Report on the WCB2014 in Boston
The 7th World Congress of Biomechanics took place from July 6th – July 11th at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. Based on feedback from our ESB members during the planning phase, our society had decided to put our support fully behind the WCB for 2014 and to not hold a competing ESB conference. The ESB Council was aware that this strategy posed a risk of breaking the continuity that our society enjoys, but we also recognised an opportunity to strengthen ties between several global biomechanics societies, with support of the WCB from the Americas, Europe and Asia.
The WCB built on the strong tradition of previous world congresses, attracting an impressive number of scientific contributions by any measure. Over 4000 participants from 58 countries converged on Boston. Twenty parallel sessions were run throughout the conference to meet the demand for scientific dissemination, and to cover the breadth of biomechanics. This resulted in 440 individual scientific sessions, most defined through the process of Track Chairs nominating session chairs, who proactively created the program of their individual session. During the week in Boston, delegates could choose from 2091 podium presentations, including 116 keynotes talks and 17 plenary lectures. Nearly 2100 posters were presented in a rotating exhibition which generated strong interest by combining science with social interaction. In the end, the WCB far exceeded the organisers’ goal of 3000 total presentations (poster + podium). In addition to the scientific program, the WCB also offered a variety of parallel technical workshops.
The European Society for Biomechanics was strongly represented at the WCB, with a well-attended plenary lecture from our past-president, Prof. Marco Viceconti, the presentation of the recipients of the S.M. Perren Research Award, by Dr. Fulvia Taddei on behalf of her co-authors, and the presentation of the recipient of the ESB Doctoral Thesis Award by Dr. Carlos Borau Zamora. A full session was held for the presentation of the competing papers for the ESB Student Award and the ESB Clinical Biomechanics Award.
Over 200 ESB members were in attendance at the WCB, which was also reflected in a full room at our informal reception on the Tuesday evening at the conference, where members could share a drink, congratulate award winners and meet the new ESB Council. The ESB Council would also like to thank the attending ESB members for their participation at the General Assembly.
Conference attendees were able to enjoy perfect weather throughout the week in the lively Back Bay district of Boston. Many biomechanically active early risers greeted each other as they ran along the shores of the Charles River Basin or through the Boston Common. In the evenings, the city centre and the restaurants of the North End were a popular destination. The conference itself offered many opportunities to interact, to get reacquainted with former scientific colleagues and to plan future collaborations. Besides the official conference banquet, the WCB organisers surprised many with a rollicking Thursday night at Boston’s legendary House of Blues, next to the Fenway Park baseball park. Many ESB members had their first introduction to BEDrock, the ASME Bioengineering Division’s rock band, known to many who frequent conferences on the west side of the Atlantic. BEDrock, which now includes ESB members, delivered a rocking set for nearly four hours, switching in and out a large number of familiar author names on guitar, bass, percussion and vocals. For one evening, we could trade multi-body dynamics for multiple dynamic bodies and experience first-hand the effect of full-body vibration on the musculoskeletal system. This author was impressed to see his own Fluid Dynamics professor from 1986 appear on stage and launch into a strong twelve-bar blues.
It was a long, but productive week for the WCB attendees. 2018 will see the WCB come to Europe, jointly hosted by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Trinity College Dublin. Plans are already underway to ensure that the ESB is well-represented at the WCB and that the conference will be a success for all.
By Prof. Stephen Ferguson