About 30 years ago, we initiated the European Stroke Conference ESC in Düsseldorf, Germany – attended by 720 scientists and clinicians. The participants, mainly from Europe, were by plan to encourage exchange for the increasing efforts among European stroke researchers. This meeting was to be separate from the Stroke Meeting in North America, sponsored by the American Heart Association, which drew few stroke research presentations from European scientists, even though it gave itself the name the International Stroke Conference – ISC.
Over 25 years the ESC grew to become the world’s biggest stroke meeting – with about 4000 participants in Nice in 2014. During these years, the ESC always met in attractive cultural places with increasing crowds drawn to clinical and basic science, lectures, and teaching courses around news in stroke research, with a stress on collegiality and friendship.
In the succeeding years, Vienna (2015), Venice (2016), Berlin (2017) and Athens (2018), the ESC faced competition from an increasing number of new meetings spawned in part by the awareness of the success of the ESC. It continued but without the inadequate ballast of industry/pharma lobby-related company sponsoring. Our meetings continued to attract attendees from an expanded global representation, featured more science, expanded the scope of stroke-related specialists beyond neurology, offered better time schedules for education and interaction, and introduced awards to young researchers up to 50.000 € annually . The anonymous, strictly quality-related selection processes worked under the auspices and support of the newly founded European Stroke Research Foundation ESRF – at the expense of a minor amount of attendants.
Today, aware of the increasing number of meetings, and faced with expectations of commercial sponsorship both for free participation, and the added risks of dilution of the programs content through marketing oriented commercial symposia, we have decided to stop our regular meetings.
We thank the thousands of participants, speakers, members of the faculties and scientific committees for their role in the growth of the ESC, and look back with warm memories of collegial days.
We plan to put all energy in innovative, creative, and future oriented stroke research by means of the ESRF.
Michael G Hennerici