Annual meeting 2023

A successful first Neuro-SysMed Annual Symposium

The very first Neuro-SysMed Annual Symposium took place at the historic Solstrand Hotel outside of Bergen, September 25-26, 2023. The dramatic western Norway weather did not entice to stepping out into the beautiful fjord surroundings, but all the 114 participants did nevertheless enjoy social and scientific radiance indoors.

Photo collage from the 2023 symposium.
Neuro-SysMed, Eli V.

Main content

The program covered sessions on treatment trials in neurodegeneration and in multiple sclerosis, NAD replenishment as a strategy for neuroprotection, and biostatistics for clinical trials. International speakers including professors Kailash Bhatia (London), Raymond Koopman (the Netherlands), Marie Vidailhet (Paris), Suvankar Pal (Edinburgh), Xavier Montalban (Barcelona), Fredrik Piehl (Stockholm), Vilhelm Bohr (Copenhagen), Tim Friede (Germany), Fan Li and Tong Guangyu (both USA) shared from their vast experience, and local senior and junior researchers added to the program with ongoing Neuro-SysMed research. See the full program here. Some of the talks inspired to articles from Dagens Medisin, with interviews with Frank Riemer, Fredrik Piehl, Julia Tuominen and Akash Kapali.

Important challenges and opportunities

The Neuro-SysMed Director Kjell-Morten Myhr and Co-Director Charalampos (Haris) Tzoulis opened the talks by presenting the Neuro-SysMed origin, visions, and goals. The following talks highlighted challenges related to diagnosis as well as to treatment and clinical inclusion of atypical Parkinson’s disease. Research on young onset dementia showed the importance of adapting the follow-up related to age and the need for the patient and families, quite different from older onset dementia. These presentations were followed by talks on multiple sclerosis treatment options and optimalization, as well as mechanisms of action of B-cell therapies, and new potential trials and research from imaging and biomarkers. 

The NAD session provided an excellent review of the basic concepts and rationale for a large number of trials currently being performed at Neuro-SysMed. The Centre is currently running NAD trials across all four diseases. Professor Vilhelm Bohr provided a comprehensive overview of how it all started, followed up by glimpses of some of the trials happening at the Centre right now. 

One size does not fit all

The biostatistics session by professors Tim Friede, Fan Li and Tong Guangyu was followed by a plenum session, facilitating a fruitful discussion.

“The take-home message is to consult up front, during and afterwards!” Myhr summed up about this session, concluding that “study design and statistics are challenging and crucial, and we thus need to make proper design and analysis in our studies.” 

“I think it is an important thing to remember that one size doesn’t fit all, when something is developed for cancer, you cannot take for granted that you can apply the same for neurodegeneration or MS,” Tzoulis continued. “So, I think we need to be very aware of the designs we use for clinical trials,” he concluded.

Engaging poster session

The program also included a successful poster session where younger researchers could present their projects. Twenty high quality posters were discussed and evaluated. An evaluation committee did their rounds to evaluate the PhD candidates among the poster presenters, as well as selecting a winner for Best Poster among all 20. The audience also digitally elected the Best Poster winner through voting on their cell phones. Both winners received great applause during the closing remarks the last day: Elise Førsund for Best Poster by the evaluation committee, and Yola Gerking for Best Poster by audience voting. Congratulations to both! 

Fruitful discussions in SAB meetings

Neuro-SysMed used the opportunity to have strategy meetings with the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), consisting of Kailash Bhatia, Raymond Koopman and Xavier Montalban. The SAB expressed clear support for Neuro-SysMed's research and provided valuable advice for further developments. 

Save the date for the 2024 symposium

Make sure to save the date for the 2nd Neuro-SysMed Annual Symposium, which will take place September 26-27, 2024, also this time at Solstrand.