European Network to Cure ALS (ENCALS) annual meeting 2022

ENCALS2022 delegates in the University of Edinburgh's McEwan Hall

June 2022: The Euan MacDonald Centre was delighted to host over 600 MND researchers from across Europe at the ENCALS2022 conference.

From 1st to 3rd June 2022, the Euan MacDonald Centre and University of Edinburgh hosted the European Network to Cure ALS (ENCALS) international conference 2022. The local hosts were Professor Sharon Abrahams and Professor Siddharthan Chandran.

The annual meeting of the ENCALS organisation is held at a different European venue each year - this year was Edinburgh's turn, having had to cancel the previously planned event in 2020.

Over 600 MND researchers from across Europe and beyond gathered in the University's magnificent McEwan Hall. It was greatly appreciated that we could gather in person again.

Professor Chandran opened the meeting with an inspiring message from our co-founder, Euan MacDonald, that was generated using text-to-speech synthesis technology. He followed this with the plenary lecture, entitled "From bench to bedside" in which he outlined the Euan MacDonald Centre's vision of linked discovery and clinical research, to take discoveries rapidly from the lab to clinical trials.

The meeting continued over three packed days of science, with nearly 70 keynote lectures and platform presentations. Topics spanned the breadth of MND research including neuropsychology, neuroimaging, cell & molecular biology, drug discovery and clinical trials.

You can view the programme here: ENCALS2022 programme

In between the talks, the scientists and health professionals mingled and networked over coffee and at 236 scientific posters presented by early-career researchers. Awards were presented for the best posters by Prof Ammar Al-Chalabi from King's College London.

Professor Al-Chalabi also presented awards for outstanding Young Investigators: the gold medalist was Chen Eitan (Weizmann Institute of Science), and the two silver medalists were Ahmad Al-Khleifat (Kingsā€™s College London) and Ruben van Eijk (University Medical Centre Utrecht) [left to right in image below]. Congratulations to these MND research leaders of the future!

There was a separate meeting one afternoon that was aimed at clinical trial staff including research nurses; also three pharmaceutical companies (Biogen, Amylyx and Italfarmaco/EFFIK) sponsored satellite symposia to discuss particular topics in more detail.

The annual ENCALS meeting is geared towards the European academic community and in particular its early-career researchers. It provides a platform for MND researchers to gather and discuss their science in an informal setting, to make connections and spark new collaborations. As unpublished results are often presented, the meeting was not livestreamed. A satellite event aimed at Euan MacDonald Centre supporters, people with MND and their families, "Changing the Conversation Through Research" was livestreamed and the recording will be available here soon.

Donald MacDonald (left) and Euan MacDonald (front)
talking to Suvankar Pal (centre) and Robert Swingler (right)

ENCALS2022 was hailed a great success and an excellent way for the European MND research groups to make connections, share their findings and drive the MND research field forwards.

We were especially pleased that our co-founders, Donald and Euan MacDonald, attended parts of the conference.

We would like to thank the organisers of the meeting, the PhD student volunteers, and all the sponsors for their generous support.

Related links

European Network to Cure ALS (ENCALS) website

SpeakUnique (text to speech synthesis technology) website

University of Edinburgh McEwan Hall

This article was published on: Tuesday, June 14, 2022