World-first ‘dermathon’ reforms traditional conference model

A non-stop dermatology conference designed to be accessible at any time from across the world is putting Melbourne on a truly international stage.

The International Society of Dermatology (ISD), in collaboration with The Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD) is throwing the traditional conference model out the window for its XIII International Congress of Dermatology 2021 (ICD 2021), running a continuous four-day program from 10-13 November.

The world-first ‘dermathon’ conference has been designed to boost international participation, packing in 150 hours of presentations in a ground-breaking virtual format. The congress has achieved this goal; with one week to go, delegates from 65 countries have registered to attend, including from far-flung places such as Tanzania, Colombia, Latvia and Jamaica.

ICD 2021 conference organisers have also weaved in design elements to showcase the host city of Melbourne to the fully virtual audience, including facts on Victoria throughout the program, playing Melbourne promotional videos and clever use of branding with the assistance from the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB).

MCB Chief Executive Julia Swanson said digital solutions have truly come into their own during the pandemic – it’s a trend that has been accelerated out of necessity.

“While virtual events are not a substitute in-person connections, they are an opportunity for business event organisers to ensure their events are maximising reach and growing their audience.

“From a destination viewpoint, Melbourne’s integration into ICD 2021 provides for greater reach globally of the Melbourne brand, building on the captured audience of a live event via compelling content, our knowledge, industry strength and our people at the virtual podium beamed to a broader global audience. This increased awareness is not just beneficial to a destination’s visitor and tourism brand, but our city’s business and innovation brand.”

Senior Events Operation Manager Alessandra Damant, of Professional Conference Organiser Arinex, said the non-stop format of the conference was an exciting development.

“Ordinarily virtual events struggle to obtain widespread international attendance due to time zone differences – so the committee decided to circumvent that by holding a dermathon,” she said. “Putting a program of that size together has been a big task and the committee has worked incredibly hard to pull it off. Now we’re excited to bring it to the dermatology field!”

Congress President Professor Dedee Murrell said: “We are so excited to host ICD 2021 this month. Unlike most medical congresses it will showcase Australia as well as the latest developments in treatments and understanding of skin diseases – not to mention the rolling, 24-hour design.”