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The vital role of conferences in pharmacy practice: a view from EBMT

Education is the gateway to success. By attending conferences and arming ourselves with the facts, we can make informed decisions in our ongoing pharmacy practice, says Tiene Bauters PharmD PhD, Pharmacy Department, Ghent University Hospital, Belgium, on her return from EBMT 2024.

In today’s interconnected world, national and international conferences are pivotal in informing us of innovations and significant developments in patient care and clinical practice.

Conferences also help us connect with colleagues worldwide in an environment where experts, stakeholders, policymakers and even patient representatives are brought together for a common goal.

And they foster collaborations on a widespread scale, too, all while providing great opportunities to present our findings, exchange ideas, receive feedback from peers, gain insights into current practices and further connect with cutting-edge scientific content.

The conference landscape in a changing world

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the world of conferences has evolved. Live events, virtual meetings and hybrid congresses are now commonplace. All have their pros and cons, however.

Meeting face-to-face still seems the most preferred and effective way of networking and communicating, and most major events are now offered in-person again, which is great to see.

Virtual conferences are still very popular, having a broader reach, allowing remote attendance and thereby requiring fewer financial resources.

Of course, hybrid events combine the best of both worlds and offer great flexibility and convenience whether you are a local attendee or sitting at your desk on the other side of the world.

Celebrating a milestone at EBMT 2024

The 50th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation (EBMT) was one such hybrid event hosted in Glasgow, UK, and online in April this year – and now available on-demand.

The meeting celebrated 50 years of the EBMT community and united clinicians, pharmacists, nurses, data managers, statisticians, quality managers, transplant coordinators, laboratory scientists, trainees and patients, among others. It provided a unique platform for disseminating knowledge, information exchange, education and scientific output relating to haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) and cellular therapy research.

The EBMT meeting opened with a keynote lecture on the role of the intestinal microbiome in cancer immunotherapy from Marcel van den Brink – a globally recognised leader in the field of immuno-oncology and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) based at City of Hope Cancer Center and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, USA.

EBMT 2024 spotlighted the important role of multidisciplinary care and each of the four days saw an impressive range of topics covered in addition to presentations by several working parties on subjects such as infectious diseases, chronic malignancies and transplant complications, as well as by industry sponsors.

Key sessions delved into the future of the field, the emerging role and importance of artificial intelligence and the critical issue of global disparities in access to healthcare.

Conference honours and awards

Outstanding contributions in the fields of HSCT, clinical achievements and dedicated service to the EBMT were recognised through various awards and the bestowing of honorary memberships during the annual meeting.

Three ‘Pharmacists Best Abstract Awards’ were also presented by the EBMT Pharmacists Committee:

Weerdenburg et al (Melbourne, Australia) reported on a retrospective case series of posoconazole administration in children and how transitioning from IV to a crushed delayed-release formulation saved around 35 hospital days per patient and enabled earlier hospital discharge.

Redondo et al (Barcelona, Spain) reported on the introduction and clinical validation of liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry for individualised ruxolitinib adjustment in future cases of steroid-refractory GVHD.

Ben Hassine et al (Geneva, Switzerland; Montreal, Canada) reported on efficient model-informed precision dosing for busulfan and how this underscored the importance of multi-day therapeutic drug monitoring in paediatric HSCT.

Pharmacist representation at EBMT

The EBMT Pharmacist Committee was established in 2018 with the main aim of providing specific training and education for pharmacists, clinical pharmacologists and other professionals to define the role of hospital pharmacy in the delivery of cellular medicines.

It also advises on the content and implementation of related standards such as the Joint Accreditation Committee ISCT-Europe & EBMT – known as JACIE.

Chaired by Nick Duncan, with myself as co-chair, the Pharmacist Committee is involved in the organisation of the Pharmacist Day at the EBMT annual meeting.

This year, the Pharmacist Day covered sessions on:

  • GVHD
  • Supportive care including the management of nausea and vomiting
  • Service delivery and research
  • Novel therapies.

In a first for this meeting, the Pharmacist Committee organised an educational session during which participants were invited to work through four clinical cases covering CAR T toxicities, fungal infections, therapeutic drug monitoring and drug interactions.

Whether it’s EMBT or others, it is clear that conferences play a crucial role in advancing our professional lives and clinical practice. They actively promote dialogue and information exchange alongside valuable opportunities to network, share best practices and drive innovations.

If you haven’t already, I would urge you to consider signing up for conferences relating to your chosen pharmacy specialism – be it international or national, face-to-face, virtual or hybrid. You never know what gateway to success might open for you next.


Tiene Bauters PharmD PhD
Pharmacy; Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium

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