CEO Blog Series: Conference Planning Update 2020/2021

As part of the Society's committment to being as transparent as practicable, this blog series is used to post regular summaries of the various Trustee, Council and Committee meetings highlighting the key discussions and decisions.

From: Dr Bernard Corfe, Honorary Programmes Officer:

The Society’s Science Committee met recently to continue both its short and long-term planning for the Society’s scientific conference programme. This paper details those plans, and explains how we are meeting the need for a more flexible approach to conference planning, whilst remaining as proactive as practicable - and how the Society continues to learn and gain in new experiences.

The underlying principle in planning is to ensure the Society continues to provide the highest quality platforms for the dissemination of nutritional science and that conferences remain accessible to as many delegates as possible. The Science Committee is determined to deliver, for all delegates and at all conferences, an enriching experience. This includes not only access to the symposia, but also opportunities to present emerging research, network with other delegates, and holding peer-to-peer discussions. A learned society exists first and foremost to bring people together within a discipline - despite the challenges of achieving this resulting from COVID-19, the Society remains firmly committed to meeting this key objective.

Set out below you will find the very latest information on the 2020 and 2021 conference programme. We have had to move some meetings to an online only format, but will continue to build on our outstanding success with Nutrition Society Live and Nutrition Futures to ensure an engaging and fulfilling experience. Where conferences are planned to occur face-to-face, we will ensure that the meetings remain digitally accessible (hybrid meetings) for speakers and delegates who are unable to travel. Hybrid meetings allow for people to attend a physical conference, whilst also ensuring the ‘live streaming’ of as many of the plenary sessions, symposia and posters as possible.  We recognise that live streaming also has the potential to offer a global audience access to our meetings, and could even become de facto for all future Society conferences - much work though needs to be undertaken to ensure the highest possible quality can be achieved in the delivery of such a new model. 

At the moment potential venues are being reviewed for all our planned 2021 meetings, identifying locations which can support our ‘hybrid’ meeting plans.

Mindful of the dynamic challenges of the pandemic, all meetings have a contingency plan for switching to online-only. We commit to supporting members by making clear well in advance the “live vs. online” decision, registration and abstract submission dates. Please bear in mind that any form or size of conference planning at the moment remains subject to short notice changes, the majority of which are outside the control of the Society. Notwithstanding these difficulties, the Science Committee, supported by the Society’s staff, continue to maintain a proactive, vigilant handle on the programme as a whole and to deliver engaging, lively, state of the art and safe meetings.

Winter Conference 2020

Theme: Micronutrient malnutrition across the life course, sarcopenia and frailty

Dates: 8-9 December 2020

Update: The Science Committee has decided to proceed with the conference purely as an ‘online’ event. The format will broadly follow that used for the highly successful Nutrition Society Live event held in July. The Science Committee has formed a steering team to complement the scientific programme with networking activities, further enriching the delegate ‘experience’. More updates on this aspect will follow as the plans evolve. 

Deadline for abstracts: The deadline for submitting abstracts is 7 October. This date is the very latest possible as time has to be allowed for the review process and for preparing and recording the online abstract presentations. 

Registration: Registration is now open.

Delegate fees: 

Individual Member £85

Individual Student Member £40

Group Member rate (7 or more members/Non-members) £35 for members, £50 for Non-members

Individual Non-member £155

Individual Student Non-member £70

Member-led short conference in January 2021

Theme: Interpretation of observational studies: the good, the bad, and the sensational

Update: This half-day conference will be online, a date is being sought in the week 18 January 2021. Symposia titles include ‘What’s wrong with epidemiology and how can we fix it?’;  ‘The role of observational research in nutritional science’; ‘Meta-analyses and observational studies’; ‘Development of dietary guidelines: how can we best weigh up the evidence?’; ‘Have I got the right message? Communicating with consumers via the media’. Invited speakers include: Dr Frank Leroy, Vrije Universiteit, Brussels; Professor Janet Cade, University of Leeds; Dr Lee Hooper, University of East Anglia; Professor Judy Buttriss; Professor Christine Williams, University of Reading; Jane Symons, freelance health journalist.

Registration Date: Registration will be open in October 2020

Delegate Fee: Not yet confirmed.

Spring Conference, Edinburgh Early April 2021

Theme: Gut Microbiome and Health

Update: This two-day conference will take place in Edinburgh, and will be hosted by the Scottish Section of the Society. Potential venues are being reviewed that would allow delegates to attend a physical conference, whilst also ensuring a wider, global audience could attend as many of the plenary sessions, symposia and posters as possible via a 'live streaming' element.  With the uncertainty of restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 virus the decision to proceed with this conference as a 'hybrid' event will be made on 28 January 2021. Should this not be feasible, the conference will shift to a full online format.

Deadline for Abstracts: Likely to be early February 2021

Registration Date: Registration will open in November 2020

Fee: Not yet confirmed

Irish Section Meeting 2021 

Theme: Nutrition Health and Ageing - Translating Science To Practice’. 

Update: This conference will take place 22-24 June 2021, and will see for the first time the Irish Postgraduate Conference merging with the Irish Section Meeting. Due to uncertainties in hosting this conference on the campus of the University at Limerick resulting from COVID-19, the Irish Section have recommended this conference takes place as an online conference. The Science Committee have approved the request. The programme will now be adjusted to accommodate online only.

Deadline for Abstracts: Likely to be mid-April 2021

Registration Date: Registration will open in January 2021.

Fee: Not yet confirmed.

Summer Conference 2021

Theme: Nutrition in a changing world

Update: This conference, organised by a Scientific organising team from the University of Southampton, will take place on 5-8 July 2021. The venue and full scientific programme will be announced in January 2021. The ‘go-no-go’ decision date for this is likely to be in April 2021.

Deadline for Abstracts: Likely to be early May 2021

Registration Date: Registration will open in early 2021, but with a refund plan in place should the format of the meeting need to change to online and a lower delegate fee be established in April 2021.

Fee: Not yet confirmed

Nutrition Futures 2021 

Update: This annual student conference will take place at Imperial College London, 7–8 September 2021. As per the comments for the summer conference, planning will be for a hybrid event, with contingency plans developed for online only. The ‘go-no-go’ decision will be made in June 2021.

Deadline for Abstracts: Likely to be July 2021

Registration Date: Likely to be April 2021

Fee: Not yet confirmed.

Winter Conference 2021

Theme: Obesity and the brain

Update: The Winter Conference in 2021 will take at the Royal Society on 7-8 December 2021. The programme has been developed by Drs Wendy Hall and Ruan Elliot and will be announced after January 2021.

Deadline for Abstracts: Early October 2021

Registration Date: Registration will open on 1 September 2021 

Fee: Yet to be confirmed.