Keystone Symposia made waves in the media this year, leading the field in developing a virtual meeting format designed to not only convey the latest scientific breakthroughs, but equally important, to engage audiences from around the world with each other during this unprecedented period of isolation. Our team worked creatively to envision an interactive and dynamic virtual environment, designed to grow communities, spur collaborations and provide networking opportunities that are the hallmarks of Keystone Symposia, and so critical to the scientists we serve.
The world took notice, and our leadership team quickly made headlines for innovating the landscape of virtual meetings. Read their insights below on reimagining the world of scientific conferences.
"We can utilize lessons learned during the pandemic to re-envision the scope and potential of scientific conferences. Imagine a future where collegial in-person events that foster critical human connections are augmented by virtual access, satellite hubs, and other creative options that reduce travel and expense to expand the reach of science to broader communities. Together, we can innovate to sustain a culture of scientific communication that unites and serves the global scientific community. In the meantime, regardless of current circumstances or future challenges, the Science must go on."... Read more
"Given the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, life as we knew it has been turned upside down, but the need for science to go on has never been stronger. In the realm of scientific conferences, with the requirement for social distancing, the importance of wearing face coverings, and travel restrictions, only virtual meetings have been possible during the pandemic. But many are asking:
What is the new post-pandemic normal likely to be?
Do we still want to have in-person meetings when the restrictions are eased?
Assuming we do, when will they be possible again, and under what conditions?
Regardless of what the benefits of virtual symposia might be, are they here to stay?
These questions, and many more that are being asked around the world today, are the subject of this perspective. Herein, we attempt to provide useful context and insight into where scientific meetings have been, where they are today, where they are going, and how they will get there. Our conclusion is that the pandemic has created an accelerated opportunity to make the world of future scientific conferences better in a “both/and” collaborative in-person/virtual scenario, not the more limited “pick one” choice." ... Read more
"We remain focused on catalyzing collaborations and accelerating breakthroughs in the life sciences. Through the new virtual platform we are expanding on our long-term aim of disseminating the best late-breaking science, now to broader communities. Researchers from anywhere around the world, across all career stages from academia to industry, can now access premier content and essential networking opportunities."... Read more
"Deborah Johnson, president and CEO of the Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology, notes that while virtual events cannot fully replace the networking opportunities that are created with in-person meetings, 'virtual events have democratized access to biomedical research conferences, enabling greater participation from young investigators and those from low-and-middle-income countries.' Even when in-person conferences return, she says, it will be important to continue to offer virtual components that engage these broader audiences.'”... Read More
"The Vaccinology in the Age of Pandemics eSymposia 'got tremendous interest, and a lot of unpublished data was shared,' says Thale Jarvis, Keystone Symposia’s chief scientific officer. 'The organizers commented on the amazing . . . democratization of the access to science.' In the context of a pandemic, it was perhaps even more critical to have so many researchers—including keynote speaker Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—able to come together and trade ideas." ... Read more
"The vaccinology eSymposia 'occurred at a critical juncture that served to connect scientists working on countless independent vaccine discovery efforts,' Thale Jarvis, Ph.D., chief science officer at Keystone Symposia, told Convene. 'The sharing of unpublished data and vaccine strategies served to catalyze and accelerate bold innovations; importantly, the conference also provided a forum to critique study design and endpoints, thereby promoting a global consensus on rigorous testing and correlates of protection.'" ... Read more
Shannon Weiman earned her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, specializing in microbiology and immunology. Prior to joining the Keystone Symposia team, she worked as a freelance writer for leaders in academic, industry and government research, including Stanford University’s Biomedical Innovation Initiative, the University of Colorado’s Biofrontiers Program, UCSF, the FDA and the American Society for Microbiology.