SfN Council Reviews Global Connectome Results, Feedback
SfN Council met virtually on December 17, 2020 and February 22, 2021 to discuss upcoming events for SfN and policy developments impacting the neuroscience community. Council continues to convene regularly via Zoom to monitor how the evolving COVID-19 pandemic is impacting SfN’s members.
Policy & Advocacy News
In December, Council met with SfN's legislative advisers from CRD Associates to discuss Congressional negotiations regarding funding decisions tied to COVID-19 relief funding and regular appropriations. SfN also monitored the potential announcement of financial support for small businesses and nonprofits when a decision is reached.
NIH put out an RFI regarding its strategic plan for COVID-19 research. With input from the Executive Committee (EC) and Government and Public Affairs Committee, SfN submitted formal comments addressing each priority area, which include fundamental knowledge, diagnostics, interventions, and prevention. SfN shared its comments with a cover letter among all NIH Institute Directors that underscored the importance of collaboration among NIH branches and not diminishing neuroscience funding in favor of COVID-19 research. Council emphasized the need to include the long-term impacts of the virus on the brain in SfN’s advocacy messaging regarding research funding and grant opportunities.
SfN’s Global Connectome was held on January 11–13 and proved to be an insightful program for attendees and a meaningful learning experience for staff. The response to the event on social media has been largely positive and Connectome achieved a critical mass of 5,296 attendees. A total of 53 countries were represented by Connectome attendees. Post-event surveys revealed that the majority of attendees were motivated to participate by interest in viewing the digital posters and scientific sessions. A total of 129 exhibitors purchased virtual booth space and 80 members of the press covered information presented during the event.
The Chairs of the Program Committee joined the Connectome debrief with Council. Their discussion covered lessons learned for future virtual events, namely the best way to incorporate posters. The poster floor is a cornerstone of the SfN annual meeting and part of its value is the possibility of group gatherings at each poster that encourages scientific exchange. This sort of convening is challenging to translate to a digital environment and both Council and the Program Chairs will continue conversations about room for innovation regarding digital posters.