The EBMT Annual Meeting in Lisbon is around the corner. With more than 200 sessions in the scientific programme offering a wealth of learning opportunities, the participants have to carefully prepare their customized meeting.

We have asked our nine young ambassadors how they were getting ready for the Meeting and what they don’t want to miss including the amazing opportunity to enjoy the beautiful city of Lisbon!. Here is what they said:

Medical oncologist in hematology and BMT unit in National Medical Research center of oncology named after N.N. Petrov, Russia – @Zhekoshka

Evgeniya has worked in haematology and BMT unit since graduated residency in 2015. She is involved in scientific work on different treatment approaches in high-grade B-cell lymphoma with MYC, BCL-2 and/or BCL-6 rearrangements. In 2017 she obtained International Development Education Award (IDEA) provided by the ASCO and her mentor in this program has been Professor John Sweetenham, Huntsman Cancer Hospital, University of Utah, USA. She is also fully granted as visiting scholar in Instituto oncologico della svizzera Italiana (IOSI) in Bellinzona.

Evgeniya is excited to be an EBMT Ambassador and cannot wait to share EBMT values in her country.

How am I getting ready for the EBMT Annual Meeting?
When I attended EBMT Annual meeting in 2017, the most exciting thing that I found was «How do I….? Meet the expert session». It was outstanding experience and let me describe it for you, so that you will not have doubts to participate in 2018.

All sessions under auspices of «How do I….?» are dedicated to different actual topics such as choosing best donor, managing of acute, chronic, refractory GVHD, other complications of transplantation and also some for the physician’s career-development. The format of the event is absolutely unique: specialists from all around the world sit at a round table in small groups and discuss with highly-experience speakers on particular theme. Every meeting lasts for one hour, in most cases in the morning before key-lectures. It feels like you are in a close family: not more than 10-15 members gathered together for drinking coffee and speaking about the problem that makes them concerned.

One of that session made great impact on my career. I decided to register on «How to write good manuscript? » under the direction of Professor Junia Vaz de Melo and never had felt regret about it. Requirements of scientific writing, important advices for early-career hematologists and oncologists were incredibly useful for us. After while, inspired by Dr Melo’s recommendations, I started to write my first review article on new agents in highly aggressive lymphomas and hope it will be published very soon! Just one hour of the session which supported me not to be afraid and also brought me new thoughts and ideas. Can’t express my gratitude to EBMT for providing such a great opportunity!

By the way, this year the same event will be held at the EBMT Annual Meeting: «How to write a good manuscript, abstract or grant» with Dr Hillard Lazarus from United States and I highly recommend you not to miss the chance to improve your writing skills! Personally, I also registered on some educational sessions such as «Management of liver dysfunction after transplant» with Dr Ruutu, «Treatment of Richter syndrome» with Dr Dreger and «How do I… approach differential diagnosis of post-transplant complications?» with Professor Kröger.

You are always welcome to check and find something from your field of interests but be aware that places are very limited in order to preserve special atmosphere for attendees.

4th year medical student, American University of Beirut (AUB), Beirut, Lebanon – @abazarbachi

Abdul Hamid Bazarbachi was born in Paris, France and he is currently a 4th year medical student at the American University of Beirut (AUB). He was determined to pursue a career in medicine for as long as he can remember and has been very interested in the field of hematology – oncology since his exposure to it at an undergraduate level. He grew more fond of the field as he indulged in basic and later clinical hematological research in the past few years. His professional interests are mainly focused around the field of leukemia and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and he plans on pursuing his career with significant focus on research as he often likes to ask How? Why? And What if?. On a less professional level, he enjoys pencil drawing and playing the piano.

Abdul Hamid is looking forward to this incredible opportunity to be a part of the EBMT Annual Meeting which he will put his all into and hope to benefit as much as possible from.

