Claire Sharpe previews the program and highlights the benefits of meeting onlineCatherine de Tiège
This year’s chair of the WCN Scientific Committee, Professor Claire Sharpe from King’s College London, UK, shares her recommendations from the program and emphasizes the advantages of a virtual congress.
“Being Scientific Committee chair during these unusual times has been a roller coaster, but it’s been an exciting process as we’ve gone from planning a physical meeting in Montreal to a virtual meeting,” says Prof. Sharpe.
She sees many advantages of an online format, mainly that it is more accessible to people worldwide and enables more interactive sessions.
“We wouldn’t usually have questions and answers after a plenary session, but this time we’re including 15 minutes for discussion. These speakers are in plenaries for a reason; we all want to ask them questions, and it will be a great opportunity to get some proper conversations going.
“I’m really excited about the plenary speakers. They’re all great, but as a Nobel Prize-winner, Peter Ratcliffe’s talk is going to be a very special event.”
Prof. Sharpe says she is also looking forward to hearing presentations on significant themes carried over from 2020, including artificial intelligence and acute kidney injury in pregnancy.
She continues: “COVID-19 has been a powerful reminder of how vulnerable nephrology patients are. Our end-stage patients — our dialysis and transplant patients — have suffered hugely. They’ve had a very high mortality rate from COVID-19, but I know a huge amount of work has been done in this area. We saw a lot of acute kidney injury during the first wave, but this doesn’t seem to have manifested in the second wave, and I hope there will be some discussion around that.
“I’m keen to hear more about how the community has dealt with the pandemic and the lessons we’ve learned. I hope that by the time of the congress, we’ll see light at the end of the tunnel, and we can discuss how to recover from this awful episode.”
Prof. Sharpe says she is also excited about the gender balance of the meeting. “It’s the best gender balance we’ve ever had. I think being virtual has removed many of the obstacles that may have inhibited travel to a physical conference, both for people with young children and people from low- and middle-income countries. I hope that engagement from people who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to join us will give this meeting a different feel.”
The virtual platform includes places where people can interact, chat and network. There will be opportunities to meet one-to-one and in groups, via text or video calling, and to discuss particular themes or have more informal conversations.
To those undecided about whether to join the congress, Prof. Sharpe adds: “We’ve all been starved of education for so long. This is an opportunity to step back and reflect. It’s an opportunity to meet the peers we would normally be interacting with but haven’t been able to. It’s about a sense of global togetherness and the realization that we’re not each fighting our own little battles; we’re in it together. Reconnecting with that sense of community is what I’m most looking forward to.”
Professor Sir Peter Ratcliffe: “Understanding cellular oxygen sensing mechanisms: implications for medicine” (Brenner/Dirks Lecture), Plenary Session 2
Chair: Claire Sharpe
Sunday 18 April, 09.30-10.30 hrs Montréal (Canada) time
How to achieve equitable, inclusive and ethical AI development and implementation
Chair: Olivier Niel
Saturday 17 April, 14.00-15.00 hrs Montréal (Canada) time
AKI and Pregnancy – From the common to the critical
Chair: Belinda Jim
Sunday 18 April, 12.30-14.00 hrs Montréal (Canada) time