Monday, September 25, 2006


I have just returned after a few days in Vienna attending an educational meeting. It was organized by Oncology Network Europe. The format consists of 8 difficult Hematology cases presented by the discussion leader. The audience then responds to a series of multiple choice questions on how they would manage the cases. After this an international expert gives a short talk, reviewing the published evidence for various management strategies.

The topics covered were imatanib resistant CML, rituximab resistant follicular lymphoma, the 5q minus syndrome, early management of myeloma, late management of myeloma, iron overload in MDS, 17p deleted CLL, and the use of rituximab in induction and maintenance in follicular lymphoma.

The first thing to say is that there were absolutely no queues at Heathrow. I walked straight to the Austrian Airlines check in, and had the choice of two attendants. I have never been through security so quickly. They are obviously employing more staff to do the checks. Transfer from the airport to the city is by rapid train that takes 16 minutes and runs every 30 minutes, 24/7/365. I stayed at the Marriott, which was excellent and a short walk through the park from the train station.

The meeting was excellent. I am surprised at how few attended. If any hematologist in Europe is reading this I urge them to go to the next one. There are no catches.

Vienna (or Wien as the locals call it - why don't we stick to the English names of Bombay and Burma? We don't talk about Paree or Milano or Firenze? More PC nonsense, of course. Has anyone got a Beijinese dog?), Vienna is a beautiful city. There are many buildings on the grand scale, as befits what once the capital of a vast empire. Now that Austria is a minor country in the EU, it all seems a bit over scale, but no less beautiful. What I noticed was the absence of security. No concrete barriers to deter car bombs. No searches to protect against suicide bombers. It was if the German speaking community felt safe, here in their heartland.

Sitting beside me on the plane was a young woman about the age of my eldest daughter. She had been awarded an honor in the Queen's birthday honors list. She had an MBE for services to charity. She was of Greek extraction and ran a property development company; old buildings made fit for luxury living. She had been chairman of a local Conservative association and she was a lawyer. I think she had some sort of role as a minor judge, and certainly sat as a magistrate. She was adamant that Eastern Europeans from the recent EU entrants were responsible for most of the crime in north London and she didn't have a good word to say about Muslims.

She said that honors depended on who nominated you and how the nomination was phrased. Strange, I thought you applied for one and paid over your cash. Yes, I know that sounds cynical, but when you see who gets them and, more to the point, who doesn’t, you begin to be suspicious about the whole system.

With a little spare time in Vienna I decided to listen to some music. Being the 250th Mozart anniversary made the choice easy. There were numerous Mozart and Strauss concerts, but teh choice of music was rather hackneyed. All featured Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and the Beautiful Blue Danube, as well as overture from Figaro.

Eventually I settled on a chamber concert at Mozart's house (actually he lived tere for a couple of months, though Brahms lived there for a couple of years, no doubt hoping that some of the magic would rub off).

As well as the ubiquitous K.V.525 we have the Divertimento in D sharp K.V. 136, which most people would recognize and the Dissonanzen Quartett K.V. 465 which most people would not. The room was lavishly decorated with nubile cherubs and had very good acoustics for teh 35 in the audiance who packed the small room.


Steve Madden said...


I officially grant you the ancient australian honor of the "bloody good bloke" (sorry to use the australian adjective.)

OK guys how do we nominate Terry for a garter or other bits of ermine?

Vance Esler said...

Sounds like a good meeting. I need to get on their email list, if they have one...