isamDUNDEE2015 Congress - 17th International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM) Congress

isamDUNDEE2015 Congress - 17th International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM) Congress

Fast Facts

Dates - 5 - 8 October 2015

Venue - Caird Hall

Host - University of Dundee

Partners - Dundee & Angus Convention Bureau, University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, VisitScotland, NHS Scotland and Starkevents

Attendance - 619 international delegates from 56 countries

Impact on the local economy - over £1.2million


isamDUNDEE2015 Congress

In October 2015, Dundee on the east coast of Scotland, hosted the largest scientific congress ever been held in the city when it welcomed the isamDUNDEE2015 Congress. The event broke records for the city – 619 international delegates attended from 56 countries, to participate in 45 workshops, 250 presentations and 10 keynote lectures over four days. Delegates included representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), US National Institute of Alcohol and Alcoholism (NIAA), United Nations (UN) and the European Monitoring Centre for Drug and Drug Abuse (EMCDDA).

The congress, which had never before been held in the UK, had previously taken place in Geneva, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo, and brought together leading global experts in the field of addiction medicine. By holding the 2015 congress in Europe, the ISAM board also anticipated an increase in European memberships for the organisation – an objective which they achieved following the largest number of new membership registrations ahead of the annual congress.

isamDUNDEE2015 was the most successful ISAM congress held in the last five years. With over 600 delegates in attendance, it was not only the largest but was also financially sustainable.

“The isamDUNDEE2015 congress left a legacy within the ISAM community, as it initiated several strands of work packages and ideas that are currently in fruition. The most enduring legacy for Dundee is the confidence and pride that the city can host and organise an international conference on such a large scale.” Professor Alex Baldacchino, University of Dundee

Following the isamDUNDEE2015 Congress, the organisers of the 2017 event in Abu Dhabi have expressed an interest in emulating the arts and culture programme which ran in conjunction with the event in Dundee. Negotiations are also currently underway to bring part of the art exhibition to the Scottish Parliament building in September 2016.

A Collaborative Approach

The support of many partners was required to bring the ISAM Congress to Dundee and work began four years prior to the event. Dundee & Angus Conference Ambassador Professor Alex Baldacchino, from the University of Dundee, worked in close collaboration with the Dundee & Angus Convention Bureau to create a bid for the conference, along with a comprehensive business plan. Over a three-year period, these were presented to the ISAM board, along with a vision of the objectives of the congress, and an indication of the structure of the congress – including the associated Art and Culture Festival. The ISAM board was impressed by the collaborative approach presented – the bid included the involvement of the Convention Bureau, the University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee City Council, NHS Scotland, VisitScotland Business Events and event organisers Starkevents.

Dundee is also recognised as a global centre of excellence in the field of addiction medicine. The bid partners demonstrated that they could leverage the city’s community intelligence and bring together all tourism partners to offer a world class experience.

The University operates on a global stage and is committed not only to taking Dundee to the world, but bringing the world to Dundee. Attracting the ISAM Congress to Dundee was a great example of our international policy in action.  With more than 600 delegates from 56 countries the conference was not only an economic boost for the city but established international networks that will last for years to come.” Professor Sir Pete Downes, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee.

The creation of an arts and culture festival to run during isamDUNDEE2015, featuring art work relating to issues surrounding substance misuse, was also a highly creative touch. This event, attended by many delegates, was run in collaboration with Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (DJCAD). Taking place in DJCAD and Centrespace, Dundee Contemporary Arts, the exhibition sought to promote interdisciplinary thinking in the fields of science, art and design, and featured artworks produced by noted professionals and students with links to Dundee.

“The isamDUNDEE2015 Culture and Arts Festival promoted a synthesis of art and design thinking through a partnership of science, design and art. There is a growing culture whereby art and design is used to facilitate the communication between communities and groups within our cities, through social engagement. Although the focus of the isamDUNDEE2015 World Congress was clinical and scientific, the art and design projects facilitated wider community engagement, before, during and after the Congress.” Jackie Malcolm, lecturer at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design.

What could have been a complex logistical issue for individual international delegates, transportation from airports to Dundee was all seamlessly organised by Dundee & Angus Convention Bureau, working closely with VisitScotland and the organising committee. Delegates could book transport, accommodation and social programme events through a dedicated isamDUNDEE2015 congress website.

