Report from ISPAD Science School 2013 in Sydney, Australia

ISPAD Science School Report – Sydney, Australia – July 22-26, 2013

It was a pleasure to welcome 20 fellows from across the world to participate in an intensive, absorbing week of scholarship ‘down under’ in Sydney – the first time the school has been held in the southern hemisphere. The international faculty (Prof Mikael Knip - Finland, Dr Lori Laffel - Boston, US and Dr Michael Haller - Gainsville, US), along with Australian faculty (Prof Kim Donaghue - Sydney, Prof Fergus Cameron - Melbourne, Prof Jenny Couper - Adelaide) gave us their time, energy and passion for diabetes research during the 5-day course. The faculty and guest lecturers (Prof Tom Kay, Prof Anand Hardikar, Prof Stephen Twigg, Prof Bill Tamborlane, Dr Shubha Srinivasan, Dr Andrzej Januszewski, Dr Shihab Hameed and Dr Kate Hansen from CLAN - Caring and Living as Neighbours) covered a broad range of topics including research methodology; evidence-based medicine; basic, clinical and translational research; and child health advocacy. We heard presentations on cutting edge science in diabetes immunology, genetics, complications, transplantation, epidemiology, physiology and microRNAs, as well as many important aspects of clinical care.

The lecture program was mixed with interactive small group discussion sessions each day. The fellows discussed their current or planned research in these small groups and subsequently presented to the entire audience.  This provided the opportunity to explore the complexities of research – from working up a project to analysing and presenting data, as well as receiving expert input from faculty members and feedback from peers.

We were delighted to be joined by special guests throughout the program, including Prof Martin Silink (former president of ISPAD and the IDF), who established the ISPAD Science School program, with the inaugural school being held in Berlin in 2000. 

The scientific program was complemented by the sunny, mild winter in Sydney, which enabled our guests to explore some of the city’s famous sights out of hours. Some were brave enough to climb the Sydney Harbour bridge, while others were content with a walk along the coastline from Bronte to Bondi Beach or a run in the botanical gardens. We were grateful for the kind hospitality of Kim Donaghue, who hosted the welcome dinner at her house.

The final session on Friday afternoon was combined with the Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group (APEG) fellows’ meeting, enabling the ISPAD and APEG fellows to mingle and benefit from the informative case discussion session.

The Science School was sponsored by an unrestricted grant from Eli-Lilly. Thanks to Alicia, Chris and Katie from Willorganise for their brilliant organisation of the meeting, and APEG which provided additional support.

 A/Prof Maria Craig, ISPAD Science School Convenor 2013.