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Frontiers 2023: ENT in the Barossa

Professor William Coman closes the Frontiers 2023 conference.
November 8, 2023 News

A huge thank you to all our delegates, speakers and guests who attended Frontiers 2023 from 26th-28th October – what a conference!

Over 90 people made their way to the Barossa Valley from more than four countries for the Foundation’s biennial conference on the art, science and future of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery (OHNS). With uninterrupted views across Jacob’s Creek, the Novotel Barossa was a fantastic location for the meeting, perfect for colleagues to catch up and OHNS experts to meet their peers from across the globe.

The temptation of nearby wineries did not impact attendance, as each session had something for everyone. Keynote speakers Zara Patel (Stanford University) and Charley Della Santina (Johns Hopkins) spoke over the course of both days, and their respective research on the olfactory and vestibular systems proved so fascinating that other speakers couldn’t help but reference it in later sessions.  Zara drew our attention to loss of smell being “the canary in the coal mine” or first symptom of other diseases such as Alzheimer’s, with many an entertaining olfactory quip or fact. Charley shared vision of his patients struggling with debilitating vestibular disorders, and how they have since responded to a bionic implant.

Frontiers 2023 saw the continuation of the “Perspectives” session, aimed at offering a holistic understanding of a topic via its diversity of speakers. This year we heard surgical, physiological, genetic, and audiology/allied health perspectives, rounded out with treatment possibilities from an engineer and – perhaps most importantly – the patient’s view. Dan Ellis, Director of Trauma at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, offered an entertaining (though harrowing) narrative of his experience with the disorder.

Other sessions included:

  • Research in OHNS
  • Audiology
  • Paediatrics, Sleep and Allergy
  • Rhinology/Olfaction

A summary of each presentation can be read on the Frontiers LinkedIn event page; we highly recommend taking a look.

Driving all the way from Dubbo were Donna Rees and Sue on the Hear Our Heart Ear Bus. Along with Rachel Mills (and puppets Lucy and Snotty Sam), the trio gave demonstrations each lunch break of the bus, showcasing the outreach and education programs it can offer. Their volunteer work with regional and remote communities is tremendous, and we were honoured to have them at Frontiers.

There was also a one-minute poster pitch session, giving authors a (quick!) chance to pitch their poster to the audience, who were then able to vote for their favourite in the People’s Choice Award. Poster winners this year were:

  • Andrew Wise (Basic Science) – Using Supraparticles to Deliver Neurotrophins to the Mammalian Cochlea
  • James St. John (Clinical)) – A smell clinic for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and other infectious conditions
  • Al-Rahim Habib  (Translational) – Comparing an artificial intelligence otoscopic image classifier to 13 otolaryngologists to triage ear disease 
  • Sam Hale (People’s Choice) – Polymyxin B and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid act synergistically against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus

The final session was a panel discussion with Zara, Sutapa Mukherjee, Ray Sacks and Alethea Groebler sitting down to discuss leadership and diversity, offering genuine insight from their professional and personal worlds. Foundation Board Director Phil Truskett chaired the session, setting the scene with the now infamous Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy video.

Of course, Frontiers wouldn’t be Frontiers without the conference dinner, and delegates were whisked to Seppeltsfield Winery for a laid-back, beautiful evening under the fairy lights of the Vintage Cellar. Musician Joe Amputch created a wonderful mood to go with the delicious meal, and Legend of the Vine Jane Ferrari regaled everyone with her tales of travel and wine – the perfect finish to what was a fantastic conference.

Thank you again to everyone who attended. We look forward to seeing you in Hobart, 2025 for the next Frontiers!


External link: The Frontiers Conference website

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