Q2 2020 - Presidents Message
I hope this message finds all our SMI members and your families healthy and safe during this global challenge caused by a mucosal infection. I am sure for all of us 2020 is not the year we planned it to be, whether you are currently frustrated by being restricted from carrying out your research or vigorously engaged in COVID-19 research or clinical service. The pandemic has certainly focused public attention in an unprecedented way on the raison d’ểtre for SMI concerning mucosal infections, immunity, inflammation and vaccine development. It has been awesome to watch the response of global science to the challenges and I am sure many SMI members are playing important roles in seeking to understand the viral biology, the inflammatory response in the lung and the key drivers of effective immunity, or working toward the development of vaccines. I wish you well in your endeavors as we need carefully conducted and reported science to guide us at this time.
The SMI Board has had some tough decisions to make in response to the pandemic, including the recent cancellation of our planned MICS meeting in Denver. I would like to thank the Program Committee of Ed Janoff, Kristi Kuhn, Sean Colgan and Ifor Williams supported by Jennifer Stalsberg from Association Acumen for all their work on the Program. Their hard work and the engagement of the invited speakers has been repurposed into a series of webinars that will be provided to members and a wider audience over the coming months. Additionally, the Program Committee will be selecting abstracts for webinar presentation and I encourage you all to participate and encourage your lab members and colleagues to do likewise. In parallel the Career Development Committee will run a series of webinars/forums to discuss topics relevant to those building their careers who will be particularly challenged by the circumstances created by the pandemic.
Another major decision taken by the Board recently was to revert to holding one major meeting, the ICMI, every two years and discontinue our experiment with the MICS meeting in intervening years. Whilst the two MICS meetings we held were well attended and high caliber meetings, there was some evidence that they were affecting ICMI attendance and fundraising, and the Board felt that, particularly given current circumstances, it would be prudent to revert to biennial ICMI meetings. Consequently, our next face to face meeting will be ICMI 2021 in Seattle in July and a Program Committee is in place to organize this event. In the intervening years between ICMI’s we will sponsor national society meetings, support a series of local chapter meetings, and continue our upcoming experiment with online offerings to provide the type of content and opportunities to network that members seek.