Since several years EAACI together with GA2LEN supports summer schools all over Europe. The summer school in Rotterdam was organised by the EAACI Asthma section and had as main theme "Asthma and Allergy: bridging the gap between basic and clinical science".
On Saturday 27th August, 104 participants from all over Europe and even more far away (Iran, Russia, Georgia and United States) arrived in Rotterdam Golden Tulip hotel. The venue was nicely located on the bank of the Maas river in downtown Rotterdam. In restaurant Prachtig next to the Erasmus bridge all people were welcomed with an outdoor reception and Urban Barbecue. Fortunately the weather was extremely good for Dutch standards and contributed to the perfect atmosphere.
The kick-off of the scientific programme took place on Sunday 28th August 9.00 AM. Although quite a few people went bar hopping the night before, the meeting room was full. After a short introduction and welcome of Gert-Jan Braunstahl, Gerard Koppelman from Groningen started with the first session about Asthma, nature or nurture. In this session the pathogenesis of asthma was discussed with special emphasis on genetics, psychological factors, environment, exercise and infections. In the afternoon, the immunopathology of asthma was the topic of interest. In clear presentations the speakers took their audience by the hand and unraveled the secrets of innate immunity, T-cells, neuro-immune interactions, mast cells, eosinophils and chemokines.
After the end of the session, the whole group took off to the nearby beach where we had a volleyball tournament and BBQ. On the sounds of several Golden Oldies there was room for dancing and getting to know each other better.
On Monday Peter Sterk from Leiden opened the session assessment and monitoring of asthma with a presentation about bronchial hyperreactivity. His talk was followed by several other presentations discussing the role of sputum induction, NO-measurement and airway remodeling.
After lunch break the whole group left for a boat ride to Kinderdijk, which is famous for its beautiful windmills. The boat ride was great and everyone seemed to enjoy the sun and wonderful skyline of Rotterdam. In Kinderdijk there was ample opportunity to look inside one of the windmills and to have an impression of earlier times. In the evening we went by underground to historic Delfshaven, where a dinner buffet was organized in a 400 year old beer brewery.
Despite the fact that the local beer was very much appreciated by most of the people, almost everybody was present on Tuesday morning s session about Evidence Based Medicine in airway disease. During this session several international Guidelines were presented, such as GINA, ARIA, GOLD and GARD. At lunch break interactive sessions were organized in small groups in which people were able to present their own work. There was a variety of research presented from basic science to clinical investigations. The discussion was lively and the presenters got good feedback on their projects. Subsequently, the whole group was split in four smaller groups visiting different parts of the Rotterdam University Hospital. There workshops were organized about various topics, such as animal models, immunopathology, diagnostic approaches and asthma and allergy in the clinic. During the workshops there was opportunity to watch several procedures and do experiments. At 19.00 hr the whole group gathered at the docks to take off by water taxi to the Euromast. With the incredible speed of 40 km/hr the group was transferred to the dinner place which was situated at 80 m high. The view from the restaurant overlooking Rotterdam and the docklands was marvelous. It was quite obvious that after 4 days of summer school the participants were much closer now. After dinner we had a last night cap at the borders of the Maas.
On Wednesday August 31st a symposium was organized together with the Dutch Asthma Foundation covering asthma therapy and failure. Current therapeutic approaches and new asthma therapies were discussed in lively presentations. The delegates actively participated in the discussions. After lunch break several Dutch pediatricians talked about early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of asthma and allergy in children. At the end of the course there was a small reception. Most of the participants had already left by that time.
From the feedback we have had until now, we may conclude that it was a very successful event. The organization would like to thank the enthusiastic faculty, who actively participated in the scientific as well as in the social programme. Finally, we are very grateful for the financial support from GA2LEN and EAACI, which made it possible for many participants to attend the summer school.