All elements of anatomy—the backbone of medicine—were on the table for discussion and examination at last month’s British Association of Clinical Anatomists (BACA) Winter Meeting at Northumbria University, UK. Hosted by St. George’s University’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, for which SGU’s medical students spend their first preclinical year on the NU campus, the meeting welcomed clinical anatomists, surgeons, and students from the UK and beyond.
Dr. James Coey, Assistant Dean of Basic Sciences at SGU’s Newcastle campus, and Dr. Sara Sulaiman, Teaching Fellow at the University of Bristol, hosted the meeting, which was attended by 80 delegates, primarily from the United Kingdom. It included 16 oral presentations and 29 posters covering gross, microscopic, clinical, applied, translational, surgical, and radiographical anatomy, as well as anatomy education.
The conference included a plenary lecture from Dr. Stephen Clark, a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, and professor of cardiothoracic transplantation, presented on the topic “Heart Transplantation: Anatomy and Surgical Techniques.” SGU’s Marios Loukas, dean of basic sciences, professor of anatomical sciences and president of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists (AACA) presented a keynote titled “A Snapshot of Anatomical Translational Research and its Applications.” SGU was further represented through two oral presentations and four poster presentations from clinical faculty (Drs. Al-Jaberi, Bourne, Ebot, Elajnaf and Hilal) and Nosheen Sandhu, a first-year medical student, working in a research group led by Drs. Coey and Hilal with local and international collaborative partners.
“I believe in collaboration as a channel of continuous advancement and progress,” Dr. Sulaiman said. “Hosting a BACA meeting where the best minds of anatomy come together under one roof for an entire day is the perfect opportunity to drive new ideas and foster future partnerships.”
“This conference has clearly demonstrated what can be achieved through reinforcing links between partner associations, establishing new academic and clinical connections, and fostering future collaboration,” added Dr. Coey. “Encouraging students, physicians, and academics alike to engage and participate is paramount to the future of our associations”
Dr. Sulaiman began attending BACA meetings when she was a student at the University of Dundee in Scotland, calling them a “supportive, nurturing environment” that helped her thrive as a researcher. Drs. Sulaiman and Coey went on to design a selective in 2015 for SGU students to introduce the research cycle and further their anatomical knowledge through a self-directing learning exercise. Since its inception, 33 students have presented their work at international conferences leading to publication abstracts in clinical anatomy.
“I’ve had my students attending and presenting across the years and I was so glad to see them benefiting from its encouraging and stimulating atmosphere as I did years ago,” she said. “To me, hosting a BACA meeting was a dream and being involved in organizing a world-class, well-recognized scientific meeting was truly an amazing experience.”
Founded in 1977, BACA aims to advance and publish the study and research of clinical anatomy in the United Kingdom. The organization hosts two scientific meetings each year, providing an opportunity for members and other attendees to network with fellow academics and clinicians who share an interest in anatomy. In addition, the Journal of Clinical Anatomy, a collaboration between BACA, AACA, and international associations from New Zealand, Australia (ANZACA), and South Africa (ASSA), publishes eight times each year, displaying original and review articles of scientific, clinical, and educational interest.
The success of BACA helped spawn the AACA in February 1983. Dr. Ralph Ger, a professor in Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Department of Anatomy, had attended the BACA meeting in 1982. He recognized the need for a better forum for clinicians, teachers and students to discuss the status and future of anatomy, and later became one of the AACA’s 18 founding members.