The Davos Experience: An interview with Assoc. Prof. Christian Gratzke and Prof. Morgan Rouprêt

17 August 2016 By Erika de Groot

What makes the ESU Davos meeting a hidden gem? Held every year in the heart of the Swiss Alps, this European Urology Forum combines state-of-the-art urological sessions, a camaraderie amongst attendees, and a picturesque scenery; all of which are ingredients for a conducive learning-and-sharing experience.

Associate Professor Christian Gratzke (DE) of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and Professor Morgan Rouprêt (FR) of the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital (Paris 6) give an insider’s look on what it is like to be at a ESU Davos meeting, their journey and their impressions.

Challenge accepted

Prof. Gratzke and Prof. Rouprêt were Davos-meeting novices who initially participated in the “Urological Challenge”. The latter is a competition where up-and-coming urologists present their topics to a panel of experts then they deliberate in brainstorming sessions. “When I was a challenger, my topics included ‘The role of prostatectomy in M1 disease’, ‘Minimally invasive options for male LUTS’, and ‘The effect of cannabinoids on the lower urinary tract’. And I won that challenge in 2014,” shares Prof. Gratzke.

Prof. Rouprêt recalls, ‘’The first time I participated in the Urological Challenge was 2013. I was awarded as the winner after I presented three eclectic and different topics: ‘Management of upper tract urothelial carcinomas: What can we expect from basic research in 2013?’, ‘Active surveillance for low risk prostate cancer: What else?’, and ‘Innovations, morbidity and complications: How to deal with the dark side of surgery and to improve the quality of surgical publications?’”

Preparing for the “Urological Challenge” requires focus, commitment, and drive. Both Prof. Gratzke and Prof. Rouprêt anticipated that the panel would be highly critical and armed with counterarguments. “There were a lot of people in the jury that I needed to convince. Naturally, you would like to make a good impression and at best, win the competition. I was well-prepared. I chose topics where I’ve done a lot of research in,” says Prof. Gratzke. And it was a similar perspective with Prof. Rouprêt, “I focused deeply on the challenge like anyone would for a race or a sport competition. I kept on improving my presentation every chance I got. As they say, the devil is in the details.”

Words to impart to future challengers

Transitioning from challengers to members of the faculty, both Prof. Gratzke and Prof. Rouprêt share their lessons learned and their observations. “There is a lot to learn from everyone; from the challengers, the jury, to the audience members. It’s not because you do something in your institution and you do it well that it’s suitable for each and every patient. Keep an open mind and keep learning. And with regard to giving advice to future challengers, believe in yourself and rise to the occasion. Don’t shy away; you have something to say so make sure it’s heard,” advises Prof. Rouprêt.

Prof. Gratzke puts emphasis on being genuine and passionate in topic selection and presentation. He shares, “Talk about topics you’re truly interested in and not what others think is relevant. I remember a challenger who presented three topics in infectiology. Even though his topics were not exactly ‘mainstream’, you could tell that he knew what he was talking about. He was passionate about it. And ultimately, he made a very good impression.”

Different from the rest

Every ESU Davos meeting is unforgettable to all its attendees. “The meeting may be relatively small but it was a good experience every time. Everyone made sure you did your best. We got along so well that I still have good contact with my fellow challengers up until now,” says Prof. Gratzke.

“This is the kind of meeting where you can learn from the experiences of everybody and acquire meaningful information that you can bring home to your daily practice. ESU Davos comes with a warm, relaxed and open-minded atmosphere where every expert is available for discussion,” tells Prof. Rouprêt.

Whistle while you work

The ESU Davos meeting is known for its intimate setting, engaging discussions and joie de vivre. It is the quintessential “mix business with pleasure”. Prof. Gratzke explains, “The beauty of the Davos meeting is that it’s a unique blend of high-level, quality sessions with a laid back feel to it. We have had fantastic skiing days; we skied between sessions so we could relax then continue with the sessions afterwards. Having worked as a ski instructor in the past, I particularly enjoyed the off-piste skiing at the Parsenn. So yes, the meeting is intensive yet rewarding.”

“Last year during a ride in a horse-drawn carriage in the mountains, it had gotten so cold. So I decided to tell funny stories and sang out loud in French to warm up. I remember laughing a lot with everyone. After that, we were all enthusiastic and energized during the sessions. This meeting is one of a kind. It brings together the best scientific evidence in urology and the ‘Urological Challenge’, which leads to emulation and competition. It’s a thrilling experience,” concludes Prof. Rouprêt.

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The upcoming ESUDavos17 meeting will take place from 4 to 7 February 2017 in Davos, Switzerland. Please note that there is limited space available. Kindly register here. See the scientific programme here.