How am I getting ready for the EBMT Annual Meeting?
The EBMT Annual Meeting is less than a month away now and saying that I’m excited about it is to say the least. Attending a conference as big as EBMT which encompasses tens of various seminars around multiple groundbreaking fields of haematology-oncology could be overwhelming and challenging. Even though I would have loved for it to be physically, mentally and timely possible to attend all seminars, it still poses a challenge. Hence, I have decided to closely study the schedule to set my priorities regarding the sessions I would love to attend and wouldn’t want to miss. For instance, there is no way I could even hypothetically miss the educational sessions about transplant algorithms or GVHD prevention and therapy! Such sessions not only do they tickle my curiosity but are, in my opinion, fundamental for a start of a career in haematology-oncology. Other sessions on my “Do Not Miss” list include statistics and data management sessions because I do plan to have a career centered around research and because numbers simply never fail to amaze me. Apart from all the educational sessions, EBMT is a great opportunity to meet new people, specifically in a field that interests me so much. The posters session is one other experience I look forward to get acquainted with the work of multiple trendsetters in haematology-oncology. And while I do plan to get the most of the EBMT conference, my trip would barely be complete without enjoying the beautiful city of Lisbon and experiencing all it has to offer. I have been to many European cities before some of which I have immediately fallen in love with, but this trip will be my first to Portugal, a country high on my bucket list. I can’t wait to stroll the old city streets and try the local cuisine, tasting the delicious pastéis de nata while enjoying Fado music. I would also love to allocate time to visit Sintra and the Lisbon Oceanarium. Counting down the days!

Internal Medicine resident physician at University of Minnesota Medical Center, USA – @MalviSavani

Malvi completed her undergraduate training at Vanderbilt University followed by her medical degree from University of Tennessee. In medical school she developed an interest in hematology and transplant. Her current research involves identifying the utility of specific parameters within routine auto-HSCT PET scans in predicting survival of relapsed DLBCL patients. She is also interested in pursuing further clinical research in the long-term complications after HSCT.
She hopes to enhance her knowledge in the innovative advances in the field of hematology from international leaders and advance her professional and personal growth in the process.

Internal Medicine resident at the Lebanese University, Beirut, Lebanon – @razan_mohty

Razan obtained her Medical Degree (MD) in 2015 from the Lebanese University. She obtained a university diploma in medical research from the Foundation of Medical Research Institute in 2016. She embarked on her “Hematology journey” early when she did a rotation in France in February 2015. There, she was introduced to the hematology and bone marrow transplant fascinating world. Her main research interest is BMT and BMT complications. She presented her research at an ASH oral session in 2017 and posters at the EBMT Annual Meeting. She attended the EBMT Annual Meeting 2017 in Marseille where she got the opportunity to meet with many mentors and pioneers and young ambassadors.

She says: “I am happy to be part of this society. Sharing knowledge and novelties in hematology and BMT is essential for advancing the field and achieving cure to our patients. I am looking forward to see you all in Lisbon.”

How am I getting ready for the EBMT Annual Meeting?
There are multiple reasons I look forward to attending this year EBMT Annual Meeting and every year. There is plenty to be excited about.

First and for most, the Annual Meeting offers the opportunity to learn the bench science. It also includes epidemiology sessions that are important for young hematologists. Moreover, it embraces sessions about the evolving drugs, new clinical trials, and all up to date information about what is happening in the field of blood and bone marrow transplantation. It offers the opportunity to know the new and cutting-edge research that is going on in the field of clinical haematology today. Another important session I am excited about and I look forward to attending this year, especially being a young ambassador, is the social media session, the session that I have missed in the ASH17 meeting. Nowadays, social media is an important tool to spread knowledge to other physicians, medical students, residents, and fellows. Furthermore, it is a new way to help patients around the world. The least I can say about the meeting is that there are plenty of exciting sessions to attend. Hence, consulting the EBMT 2018 Annual Meeting program way before the meeting date is essential. It helps you in organising your time during the meeting. I am preparing my own program that covers all the topics I am interested in, especially BMT complications.

Second, the EBMT Annual Meeting is a wonderful place to meet with colleagues from all over the world. I already started arranging several meetings to finalise some research I am part of.

While the #EBMT18 will have a great impact on my career, however, I am excited about visiting Lisbon and discovering its culture. Lisbon is recognized as one of the greatest city in the world and named by the “lonely planet guide” as one of the top 10 cities in the world to visit. One of the most important things to do before visiting a place is to read about its history, about its culture and about the important sites to visit.

How am I getting ready for the EBMT Annual Meeting in Lisbon? Organising my own program, scheduling my meetings, and discovering the history of Lisbon! Don’t forget to check the weather before leaving to the Congress!

Bacc. med. techn., Bone marrow transplant unit, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Centre Zagreb, Croatia

Dzenana Dzaferagic is Bacc. med. techn., with more than 14 years of experience, working and specialising in Bone marrow transplant unit at the University Hospital Centre Zagreb. She is motivated and interested in learning, especially in the field of late effects and quality of life after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. She was pleased to attend the EBMT 2017 in Marseille, poster session, with pilot study investigating sexual dysfunction in patients after stem cell transplantation in Croatia. She has designed a brochure for patients, regarding some sexual problems they might have during the treatment and after discharge from hospital and with some solutions how to improve their sexual functioning after stem cell transplantation.

