Shortly after the close of our successful 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting, the OHBM community was already starting to discuss potential formats for the 2021 Annual Meeting scheduled for Seoul, Korea from June 27 - July 1. Our original decision to transform the 2020 meeting to a full virtual one was brought about by the alarming health risks and travel bans associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. As we move towards the end of 2020, we still find ourselves with many unknowns regarding our ability to once again safely gather together for in-person meetings. OHBM leadership has met frequently over the past couple of months with our friends and colleagues from the Korean Local Organizing Committee (LOC) to understand their desires for the 2021 Annual Meeting. The Korean LOC discussed this in considerable detail and has made a unanimous decision to postpone the Seoul meeting and reschedule at the earliest possible date when all who attend can fully engage in the Seoul experience. We respect and support our colleagues decision - which is based on the health and safety of all of our OHBM members.
Once this decision was communicated to Council, we began discussions regarding the format for our 2021 Annual Meeting. All of us on Council were in agreement that it is unlikely that the health risks and travel bans will be resolved to allow full in-person participation regardless of meeting location; therefore, Council, in harmony with the Korean LOC, unanimously decided to hold the 2021 Annual Meeting virtually.
Knowing that the 2021 meeting will be fully virtual so early in the process allows us adequate time to create a unique and special experience for 2021. We will make the most of the opportunity to learn from the strengths and weaknesses of our 2020 meeting and create an even more valuable virtual OHBM 2021. Council has authorized formation of a new Technology Task Force to identify the tools and technology platform(s) to be used. We are absolutely delighted to inform you that the Task Force will be Chaired by our Education Chair-Elect Alex Fornito. The Task Force will be pivotal for our OHBM activities - working closely with the OHBM Program and Education committees. Task Force members will also include representatives from Council, Communications Committee, Diversity & Inclusivity Committee, Open Science SIG, Student and Post-Doc SIG, the Brain Art SIG, and of course, the Program and Education Committees. The Technology Task Force, with considerable assistance from the Executive Office, will work diligently to find a technology platform(s) that address concerns raised from our 2020 meeting – particularly relating to functionality of poster presentations and associated networking opportunities. Additionally, Chairs of all planning groups will meet throughout the year to ensure that all the pieces of the meeting puzzle fit together cohesively.
The Program and Education Committees are revising and finalizing the Call for Educational Courses, Symposia, and Abstracts to incorporate the virtual meeting design. We expect to inform the OHBM community about these features in October.
In addition, the OHBM Finance Committee is beginning their detailed discussions on developing a fiscally responsible 2021 annual budget which Council will finalize in December. Our SIG Chairs are now visitors at Council meetings, so they participate in discussions at the Council level. Information regarding meeting registration and registration fees for the 2021 Annual Meeting will be made available in January of 2021.
Although we don’t currently have all the answers or details regarding the 2021 Annual Meeting, work is well underway - many months earlier than normal - to ensure that we have enough time, the right planning teams, and the everyone at the table to develop a memorable and exciting virtual OHBM 2021.
We will keep you informed as we finalize details for OHBM 2021. If you have suggestions or questions in the meantime, please contact the OHBM Executive Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.