World class orthopaedic research showcased at ANZORS 2018
Updated: Oct 4, 2019
The Australia and New Zealand Orthopaedic Research Society (ANZORS) held their 24th Annual Scientific Meeting in October at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in Perth. The three-day program consisted of notable keynote speeches, podium and poster presentations, young investigator networking opportunities and an awards ceremony.
Having attended my share of conferences over the years, there is always something to learn and take away from the perspective of the student, the early career researcher (ECR) and the established researchers.
For the students and the early career researchers
One of the obvious benefits for students and aspiring researchers are the networking opportunities. Orthopaedic research, particularly in Australia, is constantly evolving and strengthening. Both the quality and the volume of work span a spectrum of areas aimed at reducing the burden of disease and trauma. Conferences such as ANZORS provide an excellent forum for those wishing to engage with, and look for opportunities within the academic side of the community.
I was privileged to be asked to judge the ECR and PhD awards held on Day 2 of the conference. The standard of the presentations was incredibly high, with emphasis on cellular mechanisms of musculoskeletal tissues, animal models of joint degeneration and the use of medical imaging and computational models. Marking the presentations proved to be an incredibly tough exercise, and over the years that I have attended the conference, the quality has continued to increase. Ultimately, it was the clarity of the story, the impact of the work and in some cases, the sheer determination to answer a question that were the determining factors in the scores. A particular standout for me was the paper by Jacob Kenny in the PhD category titled "Identification of genes regulating osteoarthritis development using a mouse phenotype library". Best of luck to him on the rest of his doctoral work and the research to come.
ANZORS is supposed to provide a platform for students and ECRs to develop their presentation skills, connect with like-minded future colleagues, test their ideas in a welcoming environment and increase their exposure to leading ideas through keynote presentations. The 2018 meeting delivered this well and continues to build on the success of the format from previous years. It was good to see that travel grants were continued with this year's awards, as they remain a useful tool to ensure strong student and ECR attendance.
For the seasoned attendees
For researchers like myself, who have attended numerous conferences over the years, networking and collaboration is still as relevant. The conference had some excellent opportunities to exchange ideas with the ECR dinner held on the first night (sponsored by the Society), followed by the wine and cheese afternoon on Day 2 which facilitated conversations about the bigger questions in orthopaedics. We finished off with the conference dinner in Perth city later that evening.
Mentoring formed a key part of the Annual General Meeting, with a pilot Program Feasibility Study launched for 2019, which aims to link mentees (including both ECR and established researchers looking to transition) with mentors from both academia and industry. It provides an exciting opportunity for both parties to foster talent and build professional relationships.
For the orthopaedic community as a whole
An orthopaedic research conference is the product of those that submit their work, the attendees on the day and the contemporary topics affecting the area. In the case of this year's conference, the topics of joint degeneration and osteoarthritis continue to dominate the program and the discussion. While this aligns well with the clinical domain and the release of the National Osteoarthritis Strategy, there remains a need to bridge the gap between fundamental science presented at the conference and the key topics that are given light within the clinical community.
ANZORS still lacks the full and frank connections with the clinical community and with industry. While some strong contributors to the program (such as heads of labs and research units) bring collaborative partnerships to the conference through their own work, there is still a need to facilitate the interactions between the different aspects of orthopaedic research within the one conference. ANZORS should provide an excellent opportunity to do this, at least initially on a smaller scale.
Until next year
The next meeting will be held in Canberra, and is going to coincide with the Australian Orthoapedic Association Annual Scientific Meeting in 2019. Next year's program will be hosted by a strong orthopaedic team with Professor Paul Smith and Dr Diana Perriman, who I was fortunate enough to spend some time with recently. ANZORS 2019 promises more opportunities to continue building the research capacity within Australia and New Zealand. See you there!