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INA President hails ‘high standard’ of research presented at meeting

The outgoing President of the INA Dr Donal Costigan expressed “gratitude to all the presenters who submitted papers of such a high standard” for the Association’s Annual Meeting. Dr Costigan also acknowledged the work presenters had undertaken due to the need to pre-record poster audio and platform presentations as a result of the virtual nature of the meeting.

“There would be no meeting without this hard work,” according to Dr Costigan. “Over 90 abstracts were offered either platform or poster. We are also indebted to the members who chaired sessions, whose comments and questions were so well chosen, and to our thoughtful and discerning judges. By tradition, the judges remain nameless. I would also like to thank all those who volunteered assistance when I first took on the mission.”

The overall winning presentation (Harold Millar Prize) by Dr Mary Clare McKenna, St James’ Hospital and Trinity College, Dublin, and colleagues (‘Radiological features of primary progressive aphasias: A longitudinal quantitative neuroimaging study’) was of “exceptional quality”, Dr Costigan said.

The study highlighted a serial quantitative MRI study of patients with primary progressive aphasia. Dr Costigan said setting up the meeting was “an exercise in adaptation to the pandemic and the last minute double whammy of the HSE computer malware attack”.

“I think we managed to find non-HSE blocked email addresses across the board, and no doubt many clever ‘workarounds’ were used,” he stated.

“I thought the platform chairs made great use of the question time, while waiting for items to emerge from the Q&A. At a real meeting, live questions coming from the floor might have been more uneven, although badly missed. The Posters-to-Platform arrangement worked well, and chairs gave a few honourable mentions as well their choice of winner in each of the four zones.

Having a consultant colleague bring out the merits of a poster gave it new impact. The downside, of course, was the lack of opportunity to question and chat with the presenters. A need to be accessible at a specific hour might be impossible for some on call authors and was therefore avoided so as not to disadvantage them. The two-minute audio recording was on tap for poster viewing and the authors forwarded a PowerPoint for use in this session. I hope that the one or two minute leg stretch was a welcome addition.”

Speaking about the online format of the meeting, he said: “Virtual meetings have pros and cons. The geographic and international reach of the virtual meeting is a plus. The lack of chance contact and audible feedback, such as applause, are clear negatives. Those effects normally help to gauge and amplify the impact of the papers. Perhaps we need to buy more Zoom webinar windows to enable a larger audience to be seen and heard during questions and answers, but it could be a logistical challenge.

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