The 4Is of Implementation, Integration, Innovation and Inspiration(a shameless play on the 4Rs) were the themes of the UKRO 2013 conference, held at the East Midlands Conference centre, University of Nottingham. This excellent facility played its part in making UKRO 2013 a memorable event.
The meeting drew a larger attendance than in previous years and the audience covered the breadth of experience we have in our departments. This highlights the value of UKRO as the UK’s unique radiotherapy conference for trainees (medical students, physicists, radiographers) through to many heads of departments as well as visitors from further afield (USA, Poland, Egypt, to name a few).
The conference is the platform for the IPEM Douglas Lee memorial lectures (Prof. Rock Mackie) and the SCoR Martine Jackson memorial lecture (Prof. Angela Duxbury), and this year included the BIR SylvanusThompson memorial lecture which was given by Dr Edwin Aird, who presented the history of the development of quality control in radiotherapy clinical trials in the UK. Rock Mackie gave a comprehensive history of the development of radiotherapy and Angela Duxbury offered an insightful view on the challenges to the modern radiotherapy practitioner.
A number of invited speakers, too numerous to list, from the UK, Europe and the USA helped set the scene for the scientific sessions that included research and clinical development, educational practice, clinical trials, data management and contemporary clinical practice. There was a palpable “buzz” of excitement during the whole of the conference, and many of the attending delegates took the time to mention how they were enjoying themselves and finding the talks informative and of great educational benefit.
The conference was bookended by a session designed to celebrate what we have achieved as a community in the last seven years in the NCAT/NRAG/NRIG era and by a forward-looking session to close the meeting.
The opening session reminded us of exactly how much we have changed clinical radiotherapy, and it was fitting that Tim Cooper was a part of the meeting along with other key players in NRIG and the RIF project. Nick Slevin, chair of the newly formed Radiotherapy Clinical Reference Group, presented the “new NHS framework” as related to radiotherapy and his group’s role in taking us forward.
Highlights of the conference were the presentations that were arguably unexpected (and indeed were invited talks for that precise reason): the presentation of the Viewray MRI-Cobalt treatment machine by Jim Dempsey, the excellent presentation by Andre Dekker on the use of data as a predictive clinical tool, Tim Maughan’s overview of basic science for radiotherapy research and Dan Low’s modelling of the 4D respiratory motion that could essentially change the way we approach motion management in treatment planning. It is always dangerous to pick only a few and I apologise to those not listed; however, I would emphasise that every talk (invited and proffered) clearly contributed towards the quality and success of UKRO 2013.
The exhibition was tightly integrated into the whole of the conference and representatives from a large range of companies commented that they truly felt part of the meeting and were evident in the scientific sessions.