EHMSG 2020 Virtual Conference

The European Helicobacter and Microbiota Study Group annual conference was funded by an SfAM Scientific Meeting Support Grant. This year had the additional challenge of needing to be rescheduled to a virtual format.

The European Helicobacter and Microbiota Study Group (EHMSG) is a multidisciplinary group composed of representatives from most countries of the European Union. EHMSG was founded by a collaboration of pioneers in the field of Helicobacter who wanted to align their national Helicobacter groups under a united European umbrella. In 2015, the remit of the group was expanded to  embrace the inclusion of microbiota research. Activities of the group are primarily related to promoting research in the field of Helicobacter and the gastrointestinal microbiota; dissemination of medical, scientific and technical information in order to promote health and decrease the burden of digestive diseases.

EHMSG holds an annual conference which takes place at different venues across Europe. The 33rd Workshop of the European Helicobacter and Microbiota Study Group was originally scheduled to take place from September 10 – 12, 2020 in Glasgow, United Kingdom, however, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, EHMSG made the decision to run an on-line conference. Therefore, the EHMSG conference was run as a virtual conference in a compact version taking place on Saturday, September 12, 2020. The conference provided both live and on demand talks as well as a platform for e-posters.

Live content included sessions on gastric epithelium homeostasis, H. pylori diagnostics and treatment, microbial therapeutics, microbiota handling guidelines and gastric cancer early detection and prevention. Specific talk topics included TLR5 induced H. pylori immune mechanisms, H. pylori molecular mechanisms disrupting barrier function as well as clinical talks covering aspects of H. pylori screening in patients and antibiotic resistance strategies and the experience of different countries.

Microbiota talks included a series of microbial therapeutic success stories including information on the Scottish CD-Treat diet; a solid food dietary approach to improving paediatric Crohn’s disease. Other talks covered the current status of faecal microbiota transplantation use in terms of the clinician’s perspective and the current challenges.

In addition to the ‘Live’ programme, over 170 E-posters were available to view online as well as a series of pre-recorded talks; content which was part of the original 3-day programme but could not be fitted into the compact schedule.

Two hundred and seventy-one participants registered for the EHMSG 2020 Virtual Conference with an average attendance throughout the conference day of 200 persons. Delegates were from 46 countries, most participants originated from United Kingdom (22), South Korea (20), Italy (18), Germany (18), Russia (17), France (13), Belgium (13). Gender distribution was 50.97% male and 49.03 % female attendance.

Our post conference survey indicated a high level of satisfaction in terms of the scientific programme; 94% of delegates rated the content as useful/extremely useful for their professional activity. 62% stated that the event “very much” fulfilled their educational goals and expected learning outcomes. 75% felt that the presented information was “very well” balanced and consistently supported by a valid scientific evidence base.

EHMSG is extremely grateful for the financial support it received from SfAM especially as the conference has to evolve into an on-line event rather than being physically located in Glasgow. The EHMSG annual conference has not graced UK soil since 1995, when it was held in Edinburgh. Not to be defeated, we will bring the EHMSG meeting to Glasgow in 2022! This means we have 2 more years to generate even more excellent microbiology research to present at the 35th EHMSG annual conference (8-10 September 2022). If you can’t wait that long then think about joining us in Belgrade in September 2021.