The EAACI Congress 2016 took place in Vienna from 11 – 15 June 2016. Appropriately for Vienna, this year’s Congress theme was “Waltzing with Allergens”, referring not only to the well-known Viennese waltzing tradition but also to the wish of the Local Organising Committee to bring together all partners involved in our specialty to interact, mingle and inspire each other. The EAACI Congress offered a splendid dancefloor for such interactions.

A faculty of 385 speakers provided a broad range of up-to-date information covering basic research and clinical work. The first Plenary Symposium in particular was designed to combine both areas and to set the scene for the coming days, with the topic of “25 years of recombinant allergens: Pitfalls and benefits”. This plenary discussed what recombinant allergens have taught us since their introduction and critically reflected on whether or not they really are better than extracts or purified allergens, and whether they are indeed revolutionising allergy diagnosis and treatment.

The following Congress days were characterised by a large variety of up to 15 parallel sessions. In its state-of-the-art Symposia, EAACI offered a diverse selection of session types. Hot Topics focused on latest news and Year in Review sessions recapped recent developments. The popular Pro & Con sessions are now well-integrated in EAACI Congress daily programmes. Following their successful first introduction in 2015, a full stream of Interactive Workshops was offered this year, including audience involvement and new teaching methods. The character of these interactive sessions naturally restricts the active group size; however, a large number of observers were admitted to allow more attendees to benefit from the sessions which proved to be very popular, with full capacity often being reached.

Of course, this year’s Congress was specifically marked by the celebration of EAACI’s 60th anniversary. In this context, many activities were conducted earlier in 2016 to raise awareness of the disease burden of allergy at a European level and to highlight EAACI’s role as a major advocate for allergy research and improved patient care. The Congress in Vienna paid tribute to these issues on various occasions, including with a history exhibition showcasing the history of allergy and EAACI, and with an EU stakeholder business lunch.

As always, the abstract sessions were a crucial part of the Congress programme. The presentations by Congress attendees from all over the world reflected the enormous effort that goes into allergy research and was a powerful showcase of the diversity of our specialty. For presenters, the abstract sessions are an important way to network and get valuable feedback: many fruitful collaborations have started during informal discussions at poster sessions. In addition to the Oral Abstract Sessions, the smaller Poster Discussion Sessions with e-Posters were hugely popular this year, as were the Thematic Poster Sessions during which a large number of posters were exhibited on three consecutive days. All abstracts will be published in a supplement to EAACI’s official journal Allergy and they remain available through the Congress app and the online programme.

Many months of preparations and much thought went into the development of Vienna’s scientific programme, and the prime goal of attracting delegates from all over Europe and beyond to come and be a part of it was clearly achieved with over 7500 delegates attending.  We are eagerly awaiting feedback through the delegate and faculty survey; all feedback is very valuable and will flow into the planning of next year’s Congress.

We would like to especially thank all the members of the Local Organising Committee and the Scientific Programme Committee who worked hard to make the Congress a success. Our thanks also go to the EAACI Executive Committee and in particular to Lars K. Poulsen, the Vice President for Congresses, and to President Antonella Muraro.

After successfully waltzing with allergens we are now already looking forward to the EAACI Congress 2017 in Helsinki, Finland, where the Congress Chair Antti Lauerma will welcome us with the theme “On the Road to Prevention and Healthy Living”. Susanne Halken from Denmark has now fully taken over as the new SPC Coordinator and we wish her and her team all the best for the continuing development of the scientific programme for Helsinki!

Barbara Bohle Edward Knol
EAACI 2016 Congress Chair EAACI SPC Coordinator Vienna 2016