When the 27th Politzer meeting was awarded to London in 2005 during the spectacular Seoul Conference, the Organising Committee was left with trepidation as what was to be required of them! Although the Politzer Board's decision had been based upon an extensive brief researched by the experienced commercial conference organisers 'Sterling Events', the committee had experience of previous international events. The primary purpose was to provide a first class clinical and scientific programme as would befit the Society designated as the 'International Society for Otology and Science'. Obviously as London is a major centre for travel and historical heritage we realised that nothing but the best would be appropriate for our delegates and their accompanying guests. We were cognisant that London is perceived as an expensive city and therefore it would be our responsibility to make delegates aware of cost effective ways of attending and also to have delegate fees that were “middle of the road” for international meetings. Special rates were planned for trainees. However Politzer is a Society for practising otologists and scientists and therefore they were the primary audience. To make the financial figures balance we had to have an extremely tight budgetary control and extensive support from the Medical Devices Industry; for which they needed first rate facilities for their promotional activities. Well it came together at the Queen Elizabeth 11 Conference Centre in the heart of London by means of a brilliant Programme Committee and the professional excellence of 'Sterling Events'. The opening session was tinged with sadness as we remembered Antonia De la Cruz who had died recently. John House gave a short but touching panegyric to his colleague.
The President Jaques Magnan was then introduced by past president Alan Kerr and opened the meeting. His plenary session lecture in “Health and Health Care Similarities and Differences” seemed to be remarkably apposite to the views and instincts of the international medical community. France suffers as much bureaucracy in Health Care as all of us! The London President Alec Fitzgerald O'Connor opened with an overview of Implant Otology 'a new horizon'. Free papers followed and indeed there were over two hundred abstract omissions from free paper sessions. Most interestingly they were submitted not only by young clinicians and researchers but by masters in their field like Cor Cremers, Chong Sum Kim, and Eric Kraus. In fact submissions came from twenty-eight different countries. Poster submissions were also popular and some of a very high standard.
The programme then developed into a series of Symposia (titled Controversies, Innovations and Translational Science) with invited speakers, expert in their topics who were then joined by panel members to provide a combative but constructive discussion. We were grateful to the Chairman such as P Ashley Wackym, Alex Huber, Per Moller and Andy Reid for their input.
A different emphasis was given in the Focus Groups where the topics were more uni-dimentional and the invited speakers were joined by free paper presentations. This diversity of programme was designed to add flavour and “frisson” to the meeting. Politzer is all about talking, discussing, arguing, and learning.
The main Sponsor Sessions were presented by delegates of their own choosing. However all were stimulating and well attended. Interestingly, the Chairman of these sessions took an objective role that at times resulting in excellent discussion such as a Medel session with Messrs Muller and Skarzynski.
The final day was ushered in by the big guns John Niparko with a brilliant expose´ of Childhood Development after Cochlear Implantation; a paper that should be sent to any funding authority that questions the efficacy of the intervention!
Nuri Ozgirgin who was to be elected the next President gave an exhaustive and excellently researched paper on the contemporary management of Meniere's disease.The eagerly awaited Politzer Prize presentations followed. Some forty submissions had been made, some technically non acceptable (a senior Professor well over the age of forty years!). With difficulty the prize panellists Jacques Magnan, Per Moller and Paul Van de Heyning managed to shortlist eight papers, four for Basic Science and four Clinical Research submissions. After much deliberation Massimo Ralli in Basic Science and Stephane Tingali for Clinical Research were awarded the prestigious Politzer prizes. The Poster prize which was supported by Advance Bionics was won by Edmund Fitzgerald O'Connor for his study on EAS current surgical opinions.
The home 'Otological Society' the British Society of Otology hosted a Focus group on Training in Otology introducing novel ideas for e-learning by Victoria Ward and a Temporal Bone Surgical Simulator by James Powless.
The clinical programme ended with the Hunterian Lecture by David Moffat from Cambridge.
The Social programme began before the Conference started with the Golf Championship played at Royal Blackheath Golf Club which had just celebrated its 400th Anniversary. The Claret jug was taken home by Andy Reid.
On the first evening everyone went "next door” to Westminster Abbey for a reception in the Crypt introduced by Andy Reid. Such was the hospitality of the Dean and Chapter that the delegates were able to wander quietly through the Abbey visiting tombs of the English Kings for over a thousand years that were not usually opened to the public.
Friday was a free night for delegates although there was a Presidential Reception and Dinner in the famous Long Room at Lord's Cricket Ground. Delegates from non-cricketing nations were first fascinated by the heritage associated with a now truly international sport. An added extra was an exhibition game of “Real Tennis” not lawn tennis but its predecessor still played internationally to professional standards.
Jacques Magnan made his valedictory address and was presented with an antique print of London by a Frenchman! Bruce Black was presented with the score card of the recent England and Australia Cricket match won in great style by England.The high point of the Social Programme came with the Dinner at Greenwich. Starting with champagne on an open boat travelling up the River Thames from Westminster pier to Greenwich where we were welcomed by a Scottish Piper who piped us on shore and up to the magnificent Painted Hall of the Old Royal Naval College with its beautiful decorative ceiling said to be the finest north of the Sistine Chapel. A Military band played during dinner and the best British beef was served. The new President Nuri Ozgirgin gave a seminal address to the Politzer Society on his aspirations for the future which was greeted with approbation and great applause.
He was presented with an antique print of the Naval College as a reminder of the event.
The evening ended with a bravura display on the Post Horn by two soloists in concert from opposite ends of the magnificent dining hall.
The Organising Committee led by Andy Reid and consisting of Dan Jiang, Alec Fitzgerald O'Connor, Solomon Abramovich, Simon Baer, Sean Blaney, Michael Kuo, Gavin Morrison and Stephen Toynton were grateful to the Politzer Board for the trust that had been put in them and thank especially Jacques Magnan and Nuri Ozgirgin.
The final tally of delegates was 550 of which 25 percent were full Politzer members and 37 percent non members 12 percent trainees and 15 percent directly sponsored by commercial Companies. Ten Humanitarian scholarships were given to delegates coming from countries developing an advanced otological practice.
The total income from delegates to include credit card charges was £240,322 which under the constitution of the Society results in a direct financial gain to the Politzer Society of £24,032.
All delegates paid registration fees excepting the President (under the constitution) and two delegates one of which had only an administrative role and the other an academic with an invite to a ten minute presentation that the Committee considered inappropriate to restrict participation.
The delegate revenue was 17 percent above budget but the exhibition revenue was 5 percent below. We are grateful to Nuri Ozygirgin for his help with publicising the meeting.
The main sponsors Cochlear AG, Advance Bionics, Neurlec, Medel and Karl Storz gave 75 percent of the financial support for which we are grateful. This was not an Implant Meeting and therefore their support was of great significance. No budget item was greater or less than 10 percent of the estimate we are greatly to Sterling Events for their commercial and financial practice.
Would we have done it any differently? – No!.
Would we do it again? Oh dear! I don't know.
It was a great pleasure but at a cost!Alec Fitzgerald O'Connor
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