Joint ACTRIMS/ECTRIMS Conference Still a Go Despite Pandemic

Damian McNamara

April 22, 2020

The show will go on. In some shape or form, organizers of MSWashingtonDC2020 scheduled for September 9-12 plan to forge ahead and share the latest updates from researchers and clinicians in the field of multiple sclerosis.

Leaders of the 8th joint meeting of ACTRIMS (Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis) and ECTRIMS (European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis) sent an email update on April 20 to alert attendees of plans to move ahead with the conference, despite the well-known challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The purpose of the message was to let people know we still expect to have the conference in some form," Jeffrey A. Cohen, MD, ACTRIMS President, told Medscape Medical News.

Although they plan to proceed as scheduled, "given the uncertainty regarding COVID-19 and where we'll be in September, we are investigating our options, including holding the meeting virtually," added Cohen, who also is director of the Experimental Therapeutics Program at the Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio.

"The health and safety of our attendees and their families remain our number one priority," Cohen wrote in the announcement. Meeting organizers plan to monitor the advice from public authorities and health officials in the United States and worldwide "to determine how the meeting takes shape."

The announcement places MSWashingtonDC2020 in stark contrast to the multiple conferences forced to postpone or cancel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organizers also extended abstract submission and registration deadlines. Regular abstract submissions should be completed by July 15 and late-breaking abstracts submitted by August 13.

Interestingly, the abstract committee will also consider research from international meetings that were forced to cancel because of the pandemic. The offer applies to abstracts that were published but not presented. 

In addition, attendees now have until July 15 to take advantage of risk-free early registration for the meeting.

The format for MSWashingtonDC2020 "will almost certainly undergo major changes," Benjamin Segal, MD, told Medscape Medical News.

"While this unanticipated situation is disruptive, it does provide an opportunity to be creative in devising new modalities for presenting cutting-edge advances in MS research and for facilitating scientific dialogues across potentially broader, and more diverse, audiences," added Segal, a director at ACTRIMS and chair of the Department of Neurology and director of the Neuroscience Research Institute at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Cohen concluded the update saying, "Thank you for your continued participation and understanding as we all try to navigate this rapidly changing situation."
Visit the MSWashgintonDC2020 conference website for updates.

Cohen and Segal have reported no relevant financial relationships.

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