The Bone and Calcium Endocrine Network: our time as convenors
CAROLINE GORVIN AND JEREMY TURNER | Features
As co-convenors, we have led the Society for Endocrinology’s Bone and Calcium Endocrine Network since 2018. Our initial vision for the Network was as a place where all members of our community (researchers, clinicians, nurses and patient support groups) felt welcome and could engage in conversation about academic and clinical practice in our exciting field of endocrinology.
'We aspired to bring effective leadership to the Bone and Calcium Network, whilst also very much recognising that we are only two voices in a much larger forum.'
OUR ACHIEVEMENTS SO FAR
We aspired to bring effective leadership to the Bone and Calcium Network, whilst also very much recognising that we are only two voices in a much larger forum. With this in mind, we began our tenure by seeking the opinions of our members via online surveys, and providing regular updates to our members via newsletters. We have also recently launched our Network Twitter account; we encourage everyone to follow @bonenetwork and share content.
For our meetings at the Society for Endocrinology BES conferences, we have tried to deliver a mixed programme made up of:
- inviting members to pitch ideas, which has been successful in forming new collaborations
- having invited speakers (i.e. a ‘big name’ to draw in the crowds), and
- holding an open discussion.
A key aim was to make sure patients’ perspectives were heard at all our meetings. We are proud to have worked closely with Liz Glenister of Parathyroid UK to achieve this.
We are unlikely to be alone in thinking that one of our most important achievements was canvassing, alongside convenors of other Networks, to move the timing of the Network meeting slots at SfE BES from their original pre-08.00 location to after lunch. This has allowed greater attendance and engagement at these sessions.
PROGRESS IN 2020
We had several events planned for 2020, which unfortunately were postponed or re-organised as virtual meetings. Together with some of our nurse and clinical members, we were looking forward to hosting our first Specialist Nurse Research Training Meeting in April 2020. We still hope we can deliver this content in a virtual meeting in 2021, allowing more nurse members to participate.
Similarly, many members were planning to attend the Society for Endocrinology-endorsed Gut–Bone Axis Meeting, organised by Jeremy Turner and Nikki Horwood, that was promoted by the Network. Like so many meetings in 2020, this was postponed and will be delivered online in 2021.
'Being aware of growing ‘online meeting fatigue’, we tried to plan an event that would appeal to as many members as possible, with both a basic science and a clinical talk covering new studies in the bone and calcium field.'
Our biggest Network task for 2020 was planning our virtual meeting for SfE BES 2020. We quickly realised that our usual informal open discussion would be impossible, as most content had to be prerecorded. Being aware of growing ‘online meeting fatigue’, we tried to plan an event that would appeal to as many members as possible, with both a basic science and a clinical talk covering new studies in the bone and calcium field.
We couldn’t ignore the impact of COVID-19 on clinical practice, and Neil Gittoes (Birmingham) gave a fantastic presentation on the clinical guidelines that he and his colleagues published this summer in European Journal of Endocrinology, giving guidance on management of calcium metabolic disorders and osteoporosis.1 See Neil Gittoes article, in this issue.
In our second talk, Donald Ward (Manchester) presented some of his group’s recent basic science studies on phosphate sensing. Published in late 2019 in Nature Communications,2 these studies demonstrate a role in phosphate sensing for the calcium-sensing receptor, which has long been known to regulate calcium homeostasis.
We are extremely grateful to our speakers for giving up their time to record these talks and for their engagement in the live Q&A sessions afterwards. We were pleased to learn from the Winter 2020 edition of The Endocrinologist that our session was one of the top 10 attended sessions. Content from the meeting is still available online in the Members’ Area of the Society for Endocrinology website.
OUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE
'We are especially excited about plans for online Network meetings, in which researchers will be able to submit abstracts and give short presentations.'
While it remains difficult to predict what the future holds under the current circumstances, we are hopeful we will be able to continue to provide new opportunities for members to network over the coming year. We are especially excited about plans for online Network meetings, in which researchers will be able to submit abstracts and give short presentations. This is particularly important for our early career members, many of whom are students, and have missed those important opportunities to present and get feedback on their work.
We are always happy to hear ideas from our members about new strategies to encourage discussion, or content for our meetings; contact us at email@example.com. We look forward to seeing all members of the endocrine community face-to-face at future meetings.
Finally, we could never have achieved any of this without the fantastic support of the Society for Endocrinology, especially Rachel Austin, who has been amazing at helping to organise meetings, and turning our ideas into perfectly formatted newsletters.
Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham
Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals
- Gittoes NJ et al. 2020 European Journal of Endocrinology 183 G57–G65.
- Centeno PP et al. 2019 Nature Communications 10 4693.