European Academy of Neurology Congress 2020 – Introduction and reflections on a virtual congress

Event reports
12 Jun 2020

This year’s European Academy of Neurology Congress took place from May 23rd-26th and was the first of its kind to be entirely virtual.

Prof Gavin Giovannoni & Joela Mathews: Introduction and reflections on a virtual congress

Gavin Giovannoni Professor of Neurology, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry & Academic Director, MS Academy, and Joela Mathews, Lead Neuroscience Pharmacist for Barts Health NHS Trust, both attended the conference, Gavin as a speaker, and Joela as a participant. In this short introductory video, they offer a helpful critique on the positives of the conference going virtual, as well as the challenges or restrictions caused by this.

The biggest positive is undoubtedly the accessibility of the conference, with over 42,000 registered attendees making it the largest neurological meeting ever held, and free access to all of the sessions without the added inconvenience and expense of travel and accommodation. Prof. Dr. Med Claudio L Bassetti, Acting President of the EAN, noted the potential learning from this to take forward into the future in his opening address, suggesting that future congresses may be made hybrid in order to maximise the accessibility of the conference to all.

Joela noted the difficulties of watching back to back content in a home where there are other distractions, and the loss of impromptu learning led by new acquaintances. Gavin found that it achieved the core objectives of disseminating new information in MS, but noted that online learning is different to that in person, and that the conference did not take this into account as it could have, and so missed maximising the experiences of attendees and optimising their learning.

Core information in accessible chunks

A number of MS Academy faculty attended the conference, and have summarised some of the key messages and information in short, accessible videos to share their learning as simply and widely as possible.

The four key topics that they are addressing draws on information from multiple sessions, pulling out the most interesting and cutting edge evidence shared during the conference. Each video is less than 10 minutes long and is delivered in conversation across two faculty members. The topics are:

Setting the scene

The opening presentation, given by Acting President Prof. Bassetti, highlighted the unprecedented circumstances under which the globe is currently operating. With 130,000 worldwide deaths owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, he noted the cancellation of the sixth physical Congress in Paris, in favour of this first ever virtual Congress.

He presented the picture of neurology in Europe and highlighted the breadth of the programme this year, noting both scientific and vocational topics across the range of sessions (see the programme online).

Slide 2: Opening presentation, EAN Congress 2020: Vision and mission of the EAN

Slide 7: Opening presentation, EAN Congress 2020: the burden of neurology

One of the highlights for many was the presentation on CADASIL, examining the work by Marie-Germaine Bousser, Hugues Chabriat, Anne Joutel and Elisabeth Tournier-Lasserve. This groundbreaking research on the clinical, genetic, cellular and molecular basis of a brain syndrome, known as CADASIL was awarded the Brain Prize 2019. The lecture itself, which took place at 10.41 on 24th May, can be accessed online, and has already had 1103 views.

Further information

  • Posters submitted can be found online
  • The opening session is available as a video
  • Tweets pertaining to the Congress can be found using the hashtag #EAN2020

This activity has been sponsored by Roche Products Limited. Roche Products Limited has had no control over the educational content of this activity.

Encouraging excellence, developing leaders, inspiring change

MS Academy was established five years ago and in that time has accomplished a huge amount. The six different levels of specialist MS training are dedicated to case-based learning and practical application of cutting edge research. Home to national programme Raising the Bar and the fantastic workstream content it is producing, this is an exciting Academy to belong to.