Always on conference leave, floating from one conference to another, leaving little time in between for work. Abstract view of reality, good theoretical knowledge, but difficulty in dealing with practical “real life” problems. Lots of mini-shampoo bottles in soap bag.

Conference Businessman: Often found wandering the conference venue dressed in a suit (it’s not a wedding, nor a funeral…), and carrying a briefcase/shoulder bag. Looks more important than job suggests. Aloof, often mistaken for industry rep.

Conference Critic: Insists on standing up at the end of every talk to deliver a comment or a question, usually questioning the speakers findings. Inflated sense of self importance, likes sound of own voice.

Conference Networker: Knows everyone at conference, difficult to speak to for more than two minutes before he/she wanders off. Always has glass or coffee cup in hand. Inevitably arrives late for presentations.

Conference Plenary Speaker: Often elderly and may be difficult of hearing. Capable of delivering talk in his/her sleep and often does. Often delivers highly evidence based, but also highly tedious talks. Usually disappears into thin air immediately afterwards.

Conference Photographer: Attends every talk armed with an I-Pad or I-Phone. (No other apparatus will do). Insists on photographing every powerpoint slide with aforementioned apparatus. Often deficient in listening skills.

Conference Shopper: Rarely found at conference venue, well dressed, not always female.


p.s. Looking forward to going to the ECCMID conference next year in Barcelona (chosen primarily on venue). Hopefully I will not fulfil too many of these stereotypes!