Trainees’ Preview of the Liverpool 2017 ABN Meeting

Alexander Foulkes is a Neurology SR in the southeast London deanery and Chair of the ABNT Committee.

James B Lilleker is a Neurology Clinical Research Fellow and ABNT regional rep for the North West.

Conference details: Association of British Neurologists Annual Meeting, ABNT Trainees’ Day; 2nd May, 2017; Liverpool, UK
First published online: 7/3/17

Ever since it became the primary port on the northwest English coast in the 18th century, Liverpool has been one of the great cosmopolitan societies of the UK. Based initially on maritime trade, the wealth of the city grew to overshadow that even of London for a while, reflected in the beautiful architecture that litters the city and in the wide ethnic diversity of the society that populated it. Liverpool became Britain’s “port to the world” and it is with that legacy in mind that the ABN returns to Liverpool’s dock-side ACC for its 2017 ABN Annual Meeting.

We start on 2nd May with the ABN Trainees’ Day and the truly global issue of infectious diseases and the nervous system, covered through four small-group sessions on chronic meningitis, encephalitis, infections of the peripheral nervous system and para-/post-infectious conditions. We continue with a masterclass on myositis and myalgia, before finishing by reflecting collectively on the confessions of a true craftsman in our Clinical Skills Laboratory.

In parallel with the SpR session we have an excellent set of talks and case studies for medical students and FY / CMT doctors interested in neurology. There will be plenty of advice and insight into what neurologists do, where we fit in the wider neuro family and how to join in – do encourage your junior colleagues to come along. The early-evening research workshop has also become well-established over the last few years and returns with some great speakers on various ways of combining academic and clinical interests during your medical career.

We conclude the first day with the annual Trainees’ Dinner – time to relax, make new friends and catch up with old ones in the convivial atmosphere of the PanAm Restaurant in Albert Dock.

The other event specifically for trainees that I would like to draw your attention to is the Trainee Forum, this year on the Thursday morning before the AGM. This is our opportunity as trainees to get together en masse to discuss issues amongst ourselves, and I would encourage you all to come along and have your say!

The main ABN Meeting embraces the international theme with Eric Hoffman of Binghampton University and Andrew Schwartz of the University of Pittsburgh, delivering the Gordon Holmes and Practical Neurology lectures, respectively, and Raad Shakir from the World Federation of Neurology. Closer to home, we have the pleasure of hearing from ABN Presidents past and present – Mary Reilly on life at the periphery and Martin Rossor, talking perhaps of matters a little more central, as this year’s ABN Medallist. Mix in sessions on therapeutics, diagnostics, pathophysiology and genomics; Adrian Williams on the new Neurosciences NNAG/CRG and an update on the Acute Neurology Survey; posters on as wide a range of topics as you can imagine and SIGs of every flavour: this May Liverpool truly does become our port on the world of neurology and we look forward to seeing you there.

Liverpool itself

An iconic metropolis forming the western border of the “Northern Powerhouse”, Liverpool is a proud city boasting several accolades. Liverpool was a previous European Capital of Culture in 2008 and remains the Guinness World Records “World Capital City of Pop”. The Liverpool music scene requires little introduction. The Merseybeat era of the 1960s brought us The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Searchers to name but a few. As well as starting a musical revolution that spread the length and breadth of the UK, British Beat also went on to conquer the world, spearheading the British Invasion of the American pop charts.

The Beatles played some of their first gigs at the famous Cavern Club on Mathew Street. Despite the demolition of the original club, tourists still flock to this location to see the rebuilt replica that stands in its place. Those not wishing to brave the queues can instead visit Cavern Pub, a cheap-and-cheerful imitation situated just across the road. This area is now the epicentre of the annual Liverpool International Music Festival. Of the live music on offer each year, visitors are virtually always within earshot of a Beatles tribute band, demonstrating their enduring influence on music in the UK. The individual members of the band continue to be worshipped by many across the city. Paul McCartney remains particularly influential, especially when considering his subsequent formation of the band Wings (sometimes referred to as “the band The Beatles could have been”).

Liverpool is obviously famous for “scouse”, a word derived from “lobscouse”, a Scandinavian term for a meat or fish stew popular with sailors. Travellers to the ports of Liverpool in the 19th century probably brought this dish with them, and it was lapped up by the locals, who later become known as “scousers”. Scouse is now also used to describe the accent and dialect common to many living in Merseyside and the surrounding areas. Books discussing commonly used Scouse words and phrases can be found in most newsagents and bookshops for those interested.

Major tourist attractions in the city include the Merseyside Maritime Museum, Museum of Liverpool, Tate Liverpool and the Liverpool Cathedrals. The picturesque waterfront and docks area are protected UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For those with shopping in mind, Liverpool ONE is the standout destination, whilst trendy bars and restaurants can be found in the up-and-coming Baltic Triangle area.

Finally, we are also told that Liverpool is home to a few football clubs, and that the rivalries are rather fierce. It is perhaps fortuitous therefore that the ABN logo includes one red and one blue seahorse. Pick your side carefully…