IPVS 2010 is just a few short weeks away; we are in the home stretch. Are we ready? In many ways I think we've been ready for a long time. We have been preparing for all foreseeable eventualities. The unexpected surprises could still be a little unnerving, and rest assured we know a few surprises will emerge, no matter how well we are prepared, but by the same token we are well positioned to accommodate those surprises.
What's it like in these final few weeks? For one, it has been getting noticeably busier and busier by the day over the last several weeks. Voluminous numbers of emails and ever increasing numbers of conference calls tell a vivid tale of where we are. They also bespeak of the progress we have made over the long journey that has brought us to this point. On the progress side of things, registration has been progressing well. Here are the hard numbers two days ago when I last checked:
• Total registered: 2,365
• Paid delegates: 2,027
• Including students: 100
• Accompanying persons: 193
Delegates are registered from 65 countries so far. These are very solid and most encouraging numbers indeed. The top five countries with registrants in order are USA, Canada (host country), Germany, Spain and South Korea.
The final tally for abstract submissions was 1,168. This is after removal of abstracts that had been submitted but no author on the abstract registered for the IPVS. Also removed were a number of abstracts that were rejected because the abstract review team deemed them unsuitable for IPVS publication.
A big 'thank you' to abstract reviewers
We have to thank the very large number (>100) international reviewers who quickly and expeditiously reviewed those nearly 1,200 abstracts in the very tight turnaround time that they were given to review them. A very good job done by all you reviewers and a big 'Thank You' from the IPVS 2010 scientific committee, the entire IPVS 2010 organizing committee and especially from me.
What have been the major challenges?
The biggest single challenge came several years ago as we sought sponsors for the IPVS. Traditional sponsors of the IPVS have been the animal health divisions of the global pharmaceutical companies. Over the years we have all watched the number of pharma companies dwindle as a result of mergers and acquisitions as they bought each other up. The pace of acquisitions has increased even more over the last 2-3 years resulting in a reduction from nine sponsors for the last IPVS in Durban, South Africa, down to just six for the current IPVS. We were further challenged when one of the few remaining global pharma companies decided not to be a sponsor for IPVS 2010. It resulted in us having to raise registration fees to cover the shortfall in funds and trimming our budget by cutting out a number of planned activities for the Congress. In addition, we reined in some of the technological advances that are being implemented as the new norms for conferences. That said, however, we were still able to upgrade to include technical enhancements such as:
• Electronic posters (e-posters) have replaced poster boards
• Dispensing with (paper) proceedings books for the environmentally-friendly 'green' USB memory sticks
• Utilizing totally web-based methods for abstract submissions, reviewing of abstracts by the reviewers and final submission of the e-posters
What have been the biggest positives?
Certainly the cooperation and support from so many sources, some of them unknown before we undertook this venture, has been a pure pleasure. I've already mentioned the eagerness with which >100 international scientists reviewed nearly 1200 abstracts in a very timely fashion. Nearly as large a number of scientists readily accepted being chairs and co-chairs of the scientific sessions. Our organizing committee and conference organizer, however, have been the backbone of our planning for the IPVS. They have given up countless hours of their time voluntarily to fulfill commitments and to see plans come to fruition. I wouldn't want to single out any as I'd be sure to forget some that are equally deserving. They have done a selfless, magnificent job to get us to where we are today, on the eve of the congress. It has made my job easier even with the mountain of emails and conference calls mentioned above.
So now we are in the final stages and the welcome mat is laid out for the more than 2,400 guests who will be visiting with us in Canada. Volunteers with IPVS signs will be at the Vancouver International Airport at peak hours on the weekend of the IPVS to direct arriving delegates to transit locations to get to the downtown Congress hotels and the Vancouver Convention Centre.
See you in Vancouver in a few weeks!