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The return of congress

The long-overdue event showed how far the profession has come, writes IBMS Chief Executive David Wells.

IBMS Congress is always a spectacular event, the biggest and brightest in the biomedical science calendar, but this year it was particularly special. It felt long overdue – getting the whole profession together in a COVID-secure way and really talking about where we’ve been and where we’re going.

The plenary sessions gave a great overview of the work our biomedical science professions have been undertaking throughout the pandemic, what new educational routes are being established, and also what our strategies should be for dealing with a challenging future (we will be releasing these on video for all of our members to access). Then there were the simply astounding array of specialist offerings – reminding us all how close to the cutting edge UK biomedical science truly is.

I was struck at the trade show by how much the world of biomedical science has changed since I started out. Equipment innovators and manufacturers adapt with dizzying speed – helping us to deliver the highest professional standards in world healthcare. There was a lot of focus on embracing the challenge of what we all hope will be a “post-pandemic world”.

At the stands and in conversations I had, there was a sense that our workforces are amalgamating, and that the ways in which we are working is more integrated. There are increasing numbers of biomedical scientists in the industrial sector, academic research has closer links to healthcare and industry, and the way that healthcare is being delivered is becoming more dynamic. I hope to help the IBMS keep pace, support these changes, and make membership appeal across the full range of the biomedical science professions.

Perhaps the most refreshing thing about Congress was the hive-like buzz of a world-class networking event – seeing past and present colleagues and sharing knowledge and advice from the past couple of years. Though we were all rightly wearing facemasks, there was a “back to normal” excitement in the air and a sense of relief that we have moved through the worst of it, that restrictions and testing were beginning to ease ahead of April, and what we all seemed to be left with was pride. Pride that we had pulled together and got the testing done. Pride that our work had been recognised. Pride in our profession.

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David Wells Chief Executive

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