Continuing professional development is a rather dry term for the requirement of a Reporting Scientist to keep themselves up to date within their field of expertise. The chance to attend the annual meeting of the Society of Hair Testing (SoHT) offered an opportunity to do exactly that, and so much more. The conference took place during March 21st-March 25th 2011.
I was able to meet and to learn from some of the foremost toxicologists in the world, particularly because it was combined with Société de Toxicologie Clinique (STC) and Société Francaise de Toxicologie Analytique (SFTA), which included joint symposiums with International Association of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring – Clinical Toxicology (IATDM-CT) and the International Association of Forensic Toxicologists (TIAFT). Combine that with the fact it was held in Chamonix and would include the review of the SoHT consensus on chronic excessive alcohol consumption and wild horses couldn’t have kept me away. The overriding factor for me was that it genuinely was all about international scientists coming together to share their knowledge and learn from each other.
As the days progressed one particular issue came up time and again: the need to publish one’s findings to enable others to learn from them. Of course hair analysis for drugs and alcohol featured heavily and the conference reiterated how useful hair analysis is but also provided a reminder that it is one part of the ‘jigsaw’ and to put the toxicology results in perspective there are many aspects to consider in each case.