“Being named as host of the 17th International Society of Addiction Medicine Congress was a great coup for Dundee, and was testament not only to its status as a host city, but also to this country’s rich history in medical research. We were delighted to help Dundee & Angus Convention Bureau bring this important business event to the city through the VisitScotland Conference Bid Fund. And underlining the strong links between business tourism and leisure tourism, we also had VisitScotland Information Centre staff on hand at the Caird Hall, who were able to offer delegates expert advice on the range of things to see and do in Dundee, and Scotland as a whole, during their stay.”  Rory Archibald, Business Development Manager at VisitScotland Business Events.

Showcasing the Venues – and the Welcome - of Dundee and Angus
That Dundee is a city small enough to explore in a few days, yet large enough to accommodate the anticipated number of delegates, appealed to the ISAM selection board. The promise of a wholly Scottish welcome – including the event’s own unique, registered ISAM tartan sold in the pop-up ‘Wee Tartan Shop’! – and a complete programme of social events from a formal congress dinner in the medieval Guthrie Castle and an art festival spanning the city, to Scottish country dancing in the coffee bar in the Caird Hall and a walking tour of the city were definite attractors for an event which has previously been hosted in Yokohama in Japan, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Geneva in Switzerland, Oslo in Norway and Milan in Italy.

The main congress venue was the impressive, grade A listed, Caird Hall – capacity 2,000 - with its imposing, grand façade which leads onto the pedestrianised City Square. Central and easily accessible for all delegates, the recently refurbished Hall has all the flexibility required for a multi-use event with the addition of the new meeting rooms. Within the building, seminar rooms have been converted into symposium and workshop areas, allowing for greater flexibility within the venue.

The Lord Provost of Dundee welcomed delegates to a civic reception at RRS Discovery and Discovery Point. Delegates had the chance to step aboard the ship which carried explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his crew on the British National Antarctic Expedition.

“Dundee is at the heart of business tourism in this country. However we are not content with that and as well as public investment from the council and others in venues, the private sector is increasing the number of hotel rooms so that we can match our ambition and attract even bigger events.”  Will Dawson, convener of Dundee City Council's city development committee.

Baronial Guthrie Castle set in over 150 acres of glorious Angus countryside was the impressive venue for the formal congress dinner.

All accommodation types across the city and beyond were full.

Brett Davidge, general manager of the four star Apex Hotel says of the conference: “The conference had a noticeable impact across the city. Was our hotel busy? Of course it was – but it’s not just the fact that delegate stays helped us to our best ever October, it’s the buzz which the event gave to everyone. Staff love a busy hotel and having such an international guest list was very motivating for our teams in all departments. But it was the fact that so many organisations got behind this event which made it so memorable. Holding the event in the Caird Hall and having the arts festival showed many diverse facets of Dundee to a new audience and brought economic benefit to so many businesses, large and small, in the city. It shows what we are capable of collaboratively and we look forward to many more events of this scale.”

Box out quotes

“Dundee has the advantage of having impressive facilities, being hospitable and effective hosts and also reaching that balance between having a community that is involved, giving most of the participants a real comfortable home feeling… [and] having many of the advantages and elements of a bigger city with tout the hustle and bustle and confusion.” Dr Gregory Bunt, ISAM President

 “Delegates were telling me that they thought the Tokyo ISAM2014 conference was good … and they followed up by saying that Dundee was ‘beyond good’ in fact it was the best they have ever been at’.

“The Caird Hall was superb for purpose and allowed for the numerous breakout workshops to run without interruption.” Professor Alex Baldacchino, Clinical Senior Lecturer in Addiction Psychiatry at the University of Dundee, Clinical Lead and Consultant in Addiction Psychiatry for NHS Fife, Congress President of isamDundee2015

“Best food I've ever had at a conference @CairdHallDundee thanks to chef David Anderson of The Playwright Dundee @eventsatstark #isam2015.” Liza Franchi via twitter

Box out quotes from social media

“Great conference, made me proud to be Scottish, staff at event helpful and friendly.”

“Some inspirational sessions. Koob, Goldberg, Heather and Humphries were the absolute highlights - you'd travel anywhere to hear these guys. Top quality and also great to see them, network etc.”

“I met Addiction physicians from all over the world. I was able to informally discuss and discover many commonalities in practice with physicians from Denmark, Australia, the UK and New York. I am taking back some novel treatment strategies and also found quite reassuring that the information I learned here is consistent with the treatments that our team is using. I made connections with physicians and care providers with whom I plan to stay in touch both for social reasons and for educational purposes. “

“Actually it was meeting and interacting with the wonderful people of Dundee that I enjoyed the most. “

“Scottish atmosphere of collegiality which led to dinner time discussions about the days topics in depth.

 “Dundee - It's a fantastic congress destination. “

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