Incredibly, four months have already passed since the highly successful annual ESA meeting in Vienna, Euroanaesthesia 2019. As the readers of ESA news probably know, the various scientific sub-committees of the ESA play a crucial role in the proposal, preparation and monitoring of the content of the annual meeting and the ESA focus meetings. For the past 3 years it has been my privilege to chair scientific sub-committee 1 (general anaesthesiology) and thus to be a member of the overall scientific committee of the ESA. As my term will soon end, now is perhaps an opportune moment to provide an update of our activities this past year.
As with all scientific sub-committees, there is a regular process of change, with new committee members being elected onto the committee and older ones rotating off. For the past year I have been ably assisted by Prof. Daniela Ionescu (Romania), Dr. Hugo Vereecke (Belgium), and Dr. Konstantinos Stroumpoulis (Greece). We have also been assisted by Prof. Henrik Rueffert (Germany), a co-opted member representing the European Malignant Hyperthermia Group (EMHG). I am very grateful to these colleagues for all their hard work. My term as chair will expire at the end of this year, when I will hand over the baton into the capable hands of Prof. Ionescu. I shall remain on the sub-committee for a further 18 months as past-chair. We will also soon be joined by Dr. Hans de Boer who will represent the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) Society.
The ESA has 16 scientific sub-committees, while the program content of the annual meeting is separated into 17 ‘learning tracks’. Thirteen scientific sub-committees have their ‘own’ learning tracks (SSCs without their own learning tracks are SSC 13 Pharmacology, SSC 14 Monitoring, Ultrasound and Equipment, SSC16 Ethics). There are therefore 4 learning tracks that do not have an associated SSC (‘perioperative medicine’, ‘patient safety’, ‘education’ and ‘ESA sessions’). As the SSC with, arguably, the broadest scope, scientific sub-committee 1 (SSC1) has a tough remit to suggest meeting content that is relevant, challenging and educational, but that does not fall within the remit of the other SSCs. We rely heavily on suggestions from our own committee members, the many suggestions from ESA members, and on proposals from the SSCs without their own learning tracks, whose suggestions are often also relevant to the general anaesthesiology learning track.
The SSC1 can look back on Euroanaesthesia 2019 with great satisfaction. The general anaesthesia learning track comprised 20 sessions, and with a range of contemporary themes, in a range of formats (60 minute symposia, single lectures, refresher courses, pro-con debates and a ‘fishbowl session’ and workshop). Among the many highlights were a session on the effects of inhaled anaesthetic agents on the environment by Prof. Ole John Nielsen (who was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 jointly with Al Gore), a lecture on the mechanisms of anaesthetic action by Prof. Nick Franks, and sessions on anaesthetic agents as cancer disease modifiers and on the long-term influence of anaesthetics on the human brain. Other session themes included artificial intelligence and technology in anaesthesia, fluid administration, malignant hypothermia, CPR, sedation, sugammadex, cannabis and a history of self-experimentation (the latter two sessions were not related). For me, a personal highlight was my role as a judge in the best abstract prize competition, as I was particularly impressed by the flair, enthusiasm and intelligence of young colleagues presenting their research results.
With regard to poster presentations at Euroanaesthesia 2019, the general anaesthesiology learning track had by far the largest number of poster sessions (19 sessions involving more than 180 poster presentations). Our SSC was naturally heavily involved before the conference in scoring proposals for poster presentations and clustering the accepted posters into sessions, and then also eventually involved at the conference as moderators of the poster presentation sessions.