Dear ASP Colleagues,
It is with deep sadness that I write to inform you that, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 annual meeting of the American Society of Parasitologists is cancelled. This decision is in the best interests of ASP and its members, and the decision was taken after thoughtful discussions with Council, the Local Organizing Committee, the Secretary/Treasurer, and the Meeting Planner.
The 2020 ASP annual meeting, which was scheduled to be held July 16-19 in Kansas City, MO, would have been an outstanding one. Our exceptional local organizing committee – Kirsten Jensen, Janine Caira, Joanna Cielocha, Kaylee Herzog, Rich Clopton and Deb Clopton – had everything in place, the ever-dependable Lee Couch was managing a myriad of logistics, and Don Duszynski was efficiently leading some of the negotiations with the venue. We had an outstanding line-up for the President’s Symposium – Dennis Kyle, Lyric Bartholomay and Patrick Hanington. With the leadership of our student representative to Council, Kaylee Herzog, we had scheduled a captivating Student Symposium. There was also a strong cadre of awardees, and of course, everyone looked forward to seeing their colleagues and discussing science. My sincere thanks to everyone who worked tirelessly to organize the 2020 meeting.
The cancellation of our meeting is because of forces outside of our control. As ASP leadership discussed our options, it became exceedingly clear that putting together the vibrant annual meeting our members have come to expect would be impossible. The U.S. President had declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency and indicated that virus measures would last through August. The Governor of Missouri and the Mayor of Kansas City – our host city – banned gatherings of more than 50 people, a measure that the CDC supported. Many universities and government agencies had closed their physical doors and banned professional travel by their employees. Finally, even in the best-case scenario – where the pandemic clears in the next two months – there would simply be insufficient time for our members to arrange their travel and for our scientific program officers to assemble a stimulating program. As life scientists and parasitologists, we all know that cancelling a meeting that is scheduled to take place during the middle of this pandemic is the correct thing to do.
Even though the 2020 annual meeting will not take place, it is my hope that our Society will come back even stronger after this set-back. Another exceptional local organizing committee, led by Past-President John Hawdon, is assembling the 2021 ASP meeting in Baltimore. I look forward to seeing you there, and sharing our science.
Julian F. Hillyer
President, American Society of Parasitologists