Report on single topic symposium on metabolic liver disease

Birmingham, UK, October 2-4, 2014 

This educational single topic meeting was sponsored by UEG in collaboration with ESPGHAN and EASL. In addition, it was supported by the British inherited metabolic diseases group.

The meeting attracted a total of 83 attendees for what was a very successful meeting over three days in Birmingham. The goal of the meeting was to provide an overview of current expert practice in a wide range of metabolic liver diseases arranged in functional topics. In addition, there was a strong focus on translational outcomes and highlighting where future developments are likely to occur. One of the highlights of the meeting was how comprehensive the discussions after talks were, with excellent audience and faculty participation.

The meeting started with an overview of diagnostic approach to a number of phenotypic adult and paediatirc clinincal presentations.

This was followed by a highly regarded section on cell therapy approaches to liver disease. This covered  hepatocyte and stem cell treatments as  enzyme replacement strategies  or alternativley to promote native liver repair. At a later point, there was an excellent overview of the current status of liver gene therapy.

The following day concentrated on current approaches to specific diseases or group of diseases such as glycogen storage disease, alpha one antitrypsin, hypercholesterolaemia and Mitochondrial liver disease in childhood and adulthood.

The finale of the meeting consisted of a group of experts speaking on a number of cutting-edge issues including small molecule treatment, chaperone and enzyme replacement treatment. Due to the quality of this section and the comprehensive discussions that ensued, we elected to allow the discussions to continue and did not present individual case discussions.

The meeting achieved its primary objective of providing an overview of expert treatment for a wide range of liver metabolic diseases at all ages. The audience feedback on this point was excellent and highlighted the the range of disorders covered during this meeting was unique. Professionals working in both paediatric and adult medicine  fed back on how useful it had been to meet colleagues working in parallel areas. 

Audience participation throughout the meeting was one of the highlights. In retrospect, the specified time allocated for discussion was conservative and on most occasions overran. However discussion continued throughout the meals and social events.

The mix of participants was excellent. They included established professionals from paediatric and adult gastroenterology, hepatology, inherited metabolic disease, laboratory medicine and trainees from similar specialties. In addition the delegates represented family support organisations and the pharmaceutical industry.

The final programme was moditied because of illness or travel problems affecting speakers. In two cases one of the other speakersincorporated some of the topics that were missed. However, much of the time freed up was used to allow continued discussion.

The meeting was approved for up to 16.5 continuing professional development credits by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. 

The meeting was held in the conference centre in Aston University which is conveniently placed in the centre of Birmingham. Access was easy from the airport and train stations. The venue itself is well set out, but some seats in the meeting rooms did not provide a high-quality view of the projection screen. This has been fed back to the venue.

It had been originally planned that all delegates would be accommodated in the conference centre. Unfortunately, the conference had overbooked and as a result a number of delegates were accommodated in a nearby hotel. This did cause considerable disruption, but this was minimised by the use of taxi service laid on by the conference centre.

The complete meeting was video recorded and the final edit copy will be made available to UEG for use as a webinar where the speakers have given permission. The delegates received a syllabus, including presentation summary and copies of speakers talks as PDF files. 

So in summary, the meeting met all of its original aims and aspirations and on behalf of the organisers we felt it was an outstanding success. In retrospect we felt we probably have been conservative with the length of discussion times between talks. However, we were able to address this by deciding to forego the delegate case presentation section with the agreement of the delegates. 

The 84 delegates came from 14 individual countries, 11 of which were in Europe.

The National breakdown was UK 38; Germany 7; France 6; Poland, Netherlands and Belgium 5; USA 3; Romania, Spain, Italy, Chile and Switzerland 2; Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Croatia 1.

There were 38 female and 45 male delegates.

Dr PJ Mc Kiernan on behalf of the organising committee

Consultant Paediatrician,

Liver Unit, Birmingham Children's Hospital,

BIRMINGHAM B4 6NH

Tel +44 121 3338254; Fax +44 121 3338251

email Pat.Mckiernan@bch.nhs.uk