Questions answered by: Robert Hirt, Professor of Evolutionary Parasitology, Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University
Why did you choose to bring your conference to NewcastleGateshead?
ICAP conferences bring together a small but vibrant community of parasitologists working on anaerobic and mucosal parasites. These conferences alternate between countries and continents and it was Europe’s turn after the two previous conferences took place around the Pacific in Asia (Taiwan, 2008) and North America (USA, 2012). I accepted to take on the organization of ICAP VI and I was keen to host the conference in Newcastle to bring together colleagues from the UK and the rest of the world – including colleagues from the Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences here Newcastle University – interested in mucosal microbiology, immunology and parasitology to engage with parasitologists and clinicians working on microbiota and parasites infecting human mucosal surfaces. Newcastle is also easy to reach by air travel – a key criteria as the ICAP meetings attracts researchers from over the world.
What do you feel you (the organiser) benefited from bringing the event to NewcastleGateshead?
Newcastle is a compact and welcoming city with first-rate conference facilities and hotels. The North East is also rich in historical landmarks and we took advantage of one of these by running the gala dinner at Durham Castle – a unique and fitting venue for a high-profile dinner. Notably, the dinner was greatly appreciated by all attendees, in particular by the international colleagues who were particularly impressed by the historical settings, which included a stunning moon-lit view of Durham Cathedral as we left the castle at the end of the dinner, adding a definite wow effect to the whole evening.
A memorable dinner on the last night of the conference also took place at the Crowne Plaza Newcastle – Stephenson Quarter, which showed off one of the most modern settings on offer in Newcastle and ensured attendees enjoyed both the science and socialising during the entire conference.
How do you feel your delegates benefited from the event being hosted in NewcastleGateshead?
The conference offered a unique environment for colleagues with shared interests – from master and PhD students to senior academics including both basic and clinical researchers – to interact and appreciate the research done at Newcastle University and overseas, and by doing so further enrich existing and stimulate future collaborations at the interface between basic and clinical research.
How did NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau support in the organisation of your event?
The Bureau helped me with organizing the location of the conference as well as the additional venues for the dinners and arranged the main hotel hosting the attendees.
Did you come across any difficulties/hurdles when organising the event and how did you overcome these?
We could not get the initial venue, based on the Newcastle University campus, required to host both the talks and the posters in one room, as it was not available for the required dates. Alternative options were investigated with the help of NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau and we eventually settled for the Life Meetings and Events at the International Centre for Life, which provided the ideal space for this conference both in terms of the physical environment and the high quality of the service provided by the staff, including the first dinner of the conference.