We have the honor to have with us the president of the society, professor Francisco Cardoso, who was able to save a little bit of time from his very busy schedule to talk about this event with us. So thank you very much for joining and welcome to the MDS podcast.
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[00:00:37] Dr. Francisco Cardoso: Oh, thank you very much, Michele. And as a matter of fact, you are right in the sense that the schedule of the president during the Congress is quite busy, but I am sincerely honored by this invitation to be part of the podcast because one of the highlights I would say of my long career by now in Movement Disorder Society has been really to have had the opportunity to work with you and Sara in the development of the podcast, which has been very, very successful and is playing a major role in our communication with our members. So congratulations and many thanks for having me.
[00:01:21] Dr. Michele Matarazzo: Well, thank you. Thank you so much. I and surely Sara, we feel humbled by this word, so thank you. Thank you very much.
Now let's start with this interview. I would like to start from the great change of this year for our society. The MDS Congress is back to in-person meeting.
Well, actually it's in person, but there's still a virtual component and on-demand virtual component later on. So how was the process of returning to in-person and what will happen with the future meetings? There will still be this virtual option or what, what is going to happen?
[00:01:55] Dr. Francisco Cardoso: Well, the, the overall feeling that myself and all the leadership of MDS and I, I would add all the membership and the attendees of the Congress is of a great joy in being able after these two so difficult years that we have faced at a global level to be able to see each other as we are doing here now, recording this session and looking at you and you looking at me, and I'm sure that you have done many, many recordings using some other ways.
So that's really an important part of it. So I am very happy personally, but I must share with you and our members that it has not been an easy experience because as one can imagine the organization of a Congress of this size of ours, even having an outstanding staff. It's quite a challenge. So typically we start work five years in advance in order to have a convention facility, hotels, and many other issues.
And we actually decided to have this in-person meeting here in Madrid. It was after the last edition of the Congress. So it was around November. So it was a very short timeline. And that was really quite complex. And I would really say is stressful. And one of the limitations, for instance, that we faced was the relatively small convention facility that we were able to arrange.
And this has led to many people having not been able to register for the meeting which is a major Disappointment for MDS. So it was a sort of mixed feeling we had, but I would say that when I took over as president precisely one year ago, I had chosen as one of the key priorities of my term is to make sure that we would be able to relaunch in person activities.
But now going back to going to the second part of your question, so what the future holds for us. It's always a matter of a bit of a speculation because unexpected things can happen as we have learned in a very painful way during the pandemic. But our current plan is of course, to keep in person meetings. So next year it will be Copenhagen and this had already been planned many, many years in advance, so we will have a really large convention center that we will be able to accommodate as many people who want to come to Copenhagen but one unforgettable lesson of the COVID era has been the role played by online educational opportunities just for you and our audience to have an idea we typically have around 5,000 people in our annual Congresses.
So during the first virtual Congress, we had 20000 people. And when we look into the demographics of these audience, quite different from what we usually got in the sense that people who are from areas not usually represented in our Congress, they were able to have access to that. So the definition and the decision to record all the sessions here in Madrid and to put them on our platform, starting in the beginning of October is not only as a result of this limitation of this space. But even if we had a very large convention area, we would still do that because we now have it very clear that we will be able really to reach out to a very global and wider audience.
And that's why we are planning as a matter of fact to do that. Not only Madrid and Copenhagen, but probably with the future additions of our Congress. So it it's a different way of doing it really.
[00:06:20] Dr. Michele Matarazzo: Yeah, it is indeed. And it is good that we can actually get more people involved with the society with the Congress.
That's actually an opportunity. So that's, that is great.
[00:06:31] Dr. Francisco Cardoso: Yeah. Right. And also Michele and I, before we started recording this interview, we were chatting in a casual manner. And one of the things that we were saying that even for us who are on site has been, and it has always been this way, quite complicated to make choices because during the parallel sessions, one has really to choose I'm going to session A, but there are B, C, and some others with this on-demand system. So everyone will have chance to see every and to watch every single session of any Congress, which is really a major advantage even for us while here in Madrid.
[00:07:11] Dr. Michele Matarazzo: For sure. Well, I definitely make sure that if I miss something and I am surely missing things, I will take a look at them afterwards.
Now you have been president for a year already. And as you were mentioning before, these have been difficult times likely with difficult decisions to take. What would you highlight of your experience as president so far?
[00:07:32] Dr. Francisco Cardoso: Well I am really positively impressed by the degree of support that we receive from our membership.
Of course, there are many demands, many requests, occasional criticisms, but in general, the enthusiasm for engagement is quite contagious and it's something that it's across the board because, it's not only the young members group, whom you chair, people who are young tend to be more enthusiastic, but even senior members, they are so passionate about MDS.
So this is something that even for me, a longstanding member of the society. Decades of being really an MDS member. I am still struck by the extremely positive energy that I can detect. And this is something that feeds me up. But the second point is to have a very clear appreciation of how important can be the role of MDS in the lives of people with movement disorders, because the quality of the educational material that we provide to our members. This really translates into a really significant improvement in the quality of care and as a result of that improvement in the quality of life of people. So that's why we really are striving to, to reach out to a wider audience, because this is really the main mission of MDS.
