Hello from your new Annual Meeting Program Committee Chair!

First off, thank you for putting your trust in me to plan and execute your 2021 ISMRM Annual Meeting—this is a great honor, and the success of this meeting is my highest priority this year. I worked closely with Doug Noll (the Program Chair for 2020) in planning the Virtual Annual Meeting this year, and am ready and eager to take on this role (along with my Vice-Program Chair, Steven Sourbron) for 2021.

A little bit about me: I am an Associate Professor of Radiology and Co-Director of the Michigan Institute for Imaging Technology and Translation (MIITT) at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. My lab works on rapid and quantitative MRI with a focus on cardiac and abdominal applications.  I am committed to translating new MRI technologies for clinical use, and collaborate closely with MDs in Radiology and beyond, as well as researchers in Engineering, CS, and Physics.  In my free time, I hang out with my family (1 husband + 4 kids), practice yoga, make videos (check me out on Twitter, @MRInicole), and plan Annual Meetings.

While we just wrapped up the 2020 ISMRM Annual Meeting, the AMPC is already hard at work planning the 2021 Annual Meeting.  We are aware that there is quite a bit of uncertainty about this meeting due to COVID-19, and have thus weighed a number of options for formats.  Following the 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting, we received a lot of feedback about the importance of different components of the meeting and how our usually on-site meeting was converted to a fully online meeting; the overwhelming consensus was that the membership would welcome a return to an in-person meeting if possible, but also appreciated certain elements of the virtual format that we would like to build upon to create an entirely new kind of Annual Meeting.

For these reasons, we have opted to plan a hybrid Annual Meeting for 2021, which will bring the best of both worlds to our membership this year.  Some elements will be online from the outset, and we are planning to hold other parts of the meeting on-site in Vancouver.  This hybrid meeting format will provide the opportunity for all members to participate, which is especially important this year given the health concerns and financial hardships that may have arisen due to COVID-19.  Researchers submitting abstracts will select whether they require a online presentation, or would prefer to be physically in Vancouver. A large portion of the educational program and other offerings (Shhh… secret sessions, Member Initiated Tutorials, etc) will also be online, which will provide us the opportunity to take advantage of the virtual format for those topics which could benefit from this type of delivery.  We plan to hold synchronous sessions during the on-site portion which will bring all attendees together to preserve the ISMRM Community feeling that we all enjoy at the Annual Meeting.  Overall, we want to be as accommodating as possible to preserve the momentum and innovation which are the hallmarks of our Annual Meetings, and are open to any suggestions to make our 2021 Annual Meeting a huge success!

We know that it has been a difficult year for research around the world, and would like to assure you that we want you to participate in the Annual Meeting in any way you can!  Note that we have pushed back the Abstract Deadline from mid-November to 16 December 2020 to give you extra time to work towards an abstract.  If you withdrew an abstract from the 2020 meeting, you are welcome to resubmit it.  And if you want to submit a Member Initiated Symposium/Tutorial or apply to give an educational talk, stay tuned!  We’ll be sending around information on how you can do this soon.

The challenge for the AMPC this year will be to unify the online and on-site components such that members attending one or the other will be a part of the same ISMRM Community.  We are well aware that this is a tall order, but one that we are eager to take on.  This hybrid meeting is a chance to harness our creativity and reinvent the Annual Meeting in a way that serves all our Members, not just those who are able to travel each year.  We look forward to working with the membership to hold a successful meeting, and are eager to see you (on-site in Vancouver or online!) from May 15-20, 2021!

Nicole Seiberlich, Ph.D.
2021 ISMRM Program Chair