How to transform a congress into an association: European Lupus Meeting and SLEuro Association
The SLEuro association was founded as a result of AIM Group’s initiative during the 2016 European Lupus congress, and SLEuro is still growing. The 2018 edition of the congress was recently celebrated in Dusseldorf, with innovative educational formats.
After organising the 10th European Lupus Meeting 2016 in Venice with great success, AIM Group International was appointed to manage the 11th European Lupus Meeting 2018 in Dusseldorf. Early on it was clear that competing with the Venice edition was going to be a major challenge: the 2016 edition not only registered record attendance but also witnessed the foundation of the first European association dedicated exclusively to Lupus disease.
Until this time the congress was not supported by a scientific society but every two years a local opinion leader proposed their country as a candidate to host the event. After an assessment of the congress rotation and the existing associations, AIM Group proposed to some specialists the creation of a European Scientific Society dedicated to the disease. They agreed and committed full availability to this new endeavour. On October 5th 2016 SLEuro – European Lupus Society was born in Venice during the congress and AIM Group was given the charge of the Association Management service and to organise the next Congress in 2018.
The President of the 2018 Congress along with the AIM Group dedicated team and the AIM Group Hamburg Office decided to focus on the differentiation and innovation of the scientific programme. They identified the main goals of the congress as stimulating intensive international collaboration and exchange, supporting the integration of young academics, facilitating a fruitful discussion about future developments and allowing delegates to experience a synthesis of traditional, modern and futuristic perspectives of medical research.
In particular, it was decided to introduce the fishbowl sessions, an innovative format that allows active participation with no hierarchies. Rather than a large group having an open discussion, a smaller group of 5 participants is seated in an inner circle to discuss a specific topic while the rest of the participants sit in an outer circle. There is always one chair left empty in the inner circle so that anyone can sit and make a statement or ask a question. The result was indeed a great success: all the 10 sessions were very crowded and all the moderators, discussants and participants were very enthusiastic! There was dynamic participation in the sessions and the level of discussion was very active.
The total attendance of the congress was also a success with 727 delegates, representing 56 countries, 24% of the participants coming from outside Europe and 20% were young fellows. Among the +240 abstracts received, a Scientific Committee selected the best by Under-40 presenters, who received a prize during the Closing Ceremony.
Furthermore, membership in the SLEuro association is growing and has overcome 500 members, thanks to promotional activities managed by AIM Group at international scientific events or on social media.
“The Lupus case history is a success story we are proud of because we demonstrated our added value to the scientific community. We were able to anticipate their needs and contribute to the birth of the first European Lupus association, as well as effectively organising the last two international congresses,” outlines Rosangela Quieti, Managing Director of AIM Italy, Congress Division.