CEO Blog: Trustee, Council and Committee Meeting Reports: Science Committee Meeting 8th January 2020

Published online: 23 March 2020

"As part of my continued commitment to the Society of being as transparent as practicable, and with the support of the President of the Society, I use this blog to post regular summaries of the various Trustee, Council and Committee meetings highlighting the key discussions and decisions." 

Mark Hollingsworth 

This post reviews the 8 January 2020 Science Committee Meeting.

The Science Committee structures its meetings to review recent past-conferences, plan the in-year and future conferences, and then spend time considering longer term strategic issues on which the Committee leads.


Past conferences, future conferences and partnerships, commitment to support the annual BAPEN conference, review and evaluation of the current abstract management system.

Past Conferences

The Committee reviewed the highly successful FENS 2019 Conference, and then the Winter Conference held as a first partnership in December with BAPEN and the British Society for Gastroenterology. Despite some programming and logistical challenges with the Winter Conference it was agreed it had achieved all its objectives, and the Committee agreed to explore medical partnerships for future conferences.

In-year and future conferences.

The Committee reviewed the Irish Post Grad Conference taking place 12-14 February 2020 in Dublin. It also noted the planning for the first Society conference in Limerick with the Irish Section was complete (being held in June 2020). The Summer Meeting in 2020 is being held in Aberdeen, using the new Conference Centre beside the airport. The programme is complete and will include the Boyd Orr Prize, the Rank Prize, the Silver Medal, the new BJN Paper of the Year lecture, and the Society’s Annual Charity Meeting. Registration will open at the end of January.

The Nutrition Futures conference will take in Coventry in September and the Committee made several suggestions for speakers to assist the Student Section in their planning.

The Winter Meeting will be held at the Royal Society in London 8-9 December 2020, moving away from the Royal Society of Medicine for the first time in many years. The theme is ‘Micronutrient malnutrition across the life course, sarcopenia and frailty’.

Looking ahead to 2021 the Committee endorsed the latest programming for a joint conference with the French Nutrition Society, taking place in Lille 14-15 January 2021, with the theme of ‘Urban food policies for sustainable nutrition and health and health’. The Spring Meeting was proposed by the Scottish Section as possible joint meeting with BSAS with a general theme of Gut Microbiome, with Edinburgh as the preferred venue. The Irish Post Graduate conference will be held in Limerick 10-12 February 2021. A local organiser has not yet been appointed. The Irish Section Conference in 2021 will be held in Cork in the week commencing 14th June 2021. A local organiser has been appointed, and planning is  underway.

The Summer Conference in 2021 is taking place at Southampton University, 5-8 July 2021, with a theme of ‘Nutrition in a changing world’. The Committee reviewed the draft programme, and made a number of suggestions to the local organiser to enhance the content.

A bid had been received to host Nutrition Futures in 2021 from Imperial College. The Committee reviewed the proposal and agreed to award the hosting of Nutrition Futures 2021 to the College.

The Committee reviewed the general outline for the Winter 2021 Conference. The committee discussed various partnership options for jointly hosting the meeting. A venue/date has not yet been selected.

The committee noted the second Society Member-led Small Meeting would be taking place the next day, 9th January at Surrey University. The Meeting had ‘sold-out’. Two bids to host future meetings had been received, and the Committee agreed this new initiative is gathering momentum and proving popular.

Strategic Issues

At the broader strategic level the Committee noted the Trustees had approved a 3 year commitment to supporting the annual BAPEN conference, which would include sponsoring a co-badged symposium, an exhibition manned by Society staff, and the development of an MOU to capture both BAPEN and the Society’s longer term ambitions. It was also  confirmed the Society would be sponsoring a symposium at the 2020 BSAS Conference, being held in Nottingham 30 March – 1 April. Three speakers will be selected to cover a theme of Gut Microbiome. 

The Committee received a report on the abstract management system being used to support the Society’s conferences. The designers are continuing to listen to feedback, and some improvements have been made. Reviewers are finding it difficult to review all the fields, and some attachments are problematic. There are also some formatting issues. And, in line with many other Societies and conferences, the use of images in abstracts is no longer viable. Notwithstanding some challenges it was agreed that, in the absence of any financially viable alternatives, the current abstract management system would be retained for the remainder of 2020’s conferences, but with a review and evaluation at the September committee meeting.

The committee noted this year’s senior award lecture will be the Elsie Widdowson Award, which also coincides with the 20th anniversary of her death in 2000. It was confirmed the Award lecture will take place on Monday 7th December at 4.30 pm, followed by the Society’s Annual Reception at 5.30 pm.

Finally, the Committee reviewed the range of international work being undertaken across the Society in 2020 and 2021.

The Science Committee is chaired by Dr Bernard Corfe and Dr Frank Thies.