Dear ISAR Members,
2020 has certainly been a challenging year for ISAR, just as it has been for the world as a whole. The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 and the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic have called upon many of our Society members who have been preparing for such an occurrence (which they hoped never to see realized) into accelerated action. Additionally, many more of you rapidly changed course to address the pandemic. Indeed, ICAR2020 included seven high quality talks on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, providing update on key research, development and clinical practice in real-time.
Not only did we see our members actively engage in COVID-19 research, but the Society also adapted by first delaying and then reformatting ICAR2020. As March 19 approached, the original starting date of ICAR2020 in Seattle, Seattle itself became the first hotbed of COVID-19 in the US and it was clear the conference needed to be postponed. With the pandemic growing and many of our members engaged in the response, we adapted. Knowing that the fight against all viral diseases needed to continue in parallel to the response to COVID-19 we went forward with a new format for ICAR2020 as a series of live webinars through the Fall, featuring some of our original invited speakers as well as a few additions. This approach allowed our members to share and discuss progress on antiviral research for a multitude of viral indications, yet did not take anyone off-line for the traditional week-long focused conference so that the critical anti-SARS-CoV-2 work of our members could continue uninterrupted.
2020 also saw rising discontent at the inequities of treatment, opportunity, and advancement of minorities in many countries around the world. The horrific events and calls for change led the Society to reflect on its own unconscious biases and failure to promote adequate diversity within our membership. In response, we formed a Committee on Diversity and instituted the Diversity Speaker Award. This new committee and award are just the beginning of a dedicated effort to help the Society foster, support and include scientists from all backgrounds who share a passion to advance antiviral research.
Looking forward to 2021, our Society and the global community as a whole must, and will, continue to advance prophylactics and therapeutics for COVID-19, increase support and opportunities for all scientists, and continue to advance antiviral research to address all human viral diseases. ICAR2021 will provide a forum for us to gather virtually to share with and learn from each other in these common missions. Though the meeting will be virtual, most of the key aspects of our traditional on-site meetings will be maintained with high quality speakers, live Q&A panels with session hosts occurring in key times to allow participation globally, dynamic(?) poster sessions, including live presentation and (?) interactions with the presenters, networking events, and opportunities to exchange in one-on-one meetings with other attendees. ICAR2021 has the potential to be our most inclusive and a well-attended conference providing access to scientists around the globe without the time or cost needed to travel to the event. I look forward to seeing you all there!
As President of ISAR, I am truly honored and humbled to be able to work with all of you and see the tremendous value you bring forward with your research. I thank you for all you have done in 2020 and I look forward to all you will do in 2021.
January 4, 2020
About ISAR NEWS
The official newsletter of the International Society for Antiviral Research
© Publications workgroup (Communications & Outreach Committee) and Luis M Schang, Editor