EAACI Summer Course in Italy

Exercise, Sport, Environment and their Interactions with Allergy & Immunity
14th - 20th September, 2000
Rome and Villasimius (Sardinia)

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The EAACI Summer Course in Italy was focussed on relationships between allergy and pollution, infections, style of life, sport and nutrition. The material below not only represents the author’s impressions of this course but also includes the opinions of the other participants based on the results of a questionnaire given to them. 48 JMAs gave their answers about the best lectures, pleasant and unpleasant things and their suggestions about lectures, practical demonstrations and social activity.

Nearly 100 JMAs attended this Summer Course, they listened to more then 40 lectures and attended some practical demonstrations. Most of the participants in the course presented their own research in a special scientific session. There were a lot of participants from Italy (the host country), Eastern and Southern Europe and some from Scandinavia. Unfortunately some countries like Germany, France and Austria were not represented.

The Course started in Rome at the National Research Council and at the Institute of Sport Science. For two days in Rome the participants were divided into two groups according to their choice of practical demonstrations. Since the two demonstrations took place quite far from each other also the two accommodation’s were separate and some participants felt that this reduced the possibilities for communications. Furthermore the places were located quite far from town centre making it difficult to find time for some sightseeing.

These small troubles were however forgotten when the Course moved to Villasimius in Sardinia. Nice beautiful scenery, warm sea with wonderful beaches in "Tanka Village" created the perfect atmosphere for communications. Both a very nice place and a golden opportunity for social activities were noted as the most pleasant things of this course by all participants.

The lectures were delivered in a comfortable and well equipped conference hall. Almost all JMA noted that the majority of lectures (especially in Villasimius) were up to date, very well illustrated and often artistically presented. The five best speakers according to the results of the questionnaire were (in brackets are the numbers of points they got): Adnan Custovic, UK (58); Lawrence DuBuske, USA (37); Sebastian L. Johnston, UK (35); Rob C.Aalberse, H (25) and John Weiler, USA (24).

I would just note an interesting fact that 4 of the 5 best lecturers were from English speaking countries.

Although there were a lot of suggestions on the questionnaire about the topics of the lectures it is difficult to summarize them because different people preferred different topics. Many participants recommended to avoid speakers who do not speak English for international courses even though a majority of the participants are from the host country. Many of JMA (and some professors as well) noted that there was not enough time for discussion after the lectures. They suggested to devote more time to discussion and to organize sessions in a more interactive way.

The deficiency of time for the discussion at the conference hall was partly compensated by the meet-the-professors tables (breakfasts, lunches and dinners). These ample opportunities for intercommunication in an informal way were fully appreciated by both participants and professors.

With reference to the practical demonstrations the opinion of the majority was that it is better to have more demonstrations, with more time for discussion and with the possibility for the participants to repeat the practical by themselves.

JMAs presented their research at the special oral sessions that were well organized by Mark Larché (UK). Posters were then viewed and discussed after these sessions in an informal way while a wine and cheese buffet was served. The majority of JMA reports were of a high standard and well illustrated. It seemed to me that the 5 minutes limit to each report, precisely controlled by M.Larché, made these sessions more attractive. I also would like to stress the point that for many of the JMAs the oral presentation became the first and very valuable experience of public speaking. The EAACI Scientific Course Committee rewarded special gifts to many participants. At the closing ceremony session, the course director Sergio Bonini, announced the six best JMA presenters: T.Eriksson (Sweden), A. Gaspar (Portugal), P. Gordins (Latvia), M. Kurowski (Poland) and S. Parvaneh (Sweden). Academy awarded them free registrations at the next EAACI congress in Berlin’2001. Vice President Merck Sharp & Dohme Silvia Bonaccorso added to this prize a travel grant to each winner. The first prize – a notebook PC from Merck Sharp & Dohme was awarded to Maggy Leckie (UK). Furthermore, a special prize was given to medical student, Joost Aalberse (NL), who was the youngest participant presenting his data in an EAACI Summer course.

The social program was mostly focused on sport activities. Not only JMAs but many professors led by Sergio Bonini competed in volleyball, soccer and basketball. The spirit of the competitions at Tanka Village playgrounds were no less than in the Olympic Games. These matches were appreciated both by players and the many spectators. Some of the participants noted in the suggestions about social activity, that it would also be nice to organize dances in the evenings and one excursion to see the surroundings.

To summarize the impressions of the participants and lecturers I would conclude that the EAACI Summer Course in Italy was very successful. The organizers of the Course have done a good job. Thanks should be given to people from the Italian Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology and Working Group on Allergy, Immunology, Asthma and Sport, the local group from Cagliari led by Dr. A. Sirianni and to the directors of the Course A. Cirillo, G.S. Del Giacco and S. Bonini.

I would like to particularly recognize Prof. Sergio Bonini. Apart from the great work of organizing the course, he managed to do a lot of other things. He attended many lectures, all the JMA oral and poster presentations, played (and won) volleyball, soccer, basketball and was always accessible and helpful to everybody. At the closing ceremony he said that in his last year of being President of EAACI he was very glad to be able to host this course in Italy. I think that the main achievements of his work as the President of EAACI were that he managed to shift the emphasis of the Academy policy towards young people and to reinforce the EAACI grant policy towards them. It seems to me symbolic and logical that this memorable and well organized conference held in his home country was dedicated in particular to JMA.

I want to say that the main aims of the EAACI Summer School Courses (EAACI Bylaws, ARTICLE 2) “for education and in order to stimulate the social contacts between young people interested in allergy and clinical immunology” have been successfully achieved in Italy.

Oleg Tsinkalovsky
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Last updated 16 September 2014