How am I getting ready for the EBMT Annual Meeting?
Reading the programme for the Meeting I realized there would be many educational and interesting sessions and presentations happening at the same time. Although I cannot be at the same time in different places and since I work in BMT unit, in the University Hospital Centre Zagreb (until now the only BMT unit in Croatia for allogeneic transplantation of adults and children, with recently performed 1000th transplantation) for the last 14 years, I am interested to attend all educational program in the field of late effects all BMT, including long term complications after haploidentical transplantation, still not known enough for us. I am also interested in attending lectures on GVHD topics and quality of life after BMT, with the aim to improve my knowledge in that field and share it with my colleagues in the BMT unit and also to encourage myself to continue with my study – Investigating sexual dysfunction in patients after allogeneic stem cell transplantation in Croatia. I believe it is my job to improve QOL of our patients, to educate them during the treatment in the hospital about problems that they might have after BMT procedure and after being discharged from hospital.

Certainly there are some sessions I don’t want to miss, like: Industry symposium – 2018 Update: Conditioning, GVHD prophylaxis and beyond; Symposium – The crucial role of the nurse in averting the catastrophic course of severe VOD; Value for patients through Education- Quality of life (QOL) – Industry symposium – Nurses; Nurses/physicians Joint session – Fertility and sexuality.

Also, I am very happy and looking forward to be present and attend interesting programme for Patients, Family and Donor day to express support to those who are ‘responsible’ for all of us being here. Besides all that above mentioned negative things that we meet in haematology every day, late effects, GVHD, QOL problems, one of the things that makes me happy and satisfied is when patients visit us few years after stem cell transplantation and we see healthy people in front of us, with all that problems behind them, sometimes even having troubles recognizing them. I am looking forward to meeting patients, families, and their donors from nearby BMT Centres, hearing their experiences, and experiences of the colleagues and experts from their BMT Centres as well.

Last year I have attended my first EBMT Annual Meeting, in the beautiful city of Marseille, where I was for the first time. Lisbon definitely will not disappoint me, I am sure. Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, with rich and attractive architecture, culture, history and also city with one of the mildest climates in Europe. Since I am writing this while freezing in my snowy hometown Zagreb, I expect to welcome sunny days in Lisbon, maybe have some free time after daily sessions to take a ride with famous Tram 28 through the old town, listen romantic Fado music and take a walk on the streets of the oldest district Alfama, as well as other interesting and beautiful places in Lisbon.

Physician and PhD student of the Molecular Medicine program of the University of Perugia, Italy – @SaraPicci_MD

Sara got her M.D. degree in 2010 from the University of Perugia. She completed her training in haematology in 2016 at the division of Haematology and Blood and Marrow Transplantation. Her main research interests are hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, regulatory T cell biology and CAR-T cell therapy. The Perugia BMT centre pioneered HLA-haploidentical hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for leukaemia patients without a matched donor. During her training she was actively involved in an innovative trial of haploidentical transplantation with regulatory and conventional T cell adoptive immunotherapy. She is currently investigating B-cell reconstitution in preclinical models and in patients after transplantation and innovative strategies of immunotherapy with CAR-T cells.

How am I getting ready for the EBMT Annual Meeting?
I’m looking forward to attend the EBMT Annual Meeting in Lisbon! This is my second time at the EBMT Annual Meeting and I’m really excited to be an EBMT Young Ambassador this year. I’m sure it will be a stimulating challenge and an opportunity to interact with other physicians and scientists in the field of haematologic diseases and bone marrow transplantation.

