The annual congress in Berlin was another organisational triumph, and the science was good too. Berlin threw up a train strike, a Lufthansa strike and a conference centre still introducing its staff to each other. You may or may not have noticed because the ECNP office staff managed these potentially damaging issues so brilliantly. Iris Allebrandi and Melinda Spitzer had the lead roles as manager (congresses) and project manager (congresses and meetings) respectively, but Ligia Bohn, Nathalie Buitenhuis, Eline Dimmendaal, Godelieve Escartin, Annemieke Heuvink, Petra Hoogendoorn, Laura Lacet, Jolijn van Middelkoop, Lucas Renckens, Corine ten Brink, all contributed to keeping the show so faultlessly on the road. Alex Schubert and Ellen van den Berg kept our behind the scenes meetings on time and to the point. So let me repeat in writing a big thanks to all for delivering an experience that will have so excited, inspired and informed more than 5000 attendees from across the world: 98 countries, in fact.
The innovations this year included our early start on Saturday afternoon, abolishing Wednesday, e-posters, rapid fire presentations, the junior scientist area, the regulatory update session and a non-MD fee. They all enhanced the conference, I believe. However, we are not complacent and the Executive Committee stayed behind on Wednesday to spend several hours analyzing what went well and what went less well. The introduction of free registration of poster abstracts, for example, back fired and resulted in many submissions from individuals who presumably had no intention of attending the conference but were seeking a publication for their abstract in ENP. This explains the many blank poster positions in the exhibition. It means we will have to try and deter this practice in future years.
The science content of the meeting is the choice of the Scientific programme Committee, whose members serve for a single year at a time: we thank them most sincerely for their excellent work sifting the suggestions submitted and cutting/pasting into the final versions. This has to take into account a range of factors relating to content, presenters and destination tracks within the programme. Sometimes we know that suggestions appear either not to be accepted or to be changed a good deal. I am sorry, of course, but this is inevitable, and please keep your suggestions coming. It is the most direct way in which you can influence the programme. Wim van den Brink has led the committee with great energy and clarity of purpose for the last three years: his contribution to the quality of the meeting has been superb. He now hands over to Astrid Linthorst.
We are aware that the overall shape of the congress has evolved organically over the years. We will re-visit the structure and intended content of the tracks, and look carefully at the gaps that some attendees identify in their day.
Finally, some of the sessions start very early and are a challenge to the circadian function of younger colleagues. We are not sure about the explanation and hence whether the solution lies primarily in them changing their social zeitgebers or us adapting to their biological clock.
In any case, we will look forward to meeting again, at the latest in Amsterdam 2015.