World's Largest Diabetes Meeting, EASD, Turns 50 This Year

September 09, 2014

In Vienna, a global community of scientists and clinicians will convene at the annual European Association for the Study of Diabetes 2014 Meeting. This year is a little special, as the organization celebrates its 50th birthday — it's half a century since it held its first meeting in 1964.

"This is the largest congress on diabetes in the world, bigger than the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and American Diabetes Association (ADA) conferences; we will have close to 20,000 attendees," honorary secretary of the EASD 2014–2016, nephrologist Per-Henrik Groop, MD, DMSc, FRCPE, of University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland, told Medscape Medical News.

In his post, Dr. Groop is responsible for the scientific program of the meeting, and he promises an action-packed agenda, with special symposia on "hot topics" such as gut microbiota and metabolomics as well as sessions covering new research on some of the more novel diabetes medications, sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors, and incretin-based therapies.

Dr. Per-Henrik Groop

And there will be a nod to the big birthday in the form of a historic overview of the work of the organization on Wednesday morning, September 17, entitled "50th annual meeting of EASD: Where we came from and where we go," chaired by EASD president Andrew Boulton, MD, of the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, and featuring 4 other speakers.

As well as being the largest diabetes meeting in the world, Dr. Groop says EASD is also known for being one of the toughest conferences when it comes to getting abstracts accepted.

"We received more than 2200 abstracts for review this year, out of which we accepted just over 50%," he noted. "So just because an abstract is submitted doesn't mean it is accepted, and we have been criticized for this. We are quite tough, and a lot of people are not happy with that."

But he defends this stance, emphasizing that it results in "very high-quality" science being presented at the meeting. "In a paper we published this summer in Diabetologia we looked at the fate of abstracts accepted to EASD [in previous years], and we found that they almost all do well, they go on to be published in good journals" (Diabetologia. 2014;57:1997-1999).

In contrast, "a very minor percentage of those we reject are similarly published," he noted.

Award Lectures Chopped and Changed

One of the big changes at this year's conference has been to alter the day and time of presentation of some of the award lectures, Dr. Groop said.

For instance, the most important one, the Claude Bernard Lecture, for outstanding contribution to research — normally delivered on the last day of the meeting — has been moved to the first day and so will be held on Tuesday morning, September 16, immediately after the opening ceremony and presidential address. This year it will be given by Domenico Accili, MD, professor of medicine at Columbia University, New York, on the topic of "The new biology of diabetes."

And the Rising Star symposium has been moved to Friday, the last day of the meeting.

As well as the award lectures, which will also include the Albert Renold Lecture on "Beta cell in type 2 diabetes: Lessons starting at the bedside," and the Camillo Golgi Lecture, entitled "Diabetic neuropathy: A journey with tears, passion, new insights, and a paradigm shift," both of which will be on Tuesday evening, there will be a number of interesting sessions on important clinical issues.

These will include presentations on the diagnosis and management of hypoglycemia, diabetic complications such as neuropathy (including diabetic foot), nephropathy, and retinopathy, and a session on important new insights into high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and the role this "good" lipid plays in diabetes.

Microbiota, Metabolomics, Metformin, and More…

Meanwhile, the "emerging concept" of the role of microbiota in diabetes gets its own session on Wednesday afternoon, with presentations to include "Gut microbiota after bariatric surgery and dietary interventions" and the "Therapeutic potential of manipulating gut microbiota in obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus."

And perhaps even more novel is the subject of metabolomics — in an effort to help clinicians understand this topic, this session, first thing on Thursday morning, is entitled "Can metabolomics help the diabetologist?"

And on Thursday evening, a session devoted to the risks and benefits of new diabetes treatments will include discussion of some more hot topics: the long-term safety of bariatric surgery, the relevance of heart failure as an end point in diabetes trials, and the importance of the cutoff point for hypoglycemia.

On Friday morning, there will be an "exciting" Michael Berger debate, says Dr. Groop, which promises a provocative discussion on the cornerstone of diabetes therapy around the world entitled "Metformin: Where is the evidence?"

Also on Friday morning, chaired by Dr. Groop himself, will be another hot-potato session, "Dogmata debate: Is dietary sodium bad for diabetes?"

Yet more exciting topics include a discussion on air pollution and organic pollutants and their role in type 2 diabetes, also on Friday morning, and a discussion of the part that socioeconomic deprivation plays in type 2 diabetes.

The meeting is rounded off on Friday afternoon, by the Hot Topics in Diabetes session, including a talk on new insulin preparations, followed by results from the blood-pressure and glucose arms of the ADVANCE-ON posttrial observational study (Diabetes Obes Metab. 2012;14[Suppl 1]:20-29.)

All in all there will be plenty to keep diabetologists and researchers suitably entertained next week in Vienna, says Dr. Groop, and, most important, lessons to "bring home to make the lives of our patients with diabetes much better in the future."

Diabetologia . 2014;57(Suppl 1):1-564. Issue

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