The Power of Conferences: stories of serendipity, innovation and driving social change

UTS ePress
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A chance encounter at a conference sets up a series of unfolding events. In 1982, immunologist Ian Frazer attended his first international gastroenterology conference in Canberra, Australia. After his presentation on genital warts, a colleague, Dr Gabrielle Medley, discussed with him the potential link between the human papillomavirus and cancer. This meeting proved fateful, as it helped to put him on the path that would ultimately lead to the development of the HPV vaccine. This vaccine is now used across the globe, and may eradicate cervical cancer within a generation. This book seeks to explore and understand these long-term outcomes: what we loosely refer to as the ‘long tail’ of conference impact. By doing so, we hope to add to an increasingly complex picture of the value of conferences. For, despite the costs and effort involved in hosting and attending conferences, despite all the online communication options for the circulation of knowledge and commentary, many thousands of events, involving many thousands of people coming together, take place around the world each year. What makes them so worthwhile? How can we plan and design conferences to allow for the full range of potential benefits and outcomes?
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