September 28, 2019

ESCMID Course on Mycobacteria

The European Society of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) regularly organizes educational courses, the vast majority of which are held in Europe. This year, however, their postgraduate course on tuberculosis and mycobacterial disease was held in Singapore from 26th to 28th September, in NUS.

Although other specialties (particularly the oncologists) have organized regional editions of US and European conferences/courses in Singapore, I believe this is the first ESCMID course that is held here. I understand this feat was largely the work of Dr Catherine Ong from NUS in conjunction with Prof Jon Friedland from Imperial College, UK.

The majority of the faculty were from Singapore and the region, which is reflective of both the burden of the disease in the region (as opposed to Europe) and the depth of expertise here with regards to tuberculosis.

The programme was interesting, albeit weighed heavily towards the clinical aspect of tuberculosis. Unfortunately, I was only able to attend for a single day, but was nonetheless deeply impressed by several of the lectures, particularly the one on tuberculous meningitis by Prof Guy Thwaites, director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU) in Vietnam. He is from UK, but has worked in the region for decades. Many of us who are old enough may recall using his landmark studies on adjunctive dexamethasone for TB meningitis.

The CRC Auditorium opposite National University Hospital where the course was held
Dr Rick Ong on whole genome sequencing for TB
A/Prof Alex Cook on the social determinants of health in TB
A/Prof Cynthia Chee, Director of Singapore’s National TB Programme, on management of MDR-TB
Although close to 30% of MDR-TB cases diagnosed in Singapore are not eligible/suitable for the short-course treatment
A/Prof Tsin Wen Yeo from LKC Medicine with graphic images of extrapulmonary TB
Prof Guy Thwaites on TB meningitis
Showing an old 1950s paper where AFB smear from CSF has high positive rates – the key being to send at least 8 mls of CSF for the one test
Although higher dose (15 mg/kg) rifampicin did not result in improved survival for TB meningitis, an intriguing association with isoniazid metabolism was found and the jury is still out on the right dosing of these drugs
Insights from zebrafish

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About hsuliyang

I am an infectious diseases physician based in Singapore.


Conference, Public Health, Singapore, Tuberculosis