By Paul Gray

With the hope of helping people in pain, the Australian Pain Society endeavours to provide a comprehensive and noteworthy Annual Scientific Meeting.  This is achieved through the work of the Scientific Program Committee (SPC), the Local Organising Committee (LOC) and the conference organisers, DC Conferences.  We would like to draw attention to some of the noteworthy aspects of this year’s meeting.

The 35th Birthday

APS_35The 2015 gathering was the 35th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian Pain Society.  Brisbane had the privilege of hosting this special event at the Convention and Exhibition Centre – especially significant as the first ASM was held on Queensland’s Gold Coast.   The birthday was celebrated with the cutting of a cake at the Welcome Reception and the launch of the comprehensive history book, “Australian Pain Society – The First 35 Years”.   This superb publication was commissioned by the Society, researched and edited by Dr Judith Godden and will be a valued addition to the personal library of members.  The Society encourages all members to obtain a copy.  (Please refer to our website for details).

This special birthday meeting saw excellent attendances from all streams of health professions including researchers and students.  We saw one of the highest ever number of research posters presented, reflecting the growing appreciation of the APS ASM as a supportive forum to present pain research.

International Speakers

The meeting was enhanced with a fine selection of international guests including Prof Herta Flor (Germany), Dr Mary Lynch (Canada) and Dr Frank Porreca (USA).  Herta presented at two plenary sessions on “Learning and brain plasticity in chronic pain” and “Brain-based behavioral interventions for chronic pain”.  We heard from Mary about the Canadian experience of cannabinoids in clinical pain management and also on the difficult topic of “The opioid wars: addressing the collateral damage”.  Finally, Frank presented his research on “Brain reward motivational circuits and chronic pain” and also at the Sunderland Lecture.

Named Lectures

It was again a pleasure to acknowledge our leaders through the three named lectures.  Dr Frank Porreca presented the Sunderland Lecture on the topic, “Brain circuits mediating pain and its relief”.  The Tess Cramond Lecture was delivered by A/Prof Luke Henderson from Sydney, the topic being “Central changes in chronic pain” that including his work using fMRI.  Tess would have loved to have attended her lecture but unfortunately was unable.  Another local talent, Professor Michael Nicholas, presented the topic “Integrated multidisciplinary pain management: how’s the evidence looking?” for the Bonica Lecture.

The Conference App

This was the first year that the Australian Pain Society moved from the traditional printed program to the downloaded App.  As the world moves more towards the electronic format, it was time we moved as well.  The native App will remain on your devices until it is removed.  The App has many strengths including portability and compactness.  It remains fully searchable if you are looking for a certain abstract or speaker.

Distinguished Members

L to R: Geoff Speldewinde (President) with Julia Fleming (for Denise Francis-King), Helen Rowe and Maree Smith

L to R: Geoff Speldewinde (President) with Julia Fleming (for Denise Francis-King), Helen Rowe and Maree Smith

As has been the recent tradition during the ASM, several members of the APS received Distinguished Member Awards.    These awards are bestowed on members who have made a significant contribution to the world of pain and who have been strong supporters of the Society.  For 2015, the awards were presented to Helen Rowe (occupational therapist), Denise Francis-King (registered nurse) and Professor Maree Smith (pharmacist and pre-clinical researcher). Well done, all!

Prize Winners

The APS aims to honour those people who have completed exceptional levels of research through the awards program.   The Best Free Paper award went to Christine Lin for the title, “The effectiveness of rehabilitation on pain and other outcomes after ankle fracture”.  Karl Bagraith was the runner-up for this award on the topic, “Impact of the ‘initiative on methods, measurement, and pain assessment in clinical trials’ (IMMPACT) recommended core outcome measures in pain research”.   Best Poster award for 2015 was presented to Zaynab Alshelh.  This poster was entitled, “Altered neural oscillations in neuropathic pain” and was particularly relevant given that the theme for the Global Year Against Pain 2014-15 is Neuropathic Pain.    The runner-up in this category was John Cavil, “Evidence that peri-neuronal nets in the rat midbrain are involved in resilience to the disabling effects of sciatic nerve injury”.  Finally, the Best Rapid Communication award went to Kasia Marciszewski for work on “Tonic Pain: A cortical representation”.

Michele Sterling with Karl Bagraith, runner-up Best Free Paper

Michele Sterling with Karl Bagraith, runner-up Best Free Paper.

Michele Sterling with John Cavill, runner-up Best Poster

Michele Sterling with John Cavill, runner-up Best Poster

Michele Sterling with Kasia Marciszewski, Best Rapid Communication

Michele Sterling with Kasia Marciszewski, Best Rapid Communication

Social Program

There were several fun social events held during the program, with the highlight being the Gala Dinner at the Brisbane City Hall – this was a wonderful night of pipe organ recitals, good food, great company and a dancing extravaganza. A great night had by all.

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Other Innovations

The APS is always looking for ways to innovate and improve the Annual Scientific Meeting. Other innovations that were trialled in 2015 were: ‘meet the speakers’ over breakfast; expansion of the Q&A interactivity using SMS and tweets; creating a ‘chill out zone’; and E-posters. To assist in this improvement, the APS is always keen for suggestions and feedback.

The next meeting …

Our next ASM will be hosted by Perth from the 13th to the 16th of March 2016. Again, the Scientific Program Committee is working hard in developing a great program and has carefully selected and invited the following international speakers: Prof Frank Birklein (Germany), Dr Catherine Bushnell (USA) and Prof David Yarnitsky (Israel). Please join with us for this meeting as we continue to grow the Society and help people in pain.

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About Australian Pain Society

The Australian Pain Society is a multidisciplinary body aiming to relieve pain and related suffering through leadership in clinical practice, education, research and public advocacy.

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