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Bermuda to host international medical conference

Bermuda is being promoted by a prominent US cancer researcher as a centre for international medical conferencing.

New York oncologist Francis Arena chose the Island as a base for the first in an anticipated series of gatherings starting this July.

“I’m hoping to reignite what people have forgotten about Bermuda,” Dr Arena told

The Royal Gazette.

The Island’s proximity to the US East Coast makes it ideal for smaller conferences catering to the families of attendees, he said.

About 120 physicians from overseas are expected at the Pink Conference on Breast Cancer from July 10 to 12 at the Fairmont Southampton hotel.

Local doctors and medical students are invited to attend for free, and the organising group, Innovative Medical Conferences, plans an open forum for the public.

The top guests will also “do the rounds” at the King Edward VII Memorial to offer advice.

Dr Arena is clinical associate professor of medicine at New York University and adjunct clinical assistant professor of medicine at Cornell University Medical College.

He directs the NYU Langone Arena Oncology Center in Lake Success, and presides over the SASS Foundation for Medical Research.

In the US medical field, he said, conferences are often held in the Midwest or West Coast, he explained.

For oncologists and researchers on the East Coast, it can make an arduous day’s travel there and back.

“A lot of them are just mammoth affairs with 45,000 people — it’s like a three-ring circus. It’s difficult to navigate, you spend hours trying to figure out where to go, and forget about trying to have an interactive process and get a hands-on feel for things.

“This is what we’re trying to embody by having conferences in Bermud. The goal is a conference that’s not just didactic but truly interactive, to allow physicians to come together and share experiences, questions and patient concerns.”

Dr Arena has teamed with consultant Bill Keegan of the media relations firm Marston Webb — consultants for the Bermuda Government and the City of Hamilton, as well as for the Bermuda Stock Exchange.

“We don’t want to hold our meeting in a beautiful place without sharing it with the people of Bermuda,” he said. “I believe in alliances, and bridging gaps.

“Breast cancer is a big issue for Bermuda too. How is the medical community addressing this? What are Bermuda doctors seeing and how can newer innovations work for them?”

The IMC group will offer a free, public “town forum” on July 9 at City Hall for residents to pose questions to medical speakers, he said.

The inaugural conference was an uphill battle to organise, with medical and pharmaceutical firms initially slow to provide financing for a location they couldn’t classify.

“For the first year, we want to show that such a meeting is feasible,” Dr Arena said. “What we’d love to do is make this an annual event.

“We are blazing new trails with this one. I have been to other medical meetings in Bermuda but the last one was probably more than a decade ago.

“It’s strange how the Island has fallen off the radar, even though it’s so close to the East Coast of the US.

“But I think in the next year or two we’re going to bring other conferences on cancer related topics, and hopefully other medical topics as well.”

Breast cancer, said to be the most prevalent cancer in local women, is one of Dr Arena’s specialities.

A Long Island, New York resident, he sits on the advisory board of ‘1 in 9’, the Long Island Breast Cancer Coalition.

Useful website: www.innovativemedicalconferences.com.

From left: Innovative Medical Conference's Marie Hoffman, corporate event planner, and William Keegan, CEO, with oncologist and researcher Dr Francis Arena

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Published April 15, 2013 at 6:18 pm (Updated April 15, 2013 at 6:18 pm)

Bermuda to host international medical conference

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