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STAT’s guide to health care conferences disrupted by Covid-19

STAT’s guide to health care conferences disrupted by Covid-19

As the novel coronavirus races around the globe, a growing number of conference organizers are cancelling, postponing, or virtualizing their medical meetings, biotech gatherings, and scientific summits.

Similar moves are being made in many industries, but the pressure seems to be elevated in health care to call off conferences where the virus could spread. After all, many would-be attendees are coming from and returning to hospitals on the front lines of caring for people with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, or who are vulnerable to it.

It’s too early to estimate the magnitude of the financial losses for organizers, attendees, and service industry professionals — not to mention the opportunity costs of deals and partnerships that could have been struck had the meeting gone on as planned.


But as Cornell chemist Dave Collum put it on Twitter:

Here’s a list of some of the most notable meeting disruptions in health care, in chronological order of when those events had been scheduled to occur. We’ll continue to update this post as we learn about other conferences.

Disrupted meetings

  • The World Patient Safety, Science & Technology Summit is being postponed. It was originally slated to be held March 5-7 near Los Angeles. It has yet to be rescheduled.
  • The Association of University Technology Managers, or AUTM, has canceled its annual meeting. It had been slated for March 8-11 in San Diego.
  • The Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, or CROI, is being moved online, in place of its original venue in Boston. It will be happening March 8-11.
  • The big health-tech industry meeting HIMSS has been canceled for the first time in its nearly 60-year history. It was supposed to have been held March 9-13 in Orlando. President Trump had been slated to speak at the event.
  • Bio Asia, the regional gathering put on by the trade group BIO, has been canceled. It had been slated for March 10-11 in Tokyo.
  • The investment bank Barclays is moving its conference for health care investors online. The event had originally been scheduled for March 10-12 in Miami.
  • AMR, the conference focused on antimicrobial resistance, is being postponed. Organizers cited a ban on events in the conference’s host city of Basel, Switzerland. The gathering, originally slated for March 12-13, is being rescheduled for August.
  • The Future of Individualized Medicine conference, put on by Scripps Research’s Eric Topol, has been canceled. It was supposed to have been held March 12-13 in San Diego.
  • South by Southwest, or SXSW, has been canceled; organizers cited a decision made by the festival’s host city of Austin, Tex. SXSW spans many industries, but in the past few years it has increasingly drawn attendees working in biotech and health care. The festival was supposed to have happened March 13-22.
  • The Cognitive Neuroscience Society, or CNS, is moving its annual meeting online. The gathering was supposed to have happened in Boston in March 14-17.
  • Call-on Congress, an advocacy event put on by the patient group Fight Colorectal Cancer, is being moved online. Instead of traveling to Washington D.C., colorectal cancer patients will stay home to listen to live-streamed speakers and send emails to lawmakers. It will be happening March 15-16.
  • The National Comprehensive Cancer Network, or NCCN, is postponing its annual meeting. The gathering of oncologists had been scheduled for March 19-22 in Orlando.
  • Bio-Europe Spring, which had been planned to be held in Paris, is being moved online. It is set to happen March 23-27.
  • The American College of Health care Executives has canceled its Congress on Health care Leadership. The event had been slated to be held March 23-26 in Chicago.
  • The Drug, Chemical & Associated Technologies Association, or DCAT, has canceled its conference. It had been scheduled to be held March 23-26 in New York City.
  • The startup accelerator Y Combinator’s biannual Demo Day, scheduled for March 23, is being moved online. The event is typically held in person in San Francisco. It’s a chance for Y Combinator’s latest batch of 250 startups — an increasing number of which are working in biology — to make their pitch to investors.
  • The Virtual Medicine conference, or vMed, has been canceled. It had been scheduled to be held March 25-26 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
  • The Experimental Biology conference, or EB, has been canceled. It had been set to be held April 4-7 in San Diego.
  • The Symposium on Artificial Intelligence for Learning Health Systems, or SAIL, is being postponed. A new conference organized by medical AI researchers in academia, the event had been slated to be held in Bermuda April 27-29. The rescheduled date has yet to be announced.
  • The Conference on Research in Computational Molecular Biology, or RECOMB, is being postponed. It had been scheduled for May 10-13 in Padova, a city in northern Italy, one of the global regions that has been hardest hit by the virus. The rescheduled date has yet to be announced.

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