Eva Luise Kohler, the wife of the German president and first lady of Germany, has formally opened the 20th International Symposium on Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in Berlin.
Mrs Kohler, who is a patron of the German Alliance for Chronic Rare Diseases, welcomed over 850 delegates to the world's largest medical conference on MND, which is organised by the UK's very own MND Association.
Dr Brian Dickie, director of research development at the MND Association and a man who plays a major part in every year's symposium, said that only 20 years ago the charity held the first small, international meeting on the disease, which was quite unknown at the time.
Still, times have changed "significantly" since then - something proved by the latest gathering, he added, which has signalled a major expansion in knowledge.
"It's an exciting position to be in, but how we harness and communicate this information between our research labs and clinics around the world will be a major challenge.
"It's a challenge however that we are ready for as we enter a new era of MND research."
The MND Association was formed in 1979 by a group of volunteers, with the charity now boasting 1,500 volunteers and 120-plus paid staff.