The Ten Topics in Rheumatology is one of the most sought after dates in the academic calendar in Europe. It is a 2-day postgraduate rheumatology course that was started in 1985 by the Lupus Unit at St. Thomas’ Hospital under the leadership of Professor Graham Hughes. The primary aim of this meeting is to bring in the most authoritative speakers in their field to update practising rheumatologists on the new advances in rheumatic diseases through a series of ‘Hot Topic’ review lectures and clinical vignettes. The meeting is limited to a comparatively small number of attendees to ensure a high level of interaction between faculty members and the audience. In order that trainees benefit from this course, the registration fee for them is kept to a minimum. These are some of the binding principles of the ‘Rheumatology Without Borders’ concept promoted by Professor P.H. Feng of Singapore and the author.1

In Asia, many clinicians from developing countries cannot afford to attend major conferences because of the prohibitive cost of registration, air travel and accommodation. To enable them to benefit from the conference experience is to bring world leaders in rheumatology to Asia in a non-profit manner with minimal registration and accommodation. With this, the Ten Topics in Rheumatology was brought to Asia in 2008 under the leadership of Professors Feng and Hughes. The first meeting was held in July in Singapore.

As with the London Ten Topics, the Singapore meeting was held over 2 days with a tightly packed program with alternate ‘clinical’ and ‘basic’ topics. There were four plenary lectures, three special lectures including the Feng Pao Hsii Lecture, six symposia and a ‘Master Class’ covering the immunological basis of rheumatic diseases, pain management, and pathogenesis and treatment of osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and systemic sclerosis (SSc). There were 23 speakers who came from: the United Kingdom (3); America (3); other Asian countries (4); and Singapore (13). There were ‘back to the basics’ lectures such as skin examination and scoring in patients with SSc, and interpretation of bone mineral density data. Multiple sessions were devoted on advances in the treatment of inflammatory rheumatic diseases such as RA, SLE and SSc, with particular emphasis on currently available biologic agents and future immunological target therapies. What was also most gratifying were reports of some of Asia's own rheumatology research programs particularly those on osteoporosis, RA and SLE. The highlight of the meeting was the Feng Pao Hsii lecture which was delivered by Professor Graham Hughes on the anti-phospholipid antibody syndrome.2

Following the success in Singapore, it was decided that the Ten Topics in Rheumatology in Asia will be held on an annual basis. The next meeting will be held in Manila on 28th and 29th November this year. The program is being drafted by Professor Sandra Navarra, the conference chairperson, and her team. One of the innovations includes i-poster presentations which the organisers hope will allow young Fellows a chance to present their own case series. The Manila meeting also brings me to another new event that is being organized by APLAR in conjunction with the Philippine Rheumatology Association – a 1-day Annual Review Course will be held preceding the Ten Topics. It is hoped that this will further enhance the learning opportunities of delegates travelling to Manila.

Rheumatology is growing in Asia. It is pleasing to see that APLAR is promoting this through a number of initiatives such as the APLAR Annual Review Course. Equally, it is a pleasure to note that the rheumatology community from the West views this as an opportunity to encourage the global growth and enrichment of our specialty. These are some of the ways to ensure that rheumatology will cross the many geographical, language, cultural, social and economic borders.


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  • 1
    Lau CS, Feng PH (2007) Rheumatology without borders. Nature Clin Pract Rheumatol 3, 305.
  • 2
    GRV Hughes (2009) Hughes syndrome: a disease of our time. Int J Rheum Dis 12, ????.