Kersti Lundin, Chairman of ESHRE, announced at this evening’s opening ceremony that registrations for ESHRE 2016 are already well over 9600 and seem certain – yet again – to reach 10,000. Attendance and abstract submissions (1764 this year) have each been steady in their numbers for the past three years, both having grown exponentially since the first meeting in 1984 (when there were 500 registrations).
How much further growth in attendance might ESHRE expect? The most striking trend is the increasing number of abstracts submitted from China, India and Japan; indeed, Asian countries now represent more than one-third of all submissions to the meeting. And this clear trend is reflected in attendance. So in 2016 India for the first time leads the way in registrations – with 462 signed up at the close of play on Sunday. This was just a handful more than the UK, Italy and Spain. China by then had 345 registrations.
So it seems likely that any noticeable hike in abstracts and registrations will primarily come from Asia, not from the countries of Europe or the USA, whose involvement seems now to have hit a high level peak. The other factor likely to affect future attendance is venue, and that – whatever the strictures of regulatory bodies – has a huge influence on attraction, whether it be the number of hotel rooms available or the city sights to enjoy. Barcelona, venue for the 2018 Annual Meeting, is one of the world’s most attractive cities and likely to set the next attendance record for ESHRE.
All this, of course, begs the question of why people want to go anyway. Education? Yes, for sure, but many say there’s more to learn in the precongress courses than in the main scientific programme. The PCCs now regularly attract around 2000 participants to a programme of 13 or 14 courses. But, with more than 250 invited and submitted oral presentations, as well as 800 posters, there must be few who don’t learn something from the main programme. Otherwise, most are here to meet, greet and share – and to window shop through the exhibition hall. More than 1500 of registrants this year are exhibitors, and that surely is a sign of ESHRE’s pulling power as the top networking event in reproduction.
Simon Brown, Editor of Focus on Reproduction