The second EAACI-GA2LEN Allergy School was completed with great success in Chalkidiki, in northern Greece, from 23 to 27 June 2006. The course took place in Hotel “Pallini Beach”, on the western peninsula of Chalkidiki, next to the legendary Kassandra beaches.
In total, 126 participants from 20 countries of Europe and beyond, joined the scientific course under the theme ‘Exacerbations of respiratory allergy’, a topic approached from both clinical and mechanistic viewpoints. The school, co-organised by the Hellenic Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (HSACI), focused mostly on the needs of allergy and asthma clinical trainees aiming to enlarge their competence and knowledge in dealing with asthma and allergic rhinitis. During the course, 57 travel grants were offered to the participants. The scientific program comprised of 20 hours and was evaluated for 18 European CME credits.
On Friday 23rd, the Organising Secretariat welcomed all participants with a short opening ceremony followed by a Greek night with drinks on the beach bar, in the effort of getting to know each other better in a more relaxed atmosphere. Despite the heavy rain that broke out unexpectedly, everyone seemed to enjoy the evening which ended in spontaneous Greek dancing in the rain.
The scientific core course started dynamically on Saturday 24th in a full auditorium with four Sessions, on asthma exacerbations, exacerbations in the upper airways, virus-induced asthma exacerbations and allergen-induced asthma exacerbations. Each session was followed by active discussion creating a remarkable feedback, and… “dragging” the sessions a bit longer than planned.
Right after the educational part was over, the participants met on the beach for a beach volley tournament where everyone was keen on taking part. The evening closed with a barbeque night at a traditional Greek tavern with a big wine cellar and a magnificent view to Pefkohori village.
* Saturday 24th Photo Album
Sunday 25th started with the social program and an early boat trip to the middle peninsula of Chalkidiki, to Kalogrea and Nikiti beaches. As the weather was quite hot, the participants had the chance to swim in crystal clear waters. The most brave ones jumped directly off the boat whereas others searched their adventurous nature on nearby skerrys. The highlight of the trip was unquestionably the group of dolphins that all of a sudden appeared to be following the boat, a scene that made everyone enthusiastically taking numerous pictures of them. See the video here! (18 MB)
Back to the venue, the evening opened with Oral Presentations on Basic Science & Epidemiology and Clinical Science, where the participants had the opportunity to present their work and confront a demanding audience in lively discussion. The evening continued with a Poster Session in a cosy atmosphere and high-standard presentations from the selected participants. After the course, a group of participants continued their social interaction with a late-night out experience, exploring Chalkidiki by night, whereas other relaxed on the beach bar of the hotel, under the moonlight.
On Monday 26th, the attendants had the chance to familiarise themselves with “Special considerations and Other triggers of asthma exacerbations”, along with the “Exploration of the practical aspects in assessing asthma activity” and “Treatment of respiratory allergy exacerbations, offering high-level science”.
After the closure of the sessions, the participants re-newed their appointment for the beach volley for the semi-finals and the final match. The winners celebrated their victory with a bottle of champaign in a festive mood.
In the evening, the whole group was taken to a traditional fish tavern with a magnificent sea view in the village of Potidaia. Although starting very modestly, the night turned out to a big traditional Greek spree with plenty of wine and dancing. Under the sounds of Greek “mpouzouki”, the participants surpassed the Greeks in the traditional Greek dancing, creating an overwhelming experience.
Moreover, during a short dancing break, the President of the LOC, Nikos Papadopoulos, thanked everyone for attending the meeting and announced the names of the participants who had been granted with symbolic awards for their high standard contribution. These were:
Best Poster Presentation
Mohammad Fereidouni, Iran
Bidad Katayoon, Iran
Best Oral Presentation
Maria Xatzipsalti, Greece
Andrei Malinovski, Sweden
George Konstantinou, Greece
The night ended with late-night swim on the beach of the Hotel.
On Tuesday 27th, last day of the school, the scientific program closed with the most contrasting current views on the prevention of asthma exacerbations, presented and debated in one, industry-independent session, which everyone - despite the hangover from the previous night - seemed to fully enjoy.
* See the webcast presentations! (for member's only)
On time for departure, everyone was sad that such an experience had come to an end and the participants thanked warmly the organisers for their hospitality and unique Greek summer school experience.
* Tuesday 27th Photo Album
Once again, we would like to thank our core organisers, EAACI and GA2LEN for their financial and scientific support, as well as the UCB Institute of Allergy, without them this allergy school would not have taken place. Most importantly though, we would like to thank everyone who attended the school for their enthusiast participation in terms of science and social interaction.
Nikos Papadopoulos Irene Andriopoulou
On behalf oh the Local Organising Committee
Special thanks to everyone who provided us with photographic material, and especially Michael Rudenko, the “unofficial” photographer of the event!