International Conference on Frailty & Sarcopenia Research (ICFSR) 2019 – Reflections of an early career researcher, Joyce Coker

I joined the Frailty Trajectories Project over 2 years ago as a very green postdoc who had completed a PhD only months before. During my time on the project, I have grown and developed in more ways than I had envisaged when I began in this role. The project has been beautifully varied. It has included quantitative work exploring routinely collected hospital data. I have learnt about the opportunities and difficulties of linking data across different health and social care settings. The project has also included qualitative work alongside a CLAHRC fellow exploring how community care staff view frailty. These various studies have all occurred with input from a patient and public involvement group. When I realised that I would be able to present a poster for the Frailty Trajectories Project at the International Conference on Frailty & Sarcopenia Research (ICFSR), I was excited for several reasons. Firstly, the conference agenda looked to me like a buffet of all things frailty. Secondly, many of the speakers were people I would consider to be frailty gurus – the researchers whose names grace the key articles that I read very early on and refer back to on a semi-regular basis. Thirdly, the length and scope of the abstract list for posters promised to clue me in on all the ongoing frailty research my eyes could possibly read in 3-days. There was also the fact that the conference was in a lovely hotel on Miami beach, Florida.

I left the conference with many highlights. I got to meet and exchange contact details with several people with whom I had shared research interests. I got to talk about the studies that I have been working on for the past 2 and a half years with people I have never met. Cesari Matteo’s keynote on intrinsic capacity felt to me like reading a ton of articles in one sitting. It was insightful and directed me to so many more articles and areas to read up on. Likewise, Linda Fried’s talk left me with many notes and an urge to ask her for a selfie. She raised the point that whilst death is indeed an outcome, it is an outcome that has many different pathways.

The keynotes speakers and presentations touched on so many things. Some were the usual but important suspects e.g discussions about frailty measurements and the need for holistic frailty interventions. Some introduced me to new ideas such as WHO’S ICOPE and issues around the measurements of and relationship between muscle function and muscle mass. Best of all at this conference, was the panel discussion about sarcopenia and frailty- the extinct to which they are distinct but also overlap. The questions, comments and feedback were endless, with many attendees queuing at the microphones to voice their perspectives. I left the conference feeling like I had learned a lot and needed a day on the beach. I also left the ICSFR 2019 conference feeling energised by the fact that there is still a lot to learn, research, contribute and hopefully improve in the world of frailty.

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