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Packed agenda for ISR Autumn Meeting

By Paul Mulholland - 10th Sep 2023

ISM Autumn meeting

Paul Mulholland speaks to Prof Geraldine McCarthy about the Irish Society for Rheumatology’s upcoming meeting and her time as President of the Society

The Irish Society for Rheumatology (ISR) Autumn Meeting takes place in Fitzpatrick’s Castle Hotel, Killiney, Co Dublin, on 21-22 September. The event is one of the ISR’s keynote annual meetings and will feature a range of national and international speakers who will update delegates on the latest developments and guidance in the specialty.

The meeting will begin with a clinical advisory group session, chaired by Prof David Kane, HSE National Clinical Lead for Rheumatology and Consultant Rheumatologist, Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin. The session will be followed by the introductory address by ISR President Prof Geraldine McCarthy, who is also Consultant Rheumatologist in the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital (MMUH), Dublin. This will be Prof McCarthy’s final meeting as President. She has been in the role for four years – her term was extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic – and Dr John Ryan, Consultant Rheumatologist, Cork University Hospital, will now take up the position.

When asked by the Medical Independent to sum up her time as President, Prof McCarthy said: “It flew. The Covid years were very strange. We needed to communicate a lot with our colleagues about medication and guidelines in the context of the pandemic. It was all unknown territory in the beginning. There was a lot of discussion and keeping up-to-date with all the developments.”

“That was one aspect. The other aspect was the meetings. They were all done online. And I think they were very successful, actually. We were able to invite people from all around the world – we got some really high calibre speakers. And the use of Zoom and [Microsoft] Teams has had a permanent effect in that a lot of things that used to happen face-to-face now occur remotely.”

She stressed, however, the benefits of in-person meetings, which are possible again with the ending of the public health restrictions.

“I think people have really enjoyed these meetings, both from an educational point of view and, even more so, from a social point of view and being able to see each other again.”

Prof McCarthy wished Dr Ryan the best for his term as President, adding that he will bring “his vast expertise” to the role. She also described the administration function within the ISR as “phenomenal” and said the “past four years have been very smooth” due to the support of Mr Michael Dineen and Ms Marie Caston.

Lifetime achievement award

A centrepiece of this year’s Autumn Meeting will be the lifetime achievement award to be bestowed upon Prof Douglas Veale, which will take place following the ISR AGM at the end of the first day.

Prof Veale is Professor and Director of Translational Research at St Vincent’s University Hospital (SVUH), Dublin. He is also Director of the European League Against Rheumatic (EULAR) Centre of Excellence for Arthritis and Rheumatic Disease, Adjunct Full Clinical Professor of Medicine and Consultant Rheumatologist at SVUH. He is a Principal Investigator at the Conway Institute for Biomedical and Biomolecular Research, University College Dublin (UCD).

Prof Veale graduated from the RCSI in 1984 and obtained his MD by thesis from UCD in 1992. He has established an international reputation in translational research in the areas of early inflammatory arthritis including rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, and autoimmune diseases including scleroderma. His scientific expertise focus is on synovial histopathology, cytokine biology, and angiogenesis. He has established the only EULAR centre of excellence in Ireland with a broad research team. Its primary clinical focus is on inflammatory arthritis and scientifically on the cellular and molecular pathways of inflammation, cellular immunity, cytokine biology hypoxia/metabolic alterations, and angiogenesis.

Prof McCarthy described the lifetime achievement award for Prof Veale as “very well deserved” and said it will be a “highlight” of the two-day event. She pointed out that international colleagues of Prof Veale, including Prof Peter Nash and Prof Paul Emery, will be present at the meeting to “celebrate the achievement”.

The agenda of the meeting was put together by Prof McCarthy and her MMUH colleague, Dr John Stack, Consultant Rheumatologist.


‘Cardiovascular effects of colchicine: New benefits of an old drug?’ is the title of the talk by Prof Edward Roddy, Consultant Rheumatologist, School of Medicine, Keele University, UK.

Prof Roddy works clinically as an Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist at the Haywood Hospital, Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

He is Co-Lead for Keele’s inflammatory conditions research programme, Director of the Keele-Haywood Academic Rheumatology Group, and provides medical leadership for Keele’s clinical trials unit.

Bernard Connor award

Following Prof Roddy’s presentation, the Bernard Connor award will take place. The award has been repurposed to promote interest in the field of rheumatology among BST [basic specialist training] trainees in medicine and to support engagement with the Society. The award is based on a case report with relevance to rheumatology. Applicants were requested to highlight their observations/insight in relation to rheumatology as a BST trainee.

“There has been a surge of interest [in the award] and we got some really high-standard applications,” Prof McCarthy said.

“It has been very encouraging. I think it has drawn attention to rheumatology, which is not a core subject for BST. So people aren’t being made aware of it as a great specialty to train in. It is nice that it is getting attention from people at BST-level when they are applying for higher specialty training.”

