25 November 2019

APPROACH project members come together in Spain for a fourth annual meeting to discuss project progress and set the grounds for future work

The annual APPROACH meeting gives project members from various work streams the opportunity to come together and delve into the progress of their work, share challenges and brainstorm on ideas for solutions.

Nearly 50 project members from 17 partner organisations participated in the fourth annual meeting for APPROACH which took place on the 20th and 21st of November 2019 in A Coruna, Spain. The meeting included sessions on work package progress such as data acquisition and data analysis, biomarkers, data streams, storage and quality control and the next steps for action.

Inmaculada Aguilera, IMI Project Officer was present at the meeting and shared the IMI perspective toward the current progress of the APPROACH project. Among others, she talked about the significance of consistent communication and successful dissemination of our project results. 

Furthermore, during the first day we heard several updates from work packages. Firstly, Paweł Widera from work package one shared an overview of the progress achieved so far in the recruitment of patients for our study and the next steps envisioned for the work on data analysis. He asserted that the recruitment procedure with its two stages – selection and screening, has now been completed. The total number of patients enrolled in the study is 296. Moreover, he highlighted that the focus is now placed on data collection and data analysis. 


Afterward Anne-Christine Bay-Jansen spoke about data analysis and the progress of sample shipments within work package two. She mentioned that all samples have been received in the centres and the measurement plan is currently being discussed. Anne-Christine also talked about the collaboration between our partners Sergas and LUND which aims to share samples and results among the consortium members.


Additionally, Agnès Lalande from Servier explained the work done within work package three on quality checks of data and image acquisition. Moreover, Floris Lafeber from UMC Utrecht spoke about the status of reading baseline images and KIDA analysis versus KL grade in the analysis of data on joint images. He elaborated on the relation between pain and structural damage. 

All members from the Patient Council (PC) were present at the meeting and held a session on the PC’s engagement in APPROACH. During this session, Jane Taylor from Versus Arthritis discussed the activities of the past year that the PC has been involved in. She stressed the PC’s active participation in the editing, content creation and translations of the biannual participant newsletter, but also engagement in the preparations of the participant surveys and presentation given on patient involvement in APPROACH. Moreover, the PC inquired into the experience of all project members present with the work done by the PC for APPROACH. The topics discussed were, among others, the positives of having a PC in APPROACH, changes and different ways of going about each work package work as a result of the PC’s involvement and the possibilities for the PC to effectively provide insight in the next stages of the project. Finally, the PC outlined their future plans for the forthcoming 2020 year.


Jane Taylor commented: “All members of the Patient Counsel attended the meeting in A Coruna and found it stimulating and enjoyable. After giving an update of our main activities for the past year, the main part of our session was more interactive and we asked researchers to provide us with ideas on how they thought we could contribute to the success of APPROACH in its next phase. There were lots of good ideas which we discussed and evaluated in a session in the afternoon and one that evening. We left A Coruna feeling positive and excited about working with researchers in 2020! ”


In the afternoon of the 20th of November Sjaak Peelen shared an update on the current progress of data streams, storage and quality control in the APPROACH study. Later, Dr. Jamie MacKay, a Clinical Research Fellow at Cambridge University, gave a keynote talk on the development and validation of 3D cartilage surface mapping.

During the second day of our meeting we heard updates on the analysis of baseline GaitSmart data with x-ray and questionnaires as well as overall management updates from our communications activities for the past year, our publications policy and other management achievements and ongoing procedures.

We look forward to our next Annual meeting and thank everyone who contributed to all the fruitful and interesting sessions in Spain!