4-6 July 2018; Manchester, UK
Preview by Prof Valerie J Lund CBE, Master, BACO International 2018

Next year the British Academic Conference in Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck and Allied Specialities (BACO) will take place in Manchester, and I have the significant honour, to preside over it as ‘Master’. When the luminaries of their time conceived the idea of a scientific meeting in the UK in the early 1960s, they clearly had not considered the possibility that one day a woman might be selected as the commander-in-chief. They did however have the foresight to create a meeting which has gone from strength to strength over the years, moving around the country - initially every four years - and now every two.

A powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution and known throughout the world for its associations with football, Manchester is a world-class city, easily reached from anywhere in the UK and abroad. The conference will be held in the Manchester Central Conference Centre, a wonderful modern facility encompassing the Victorian architectural splendour of the converted Manchester Central railway station and surrounded by accommodation to suit every pocket.

We are putting together an innovative and comprehensive scientific programme covering all aspects of our speciality, led by Prof Vin Paleri, Chairman of the Scientific Committee. And the local organising committee, under Prof Tim Woolford are compiling an excellent social programme, celebrating the city’s diverse culture.

One of the perks of being the Master is the selection of the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony on Wednesday 4 July and I am delighted that Prof Hugh Montgomery has accepted my invitation. Hugh is a genuine Renaissance man, a polymath whose interests and achievements are astonishing in their breadth and depth. He is Professor of Intensive Care at University College London and a consultant in critical care, cardiology and internal medicine. He is also Director of the UCL Institute for Human Health and Performance. He is known, amongst many other things, for his discovery of the ‘fitness gene’, finding that an allele of the gene with the DNA code for angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) influences physical fitness. However, I first met him in relation to his work with CASE (UCL’s Centre for Altitude, Space and Extreme Environment) and the Xtreme-Everest projects, which use high altitude as a surrogate for the problems suffered by patients in extremis.

In addition, he has a strong interest in climate change and health, being awarded the title of ‘London Leader’ by the London Sustainable Development Commission, and is a founding member of the UK Climate and Health Council. He has also found time to run 100km ultrathons, holds the world record for underwater piano playing and has skydived naked, (all for charity of course) He also writes children’s stories to amuse his sons! You may have seen him giving the televised Royal Institute Christmas lecture or even have heard him on Desert Island Discs where his choice of a Rolling Stones track reminded him of the time he smuggled a ventilated patient out of hospital to attend a Stones concert!

Hugh has kindly agreed to open the conference with a talk which he is uniquely placed to give and which I can’t wait to hear:

‘Lessons learnt for medicine and science from research in extreme environments.’

I very much hope that you will be there too.


Valerie J LUND CBE

Master, BACO International 2018