And finally I have elected for my term two priorities, one of them we were not sure when that would be possible, but I was pretty confident that one day or the other, we would be back to in-person activities. So this goal I have achieved that's right. I have ticked, as you have said, but the second goal is really to draw attention to the basic aspect of the life of a healthcare professional in the field of movement disorder and in medicine in general, which is clinical care. So many of the sessions educational offerings that we have been doing during this year, they have been really the main emphasis, this particular group.
I'd like to say, because I know that we have basic scientists in our organization that by no means we are neglecting other areas of the knowledge, but as clinician, the view that I have of this view is that every single piece of knowledge it must have as a target this back to basics goal, which is really to enhance clinical care, not only in terms of quality, but also access, which is something really, really important.
And we have now data that shows that the problem is not in the obviously underserved areas, but even if we take wealthy countries, I do not like really to name anyone, but we do have data from specific countries. Wealthy, very wealthy areas. There are many people with movement disorders who do not receive diagnosis and even less, of course, appropriate care.
So it is a global task and that's why I really have decided to put emphasis on this.
[00:11:15] Dr. Michele Matarazzo: So we'll definitely in that case, the education is the way to go because.
[00:11:19] Dr. Francisco Cardoso: The key.
[00:11:20] Dr. Michele Matarazzo: It's the key, yeah.
Good. And now going back to the Congress to the present Congress, I know it's not over yet. We are in the middle of it, but do you have already a personal highlight of what is going on here or any big news?
[00:11:33] Dr. Francisco Cardoso: I have to confess to you that as a president, it can be quite complex and sometimes really impossible to attend a relatively large number of sessions, but I have the advantage of being involved with the inception of the whole program and also the abstracts that we have received. And so I, feel in a position where I can make a few comments about what personally, I believe to be highlights of this meeting.
One of them outside the area of physicians is the number of sessions and work that is being presented with an emphasis on the need for a multidisciplinary care. So it's not only us physicians, but our colleagues from other fields. I can name some of them, physical therapists, speech therapists, nurses and so on, neuropsychologists and do not feel offended if you're professional is not mentioned here because I would have really two remains and all of them. But the concept is that we all need really to work together in order to provide this type of care. So I think that this is really an important message that especially us physicians must be aware of. A second point in a more restricted physician view is the growing role of different infusion therapies.
So we already have some, I can't perhaps say classical ones, but right now, as you are very much aware of, there is a lot of interest in infusions that could be less complex, more practical, like these small subcutaneous pumps. And there are really data being presented here that are very encouraging in these areas. So I would say that these are in my view, the two major issues to be discussed here in the Congress.
[00:13:35] Dr. Michele Matarazzo: And as you were mentioning before, those are both things that are going to impact the quality of life of thousands of people in the next, in the coming years.
[00:13:43] Dr. Francisco Cardoso: I think so too.
[00:13:44] Dr. Michele Matarazzo: Now talking about the future what great things does the society have in mind for the next year for their members and also what is your vision of the society for the future?
[00:13:55] Dr. Francisco Cardoso: All right. Speaking of the Congress, since we are in the Congress, I would like really to put more emphasis in the fact that the current model has probably come to stay. I think that we will be doing, at least in the near future, this type of Congress. So that's one important strategic decision, but a second point that I have not really addressed so far in our place and conversation Michele, is the shortage of healthcare professionals.
There is really a knees match between the curve of the number of healthcare professionals. And it's not only us physicians, but all our colleagues from related areas and the number of people with movement disorders. If we take the example of Parkinson's disease, we know well that this is the fastest growing neurodegenerative disease, which means that in the near future there will be an even larger number of patients with Parkinson's disease, with a difficulty in having access to care global problem as well, to the point that even before the COVID pandemic, some of our colleagues coined this term, the Parkinson's pandemic, it may sound exaggerated, but probably it's not.
So considering this problem, we are really committed to increasing the possibilities of training for very young physicians. And what do we mean by very young physicians, people who are in the case of doctors, medical doctors, still in the early stages of the residency, because that's the department they can, as you and I have, they can fall in love with our field.
We are increasing not only our partnership with organizations like the Michael J. Fox Foundation, for instance, which is also very much concerned about this scenario, but also we are increasing the funding for fellowships. We call it formally visiting training grant. Not only for underserved areas, but also in developed countries.
So this is a high priority. And finally my last comment in terms of what I envision for the future of MDS. More and more we realize that care is and must be patient centered. So the regulatory agencies, they demand that the voices of patients are heard. When analyzing applications for approval of treatments in general, but not only for this practical, pragmatic reason, but it's very, really fair to, to listen to what patients have to say and to empower them.
So we are now starting a conversation about how really to relate with people with different movement disorders to make sure that they have a voice inside MDS. This is a really important goal.
[00:17:03] Dr. Michele Matarazzo: That's great. So the voice of the patient will be more present.
[00:17:06] Dr. Francisco Cardoso: How to make this operation now it can be quite complex for several reasons. But the strategic decision of having the voice of the patients in our society. This has already been made great.
[00:17:19] Dr. Michele Matarazzo: Well, professor Cardoso, thank you again so much for joining the podcast. Thank you for this very nice conversation we've had, it has been a pleasure to have you and well, let's enjoy the rest of the Congress.
[00:17:32] Dr. Francisco Cardoso: Thank you so much Michele. It has been very pleasant. So I was a bit fearful that you would do a bit of inquisition with me, but it has been very nice. So thank you and goodbye to our audience.
[00:17:45] Dr. Michele Matarazzo: Yeah. Thank you all for listening.