Fifth Sense 2014 Conference Report
We’re very pleased to report on the success of the second annual Fifth Sense conference, which represented a significant milestone in our efforts to provide support and advice to our community of people affected by smell and taste disorders.
Over 100 Fifth Sense members joined delegates from the academic community and fragrance industry at the University of Surrey in Guildford for a rich, thought-provoking, and at times quite emotional day.
The conference was delivered in partnership with the University of Surrey and Royal Surrey County Hospital, and supported by FlavorActiV Ltd, the world’s only provider of pharmaceutical quality flavour standards used across the beverage industry for sensory training and validation.
We were able to draw on the expertise within our own organisation and beyond in designing and delivering the programme, which was focused on providing information, support and advice to Fifth Sense members, and anyone with an interest in the senses of smell, taste and related disorders. We also designed the conference to be a platform for taking aspects of our work forwards, whether identifying areas for future research or ways in which we can better support our members.
During the opening session, after a welcome from Fifth Sense Founder Duncan Boak and Prof Roberto La Ragione of the University of Surrey, Consultant ENT Surgeon Mr Sankalp Sunkaraneni provided an overview of the function and importance of the senses of smell and taste. Mr Sunkaraneni runs a sinus clinic at the Royal Surrey County Hospital. He was followed by Dr Augusto Coppi from the University’s Veterinary School, who compared smell and taste in the human and animal kingdoms, and talked about how research being undertaken into the sense of smell in animals may enable us to better understand the human olfactory system. And then it was on to the morning workshops…
The workshops provided a mixture of information, practical advice and support, and group learning. ENT Consultant Surgeons Miss Lisha McClelland, Mr Carl Philpott and Mr Sankalp Sunkaraneni contributed their expertise to a number of workshops on the clinical aspects of smell and taste disorders, including Q&A sessions where guests had the opportunity to ask the clinicians questions on the issues that matter to them.
Fifth Sense members Tom Laughton and Charlotte Self along with Katy Kennedy from the University of Surrey delivered workshops that explored the quality of life consequences of sensory loss, with Charlotte and Katy focusing on the impact that olfactory disorders can have on relationships.
Finding ways of improving the eating experience for people affected by smell and taste disorders was also on the agenda. The Daily Telegraph’s Wine Editor Victoria Moore teamed up with Dr Boris Gadzov, Director of Global Sensory Management, from sensory experts FlavorActiV to explore the differences between taste and flavour, and how this knowledge can be beneficial to people who have a problem with their sense of smell. Meanwhile, Fifth Sense’s Duncan Boak talked about using the other senses to compensate for his loss of smell when cooking, with the University of Surrey’s Dr Michelle Gibbs providing nutritional advice.
The lunch menu was designed by Duncan Boak (who runs a food website at www.experienceeating.co.uk) and the University’s Head Chef John Walter, who handled the challenge of delivering an enjoyable lunch for smell and taste disorder sufferers with aplomb. John and his team delivered an array of dishes that made full use of texture, strong tastes and flavours, and some spices to warm things up a bit. The meal was rounded off with an elderflower and damson gin sorbet, for which John had foraged the fruit himself. You can view the menu here.
Our guests even had the opportunity to try some delicious beers alongside their curry, courtesy of Si McCabe, Brewer at the One Mile End brewery in Whitechapel, London. Si brought with him some beers that had strong basic tastes, such as his Salvation Pale Ale (bitter) and Snakecharmer IPA (rich caramel sweetness).
Following the afternoon workshops, Consultant ENT Surgeon Mr Carl Philpott gave a talk on current research activity in relation to smell and taste-related disorders in the UK, and how this might develop in future with the support of Fifth Sense and its members.
The final session, entitled ‘Fifth Sense: The Future’ was run by Fifth Sense’s Duncan Boak and David Hunt, and was an opportunity for everyone present to put forward their ideas for how Fifth Sense develop its work going forwards. This was an incredibly positive and inspiring way in which to end the conference, with a wealth of contributions, suggestions, and offers of assistance from guests. Fifth Sense’s Barbara Brady acted as scribe and did an excellent job of keeping pace with the wealth of feedback and ideas.
We very much feel that the conference fulfilled our objectives, firstly in providing information and support to our members, and making them feel part of a community that understands and cares. We also feel that the other key objective, for the conference to be a platform for our work in future, was also met. We are already talking to staff at the University of Surrey about potential areas of research, whilst the feedback from members given on the day and since is of course going to be taken into account as we continue to plan our work for 2015 and beyond. One thing we can certainly say is that Fifth Sense’s 2015 conference will be bigger and better again, and that will be in no small part to the contributions of everyone who was a part this year’s very special event.
Some quotes from guests who attended the conference:
‘It has been great to meet others with similar conditions and experiences – a first for me and very encouraging.’ Anne Hesketh, Fifth Sense member
‘We need to continue to raise the profile of the vital senses of taste and smell and Fifth Sense is brilliant for this…this is pioneering work. Thank you so much.’ Elizabeth Draper, Fifth Sense member
‘Being a Fifth Sense Member means I’m part of a growing group of people who are going to do something about providing a voice for the nose.’ Mark Griffiths, Fifth Sense member (read Mark’s blog post here in which he talks more about developing a vocabulary for olfactory disorders)
‘FlavorActiV are proud supporters of Fifth Sense. As a company dedicated to sensory training in the beverage industry, we are acutely aware of the challenges of improving tasting ability. We also appreciate, and to some extent understand, how demoralising and debilitating the loss of either sense can be to an individual. Therefore to support and attend this conference is important to our organisation so that we can listen and learn from Fifth Sense members about their experiences. By gathering and utilising this vital information, and combining it with our own considerable sensory experience in the beverage industry, we can look to see how we can support Fifth Sense through flavour production, sensory training, research initiatives, harnessing our extensive customer base, and financing and fundraising activities. This was an exciting day for FlavorActiV, and we look forward to a long and fruitful collaboration with Fifth Sense.’ Richard Boughton, FlavorActiV CEO
Julia Gerhold, John Walter, Rhian Jones and the rest of the team at the University of Surrey, the Royal Surrey County Hospital, Dr Boris Gadzov, Liam Singleton, Richard Boughton and the rest of the FlavorActiV team, Duncan Boak, Barbara Brady, Dr Augusto Coppi, Dr Michelle Gibbs, David Hunt, Katy Kennedy, Chrissi Kelly, Tom Laughton, Prof Roberto La Ragione, Si McCabe, Miss Lisha McClelland, Victoria Moore, Sarah Page, Mr Carl Philpott, Sylvia Popham, Alex Reilly, Charlotte Self, Mr San Sunkaraneni….and, of course, to all the guests who joined us on the day.
All photographs courtesy of Sarah Kathleen Page: http://www.sarahkathleenpage.co.uk