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2020 CONGRESS OF THE SCHIZOPHRENIA INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH SOCIETY CANCELLATION STATEMENT

 

 

In response to the rapidly changing circumstances associated with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the SIRS Officers, Executive Board and 2020 Program Chairs have made the decision to cancel the 2020 Congress of the Schizophrenia International Meeting scheduled to take place 4-8 April 2020 in Florence, Italy. In doing so, SIRS leadership carefully weighed the risks to attendees and their families, colleagues, and members of the global community. SIRS has concerns about the risk to healthcare systems given the medical profile of SIRS attendees and the consequences of potentially displacing healthcare workers from their countries during a critical time, as well as potentially stressing the local Italian health system. Considering all the information available at the moment, SIRS leadership believes that cancelling the conference is the responsible action to take. The health and safety of members, attendees, exhibitors, and the community is its top priority.

 

SIRS attendees come from all over the world. Over the last two weeks, SIRS leadership learned that many institutions have placed both international and domestic travel bans on their employees for non-essential travel, inclusive of conferences. Italy has recently issued a declaration that all congresses, meetings and social events that involve health professionals are suspended until 3 April, and we need to anticipate that this declaration may be extended beyond 3 April. Similarly, major air carriers are suspending flights to the region (inbound) and several countries where our attendees are located have suspended travel out of their country (outbound). The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also issued a travel alert to avoid all non-essential travel to the region where the congress was to be held. On 9 March, authorities in Italy placed the entire country under quarantine. All of these actions are a direct result of the epidemic of COVID-19. It is clear that it would be an unacceptable risk to bring over 1500 members of the health care community together in Florence, Italy.

Please know this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make for SIRS leadership. SIRS is a not-for-profit organization that depends heavily on its annual congress to sustain its financial well-being. Cancelling the congress has consequences not just for attendees, presenters, and exhibitors but for the very existence of SIRS as a scientific society. Still, SIRS remains committed to its mission to bring together researchers from across the world who work on schizophrenia and other related disorders.

 

Next Steps

 

The SIRS Executive Office is working closely with SIRS leadership and our Italian organizers to appropriately respond to questions regarding reimbursements, travel awards, and other administrative aspects that need to be considered. We recognize all the hard work that so many have put into preparing for the 2020 Congress and we are exploring virtual options for scientific content of the 2020 Congress. SIRS is also investigating the possibility of rescheduling the 2020 Congress to later in the Summer 2020 and will decide about any potential to reschedule promptly. Please stay tuned for additional details. Our goal is to offer an update on next steps no later than 6 April. We thank you in advance for your understanding and patience as we work out the many details.

 

SIRS 2020 Congress Registration
  • An update will be sent once a final decision regarding postponement or cancellation is made.
SIRS 2020 Congress Housing
  • If you made your housing reservation through SIRS Italian Organizers, AIM Group, your hotel reservation will be cancelled, and you will receive a full refund for your hotel arrangements.
  •  If you made a group reservation through SIRS Italian Organizers, AIM Group, please contact to sirs2020.hotel@aimgroup.eu to cancel your reservations by 15 March.

About SIRS

The Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS) was founded in 2005 with the goal of bringing together scientists from around the world to exchange the latest advances in biological and psychosocial research in schizophrenia.  The Society is dedicated to facilitating international collaboration to discover the causes of, and better treatments for, schizophrenia and related disorders. Part of the mission of the Society is to promote educational programs about the latest findings in schizophrenia research, to effectively disseminate them worldwide, and to expedite the publication of new research.

Donate to Schizophrenia Research

SIRS is soliciting donations for a Research Award to be given to a SIRS member that will directly go toward the costs of funding and starting-up of a research project that aims to test a novel hypothesis about schizophrenia, its causes or treatments. For example, one might donate to this Research Award fund in honor of a colleague who has passed away, as part of one’s annual charitable donations, or bequeath funds to SIRS from one’s estate. Please note that your donation is for the SIRS Research Award on your check or electronic submission.