Looking back on a successful symposium

In the summer of 2018, leading chlamydia researchers from the province of Utrecht attended the 14th International Symposium on Human Chlamydial Infections (ISHCI). Professor Servaas Morré from the VUmc and MUMC+ was Chair of the 14th ISHCI, which he organised in conjunction with his colleague Dr Sander Ouburg. Morré shares his experiences of organising the symposium.

Stringent requirements
‘Bringing this symposium to the Netherlands is a remarkable achievement. The board of the ISHCI stipulates that the symposium can only be held in a non-American country once every eight years. So, when we were chosen to host the symposium, we were delighted.’ And the restrictions on hosting of the symposium by non-American countries are not the board’s only requirement. The symposium must take place in a remote location, the location must have a room that can accommodate everyone, all the delegates must be able to stay in the same hotel and the location must be near a golf course. Meeting such stringent requirements is no mean feat.

Putting in the bid
Morré asked conference organisers Klinkhamer to draw up a list of Dutch locations that met the board’s requirements. One of these was Woudschoten Hotel & Conference Centre in Zeist. ‘So I got in contact with Judith Huizing (Senior Sales Manager) at Woudschoten Hotel and Monique and her team at the UCB. That was back in 2015. At that time, the UCB helped us draw up our bid, amongst other things. This bid was submitted to the ISHCI Board by Professor Henry de Vries and was extremely well received. One member of the board told me that they had never seen such an attractive bid’, Morré laughs.

Visit to the Netherlands
Based on the bids received, the board draws up a shortlist of countries that might be eligible to host the ISHCI. These countries are visited in the 2nd phase, in which the board makes its selection. This included the Netherlands: ‘That was in late summer 2016’, recalls Morré. ‘Judith and Monique then organised the programme, with all that that entailed.’ It obviously made a good impression, since after two months of waiting, in November of that year, the good news arrived: the ISHCI was to be held in the Netherlands.

Organising the symposium
‘That marked the start of phase 3’, says Morré. ‘Organising the symposium. In this final phase too the UCB was really helpful to us, with the website, the symposium dinner, excursions, etc. As well as practical issues, the UCB also gave us guidance on options for financing the symposium. They know all about submitting applications to the Incentive Fund.’ Morré looks back with satisfaction on a successful symposium: ‘We’ve had a lot of positive responses from people, and a lot of people said they would like the symposium to be held in the Utrecht region every four years. That’s great to hear, because we’ve all worked so hard to make the 14th ISHCI a success!’