The 36th World Congress of the International Society of Hematology was hosted by the British Society for Haematology at their 56th Annual Scientific Meeting which was held at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference centre in Glasgow from the 18th to the 21st of April in 2016.
Nearly 2,000 delegates attended representing 54 countries, a tremendous achievement. The meeting had been previously hosted in the UK in 1992 and we were honoured that Professor Alastair Bellingham who was President of the Society at that time was able to attend. Sir David Weatherall, who was President of the ISH had hoped to attend but had to pull out late due to health issues.
The meeting was a show-case for the cutting edge of haematology, with many international speakers, but with an underlying theme of Haematology in Practice. We were delighted that the American Society of Hematology agreed to organise a session and we pleased to welcome their President, David Williams, and a delegation from the society. We hope this is an innovation that we can build on.
There was an emphasis on the development of the genomic revolution and its impact on haematology and contribution in the various subspecialties. There was a presentation on the significance of the 100,000 genome project in the UK from Professor Mark Caulfield, the Chief Scientist for Genomics England and a salutary presentation by Dr Gail Jarvik, Head of the Division of Medical Genetics and Professor of Genome Sciences, University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle on the problems and pitfalls of Classifying and Returning Diagnostic, Uncertain and Incidental Genomic Results.
There were plenary presentations from Professor Stephen Mulligan, University of Sydney, Australia on the new era of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, and from Professor Catherine Hayward, McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, Hamilton, Ontaria, Canada on Common challenges in the evaluation of inherited bleeding disorders. The BSH Medal Lecture was given by Dr Tim Littlewood, President-elect of the BSH on reflections on education in haematology.
We were very well supported by many of the specialist specialty groups in the UK who collaborated with their international counterparts organising sessions reflecting the very latest developments in both the clinical specialities and in laboratory science. We were also able to utilise the many oversees speakers by holding smaller, more informal ‘Meet the Expert’ sessions which were very popular. To encompass these international aims the meeting ran over 4 days with nearly 40 scientific sessions. The abstracts and the educational supplement are available on-line. There was an excellent trade exhibition reflecting the many developments in diagnostics and therapeutics.
Reflecting the international spread of the attendees we were keen explore the difficulties in practice in low and middle income countries and had a theme of sessions on each day covering anaemia, infection, oncology and transfusion practice superbly developed by Dr Imelda Bates, who has spent much time in sub-Saharan Africa, and ably presented by local experts looking at that difficult interface between what is desirable and what is possible. We were also fortunate to have a session by the International Committee for Standards in Hematology organised by Professor Sam Machin reviewing the importance of quality standards.
There was much reflection on the future of haematology, benefitting from the international flavour, reviewing educational developments, controversies in training, research opportunities and the use of newer IT developments in supporting hematology practice. A Patient Advocacy session was organised by Eric Low, the Chief Executive of Myeloma UK. There were two presentations emphasising the need to think about long-term sequelae now that patients are living longer, and not just consider the short term-term impact and the importance of assessing benefits and risks of new medicines from the patient perspective. An important reminder that patients are at the centre of all we do.
We are very fortunate to hold the meeting in Glasgow, previous European City of Culture, and the weather was unusually good for the time of year. Glasgow City Council were particularly supportive and the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre was first class. We were able to hold the conference dinner in the fascinating surroundings of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery.
I am grateful to the organising committee and the support from Professor Finbarr Cotter and Ms Sarah Lapsley, Chair and Administrator for BSH Conferences, Matthew Streetly, the Scientific Secretary and for the support from the British Society for Haematology and their President, Dr Paddy Carrington. I look forward to meeting you all in Vancouver, Canada in 2018.
Professor Adrian Newland
President ISH, 2014-2016