18th EDF Annual Meeting 2015
The 18th Annual Meeting of the European Dermatology Forum (EDF) was held in Bern, Switzerland from the 22–24 January 2015. The meeting represents a highlight in the annual calendar of key opinion leaders in dermatology across Europe since it combines a rich scientific program together with an ideal opportunity for constructive networking.
“It’s always a pleasure for me and for all of the board of directors of the EDF to come to the EDF meeting in January and meet with distinguished colleagues and friends in a relaxed environment with science, culture and interactions with one another”
Lars French, President EDF
The EDF is a non-profit organisation founded in 1997, which is dedicated to advancing dermatology and improving healthcare for dermatology patients across Europe. The EDF has 200 members all of whom are heads of academic departments and key opinion leaders in dermatology.
This year’s Annual Meeting highlighted the core activities of the EDF comprising state-of-the-art scientific lectures across a broad range of topics in dermatology; collaborative activities with other medical disciplines, industry and sister dermatology societies; and updates on treatment guidelines and dermatology educational programs.
Advancing Dermatology…Through Scientific Exchange
The solid scientific programme of the EDF Annual Meeting was designed to inform, update and stimulate participants on diverse areas of dermatology.
One key theme was the use of cutting-edge technological innovations to assist in the diagnosis of dermatological diseases. Professor Giovanni Pellacani (University of Modena) and Professor Gregor Jemec (Roskilde Hospital) explained how technological advances in non-invasive imaging, such as confocal laser microscopy and optical coherence tomography, have opened up a new histopathological vision of the skin, which is likely to provide an increasingly important role in the future in the accurate diagnosis of dermatological disorders. Professor Johannes Ring (Technische Universität München) explored how the use of smartphone apps could be harnessed to provide patients with improved access to dermatological diagnoses and care. Optimising the use of this technology may be particularly important for the early diagnosis of certain skin conditions, such as actinic keratosis and basal cell carcinoma, which are becoming increasingly prevalent.
Another main topic of this year’s meeting was updates on drug therapies for dermatological diseases. Professor Thomas Luger (University of Münster) provided an overview of the latest evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of topical calcineurin inhibitors in infants with atopic dermatitis and the need for a reconsideration of the boxed warnings for these treatments. Professor Brigitte Dréno (University of Nantes) described the considerable progress which has been made in the treatment of melanoma in recent years with the introduction of several new classes of therapeutic agents such as antibodies against cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4) and programmed cell death-1 (PD-1).
Advancing Dermatology…Through Collaboration
The skin does not function in isolation and neither does the EDF. A complete understanding of the skin and the diseases that affect it requires effective collaboration between multiple interrelated medical disciplines. To facilitate this, the EDF invited leading experts from a range of other medical specialities including immunology, oncology, neurology and ethics to its Annual Meeting to provide engaging scientific lectures on areas where these fields interact with the skin.
Professor Adrian Hayday (King’s College, London) discussed how the skin is a fundamental source of insights into how the immune system works within tissues.His research has aimed to decode the lingua franca of T-cell–stromal cell interactions in the skin and has demonstrated that epithelial cells can directly regulate T cells in vivo and that these interactions can orchestrate immune responses.
Professor Niklaus Schäfer (University Hospital of Zurich) highlighted the application of nuclear medicine to dermatology, with advances in positron emission tomography (PET) enabling the accurate assessment of the extent of dermato-oncological diseases such as malignant melanoma to be characterised prior to treatment.
A current challenge in the treatment of many dermatological diseases is that the high level of unmet medical need requires innovative new therapeutic approaches, although an increasing number of hurdles to developing and registering new drugs are continually being introduced. To help address this problem, the EDF fosters close partnerships between academia and the pharmaceutical industry. At its Annual Meeting, the EDF hosted discussions with industry to better understand the obstacles to the more rapid development of efficacious, safe and cost-effective medications and to explore ways of partnering to overcome these challenges. Collaborations such as these form part of the EDF’s lobbying activities which promote and defend the interests of dermatology and patients with skin diseases.
The EDF also fosters close collaborations with sister dermatological societies. Its Annual Meeting provided a forum for updates and information exchange with societies including the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV; www.eadv.org), the European Society for Dermatology Research (ESDR, www.esdr.org), the Union Européenne des Médecins Spécialistes (UEMS, www.uems.eu), and the International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS,web.ilds.org). Close co-operation between the EDF and these societies is mutually beneficial and essential in delivering collaborative projects such as cross-organisation consolidated guidelines (see below).
Advancing Dermatology…Through Guidelines
A principal activity of the EDF is to provide dermatologists and venereologists with up-to-date recommendations for the diagnosis and therapy of skin diseases to promote the highest standard of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these conditions. At the present time over 25 sets of guidelines have already been developed and published. Dr Alexander Nast (Campus Charité Mitte, Berlin) discussed the EDF’s ongoing process to update existing guidelines at the Annual Meeting, as well as describing current work to develop 15 new guidelines for diseases such as lupus, scleroderma, non-gonococcal urethritis and squamous cell carcinoma. Recognising the need to provide dermatologists and venereologists with consolidated and consistent guidelines, the EDF works with many other societies to issue harmonised treatment recommendations (e.g., EADV [www.eadv.org]; European Society of Paediatric Dermatology [www.espd.info], and the International Union against Sexually Transmitted Infections [www.iusti.org]).
Advancing Dermatology…Through Training
An important goal of the EDF is to harmonise undergraduate dermatology education across Europe and to improve the quality of teaching. A notable example of the EDF’s commitment in this area, highlighted by Professor Günter Burg (University of Zurich) at the Annual Meeting, is the collaboration between the EDF and Dermatology Online with Interactive Technology (DOIT; www.cyberderm.net) to develop an interactive, globally accessible dermatology e-learning platform for medical undergraduates. This successful educational programme currently provides students with a systematic overview of over 100 dermatology and venereology diagnoses, and has 20,000 users from 200 universities in 60 countries.
The 18th Annual Meeting of the EDF brought together leading experts in the field of dermatology providing an important opportunity for information exchange, discussion and networking. Following the success of the 2015 meeting, the EDF looks forward to welcoming its members to the 19th Annual Meeting in January 2016.
EDF Executive Committee: L. French, J. McGrath, V. Piguet
H. Gollnick, Past President, D. Harisson