FENS President Message (April 2020)
16 April 2020
16 April, 2020 in FENS News
“Dear colleagues, dear friends,
This is a very difficult time for all of us in the FENS Community, and I want to extend my thoughts and best wishes to all of you who may be directly, or indeed indirectly, affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. I wish all of you and your families health and safety in these unprecedented times.
As you probably know by now, the FENS Forum 2020 cannot take place in Glasgow this summer and it will take place as a virtual meeting instead. Now that this decision has been made, I hope that you share my excitement about the potential of the FENS 2020 Virtual Forum in supporting the mission of FENS – to foster exchange and networking between neuroscientists, and to promote exposure to the latest neuroscientific developments.
Although this situation was unexpected, we now see this as an exciting occasion to start implementing virtual opportunities for attendees to the Forum. While this format cannot replace certain aspects of physical meetings (and we were looking forward very much to joining you in Glasgow!), virtual meetings come with their own advantages. In addition to showcasing excellent science at a time when public gathering is not possible, the meeting can now be more inclusive, reaching out to a wider global audience. We have already received feedback from several colleagues for whom, for a number of reasons, attendance at the physical conference this year would have not been possible. In addition, holding the Forum virtually this year will contribute to cutting down our carbon footprints, a goal to which FENS is strongly committed.
For those of you who may wonder why we did not postpone the Forum until next year, it is important to explain that, as the “Federation of European Neuroscience Societies”, we play a strong supportive role in the meetings of the national and single discipline societies that compose FENS, and these meetings take place in the alternate years to the FENS Forum (i.e. the odd years, including 2021). Therefore, we did not want to clash with these important meetings for our membership. However, we do believe that it is important to meet as planned, particularly in these difficult times of confinement and travel restrictions, and this summer it will be virtually in July 2020. Our next appointment to meet physically, as a FENS community, will be at the Forum 2022 in Paris.
I would like to take this opportunity to give special thanks to the enthusiastic responses that we have already received about the FENS 2020 Virtual Forum from the speakers, partners and many registered participants. The FENS office and FENS leadership are eagerly working to make this Forum a big success. The online platform is spectacular, and it provides enhanced opportunities to meet and interact with other members of our community attending the Virtual Forum. In addition to the superb programme – including lectures, symposia, special events and posters – I would like to highlight a new event, the Brain Debate, in which world experts will debate the merits of using different model organisms to study brain function and behaviour. The Brain Debate will take place right before the much-anticipated Scottish flavour brought to us by the opening ceremony. Do not miss it!
Importantly, please help us spread the word: early registration and abstract submission to the FENS 2020 Virtual Forum have been extended until 18 May 2020.
In addition, and in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Brain Conferences, the FENS-SfN Summer School and some CAJAL courses have been now rescheduled to 2021 (all the updates are available here). FENS has also been compiling your suggestions for educational materials, professional development opportunities and neuroscience virtual events into a very useful collaborative list, available on the FENS website. This list is progressively updated, so please continue sending your ideas.
I look forward to staying connected through the FENS community, and I wish you, your families and colleagues good health.