Welcoming a new ERS President for 2020–2021

Professor Anita Simonds

The end of the ERS International Congress marks the beginning of a new presidential year at the European Respiratory Society (ERS). Incoming President, Prof. Anita Simonds, shares a message about her predecessor, the difficult year that has passed and the year ahead.

“As we reflect on the virtual ERS International Congress 2020 – our largest in terms of registrations, and look back on an extraordinary and unexpected year, it is my pleasure to express huge gratitude and thanks to our outgoing ERS President, Prof. Thierry Troosters. Little could he have known what was ahead when he took up the role at the Madrid ERS International Congress in 2019. Yet under Thierry’s guidance, with the support of the office team, the Science, Education and Advocacy Councils and the assemblies, ERS has successfully weathered the COVID-19 year storm; we have supported members frontline on the wards and in research through the first wave of coronavirus, and this continues as we all prepare for and manage subsequent surges. Thierry has been an excellent, thoughtful and calm leader, guiding our COVID-19 linked research efforts and educational resources, and ensuring our respiratory voice is heard loud and clear in policymaking at international level.

“The virtual ERS Congress 2020 was a massive undertaking, but feedback has been universally positive. The live sessions were coordinated from highly professional studios and over 33,000 people registered for the event. We thank Thierry and the programme committee for their amazing work on this.

“This is a hard act to follow in the face of continuing uncertainty and challenges. Frontline multidisciplinary team members face large workloads in catching up on non-COVID-19 work, while anticipating and caring for further increases in COVID-19 cases. Many sacrifices have been made. This is on a background of disruption to personal and family life, and the economic consequences of the pandemic, which are likely to have a substantial long-term impact on healthcare and inequalities worldwide. Yet we can celebrate the contributions respiratory teams have made to improve clinical care and develop new treatment strategies for COVID-19 patients. Through its promotion of research, education and advocacy, ERS will continue to support its members through the shapeshifting ‘new normal’. We have a crucial role, not only in research and education, but in advocacy; for influenza and future COVID-19 vaccines. It is my pleasure to lead ERS for the next 12 months in this task and take over the role of President from Thierry.

“As we enter Autumn 2020, let’s hope the author, C.S. Lewis, was right when he said: ‘There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind’. ”