One year ago, the Meeting Program Committee was strategizing the 2020 World Congress and very few of us could ever have imagined the world as it is set today. The SARS-CoV2 pandemic has presented tremendous hardship for many people and has challenged every aspect of our lives as we work to resolve its path. Our meeting venue and format were essentially turned upside down, from the hustle and bustle of a high energy conference setting to our home office chair. Yet, when the meeting opened on Saturday morning, the anticipation and curiosity were ever so present. Symposia were available for viewing for registered attendees at any time from June 6 through June 22. The final program of 140 video presentations, with on-line formatting for questions and comments, provided new interactive opportunities, especially for students. The quality of the pre-recorded talks and slide shows showed the extra effort and care, given the circumstances, that speakers invested to share their scientific findings. Remarkably, registration for the virtual meeting was up to 80% of last year’s outstanding attendance in Tampa, with presentations receiving over 11,000 total views. The Keynote speaker, Dr. Allyson Muotri, of the University of California San Diego, delivered a dynamic and fascinating talk well suited for the virtual format, Emergence of Spontaneous Oscillatory Networks from Human Brain Organoids. Plenary sessions captured important topics for both plant and animal in vitro science with outstanding speakers from academia and industry: 20/20 on 2020 and Beyond, Emerging In Vitro Technologies; Frontiers in Single Cell Technologies; Bioethics and Public Policy for Benefits and Concerns in Plants and Animals; and Current Perspectives on Cannabis and Cannabinoids.

“The SARS-CoV2 pandemic has presented tremendous hardship for many people and has challenged every aspect of our lives as we work to resolve its path.”

The Plant Biotechnology Sections (PBS) presented the symposia: Best Practices for Plant Tissue Culture; Genetic Transformation and Accelerated Breeding in Woody Plant Species; Plan(t)s for the Future Planet; In Vitro Technologies for Clean Plant Production in Cannabis; Digital Agriculture – Sensors, Machine Learning and Image Analysis; Advances in Plant, Cell, Tissue, and Organ Culture Contributed Paper Session; Plant Contributed Paper Session; Plant Memory: The Importance of Assessing Culture Carry Over Effects During Micropropagation Protocol Development; Imaging Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in Tissue Culture and Transformation; Beyond KOs: Emerging Genome Editing Technologies 

The In Vitro Animal Cell Sciences (IVACS) Section offered the symposia: Organoid Models: Windows into Human Disorders, New Approach Methods for Drug Discovery in Japan (which was one of the most viewed symposia!), sponsored by our World Congress Japanese partners, JSAAE and JTCA; MicroRNA and Cellular Dysfunction; Emulating Human Liver in Preclinical Research and Regenerative Medicine; and Microbiome in Mammalian Health, with a joint IVACS/PBS symposia, Exploring Microbiomes: Application to Humans and Agriculture.

Student and trainee development enthusiastically continued as virtual posters and judged oral competitions, including the Plant Biotechnology Post-Doctoral Oral Presentation Competition; Plant Biotechnology Student Oral Presentation Competition; In Vitro Animal Cell Sciences Student and Post-Doctoral Oral Presentation Competition; the IVACS Contributed Paper Session; and a student virtual workshop, Biology at True Resolution.

Virtual Meeting Website

Virtual Poster Gallery

During the Opening Ceremony, SIVB was pleased to honor for the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award, Dwight Tomes; for the Distinguished Scientist Award, Fredy Altpeter of the University of Florida, and Michael Fay of Midwestern University; for the Fellow Award, Michael Dame of the University of Michigan Medical School, William Gordon-Kamm of Corteva Agriscience, and Lucila Lee of the University of the Fraser Valley; for the Young Scientist Award, Yiping Qi of the University of Maryland; and for the 2020 Distinguished Service Award, selected by the President of SIVB John Harbell, Barbara Doonan of New York Medical College, John Finer of The Ohio State University, Sukhpreet Sandhu, Dwight Tomes, Brad Upham of Michigan State University, Harold Trick of Kansas State University, Kan Wang of Iowa State University, and Allan Wenck of BASF. This year’s student competition and honoree awards will be recognized in-person at the 2021 Norfolk meeting.

We also look forward to the 15th International Conference on Invertebrate and Fish Cell Culture, and the Grow with the Flow: Creative Change on Advanced Flow Cytometry Workshop, to be now held during the 2021 Meeting.

We cannot thank enough Marietta Wheaton Saunders, Congress Secretariat, and Michele Schultz, Publications Manager, for their dedicated and relentless effort to provide an excellent meeting under the most difficult of circumstances, the SIVB Covid-19 Meeting Task Force for presenting a positive and productive alternative, and the speakers, conveners, and sponsors for all of their hard work to deliver a rewarding, high quality meeting experience.

We missed seeing one another, the engaging conversations, and the fun and interesting tours, but I suspect as with any challenge engaged, that moving forward we will now see highlights of this year’s virtual meeting blended in the traditional in-person meetings. Looking to 2021 In Vitro Biology Meeting in Norfolk!

Submitted by Michael K. Dame
Program Chair,
2020 World Congress on In Vitro Biology

Associate Director,
Michigan Medicine Translational Tissue Modeling Laboratory.
 ➜  Visit the University of Michigan Translational Tissue Modeling Laboratory Website

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