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Amanda Roberts, a Member of the Patient Input Platform, reports on her participation to the ERS Congress in Amsterdam.

The ERS Congress is an annual event organised by the European Respiratory Society (ERS;, an international organisation that brings together physicians, healthcare professionals, scientists and other experts working in respiratory medicine. It is such a treat to be amongst 23,000 experts in the health-field which encompasses asthma.

There were so many seminars going on at the same time, that it is easy to miss the bigger picture. But there seemed to be three things that stood out.

The value of exercise and activity for lung health was in evidence throughout the conference. Not surprisingly, in view of the host city, bicycles featured large: you could power your mobile phone via pedal power or participate in the healthy lungs for life cycle challenge. There was a 10,000 step challenge with free pedometers to record achievements and free T-shirts urging to “Take the active option”.

Another theme which seemed to cut across many of the presentations was the value of various methods to subdivide asthma into different types which should make it easier to decide which treatment will be effective for these various “phenotypes”. I have spent the last five years being involved with a European funded asthma trial which seeks to use analysis of gene and molecules produced in the body to do this dividing into meaningful groups, U-BIOPRED. And U-BIOPRED presentations on various aspects of their findings were frequent.

And maybe this year was the year that patients really started to make an impact at ERS too? Yet again it seemed that U-BIOPRED was leading the way with this too. Breda Flood presented in a massive symposium room on the patient perspective of participating in U-BIOPRED. And the U-BIOPRED patient group (patient input platform) did a workshop for patient organisations to share best practice. David Supple (the U-BIOPRED patient group chair) spoke at a “how to involve patients” session for Health Care Professionals. There were other opportunities to meet up with fellow patients and to shape other European funded trials from a patient perspective. A couple of these, MyAirCoach (a project to make a better inhaler with interactive features) and EARIP (which is trying to establish where European funds would be best spent supporting asthma priorities), had useful meetings with clinicians, researchers and patients.

The London ERS Congress will be 3-7th September 2016. Hopefully even more patients will be able to enjoy this exciting event.