Training in sleep research and sleep medicine

The First ESRS Course on Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research took place at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany, from November 6 to 8. Thomas Pollmächer, the ESRS treasurer, organized the meeting. Due to the preset limit of 40 participants, unfortunately a number of applicants could not take part. The attendees came from many different European countries. Financial support covering travel expenses and accommodation was awarded to 15 participants. These grants and the moderate registration fees for all other participants were enabled by the generous hosting of the workshop by the Max Planck Institute as well as by an unrestricted educational grant from the Sanofi-Synthélabo Group to the ESRS.

The faculty consisted of 17 senior researches and clinicians from all over Europe including three former ESRS presidents as well as the current president. The topics covered a broad range; encompassing methods in sleep research, as well as general clinical topics and very specific aspects such as fatal familial insomnia. The focus of this first workshop was to be mainly clinical. Therefore, tutorial lectures included disturbed breathing during sleep; neurological and psychiatric sleep disorders as well as applied topics. The lectures were timed so that ample time remained for discussions and interactions. The participants had the opportunity to present their own work as short presentations during lunch-time poster sessions.

 An anonymous survey obtained at the end of the meeting that yielded the following results: Participants were between 26 and 49 years old (mean age 34). The majority of participants were MDs (17) or psychologists (7), and the others came from a diversity of other professional backgrounds.

The course was extremely successful and very well received. Participants were requested to rate the 17 talks on a scale from 0 to 4 (4 being excellent). Mean values were between 2.1 and 3.5 (grand average 3.0). All participants responding to the survey strongly recommended to organize further courses and made numerous valuable proposals for improvement.