This year the Annual Congress of the European Respiratory Society (ERS) took place in the beautiful German city of Munich from 6-10 September 2014. The organization was outstanding, and the ERS congress proved an ideal platform for scientists from all over the world to meet, present and discuss their data and news about lung diseases (Figure 1). There were many quite interesting and informative talks and poster presentations about current and future treatments of pulmonary vascular diseases.
It would be wrong to highlight only a few presentations because of the extraordinary work of all well-known scientists, both young and established, who attended the conference. Nonetheless, a very interesting case report from David Langleben entitled “Can we make change happen for a patient with newly diagnosed PAH?”, should be mentioned which could raise hope for many patients suffering from pulmonary hypertension (PH). Dr. Langleben recently demonstrated that the soluble guanylate cyclase stimulator riociguat (Adempas®), approved for the treatment of PH, was quite effective as monotherapy in a PH patient who could not tolerate phosphodiesterase (PDE)5 inhibitor treatment (Figure 2).
Unfortunately, there was no official PVRI Get-Together and only a small number of Young Council (YC) members could attend the congress, including Stylianos Orfanos (Greece), Michiel de Raaf (The Netherlands) and Michael Seimetz (Germany).
The well-organised conference meant an abundance of quality sessions, which left little time for collaboration-focused meetings between the three YC members. However, once in Munich, the well-known “Hofbräuhaus” (Figure 3A,B), a bar representative of Bavarian life with different kinds of beer (Figure 3C,D), “Weißwürsten” (Bavarian veal sausages), “Schweinshaxe” (knuckle of pork) and “Hendl” (chicken), proved a welcome meeting spot for Michiel de Raaf and Michael Seimetz. In conversation, the focus lay on the acknowledgement of activity within the YC. This year, the PVRI has introduced a concept which allows the YC members to earn points for various rewards. The points can be earned by writing for the PVRI Chronicle, editing the journal, contributing to the educational website, and similar such activities, in exchange for rewards that include refunded conference registration and financial assistance for purposes of travel to scientific meetings. During the Munich Young Council ‘Mini Meeting’, it was decided that as awards and grants are relatively rare for young scientists, such events should be added to the list. Further, it was agreed that the points are reviewed on an annual basis rather than a half yearly one, to ensure members have enough time to gather the necessary points.
The ERS offered another opportunity to get in contact with other young scientists – the “Young Scientists Networking Evening”. It was free with food and drinks and took place on Tuesday, 9th September from 17:30 until 20:00. It was a nice opportunity to meet and interact with respiratory medicine and ERS leaders. Many people attended and many quite active discussions followed with strangers, who swiftly became friends and potential collaboration partners.
YC members attending the conference were also active as Secretary of Scientific Assemblies (S. Orfanos), chair of a session (Session 21, S. Orfanos: Weaning off mechanical ventilation: between NIV and tracheotomy), and giving oral presentations (Session 315, M. De Raaf: Intact serotonin signaling is not required for the development of severe angioproliferative pulmonary hypertension in rats; Session 378, M. Seimetz: Phosphodiesterase inhibitors as promising therapies for cigarette smoke-induced emphysema and pulmonary hypertension (PH) in mice) to contribute with our data and efforts to the field of lung research (Figure 4).
In addition to attending sessions, discussing with young people in front of posters, and meeting collaboration partners, attendees also flocked to the exhibition halls with stands from pharmaceutical companies and other medicine-related companies, which offered not only free coffee, but also the possibility to get new insights about state-of-the art techniques, devices and drugs from “real life”, far away from basic science (Figure 5).
In summary, it was a fantastic and informative congress giving young scientists the opportunity to present their data in front of many experts in the field, get in contact with other scientists and experts, and to further their experiences in the field of pulmonary vascular research. At the end of a day of hard work at the congress, the authors of this article returned to the beer garden of the “Hofbräuhaus” to enjoy and recover in true German fashion (Figure 6).