Note From SfN President Barry Everitt
Dear SfN Members and Neuroscience Community,
I wish to communicate my personal profound disappointment at the decision to cancel the in-person meeting in Chicago and I hope you will take the time to read this letter in its entirety. I was so proud to be elected to serve as SfN President during our 50th anniversary year, which highlighted the international membership that SfN now serves. Nothing would have been more personally fulfilling than to celebrate this in person with our community in Chicago. We on the SfN Council had to make an incredibly difficult decision and I readily acknowledge the concerns and sense of frustration and anger that many members of the community have subsequently expressed.
When we made the decision to move ahead with in-person Neuroscience 2021 experience in the spring, vaccine optimism was high and the SARS-CoV-2 delta variant had not taken hold in the U.S., infection rates were low, and we believed that enthusiasm for an in-person meeting would be high and that international travel bans would be lifted. We were wrong. SfN will accrue myriad financial losses from the in-person cancellation. The decision to hold an in-person meeting and its subsequent cancellation were emphatically not driven by finances, but instead by our desire to give members access to great science, speakers, career advancement opportunities, and more. However, almost half the program speakers and presenters recently indicated that they would be unable or unwilling to travel to Chicago. The loss of much of the in-person programming, as well as the very small number of people indicating they would attend in-person, led us to conclude that the in-person meeting would be a huge disappointment to those who travelled to Chicago to attend. Furthermore, members and delegates from across Europe and many other countries simply cannot attend as we are still subject to a travel ban that may not be lifted by the time of the meeting.
However, as announced today, if you choose not to participate in the virtual meeting, you can submit a refund request for Neuroscience 2021 registration prior to October 25 for a full refund. For those still considering joining, Neuroscience 2021 registration rates will be frozen at the advance registration price for 2021. If you paid a higher rate in the past couple of days, the difference will be refunded automatically.
But I hope very much that you do not take the decision to cancel and instead join SfN’s 50th anniversary meeting virtually. Neuroscience 2021’s virtual program is outstanding. It prioritizes exceptional science from SfN’s global, vibrant, and diverse community. In its wisdom, the Program Committee with its dedicated Chair Sheena Josselyn and incoming Chair Ellen Lumpkin, have worked for an unprecedented 2 years to organize and maintain a spectacular virtual meeting that has all of the scientific content, including more than 9,000 poster presentations. It will also test drive a totally novel way of having virtual poster presentations with live, real-time conversations—a worthy experiment for what may eventually be required in the future.
I fully share the frustration over the in-person meeting cancellation and am personally devastated by the decision we felt compelled to make. But in sincerely apologizing to you all, we nevertheless hope you will look forward optimistically, take advantage of the incredible program, and join what will be a meeting for our entire membership regardless of the ability to attend in person.