Prof. Albers: “Intention is to enhance the scientific quality”

15 October 2021

New SCO chair aims to develop the EAU into one of the most influential scientific societies in the world

 

Since 2003, he has been a member of the EAU Guidelines Panel on Testicular Cancer. “Here, I gathered most of my experience concerning the workings of the EAU,” Prof. Peter Albers (DE), the newly elected chair of the EAU Scientific Congress Office (SCO), says.

“Here, I learned about this outstanding quality of scientific discussion, often in a multidisciplinary setting. Here, I learned about extraordinary friendship even if there are controversies on certain topics. The way of delivering education and conducting research, thereby developing the highest standard for our specialty, impressed me from my very first day at the EAU. To this day, I have admired the EAU for this scientific culture as well as for the way of communicating scientific achievements all over the world. Now, I want to give back to the EAU.”

Prof. Albers alludes to his new position as chair of the SCO, a position he took up in 2020, after which he immediately had to lead the SCO in the unprecedented conversion from a physical into a virtual EAU20. He had been a member of the SCO since 2012, after having served on the Video Committee of the EAU Scientific Office for several years before.

The aim of the SCO is to maintain the highest scientific level for the Annual EAU Congresses. What are the most important factors in achieving this goal?
Prof. Albers: “Most importantly, we need to continue stimulating colleagues from all over the world to submit their research results for the Annual EAU Congress. As SCO, we then select about thirty percent of the abstracts based on a rigorous review process. The SCO is strongly dependent on the well-selected reviewers; there are at least four to five of them per topic. Only rarely, the SCO overrules the reviewers’ ratings, for example in the case of interesting but conflicting research. The responsibility of the SCO is to look for the best and most appealing presentation of interesting topics. As part of that, we introduced the Game-Changing Sessions under the guidance of my predecessor Prof. Arnulf Stenzl (DE) a few years ago. These sessions include presentations of large phase-III trials and other important news of the year followed by expert comments.”

Do you expect major changes happening for the SCO during your term?
“It has already become clear that audio-visual education is getting more and more popular. The video committee will certainly need more members in order to properly select the best of the best. By and large, we are ready to adopt changes the audience wants.”

“Another important issue is patient participation. With the EAU Patient Day at EAU21, we have already achieved the largest number of sessions for and composed by patients at a major scientific meeting.”

What are your goals for the SCO?
“The SCO should be a lively and flexible group of excellent researchers and clinicians. Ideally, the SCO should reflect urology in its whole and be a pacemaker by stimulating optimal presentation of cutting-edge scientific achievements. Furthermore, we need to improve our gender balance and look out for young, brilliant urologists to join us in the future.”

What do you think you will add to the SCO?
“First of all, we have to properly select the reviewers of abstracts based on their publication records and replace them when necessary. Secondly, I am going to try to focus the Annual EAU Congress on a clear quality-based presentation of abstracts. For instance, we have introduced best-of-the-best abstract sessions, including prizes, with comments from experts of the SCO or from outside the EAU to put things into perspective.”

Has it been a personal goal of you to become the chair of the SCO?
“No. I have enjoyed working in this prestigious group since 2012; I was just more or less lucky to be promoted. The SCO’s foundation is teamwork, and one of us has to coordinate this. So, my personal goal is to improve the work of the group. I was thrilled to notice the congress office’s expertise and flexibility during the preparations for EAU20 and EAU21. It wasn’t easy to convert EAU20 from a physical into a virtual congress first, and then having to deal with the uncertainties regarding EAU21. In my previous positions outside the EAU, I have never witnessed such kind of support.”

“My main intention to accept this function was to enhance the scientific quality in a mainly surgically dominated field such as urology. We treat 25 percent of all cancers, but in the past we had deficits to perform large comparative trials to provide level-I evidence for our surgical approaches. Urology will change in the upcoming years; perioperative systematic therapy including IO treatments will emerge, and we, as onco-urologists, need to apply our knowledge to this development. As for non-oncology topics, we are faced with an elderly population which needs multidisciplinary care. We also need comparative trials in oncology and non-oncology for new drug developments and methods to sustain quality of life. The Annual EAU Congress should be the place where major developments are presented first and then professionally distributed to the community after. This is a major challenge for the SCO, and thus this position is very challenging and interesting for me.”

You work at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf. What kind of experience that you have gained in Germany do you bring to the EAU?
“Sometimes it is not so easy to be a German SCO member. Germans have a questionable reputation of being organisers and streamliners – and not necessarily team players. I am not saying this is all wrong. I myself have learned a lot as an EAU member, balancing European cultures and improving international connections. I still can improve at diplomacy! I will have succeeded in my job when all members of the SCO are motivated to work for the team as hard as they did in the past. If we continue to work at this level of transparency and confidence with the reliable support of the Executive Committee, we will certainly manage to further develop the EAU into one of the most influential scientific societies in the world.”

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