The Society for Neuroscience has announced its schedule for future annual meeting cities and dates through 2021. The rotation returns to a three-city pattern, alternating between San Diego, Washington, DC, and Chicago. New Orleans, which had been tentatively included in the roster previously, has been removed from the cycle.
The SfN Council, the Society’s board of directors, concluded that the integrity of scientific exchange at the annual meeting, which is central to the SfN mission, is at unacceptably high risk in New Orleans given a fall meeting during hurricane season. During deliberations following Neuroscience 2012, the SfN Council discussed several factors. One was the vital function of the annual meeting, which is one of the world’s largest scientific meetings and typically draws more than 30,000 attendees from more than 75 countries for unique scientific exchange and networking. Council also weighed the Society’s deep appreciation for the city of New Orleans and its experienced convention services and the attendant risks of a hurricane during or near in time to SfN’s fall annual meeting. This risk was highlighted by damage experienced by contracted hotels following Hurricane Isaac, a Category 1 storm that hit New Orleans in August, seven weeks before the 2012 annual meeting. It became clear to the Council that a storm of greater intensity or closer to the meeting dates could seriously jeopardize SfN’s ability to recover and execute a meeting consistent with its mission and member obligations. The Council’s discussion was difficult and thoughtful, and the resulting Council vote was not unanimous.
The decision was difficult to make, but was predicated on the potential difficulties of reliably executing the SfN meeting in New Orleans. The city remains a world-class venue for meetings and events, with unique history and culture, and SfN thanks the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau and the hospitality community for their exceptional professional support in preparation for Neuroscience 2012. The Society remains committed to serving the evolving needs of neuroscience and its 42,000 members in all of its future meeting venues.