Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

EMWA conference, day 1

I write this from the EMWA conference in Lisbon, as the serious business of the first day has drawn to a close. I was relieved that all the Dianthus team made it to Lisbon despite the disruption from the ash cloud, even though the other members of the team had a hideous journey and got here far later than scheduled. Still at least they got here.

It was my privilege to speak at the opening session of the conference last night in paying a brief tribute to Geoff Hall, a past president of EMWA and a good friend of mine, who sadly passed away last month after a long battle with prostate cancer. It is such a shame he couldn't make it to the conference, as I know how much he loved both Lisbon and EMWA.

The conference today began with a fascinating talk about Web 2.0 in medical education, by Dr Anne Cunningham of the University of Sunderland. And now here am I blogging about it. How neat is that?

After that, I attended a workshop on pharmacogenomics, given by Andrea Palluch of Inpharmedia, which I found very interesting. It's taught me a few useful things, probably the most important of which is what a hideously embryonic stage the discipline is still at. But definitely one to watch over the next 10 years or so. It will be wonderful if it lives up to its promise of ensuring that drugs are more tailored to the specific patients in whom they will work best, with the minimum of side effects.

This afternoon saw a fascinating talk by Iain Hrynaszkiewicz from BioMed Central (heroically standing in for Melissa Norton, who unfortunately had to pull out at the last minute owing to illness) about biomedical publishing in the internet age. It was my privilege to chair the session, although I suspect I was only given the job because no-one else wanted to introduce the speaker and attempt to pronounce his name correctly. It was a fascinating talk, and it's clear that internet biomedical publishing can be far more than simply taking a conventional article and putting it on a website, although it is still early days and many of the possibilities are not yet being fully used. Something I suspect will turn out to be very important is the opportunity for raw data to be made available together with publications. This needs some careful thought, as there are a number of potential problems, not the least of which is persuading researchers to make their data publicly available. Journals could take the lead here, if they wanted to make it a condition of publishing, and Iain described some tentative first steps in that direction. I think this has great potential for good once the teething problems are ironed out.

Iain's talk was followed by the EMWA AGM, which saw Helen Baldwin retire as president, to much grateful applause from the assembled company for all the sterling work she had put in during her tenure. She is succeeded by Laurence Auffret, who I'm sure will be more than capable of leading EMWA every bit as dynamically as Helen has done over the last year.

All that now remains of today is to head to the conference banquet. Back for more blogging tomorrow.

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