Why another World Congress on Biomedical Communications?


Julie Murray

Why another World Congress? That’s easy. Simply put, such a forum is without equal when it comes to effective, worldwide information exchange.

The field of medical and scientific illustration and communications is a vast one, encompassing wide-ranging skills and knowledge—skills and knowledge that are constantly advancing in response to technological, social, and ethical changes.

It is vitally important that medical and scientific illustrators and communicators get together at least once every five years as a world group to share new skills and knowledge. It is also a time to discuss and resolve common problems particular to the profession and to develop friendships and valuable networking relationships.

Please note that we have adapted the congress title to terminology more commonly used in Australia. The term Medical and Scientific Imaging, therefore, is still congruent to the original collective Biomedical Communication.

This quotation by Cees J. Hersbach details a simple history of how the world congress locations were decided:

"For the 1994 First World Congress in Orlando, Florida, I was involved in the Scientific Program Committee. The Chairman of this committee was Mr. Stewart White.

The Conference chair was Mr. Ray Lund from John Hopkins University, Baltimore.

During the conference in Orlando the decision was made to hold a second world conference in Europe. The EFSI (Chairman : Mr. Ole Roos) agreed with this proposal.

In a meeting with the board of EFSI in London (at the St George Hospital) we decided on three candidate Cities: Hamar (near Oslo) in Norway, Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Amsterdam won out as it was the city which had the strongest local support, that being from the University of Amsterdam. For this conference the chairman of the Scientific Program Committee was Prof. R. Morton from the University of Wales, Cardiff.

In Amsterdam, the idea was mooted that a Third World Congress be held, and that it should take place in either Asia or Australia. This outcome would ensure that the congress movement truly be recognized as a world wide one."

Cees J. Hersbach President of the 2nd World Congress of Biomedical Communications 1999 Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The following quotes reinforce the importance of staging periodic world conferences which are accessible to all.

"The main reason that we organized the second world conference on biomedical illustration was to bring together all organizations from around the world to exchange the newest developments. In 1999 digital was reasonably new and we expected dramatic changes in our profession. One of the sub lines of the conference was: 'going into the digital age.'

The second reason was that all organizations wished to have a follow-up from the first world conference, this time in Europe. Actually, it was an inheritance from the organizers of the first world conference (Ray Lund, et al). EFSI was one of the organizers of the second world conference, together with the Dutch Organization NVMAC and the University of Amsterdam.”
Peter Lowie
President EFSI (The Netherlands)

"The first two world congress meetings were important milestones for me because of the new contacts I made which coincided with the evolution of email and the web. In that time since 1994, electronic communication has exploded and many of the contacts I made at those two meetings have proven to be invaluable collaborators in my work such as the Images from Science project and the Lennart Nilsson Award."
Michael Peres
Rochester Institute of Technology (USA)

“The 2nd World Congress of Biomedical Communicators provided me with a unique environment to develop real ongoing networking opportunities with colleagues from around the world, as well as partake in an array of invaluable academic presentations. Rarely do we have the opportunity to discuss, develop and embrace emerging technologies and techniques in the company of our overseas colleagues.”
Vicki Adams
Assistant Convener Third World Congress (Australia)

“The World Congress in Amsterdam was a great opportunity to embrace new techniques and developments in the field of medical illustration and to meet and integrate with friends and colleagues from around the world.”
Angus Robertson

Convener’s Report

It has been six years since the last world congress meeting—many feel the wait has been too long! The coming together of like minds and the sharing of related skills on a huge scale is something that should be celebrated on a much more regular basis, not something consigned to the back-burner indefinitely—the benefits are too great.

This was brought to light at the Lennart Nilsson Meeting in 2003. The diverse group of illustrators and communicators in attendance was incredible. To witness so many talented people banding together and sharing ideas was utterly inspiring, and it brought home the need for another world congress. The time had come to resolve the problem of where and when the next global conference should be held. It was time to turn this overdue dream into reality.

Meeting with Peter Lowie, Cess Cerbach, and Angus Robertson for a beer is always a dangerous thing and this meeting proved no exception… the next thing I knew Australia was hosting the next World Congress on Medical and Scientific Imaging!

Planners of the various World Congress meetings have always realized that locale is also a secondary motivator for potential attendees, particularly those who must travel long distances. A unanimous decision at the national level (AIMBI) concerning a suitable site saw Cairns win out, a beautiful city on the Queensland coast flanking The Great Barrier Reef.

Cairns is a world-renowned tourist destination for those wishing to indulge in an idyllic, tropical get-away. Its unique blend of five-star accommodation, exciting nightlife, and a cosmopolitan restaurant culture, set amidst the natural wonders of tropical rainforests and coral reefs, make this an altogether exhilarating locale. Our overseas guests should also note that Australia is a very economical place to visit at the moment.

Australia is very excited about hosting the 3rd World Congress, and we are planning a great program. Many enthralling academic papers have been submitted for tutorial presentation. Here is just a sample:

  • 3D Animation—a master-class in the specialized field of medical and scientific animation. See: www.medical-animations.com.
  • Photoshop for the artist—purists can no longer claim realistic results remain the domain of traditional tools. See: www.medicalarts.com.au.
  • Web Design
  • Nonlinear video editing
Keynote Speaker
  • Professor John Pearn: “Images of Bioterrorism”
Guest Speakers

  • “Trends in Medical and Scientific Imaging” including Implementing Electronic Medical Records
Interesting facts:

The website for the 3rd World Congress has been up since July 2004. Please visit it at www.discoverthepossibilities.com.au.

Site visits through November 2004 show that:

  • We have had over 3,000 visits to the site (not hits!)
  • The visitors are (in order of number of visits):
    USA, Australia, United Kingdom, Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Canada, Italy, Sweden and Trinidad and Tobago (as well as the unidentified visitors).
  • Countless pages have been downloaded concerning various aspects of the conference, i.e. general information, abstract and exhibition information.To join the world of biomedical communicators, mark your calendars for August 25-29, 2005, and visit the Website for registration information.

After Cairns 2005, will it be necessary to mount another World Congress on Biomedical Communications?

Of course! There will always be a need to facilitate information exchange on a global basis. And nothing can achieve this goal more completely than a world congress gathering. I am sure the success of the Cairns 2005 conference will reinforce this fact.
About the Author
Julie Murray is convener of the Third World Congress on Medical and Scientific Imaging (Biomedical Communications), Aug. 25-29, 2005, Cairns, Australia.
E-mail address: jmurray@stvincents.com.au

Copyright 2004, The Journal of Biocommunication, All Rights Reserved

Table of Contents for VOLUME 30, NUMBER 3