PREVIEW: ABNT at the ABN Annual Meeting

Conference details: ABNT at the ABN Annual Meeting 2019, 20-23 May, 2019; Edinburgh, UK.
Published online: 4/4/19

Peter Fernandes is a Clinical Lecturer in Neurology at the University of Edinburgh and ABNT regional representative for Scotland
Sam Shribman, is a Clinical Research Fellow in Neurology at University College London and ABNT Chair.

Edinburgh has been the capital of Scotland for many centuries and possesses a wealth of cultural and geographical attractions. Affectionately known as ‘Auld Reekie’ (for the smoke clouds that formerly plagued the city), Edinburgh is also known as the ‘Athens of the North’ for the topographical similarities between the cities, as well as the neo-classical architecture of the New Town.

The next ABN meeting will be held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) and will open with the ABN Trainee Day on Monday 20th May 2019. Previously known as the Pre-Meeting Day, this year it will incorporate the trainee forum and dinner to make the most of the largest annual gathering of neurology trainees in the UK.

There is an exciting programme lined with talks from Professor Hugh Willison and Dr Maria Farrugia on peripheral neurological diseases and Professor Jon Stone and colleagues on functional neurological disorders, from both the neurological and psychiatric perspectives. Dr Louise Davidson will be covering how to prepare for consultancy and, in parallel, Foundation Doctors will have sessions exploring life as a Neurologist, how to get in to neurology training and discussions around a series of fascinating cases. Delegates will join up for the trainee forum and the clinical skills laboratory led by the inspirational Dr Richard Davenport before Professor Martin Turner closes the programme with the research session exploring how to choose a project. Everyone will re-group for the trainee dinner in the heart of the city later in the evening.

The programme for the main meeting is equally impressive covering a diverse range of topics over the following three days. We will hear about cells and cellular therapies from the bench to the bedside, modern dilemmas in neurology and what to do next after pausing for thought. In addition to a wide range of special interest groups on individual subspecialties there will also be plenary sessions dedicated to movement disorders and epilepsy as well as the annual Gordon Holmes, ABN Medallist and Practical Neurology lectures. The ever popular clinico-pathological conference will be held on the last day with oral and poster presentations throughout the week.

Edinburgh itself

Edinburgh is split between the aforementioned New Town (a relatively recent 18th-19th century construction) and the mediaeval Old Town, a rabbit warren of small winding streets (rather appropriately named ‘wynds’) surrounding the Royal Mile. This street, which connects Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament, often hosts street performers, especially during the famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August.
Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano just 1 mile from the castle (and which other city boasts a volcano within its limits?) is not difficult to climb and boasts fantastic views from the summit, including of the iconic Forth Bridge, accompanied by its two companions, the Forth Road Bridge and the recently completed Queensferry Crossing. Calton Hill is a worthy alternative, possessing the Scottish National Monument (a half-finished Parthenon-esque structure adding further weight to the Athens of the North sobriquet) and hosting the Beltane Fire Festival in April each year. Other nearby attractions include Portobello beach with golden sands (and freezing surf) upon which the Aurora borealis may be glimpsed if one is fortunate. Towards the south of the city Craigmillar Castle is famous for hosting Mary Queen of Scots, whose French retainers gave the surrounding area, now including the main Edinburgh hospital, its name of ‘Little France’.

Edinburgh is also famed for its many illustrious citizens, many of whom lived during the Scottish Enlightenment in the 18th and 19th centuries. These include Adam Smith (whose ‘invisible hand’ underpins modern economic theory), David Hume, and the writers Arthur Conan Doyle (“elementary my dear Watson”), Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island), Walter Scott (whose novels gave Waverley train station its name), and not forgetting JK Rowling of course, who still lives in the city. Scientists are not excluded, with James Clerk Maxwell, Alexander Graham Bell, and Ian Wilmuts all residents at one time or another (and the latter’s most famous creation, Dolly the Sheep, can be found in the National Museum of Scotland – itself well worth a visit). From a medical perspective both Joseph Lister, who pioneered anti-septic use in surgery, and James Young Simpson, who introduced anaesthetics, were Edinburgh-based doctors. Finally, Greyfriars Bobby, the devoted hound who waited 14 years by the grave of his owner, is commemorated in the statue to be found near George IV Bridge.

With such a fantastic programme in a city centred on a UNESCO world heritage site and steeped in history and culture, the ABN meeting in Edinburgh will be a difficult one to miss. We hope to see you there!