Among the interesting sessions of this year programme there are some that I really don’t want to miss. In particular, the “keynote lecture about CAR T cells” by Stephan Grupp that is part of the Opening Ceremony on Sunday. On Monday morning, I will attend two sessions that will provide recent insights on hot topics like immune checkpoint inhibition and CAR T cells, that is the Oral Session “new drugs and novel cell therapies” and ALWP session “Immunotherapy for prevention and treatment of relapse after SCT in acute myeloid leukemia”. Thereafter, I will attend “the microbiota forum”, which deals with a subject of great interest, and the presentation “new insights into the biology of GvHD” by Robert Zeiser. On Tuesday, I will attend the Presidential Symposium that includes some of the most significant trials and studies and the “Cellular Therapy and Immunobiology Working Party Session” with a particular attention to the presentation about the use of CAR T cells for Multiple Myeloma and Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

Some of the above sessions will be particularly informative and relevant for the project I’m involved in for my PhD programme. They are mainly focused on GvHD prevention and immune reconstitution after haploidentical transplantation, and CAR T cells. In this regard, our group will present a poster entitled “low-toxicity/high-efficacy HLA haploidentical transplantation for elderly/unfit patients with acute leukemia”. This poster discusses recent advancements of our clinical trial of haploidentical transplantation with regulatory and conventional T cell-based immunotherapy for prevention of GvHD without affecting the Graft versus Tumor effect. In particular, we recently designed a reduced-toxicity conditioning regimen based on total marrow and total lymphoid irradiation (TLI/TMI) to extend the benefits of our protocol of haploidentical transplantation to patients who are unfit or elderly.

As a Young EBMT Ambassador, I will constantly update my followers and colleagues through my Twitter account about the most noteworthy sessions. I would like to share articles that summarises cutting edge topics debated during the congress on the EBMT blog and Post Congress Bulletin. I hope my activity as EBMT Young Ambassador will provide valuable insights for young colleagues who either will miss the sessions above or won’t have the possibility to attend the congress.

I’m excited to visit the beautiful city of Lisbon and there are a lot of things I’d like to do. I will visit the districts of Baixa and Barrio Alto where I hope I could enjoy a Fado concert. I’m looking forward to visit the district of Belem with its tower and the Mosteiro dos Jeronimòs, and to eat the famous pastéis de Belém!

Hematologist at the Hospital São João, Porto, Portugal – @TeresaGarrido84

Teresa Garrido received her Medical Degree from the University of Coimbra (Portugal). In 2011, she started the residency training in Hematology at the Hospital São João. She won a scholarship from the Portuguese Hematology Society and had the opportunity to perform an internship in Stem Cell Transplantation at the Hospital Clínic, in Barcelona (Spain), where she conducted a study that was presented at the EBMT 2015 Annual Meeting in Istanbul. She concluded her residency and currently works at the Hemato-Oncology ward in Hospital São João. Her interests, besides SCT, include Hodgkin’s and aggressive Non Hodgkin’s lymphomas, as well as acute leukemias. She is both honoured and excited to be an EBMT Young Ambassador, and is eager to meet and learn from the best in the beautiful city of Lisbon.

How am I getting ready for the EBMT Annual Meeting?
Less than a month till the start of the 2018 EBMT Annual Meeting in Lisbon and I am, as always, undecided about which sessions to attend, as the program is so rich. However, in general, I tend to choose themes on which I am most interested in (such as oral sessions, particularly on lymphomas and acute leukemia, new drugs and novel cell therapies); or that are part of my daily practice so I intend to perfect my knowledge on the subject. I’ll likely start on Saturday listening to Prof. Enric Carreras and Dr. Didier Blaise about how to select the best donors, and updating on AML at the non-profit symposiums on Sunday morning. Educational sessions are never to be missed, such as “Transplant in elderly or fragile myeloma patients” and the transplant algorithms in acute leukemia (Monday) or lymphoma (Tuesday). This years’ plenary session seems to be particularly interesting, on the new challenges of innovation, such as access to modern drugs and their cost-effectiveness. I am also looking forward to the meet-the-expert sessions for some enlightenment on particularly difficult topics, such as “Options in refractory ALL in adults” (Dr. Sebastien Giebel; Tuesday) and “Autologous HCT on amyloidosis” (Dr. Monserrat Rovira; Wednesday).

As this year the meeting takes place in my home country, I cannot pass on the opportunity to promote the beautiful city of Lisbon (and the entire country for what that matters) – so, during the meeting I’ll be a “Portuguese Young Ambassador” too!! So don’t hesitate to ask me where to spend your spare time here: stroll down Nation’s Park at sunset, visit the Oceanarium, sit down to drink a cup of coffee and eat a “pastel de nata” (typical pastry) looking at the Tagus river, get to know some antique buildings such as the Jeronimos Monastery or the Belem Tower, explore the streets of Alfama, or perhaps dine in a regional restaurant while listening to some Fado, climb up to the Castle of St George and witness the breathtaking views of the city from its walls. Please do indulge on our people´s hospitality and joyful way of living and please let me know if you have fallen in love with Portugal!

