First IOF Skeletal Rare Disorders Course in the Asia Pacific region held in Singapore

Held on November 9, 2019, the course was a resounding success, attesting to the excellent organization, dynamic curriculum and sessions, and the participants’ keen interest in metabolic and rare bone disorders.

Organization of the course, held at the One Farrer Hotel in Singapore, was under the leadership of the Course Chair, Dr Manju Chandran, core faculty member of the Skeletal Rare Disorders Working Group (WG) of the IOF Committee of Scientific Advisors (CSA), and Senior Consultant and Director of the Osteoporosis and Bone Metabolism Unit, Department of Endocrinology, Singapore General Hospital.

The Course was academically endorsed by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), the Chapter of Endocrinologists, College of Physicians, Academy of Medicine Singapore and supported by the Asia Pacific Consortium on Osteoporosis (APCO) and the Asia-Pacific-South Africa Regional Advisory Council of the IOF. Significant support for the planning of the course was provided by IOF CEO Dr Philippe Halbout and IOF COO Caroline Coolen, as well as by Prof Maria Luisa Brandi (Chair, SRD Working Group, CSA of the IOF), Prof Serge Ferrari (Chair, CSA, IOF) and Prof Kassim Javaid (Core faculty member SRD WG). The organizers would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to the above. There were three other very eminent speakers at the course in addition to the joint course leaders (Prof. Kassim Javaid and Prof. Manju Chandran). They were Dr Saumya Shekhar Jamuar (Senior Consultant Geneticist and Director of the Precision Medicine Centre, Singapore), Dr Rashida Farhad Vasanwala (Senior Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist, KK Women and Children’s Hospital, Singapore) and Prof Peter Ebeling (Chair, Division of Medicine, Monash Health, Melbourne, Australia).

The lecture topics for the course were very relevant and highly appreciated by the attendees.These included: Genetics 101 for the Metabolic Bone Disease Specialist; High BMD Disorders and how they have influenced the development of new drugs for Osteoporosis; Disorders associated with imbalances of Calciotropic hormones such as Hypo & Pseudohypoparathyroidsm and Vitamin D Dependent Rickets; Hypophosphatasia; Osteogenesis Imperfecta in Children and Adults; and Genetic Phosphate Disorders and Fibrous Dysplasia. The Challenging Case Discussion session which highlighted two very complex cases of inherited metabolic bone disorders (and was presented by two young endocrine trainees from Singapore) was also one of the course highlights. Attendees were literally at the edge of their seats debating and listening to the experts trying to solve the cases.

Attendees comprised 108 specialists with a keen interest in metabolic and rare bone disorders from across the Asia Pacific region (with a few from countries as far away as Canada and Australia). Ninety-eight per cent of the attendees were endocrinologists, reflecting that the course was organized under the auspices of the Department of Endocrinology, Singapore General Hospital. The greatest number of attendees were from Singapore, followed by Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Australia (see chart).

The organizers also thank Mr Alex Lolliot and his team from Prime Event Management who expertly handled all the logistics of the meeting as well as to the team at One Farrer Hotel, Singapore headed by its GM-Mr Gilbert Madhavan who personally oversaw the excellent arrangements at the meeting venue, the food and beverage and the hotel accommodations for the faculty.

The course was deeply appreciated by the participants. Compliments and words of appreciation poured in from both fellows in training, as well as senior physicians. Below, some excerpts of the feedback received:

“...I have learnt so much just over these two days. I felt like I have reopened all the different medical and surgical chapters on those bone and bone related diseases that I had learnt when I was an undergraduate and postgraduate student. It was a great effort from you and your team”.

“The conference was well-run, and the programme was excellent...”

“...Under your leadership and guidance, your team worked really hard and did a magnificent job. It was a pleasure meeting old friends and making new ones, and I took back a lot of lessons too”.

“...I found the meeting very interactive, quite thought- provoking, generating lots of discussion. In the era where academic meetings are run at large scale I found the small niche meeting an actual valuable learning experience. I have not been at a recent meeting where I’ve learnt so much! You and your team have indeed done an amazing job - HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS!”

“Great planning and organization...Congratulations to you and team. I enjoyed the course and interaction with colleagues.”

“...The talks were all very informative, interesting and helped me understand so much more about genetics, hypoparathyroidism, inherited phosphate wasting disorders and especially the rarer bone disorders which I used to read up about but still felt baffled by - but I left the conference with so much more clarity and also feel so happy that I learnt so much in the past 2 days”