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President’s Report to the Annual General Meeting 2018

 

Annual Scientific Meetings

Our 41st ASM marked a return to the newly revamped ICC in Sydney after a very successful run of meetings in Brisbane. Our administrative and secretariat staff Uma Subramanian and Debbie Suann again provided excellent organisational skills which ensured a very successful meeting both in terms of the programme and the financial viability of the meeting without the need to engage expensive external professional conference organisers. The very strong scientific programme was headlined by our international speakers Jason Hornick, Marisa Nucci and Alexander Lazar. Additionally, the programme presented by our local speakers goes from strength to strength with the Friday programme growing in richness and scope and this in reflected in the growing registration numbers for the Friday component. The meeting attracted 563 attendees and generated a net profit of $193,000 for the Division.  The new ICC brought its challenges for the meeting as the meeting spaces are now more configured for larger conferences than ours and so last year represented a “learning curve” for us in how to make best use of the ICC facilities.

Our 42nd meeting this year once more very ably supported by our in-house staff Uma and Debbie. We had the pleasure of welcoming Lester Thomson [USA, Head and Neck Pathology], David Grignon [USA, Urologic Pathology] and Rhonda Yantiss [USA, GI Pathology] as our headline act for 2018 and additionally are delighted to have Elizabeth Salisbury as our guest Vincent McGovern orator and Anthony Gill as masterclass presenter.  Considerable thanks must go to the Convenors of the Companion Clubs and Specialty Societies for producing a full, diverse and comprehensive Friday programme and to all those speakers, international and local, who contribute to these sessions. It is a delight to see how many trainees and young pathologists are participating in the Friday programmes this year. I am most grateful to Alfred Lam for accepting the position of Convenor of the Abstract/Poster Scientific Session, to the RCPA and Professor Brett Delahunt for their support in publishing the poster abstracts in the journal “Pathology”, and the members of the abstract/poster judging committee of Alfred Lam, Bastiaan De Boer, Annabelle Mahar, Gordon Wright, John Nicholls, Kais Kasem. Amanda Charlton and David Moffat for contributing to this aspect of our ASM.

Registration numbers are slightly down on recent years and a straw poll amongst members indicates the key factor is the close temporal proximity of the College Update meeting and our own ASM with only three months between the two events this year.  In the future we need to consider ways to increase the differentiation between the two meetings including meeting locations and timing. Our final number is 543 total attendance including exhibitors. The number of pathologists who registered for the meeting is 484. Despite this lower number we are still predicting a reasonable budget surplus from this year’s ASM.

We are grateful to our sponsors and exhibitors who continue to support this meeting including our Gold sponsor Leica Biosystems, Silver Sponsor MSD, our range of Bronze exhibitors and to Sonic Healthcare who sponsored the Cocktail Party on Friday evening.

The 2019 meeting will again be at the ICC in Sydney and the keynote speakers will be Prof Ian Ellis (UK, Breast Pathology) and Prof Glenn McCluggage (UK, Gynaecological Pathology).

 

 

Future Thinking

I have attended our ASM’s since 1992 and over that time, aside from a few minor tweaks,  the meetings today are very similar to those meetings from twenty six years ago. I would challenge us to find many other endeavours in our life and work that are the same today as quarter of a century earlier. The challenge for us going forward is a little like that faced by the Monarchy in the 1970s and 1980’s – modernise or fail to maintain relevance. The numbers of courses and conferences on offer in anatomic pathology topics has increased exponentially over the past three years such that there is a meeting available somewhere in the world most weeks of the year. In tandem with this the investment that big pharma, equipment manufacturers and publishers make in exhibiting at courses and meetings is shrinking and we have witnessed a slow but steady decline in sponsorship support for our Division ASM over this decade despite our very best efforts.  Future planning and transformational changes takes effort and this is seldom achieved with any rapidity and neither do our member expect or want to see radical departures. Those of you who have, like me, attended the USCAP meetings [the North American IAP division] will have experienced the slow, but none the less startling transformational change they have achieved over the last 10 years which have resulted in their meetings and educational products reaching a new level of consumer participation and satisfaction.

I am increasingly aware that the educational aspirations of our trainees and younger pathologists are now very different to my generation of pathologist and this group will soon be making up a significant proportion of our membership. For the new generation, the challenge is not “where do I find the information I need” it is “who or what is my preferred provider for that information” out of a myriad of sources that they have available

We currently provide a top shelf educational product to our membership in the form of this ASM and that will always be our mainstay but we must avoid becoming a ”one trick pony”. In coping with the knowledge explosion pathologists and trainees are increasingly needing more than a single high-quality product, they are looking to organisations such as ours to be “knowledge hubs” and to be curators of suites of educational products. Currently we are like the Egyptian room at the British Museum; in the future we will need to be like the whole British Museum.

