Submissions for EAU24 marked a new high, nearly matching the record set in 2019 in the run-up EAU20. For Prof. Peter Albers, SCO Chairman, this was a bittersweet occasion as this will also be his last Congress in charge of the scientific programme. He will finish his term after the annual meeting in 2024 and will then continue to work for the EAU in other responsibilities. His successor will be nominated and appointed pending approval from the membership.
We spoke to Prof. Albers about the upcoming congress and in particular about the submitted abstracts.
“We certainly see that imaging and everything connected with MRI is still on the rise,” said Prof. Albers. “We see a lot of prostate cancer-related abstracts with imaging.”
“A more troublesome trend is abstracts to do with artificial intelligence. It can be very hard to rate them. There is probably a certain degree of ‘mainstream effect’ at work where the term gets used as a feature but is actually not defined very well.”
“Just naming it in the abstract title sounds ‘sexy’ but behind the scenes, it’s not thought through. Which AI method is applied? There are a lot of differences in how it can be used. As a result, the SCO will start to better define everything related to AI.”
A wider trend is related to the quality of the abstracts. Prof. Albers has observed a positive trend of very high-quality abstracts in recent years, which has also led to a change in the rating scale used by reviewers.
Prof. Albers: “This year we changed the rating scale from 1-4 to 1-5. We were able to accept roughly every abstract that was rated over 3.5, around 30% of submissions. Of course, we continue to be restricted in opportunities for presenting at a congress. Of the 5500 submissions, we can accept 12-1300. That’s not to say that the rejected abstracts are only rated 2.1 or 1.8 but more like 3.0 or 3.3. Abstracts were rarely rated below 3, showing the high quality of submissions.”
“Behind the scenes, we also took a closer look at the reviewers. We only accept reviewers with an established publication record, defined by citations and h-index, participation in larger scientific meetings, for instance as a moderator, or members of guideline committees.”
“Over the course of the several decades I’ve worked in the EAU, I’ve seen a time when it used to be much more based on personal acquaintance, or recommendations. This is clearly not sufficient. If we have to turn down 70% of the submitted abstracts, the process must be clear, transparent, and based exclusively on expert rating. We rely on our 430 reviewers and the SCO only gets involved if there is a high standard deviation or if we are selecting for prizes.”
New: Best presentation
On the topic of prizes, Prof. Albers announced that the SCO is introducing a new commendation for skilled presenters at EAU24:
“While the scientific quality of an abstract can be assessed in advance, of course, you sometimes find yourself sitting in a session and while you thought the abstract was good, the actual presentation is poor and the science gets lost. This is thankfully a very rare occasion.”
“We do want to motivate people to present so we are introducing a ‘Best Presentation’ prize that will be decided and awarded on the spot. We would like the chairs to select the best presentation. Good scientific content, combined with a good presentation has not been typically rewarded.”
“I remember when I was a young researcher, how gratifying it was when the announcement was made immediately after the session, and to have this displayed in the hallway outside of the room. This is another element of transparency I tried to bring to the SCO: a way for the audience to immediately get a sense of what is good, what works.”
Major breaking news at EAU24
In recent years, the SCO has endeavoured to feature more breaking news in terms of for example first presentations of large phase III trials in the Annual Congresses’ scientific programme: an important way to ensure high participation figures from delegates and industry partners alike.
Prof. Albers: “Delegates will find the hottest topics grouped in the game-changing sessions. We will have a lot of interesting stuff to report, especially in terms of imaging for PCa. We anticipate a lot of new results from clinical trials and updates with new data. Late-breaking abstracts will also be considered, submission will be open until the 1st of February.”
“I think one of the main goals of my term is achieved: the results of major urological or uro-oncological trials are being reported for the first time at the EAU’s Annual Congress. This has not always been the case, and continues to be a struggle. When it comes to oncology, there is of course a lot of competition from other scientific events. Even if they present the first results, there are other secondary endpoints that are relevant for urologists, like quality-of-life analysis.”
“I am also very pleased that we have a close relationship with European Urology, which allows us to try new things. We can coordinate the (online) publication of research with when they are presented at our congress. We can achieve this with a rapid review process and tight embargo. That’s the reason we’re proud that EU serves as the publication journal, the journal that takes over dissemination of this latest news. This is a major breakthrough and something we haven’t been able to achieve before.”
- The complete Scientific Programme Preview will be published in the first edition of European Urology Today of 2024! Prof. Albers’s farewell interview will be published at the end of his term, in the EAU24 EUT Congress News.