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Global Health


Coronavirus forces cancellations of scientific meetings

Spring lineup of conferences and events frequented by chemists is slashed

by Michael McCoy
March 9, 2020

A photo from Pittcon, held March 1-5 in Chicago.
Credit: Craig Bettenhausen/C&EN
Pittcon was the rare meeting of interest to chemists to go ahead since the coronavirus outbreak.

March and April are big months for meetings, conferences, and trade shows attended by people in the chemical sciences. This year, however, the spread of the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is forcing event cancellations across the globe, including the American Chemical Society’s spring national meeting, which was canceled on March 9. ACS publishes C&EN.

Some meetings have gone forward, notably the Pittcon scientific instrumentation conference, which took place as scheduled in Chicago from March 1-5, albeit with cancellations by attendees and exhibitors. And other events are being rescheduled or recast as virtual events.

Below is a selection of major meetings of interest to chemists that are being canceled, postponed or held online:

HIMSS, March 9-13, Orlando. The healthcare information and technology conference, which draws nearly 45,000 attendees, is being canceled for the first time in 58 years. President Donald J. Trump was scheduled to speak. Organizers are planning a virtual edition of the conference to take place later this year.

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The Society for Science & the Public’s Regeneron Science Talent Search, March 5-11, Washington, DC. The talent search, considered the oldest and most prestigious science and math competition in the US, has been postponed until this summer.

Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, March 8-11, Boston. Organizers canceled sessions in the Hynes Convention Center and switched to a virtual format.

CPhI Japan, March 16-18, Tokyo. The pharmaceutical ingredients conference drew 550 exhibitors and 20,000 attendees last year, 83% of whom came from Asia. Organizers plan to reschedule for a date later this year.

American Chemical Society National Meeting, March 22-26, Philadelphia. “With the Pennsylvania governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency last Friday, we do not feel we can guarantee the safety of the 15,000 attendees expected for the Philadelphia meeting or of the city residents themselves,” ACS CEO Thomas Connelly said in a statement.

World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit, March 17-18, San Francisco. The 7-year-old event brings together some 1,500 people from both big companies and startups to talk about agricultural innovation. Organizers say they are postponing the event, though they don’t have a new date.

DCAT Week, March 23-26, New York City. “Out of an abundance of caution, and with a rapidly growing number of our participants not being able to travel, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel DCAT Week 2020,” organizers of the pharmaceutical manufacturing event said in a statement. DCAT Week wraps up with a dinner considered one of the largest black-tie events in New York City.

World Petrochemical Conference, March 24-27, New Orleans. Organizers canceled after consulting with public health officials and taking into account the growing number of company travel restrictions and border health checks attendees would have to contend with.

Analytica, March 31-April 3, Munich. The biennial scientific instrumentation trade show drew more than 35,000 visitors in 2018. It has been rescheduled for Oct. 19-22.

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, April 4-7, San Diego. Leaders of the Experimental Biology host societies said they canceled the event after taking into account guidance from public health officials, the travel bans implemented by different institutions, and the state of emergency declared in California.


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