2nd year of residency at University Hospital Zagreb, currently a special volunteer at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA – @AnaKerep

Ana Zelic Kerep obtained her medical degree at University of Zagreb School of Medicine. After medical internship, she acquired clinical experience working as a family doctor. In 2015, she gained a hematology residency position at University Hospital Center Zagreb. Currently she is doing research on chronic GVHD at National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA. After return to Croatia she will pursue a doctoral degree. Her interests are clinical and biological determinants of chronic GVHD, cGVHD immunology and biomarker research.

How am I getting ready for the EBMT Annual Meeting?
As I am writing this, I am flying to Salt Lake City to attend the CIBMTR/ASBMT Tandem meeting. It truly amazes me that we continue to put effort into sharing ideas, research, experiences, and enthusiasm, even after six decades of hematopoietic stem cell transplant. Everywhere around the globe medical teams, patients, their families, researchers, and supporters push the boundaries of what we know, decreasing the uncertainty our patients face and replacing it with an ever-growing hope for another day spent with loved ones. As the EBMT 2018 Annual Meeting approaches, I realize the importance of teamwork, on a global and local scale. What is truly amazing in stem cell transplant, it is that the cure is in a way within us. The donor, the physician, the nurses, the researcher, the family; each one of us gives an invaluable contribution to the healing process, the desire to live becomes apparent in our patients’ courage, in the donor altruism and in the will of the medical profession to carry the responsibility. My one-year research and learning experience in the U.S. is soon coming to an end, made possible by the wonderful and courageous founders of “Ana Rukavina Foundation”. When it comes to the work necessary to keep the field going forward, a year seems to be too short. Being away from loved-ones and family makes a year extremely long. But one thing is clear, we must not ever quit our fight to give the opportunity to live to everyone, even when it includes sacrifice, long hours and overcoming doubt and obstacles. I expect EBMT 2018 meeting to be an empowering experience and a source of new inspiration for the year ahead.

Hematology and Oncology fellow, Weill Cornell Medicine/New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, USA – @AGomez_MD

Alexandra received her medical degree from Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. After completing her training, she decided to move to the US for her specialty training. She completed her Internal Medicine degree at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital and she is currently a second-year Hematology & Oncology Fellow at Weill Cornell Medicine. She has had a long term interest and passion for Bone Marrow Transplantation. Her current research interests include methodologies and applicabilities of measuring Minimal Residual Disease in AML after transplant. She aspires to continue her training with an advance fellowship in BMT and to continue to grow as a junior investigator.

How am I getting ready for the EBMT Annual Meeting?
With only a couple of weeks left, I am starting to get ready for my trip to Lisbon for EBMT 2018. With my flight and hotel already booked, I have started to browse the program planner and organise the sessions I want to attend (and the people I want to meet). As a fellow in-training, one of my main objectives from this meeting is to connect with people and to share experiences.

These are the main four types of sessions that I am looking forward to attend and I really don’t want to miss: first, the Educational Sessions. I feel that these are always outstanding reviews of the current state- of- the art in the field (a real plus for people in-training trying to learn best-practices). There are > than 10 educational sessions so I will have to do some selection. Given my interests, I want to go to the transplant algorithms sessions and the two sessions on pharmacologic intervention in pre-transplant or post-transplant setting to enhance disease control and prevent relapse. Second, the Plenary sessions are a must for most attendees. With the recent approvals for CAR-T, the sessions on Cellular therapies and Immunotherapies will be of very high impact as centers adapt to its implementation. Third, Working party sessions on my area of interest: With my limited experience, I feel that these are a great eye-opener on how the field is moving and what is considered high impact by the working committee experts. And finally, the poster sessions are a great opportunity for networking and have face-to-face discussions with participants.

There are other sessions that look very interesting and I will try to go to as many as I can, however going to EBMT 2018 would not be complete if I don´t take advantage of this opportunity to get to see and an enjoy Lisbon and its surroundings. I am really excited about my hotel; it is walking-distance (15-20 minutes) from the convention center and it will be nice to take little trips through the wonderful hills of the city. I am also planning to go to Sintra as it should be an easy day trip by train before the meeting starts. Last, I am foodie, so I will make some reservations to enjoy wonderful dinners (and maybe some bacalhau) with old and new friends and plan a stop by the iconical Pastéis de Belém.