It is seductively easy for us to take the route of continuing to provide the same product we have offered for nearly 50 years and it is uncomfortable to contemplate change and transformation but I would boldly suggest that we must make the first tentative steps along this road lest we are bypassed by other organisations who have embraced change. Within the broad framework of IAP international, we need first to establish where we want this organisation to be in 5 years and in 10 years time before we can commence to chart pathways to reach our Nirvana.  We will begin exploring how we could construct a workable and relevant 5 and 10-year strategic plan, what outside facilitation we may require and ways to achieve the necessary engagement with all facets of our membership and stakeholders.  My hope is that this Division becomes as relevant to trainees and pathologists in the first five years of work as it is to older pathologists like myself; that it is as engaging for female pathologists and part time pathologists and for pathologists in all corners of our region as it is for pathologists in large Sydney teaching hospitals.

 

Awards

It is with pleasure that I announce that Professor Soon Lee will receive the Distinguished Pathologist Medal for 2018 at this year’s meeting. Soon, along with David Ellis was responsible for a major modernisation of the processes and governance of our Division in recent years and has been a loyal advocate for this Division over a long period.

 

XXXIV International Congress of the IAP, Sydney  2022

Activities are now beginning to heat up for planning this event with the next major step being the decision on the professional conference organisers for the meeting. Members of the executive and provisional conference organising committee members have been interviewing the short-listed companies ahead of this year’s Board meeting. The ICC Sydney has been secured for the event which will run from 9 – 14 October 2022. The Congress will replace our usual Divisional ASM that year and the theme of the meeting is “Bridge to a Cure”

 

Outreach Programs and Regional Engagement

Our Division has continued to provide financial assistance in the form of bursaries for pathologists/registrars from developing countries to attend our ASM. For 2018, we are hosting 5 pathologists: 2 from Nepal, 1 from Myanmar, 1 from Fiji and 1 from Philippines.  Additionally, this year we are trialling the on-line streaming of part of our content from the Saturday and Sunday sessions at the ASM to some under resourced areas in the Asia-Pacific region. As internet services are not always consistently reliable in some of the areas, the content will also be available for later viewing in these areas for several weeks following the meeting. We will evaluate the impact and uptake of this facility and assess if this could become a more permanent feature at our meetings.

The Australasian division provided 4 bursaries (each US1500$, total sponsorship US$6000) for pathologists from developing countries to participate in the upcoming World Congress of the IAP in Jordan in October 2018.

 

Executive, Board of Directors and IAP Secretariat

For the first time, our Division held an election for the position of President–Elect in 2017 and the successful nominee was Jane Dahlstrom. As a consequence, Jane will vacate her role as IAP Australasia Regional Vice President and I am delighted that Trishe Leong will move into this role. Trishe has served our Division with distinction in her role as our Treasurer and we are confident she will continue to shine when representing our Division as Regional VP on the international IAP stage.  Jane is a great internationalist and ambassador for this Division and world IAP and we acknowledge her work. Jane continues to make major contributions to the IAP, through the executive of International Council of IAP Central where she is Chair of the Education Committee, through her involvement on the scientific organising committee for the Sydney 2022 International Congress as well as her new role as Divisional President-Elect.

Following the EOI process we are delighted that Galareh Farshid has been nominated by the Executive to fill the role of Honorary Treasurer following this year’s AGM. Galareh also brings a long period of loyal service to our Division to the role having served several terms as convenor of the breast pathology companion meetings as well as serving in the role of convenor of the abstract/poster scientific sessions. We welcome her to the Board and the executive

Western Australian Councillor Benhur Amanuel has completed his term on the Board following this year’s meeting and we acknowledge his wisdom and contribution and we will begin a process to seek expressions of interest to fill this role shortly.  

I remain very grateful for the superb work done by Fiona Maclean in her role as Honorary Secretary. Fiona works very hard for the Division and I always appreciate her wise words, excellent counsel and of course her deadpan humour.

The IAP Secretariat remains housed in a virtual office with a PO Box for receiving mail and we don’t seem to have been disadvantage by the lack of a physical office location in Sydney.  IAP together with a number of other smaller health-related organisations have been recently affected by instability in the company hosting our website which, up until recently, had been a successful platform for all our activities.  Rather than continuing to be at risk we have elected to move our site to a new hosting / web management service; our initial focus was to secure a platform for the ASM materials and the secretariat will begin the task of moving all of our web activities to the new host following the completion of ASM 2018.

The beating heart of the Division remains our permanent secretariat staff Uma Subramanian and Debbie Suann and once again we acknowledge our gratitude to these two who perform their work with such good grace and even temperament. Yet again they have worked very hard to secure ongoing sponsorship for our ASM and their prudent financial management of our activities ensures we live well within our means and oftentimes produce a profit from our ASM.

Finally, I extend my gratitude to all of you who serve on the Board and in other roles within the Division, I appreciate that such voluntary roles are becoming harder as employers are less willing to allow staff time for these pro bono pursuits and finding time in our increasingly work-crowded days for voluntary service can be problematic.

Peter Bethwaite

Wellington May 2018