Professor Karen Kirkby is a member of Manchester’s Conference Ambassador Programme, having established a Local Organising Committee which successfully secured the rights to host the prestigious Particle Therapy Co-Operative Group Annual Congress (PTCOG) in 2019, in Manchester.
The conference brought together more than 1,300 leading clinicians, physicists and other practitioners in particle therapy (a form of radiotherapy using beams of protons or heavy ions for cancer treatment) to share the latest clinical, scientific and industrial developments and showcase the latest technology which can enable organisations to improve patient treatment.
Hosted by The Christie NHS Foundation Trust at Manchester Central 10-15 June 2019, PTCOG58 coincided with the opening of the first NHS high energy proton beam therapy centre at The Christie and was thus extremely timely. The North West of England’s heritage as a pioneering region in cancer research and treatment for more than 100 years played a key part in bringing this important conference to the UK. 2019 also marked the 100th anniversary of Rutherford’s 1919 breakthrough in understanding the structure of the atom and discovering the proton – and Manchester was the perfect place to celebrate this anniversary.
Marketing Manchester supported the local bidding committee from concept to completion. Representatives from the Manchester Convention Bureau sat on the Local Organising Committee and led on the design and production of a high-quality professional bid document. The bid and complementary presentation and video was presented to the PTCOG global steering committee at PTCOG55 in Prague in 2016, composed of leaders of proton and heavy ion treatment centres around the world, and was awarded to Manchester the same day, seeing off a competing bid from Krakow, Poland.
The bidding consortium included The Christie, UCLH, Marketing Manchester, Manchester Central, Kenes Group and the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre. The bid demonstrated extensive support including letters from the Secretary of State for Health, the Chief Executive of NHS England, the Royal College of Radiographers, CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research), the National Physics Laboratory and Visit Britain.
In the run up to the event Marketing Manchester operated the official delegate accommodation booking service (ABS) as well as assisting with pre-event marketing and delegate-boosting activities to promote Manchester as the host destination.
The combination of a strong scientific programme, rich heritage on cancer research and an attractive host city, resulted in PTCOG58 being the largest ever global gathering of particle therapy scientists. The conference was worth £4.1m to the local economy, and attracted the best scientific minds to Manchester, raising the profile of the NHS national proton beam therapy programme and Greater Manchester’s strengths in the field of medical physics.