The Medical Independent speaks to Local Organiser of the Irish Endocrine Society’s upcoming meeting Dr Matthew Murphy about the event and the high quality of research in endocrinology being undertaken in Ireland.
The Annual Meeting of the Irish Endocrine Society (IES) will take place on 11-12 November. The event will be held in the Pillar Centre of the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Dublin.
The Annual Meeting will feature presentations on some of the best research being conducted in endocrinology in Ireland. It will also hear lectures from highly distinguished national and international speakers.
Local Organiser Dr Matthew Murphy highlighted to the Medical Independent (MI) that this is the first in-person Annual Meeting the IES will have since the Covid-19 pandemic.
“People are delighted,” Dr Murphy, who is Consultant Endocrinologist in South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital, Cork, told MI.
“There is a dinner on the Friday night as well, which we are all look0ing forward to. We are just delighted to be meeting again face-to-face. We are giving people the option to dial-in if they wish, so there is a hybrid component. But it is an in-person meeting – that is the way it is built.”
The current President of the IES Prof Fidelma Dunne will give the opening address on Friday, 11 November. Prof Dunne is a Professor in Medicine at the National University of Ireland (NUIG) and a Consultant Endocrinologist at University Hospital Galway.
Dr Murphy noted that Prof Dunne will also speak about the landmark trial, EMERGE (Effectiveness of MEtformin in addition to usual care in the Reduction of Gestational diabetes mellitus Effects).
Pregnancies affected by gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) are associated with an increased risk of adverse maternal and foetal outcomes. Current treatments for GDM involve initial medical nutritional therapy and exercise and pharmacotherapy in those with persistent hyperglycaemia. Insulin is considered a first-line pharmacotherapy, but is associated with hypoglycaemia, excessive gestational weight gain, and an increased caesarean delivery rate. Metformin is safe in selected groups of women with GDM, but is not first-line therapy in many guidelines due to a lack of long-term data on efficacy. The EMERGE trial is evaluating the effectiveness of early initiation of metformin in GDM.
Dr Murphy also referred to the high quality of the speakers at the two keynote lectures on the Friday.
“They are headline names for us to be getting over,” Dr Murphy said.
“They are very much top of the game in the UK in their respective fields.”
The Keynote Paediatric Lecture will be delivered by Prof Timothy Barrett. He is Leonard Parsons Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health in the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences. He is an Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes and Managing Director for the NIHR (National Institute of Health and Care Research) Wellcome Clinical Research Facility (children) at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Prof Barrett is also the Director of the Centre for Rare Disease Studies, Birmingham, a Research Director for the Central and South Genome Medicine Service Alliance, and co-leads the Genomics England Clinical Interpretation Partnership (paediatrics).
Prof Barrett has published over 200 research papers in scientific journals as well as reviews and book chapters in the fields of paediatrics, diabetes, and genetics of childhood diabetes syndromes. He has received major grants from the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, NIHR, European Union Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs, Diabetes UK, and Wellchild. His research interests include functional genetics of rare diabetes syndromes, translational research to early phase clinical trials in rare disease and complex interventions to reduce health inequalities in childhood diabetes.
He leads the NHS’s national specialist commissioned services for the rare diabetes syndromes Wolfram, Alstrom, and Bardet Biedl, and runs a busy clinical practice of general diabetes, type 2 diabetes in children, and tertiary endocrinology.
Later that day, Prof Andrew Hattersley will deliver the Hadden Lecture. Prof Hattersley is a Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Exeter and is known for his research in monogenic diabetes. He became Gillings Chair in Precision Medicine in 2015 and leads the precision medicine initiative in Exeter working with both scientific and clinical colleagues.
With Prof Sian Ellard, he set up and currently heads the premier international research team working on monogenic diabetes and has played a major role in the UK research effort into the genetics of type 2 diabetes. He continues to work as a consultant physician in diabetes while at the same time leading a large research team. His research combines state-of-the-art molecular genetics with physiological and clinical investigations in patients. A key theme of his approach is that his scientific discoveries are rapidly and effectively translated into improvements in clinical care.
“My research combines state-of-the-art molecular genetics with physiological and clinical investigations in patients,” Prof Hattersley has said.
“I use the accidents of nature that cause monogenic diabetes to understand the critical role of the gene product in humans, in a similar fashion to many laboratory scientists who study knockout animals. A key theme of my approach is that scientific discoveries are rapidly and effectively translated into improvements in clinical care.”
Another major highlight of the Annual Meeting, according to Dr Murphy, will be the presentation from the Hypo-RESOLVE consortium. The overall aim of the international research project is to reduce the burden and consequences of hypoglycaemia for people living with diabetes. Hypo-RESOLVE aims to provide evidence-based classification of hypoglycaemia to achieve better treatments for people living with diabetes. Hypo-RESOLVE brings together partners from a number of European countries and the US. It compromises leading academic experts, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, as well as patient organisations.
The meeting will also hear the early results from the work of the Thyroid Eye Disease Amsterdam Declaration Implementation Group (TEAMeD-5) in Northern Ireland. The group was established to implement the Amsterdam Declaration, which pledged to improve care for people with thyroid eye disease (TED) and prevent TED in those at risk. TED is a complication of Graves’ disease. It can have a significant and negative impact upon the quality of patients’ lives and visual function. Delays in making a diagnosis of TED and initiating treatment are common.
Dr Karen Mullan, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland, is involved in this research. Dr Mullan will also deliver another keynote talk, the McKenna Lecture, which Dr Murphy said is sure to be of great interest to attendees.
The title of this year’s McKenna Lecture is ‘Iodine – A public health triumph going sour’.
Dr Murphy said a notable feature of the meeting is the section on case reports.
“It is an opportunity for our peers to share interesting cases that we often learn most from because these are real people in the real world,” he explained.
“Science can sometimes be a bit abstract in a laboratory or looking at data from a certain cohort. [In case reports] these are real patients with real problems. There are always learnings from those cases. It is often a two-way conversation, as well, because there will be the expertise of 150 people in attendance as well, who can help guide [the speaker]. It is not a unique feature of the meeting. But it is definitely a new feature, which we introduced three years ago and we are embracing it a lot more.”
Another novel feature is that sessions will be co-chaired by SpRs, in addition to consultants.
“We are doing that to give them experience of chairing a session,” Dr Murphy said.
“I think that is a unique feature of the meeting that other meetings don’t have.”
Dr Murphy highlighted that one of the benefits of the meeting is the opportunity it gives for NCHDs to discuss and share their research.
“It is good for their career progression and CV,” he said. “These are the metrics by which doctors in training will be measured when they go in for their consultant interviews. [At the Annual Meeting] they also get an opportunity to meet in a closed informal group in the Meet Professor session, where they get the chance to present cases and talk informally with world experts to enhance their learning. It is always a very well-attended meeting. People attend it because it brings value.”
Like many specialties in Ireland, endocrinology faces challenges in terms of a shortage of consultant posts. However, Dr Murphy said neither this nor the Covid-19 pandemic have prevented the conducting of high quality research.
“We are busier than we should be,” he said.
“We are more stretched than we should be. The positive would be despite this there is still very much a focus on science and research. As a group, the Irish endocrine community values research and, despite the challenges, is delivering. Research is as strong as it was before Covid is the way I would view it. Everything got held up with Covid, so we certainly could have lost two years. But we didn’t. And it proves the research is resilient.”
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