Making Scientific Connections Is Vital. Even More So Now.

  • 13 May, 2020
deepak square

Nowhere in the world will you be able learn the latest, the most innovative, and quite possibly the most unexpected approaches in stem cell research other than ISSCR 2020 Virtual. It is grounding, inspiring, and enormously meaningful to me that our society is able to deliver an international annual meeting this year amidst tremendous uncertainty throughout the world.

Scientific Excellence
I am enthusiastic about the entirety of the program and the caliber of speakers we have defined for the program and I encourage you to take a look, if you have not already, to see the line up that is in store for you. Not only will advances from across the field be central to the program, we are designing a new session that aims to bring people at the forefront of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic to the ISSCR community. I do not have all of the details just yet to share, however Kevin Eggan, the ISSCR Program Committee Chair, and I are working with potential speakers to define this element of the program.

The session on COVID-19 complements a focus this year on the growing ability to perform mechanistic science and therapeutic discovery using cutting-edge technologies including human organoids, single cell studies, and advanced computational approaches leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence. These advances will continue to propel our community forward as the scientific and medical fields work to collaboratively to solve this current pandemic and address myriad diseases that impact countless lives.

Exceptional Value
The ISSCR determined that the entire program for the virtual annual meeting experience this year, including preconference workshops and special networking programs not typically included with annual meeting registration, will be available for one low fee. For trainee members, registration will be $65 USD, and for regular members the fee is $150 USD. This really is a “can’t miss” event with five days of scientific programming, networking hubs that help to facilitate new connections across the world, and knowledge gained about new approaches, tools, and technologies in the field. Moreover, all programming will be available on-demand for 30 days, which will give each attendee the opportunity to view programming live or when it is most convenient, and to follow up with speakers with questions either way. It is my hope that the virtual nature of the conference will allow scientists all over the world, who normally might not have been able to travel, to reap the benefits of our annual meeting.

Serving the Community
Serving the field through scientific programming like we will deliver at ISSCR 2020 Virtual is one important way we strive to connect with our members and the field. The ISSCR has worked with its international membership to developing an evolving mix of resources and information on a COVID-19 Resources for the Stem Cell Community Page to share best practices and to stimulate engagement throughout the field. The society launched and compiled results from an international survey to assess how scientists in the field are adapting and coping during the pandemic. Most recently, the ISSCR hosted the first of what will be several members-only networking calls centered on stem cell approaches to COVID-19 moderated by Christine Mummery and Shuibing Chen. The second call will take place on Thursday 14 May, moderated by Charles Murry and Pamela Robey from the National Institutes of Health, to continue the momentum of this networking and collaboration. This week, the society also will launch a Slack channel to facilitate ongoing discussions with the goal to accelerate effective treatments for COVID-19.

All of the work we are embracing now is goal oriented and focused on the needs of ISSCR members. We are adapting to the rapid advances in the field, our global public health crisis, and the need for physical distancing, to remain connected through excellent science, meaningful relationships, and the imperative to achieve the next breakthroughs in stem cell research. I look forward to seeing many of you virtually at the annual meeting next month.