44 years of experience attending the ISTH congresses

By Gro Grimnes, PhD in TREC

In 1971, Professor Bjarne Østerud (born 1940) attended his first International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) congress, where around 400 participants gathered in Oslo. Already at his first ISHT congress, he presented his ongoing research in thrombosis.

bloggbirgitbjarne (800x450)

Birgit Småbrekke and Bjarne Østerud

ISTH has been arranged every second year from 1971 and up to this year`s congress in Toronto, which had more than 7000 participants. Professor Østerud has attended them all, with the exception of the congress in Jerusalem in 1995, and he has presented some of his latest results in every congress, either as oral presentations or in poster sessions. He has also held main lectures in plenary sessions, chaired sessions and in 1997 he received the Distinguished Career award.

Toronto morning


In Toronto, he was accompanied by Birgit Småbrekke (born 1992), a medical student at UiT and a Ph.D. student at TREC. This was her first congress, and as Professor Østerud did in 1971, she also presented her work in oral presentations in front of researchers from all parts of the world. An exciting experience with quite a bit of anxiety beforehand, followed by relief and positive feedback from the audience.

toronto birgit (2)

Birgit Småbrekke presenting at ISTH

So; except from the increasing size of the congress; what are the most important changes during these years? Professor Østerud describes the big technical developments as important for the research. For example, he once worked for three years to be able to purify coagulation factors, a process that now takes only an hour! Also, the technology and possibility to work with “knock-out” mice, where specific genes can be turned off, has greatly enhanced the research possibilities.

New knowledge adds to older, and so it is not easy to say what the most important research advancements over the years are. For the total understanding of thrombosis, Professor Østerud highlights the understanding of the complexity of the body functions. As blood platelets were thought to play a part exclusively in blood coagulation, their function in inflammation and infection control has just recently been understood. Conversely, we need neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) to control infection, but now they are also proven to be involved in thrombosis through the formation of NETs (Neutrophil Extracellular Traps).

What is for sure; there will be plenty of interesting and yet unexplained links between inflammation, coagulation, infection and cancer to look into and present in future ISTH-congresses for new researchers such as Birgit Småbrekke!

3 people like this post.