Pain management

After lunch, Dr Conor Hearty, Consultant Anaesthesiologist, MMUH, Dublin, will speak about the essentials of pain management.

At MMUH, Dr Hearty is Lead Clinician of the Department of Pain Medicine, which involves the development of interdisciplinary pain management services and interventional pain therapies including neuromodulation. Since his appointment, he has championed the ACT [acceptance and commitment therapy] pain management programme and is currently involved in ongoing research in this arena.

Psoriatic arthritis

Prof Nash, Consultant Rheumatologist, Queensland, Australia, will deliver a talk entitled ‘Psoriatic arthritis – what’s topical and what’s the future’? He is Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Queensland, at the School of Medicine, Griffith University, and a Director of the Rheumatology Research Unit on the Sunshine Coast.

Prof Nash and his group at the research unit have been involved with pivotal registration clinical trials for all modern targeted biologic therapies and osteoporosis therapies. His special interests include metabolic bone disease and novel therapeutics.

A symposium, sponsored by AbbVie, on advancing care in rheumatoid arthritis will take place after Prof Nash’s presentation.

Day two

The agenda on Friday 22 September will commence with the ‘top 10 premier posters’.

Dr Caoilfhionn Connolly, recently appointed Consultant Rheumatologist at the Galway Clinic, will deliver the opening presentation in the morning. The talk is titled ‘Myositis matters: Present challenges and future avenues’. Dr Connolly has completed two Fellowships at Johns Hopkins, US, including advanced subspecialty training in myositis.

Later in the morning, Prof Emery, Versus Arthritis Professor of Rheumatology, University of Leeds, UK, will speak about prevention in RA.

Prof Emery’s research interests centre around the immunopathogenesis and immunotherapy of RA, spondyloarthritis, psoriatic disease, and connective tissue diseases.  He has a special interest in the factors leading to persistent inflammation. He was instrumental in bringing sensitive imaging into rheumatology practice. He established the concept of early intervention in inflammatory arthritis, with a model for early arthritis now adopted throughout the world. 

Following Prof Emery’s presentation, the young investigator award will take place.

‘Factors affecting the treatment of RA and psoriatic arthritis’ is the title of the final talk of the conference. It will be given by Prof Anne Barton, Consultant Rheumatologist, Manchester University Foundation Trust, UK.

Since completion of the Wellcome Trust Advanced Fellowship, Prof Barton been involved in the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium study to perform a genome-wide investigation for seven common diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, which was published in Nature. A novel rheumatoid arthritis susceptibility locus was detected and confirmed in replication studies leading to a further high-profile publication. Work is underway to identify the causal variant and determine how it contributes to disease.

Prof Barton also has a strong interest in the genetic predisposition to psoriatic arthritis, the second most common of the inflammatory arthritic diseases.


Thursday, 21 September

09.00–09.50CAG Meeting – Chaired by Prof David Kane
09.55–10.00Opening Address – Prof Geraldine McCarthy, President, ISR
10.00–11.00Oral Presentations by Six (three clinical + three scientific)
11.00–11.30Tea/Coffee/Meet the Industry
11.30–12.15‘Cardiovascular effects of colchicine: New benefits of an old drug?’ Prof Edward Roddy, Consultant Rheumatologist, School of Medicine, Keele University, UK
12.15–12.45Bernard Connor Award
12.45–14.00Lunch/Meet the Industry
14.00–14.45‘Essentials of pain medicine’ Dr Conor Hearty, Consultant Anaesthesiologist, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin
14.45–15.30‘Psoriatic arthritis – what’s topical and what’s the future?’ Prof Peter Nash, Consultant Rheumatologist, Queensland, Australia
15.30–16.00Tea/Coffee/Meet the Industry
16.00–17.00AbbVie Symposium ‘The EVEREST challenge: Peak ambition in advancing the standards of care in RA’ with Consultant
Rheumatologists: Dr Grainne Murphy, Cork University Hospital; Dr Carmel Silke, Our Lady’s Hospital,
and guest speaker Associate Prof Andrew Östör, Malvern, Victoria, Australia. Chaired by Dr Carl Orr, St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin
17.00–17.30ISR AGM
19.30Drinks reception followed by Dinner and Lifetime Achievement Award to Prof Douglas Veale

Friday, 22 September

09.00–10.00Top 10 Premier Posters
10.00–10.45‘Myositis matters: Present challenges and future avenues’ Dr Caoilfhionn Connolly, Consultant Rheumatologist, Galway Clinic
10.55–11.25Tea/Coffee/Meet the Industry
11.25–12.10‘Prevention in RA’ Prof Paul Emery, Versus Arthritis Professor of Rheumatology, University of Leeds, UK
12.10–12.30Young Investigator Award
12.30–13.15‘Factors affecting the treatment of RA and psoriatic arthritis’ Prof Anne Barton, Professor of Rheumatology, and
Consultant Rheumatologist, Manchester University Foundation Trust, UK
13.15–13.30Prize-giving and close of meeting

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