Neurotrauma2018 – Translating Research. Transforming Lives.

On August 11th-16th, Toronto hosted Neurotrauma2018 – the 3rd Joint Symposium of the International and National Neurotrauma Societies and AANS/CNS Section on Neurotrauma and Critical Care. Held at the Westin Harbour Conference Centre, the venue was perfectly positioned to showcase the beauty of the city as well as provide the amenities needed to facilitate a successful scientific meeting. The conference was the largest Neurotrauma meeting to date, attracting nearly 1300 spinal cord injury (SCI) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) researchers and clinicians, and featuring over 700 abstracts and participants from 49 countries. The theme of the conference was ‘Translating research. Transforming lives.’ and the meeting aimed to provide an environment conducive to networking, knowledge sharing, and innovation.

The conference was Co-Chaired by Dr. Michael G. Fehlings (President of the International Neurotrauma Society; Canada), Dr. Anthony Kline (President of the National Neurotrauma Society; USA) and Dr. Eve Tsai (Member of the AANS/CNS; Canada). Dr. Fehlings, who is a Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto and Head of the Spinal Program at Toronto Western Hospital, also served as the Local Host for Neurotrauma2018.

Neurotrauma 2018 Co-Chairs Dr. Eve Tsai (left), Dr. Michael Fehlings (middle) and Dr. Anthony Kline (right)

“This was just the third time that a joint symposium between the INTS, NNS and the AANS/CNS Section on Neurotrauma and Critical Care has been held,” commented Dr. Fehlings. “When my Co-Chairs and I held preliminary talks about the focus of the conference, we knew we wanted to capitalize on having the three societies in one place to ensure the meeting would be as impactful as possible. It is an exciting time in neurotrauma research as the field has advanced exponentially in the past ten years, and this conference served as an opportunity to reflect on the work done to date and to identify future research directions.”

The event kicked off with two days of pre-course workshops. On Saturday, August 11th, over 100 participants attended the Global Neuro ‘State of the Art of Clinical Management of Brain and Spine Trauma Course’. On Sunday, the AANS/CNS Course ‘Debates in Neurotrauma Treatment of Brain and Spinal Cord Injury’ again had an impressive turnout.

The Neurotrauma2018 scientific meeting commenced on Monday, August 13th, and in front of a crowd of over 1200 attendees, Drs. Fehlings, Kline and Tsai provided welcome remarks. The conference Chairs were joined by Bill Barrable (CEO of the Rick Hansen Institute) and Richard Hegele (University of Toronto), who encouraged participants to explore research outside of their specific fields. The next four days were filled with a diverse program of faculty and senior trainee talks, data blitz presentations, poster presentations, breakfast and lunch symposiums, late-breaking abstract sessions and networking events. Additionally, a number of coffee breaks were held throughout the day in the Exhibition Hall, providing attendees with the opportunity to interact with vendors.

It was a packed room to hear Dr. Michael Fehlings’ talk ‘Repair and Regeneration of the Injured Spinal Cord: Clinical Translation Advances’

“We wanted to create a conference that brought SCI and TBI researchers together and fostered information sharing and new collaborations,” said Fehlings. “To accomplish this, the scientific program committee designed each session to have an equal mix of TBI and SCI presenters. We wanted to make sure that the most recent and impactful research from both disciplines was showcased.”

The conference also highlighted the immense impact that neuroscience research done in Canada has had on the field of Neurotrauma. The sessions featured talks from a number of prominent Canadian researchers, including 12 scientists from Toronto. During the closing ceremonies, Dr. Michael Fehlings was named as the new International Neurotrauma Society President.

Current International Neurotrauma Society President Dr. Michael Fehlings (left) pictured with Past-President Dr. Tony Figaji (right)

The next NNS meeting will be held in Pittsburgh in 2019, followed by the INTS Neurotrauma2020 meeting in Melbourne, Australia, that will be organized by Dr. Fehlings’ successor Dr. Robert Vink.