August 31st, 2010

ESC: The Good, the Bad, and the Better

As far as conferences go, I’m impressed. It’s only day two for me, but I can already say that I would come back. The workshops and clinical sessions are solid. The original science being presented is plentiful and of good quality. One Austrian colleague mentioned he was particularly pleased with the growth of basic science and translational content.

What’s bad is the venue layout for oral presentations. Most of the action is along a single corridor with entrances to the different speaking halls on one side. We all know by this point that if you want a fighting chance of getting into a popular session, you’d better start stalking the doorway at least 15 minutes early. But even so, there’s still the risk of being shut out. This afternoon, there was an especially dense aggregation of people around the doorway to a session on pulmonary hypertension. Trying to get through that crowd was enough to drive up anybody’s RVSP.

A much better experience was the poster sessions. In fact, this was actually the surprise hit of the day for me. Unlike the rooms for most oral presentations, the poster halls are huge and spacious. The poster boards are actually stainless steel sheets suspended from the ceiling, with each poster neatly cornered by round silver magnets. Featured posters are strategically located, set against a soft pillar of back-lit white sheets. Wandering through the hall was like walking through a hallowed section of high-end Ikea wares, but with science. Now I really want the Swedes to re-design my workspace. I always enjoy the poster sessions, given the opportunities to interact directly with presenters and run into colleagues — but this setup manages to improve on the experience.

Tomorrow, posters for sure, more gravlax, more attempts at getting into talks, and the much-touted Viking museum.

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