The Vancouver Congress Cutting-edge Science in a Spectacular Environment


Scientists and clinical teams from around the world gathered in Vancouver in August for the XXIII International Congress of The Transplantation Society, the landmark meeting in the fields of organ replacement and regenerative medicine.

The new Vancouver Congress Centre surpassed all previous records, reuniting over 4,800 attendees from more than 90 countries in a spectacular environment for six days of intensive presentations, discussion and debate in all aspects of our field. Over 60 plenary and state-of-the-art symposia explored cutting-edge topics while the 2,500 abstracts received were reviewed by a stellar international panel of over 350 specialists in 20 disciplines, and organized into 90 sessions for oral presentations.

The pre-congress weekend combined meetings of the Canadian Society of Transplantation, the 4th International Transplant Infectious Disease Conference and the TTS Post-graduate Weekend. The Post-graduate Program included plenary sessions on organ donation, histocompatibility, advances in immunosuppressive drug development, ethics, study design, grantsmanship, publication and presentation. The first Corporate Symposium held on Sunday afternoon was a great success with tremendous attendance, outstanding faculty and an enthusiastic audience.

The Opening Ceremony was the launch of the full scientific program with messages of welcome from the Governor General, Prime Minister, Premier and Mayor of Vancouver and Presidents Jeremy Chapman (TTS) and Marcelo Cantarovich (CST). Federal Minister James Moore expressed the strong commitment of Canada both to the Congress and the themes of transplantation. Dr. John Dirks, President of the Gairdner Foundation, presented Developing Nations Scholarships, the Society’s new approach to encourage transplantation in the developing world, and awarded the Canadian Grand Challenge prize to outstanding young Canadian scientists.

The formal scientific program commenced with an abundance of scientific and clinical information. Landmark plenary presentations encompassed innovations in genomics, proteomics and personalized medicine; allorecognition and tolerance; just to name a few subjects covered. State-of-the-art sessions organized in themes across the four days of the Congress addressed developments in immunology and immunogenetics; inflammation and injury; stem-cell biology and regenerative medicine and many other topics of transplant science and medicine.

More than 900 oral communications addressed breaking research in the same thematic areas, with intensive discussion surrounding all topics. Among the posters submitted the most highly-rated presentations were selected for mini-oral presentations, while others of particular interest and importance were also scheduled for interactive chaired discussion in the poster area to enable exchange. The special symposia hosted by our corporate partners were highly successful and we are very grateful to them for their continuing support.

This year’s President’s Plenary was particularly evocative with Jeremy Chapman’s Presidential Address that examined how far we have come as a Society and yet how far there still is to go. It traced the growing success and influence of TTS, its role in international collaboration and guidance, its partnership with the WHO and its particular success in the fields of ethics, education and equalization of opportunity for developed and developing nations. Under the direction of recent presidents, the Society has harnessed the will and resources of academia, government and industry to serve as a beacon for altruism and access to this vital health intervention, while at the same time fostering innovations that will carry this discipline forward to the goals of tolerance and biogenesis.

The Medawar Prize was awarded to Dr. Clyde Barker for his pioneering work in cellular transplantation, molecular sciences and immune regulation. The stellar recipients of the International President’s Award pursued these themes and explored future challenges and opportunities. Dr. Stiller, 2010 Gairdner Laureate, traced the role of industry, governments and international cooperation in fostering seminal innovations in immunology and biotechnology, setting the stage for Dr. Sydney Brenner, 2002 Nobel Laureate whose discourse on the evolution and application of genetic technologies in the human model resonated powerfully with all who attended this session.

The report from the delegates was that Vancouver continued the winning combination of high science and social interaction which is unique to transplant congresses. Developments in stem cell biology and organ genesis offered insights into opportunities for regenerative medicine that will one day move us away from the tethers of human organ recovery. Insight and understanding of B-cell biology, tissue injury and remodeling, autoregulation of the immune response and the accelerating development of biomarkers of these processes present new therapies and target opportunities. Parallel developments in virology and cancer promise increased safety for recipients of cellular and solid organ transplantation. The spectacular Congress location offered opportunities for reflection and celebration amidst the beauty of British Columbia.

And so we hand the baton to Berlin, with excitement…