Message from the President

29 December 2020
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Dear ISNI members, Dear Friends,

This year has been, to say the least, a most challenging one – globally, and in unprecedented ways.  As 2020 winds down and we all look forward to a far better 2021, I wanted to share with you some words of reflection, encouragement and hope.

I expect some of you have lost loved ones to the pandemic, and many more of you know someone who has.  To all of you we offer our heartfelt condolences. No doubt everyone has been experiencing, and continues to face, major disruptions to all spheres of life – including home, childcare, school, work and play. Some of you who also have clinical responsibilities have likely been redeployed in hard-hit areas to share in the care of patients with SARS-CoV-2 and its COVID-19 complications. Clinical research in many settings has slowed substantially or intermittently stopped, and basic research for many has also faced major constraints. Not the least affected have been our trainees and young investigators, whose projects have been disrupted and timelines severely stretched. Life for all of us has transitioned into this largely virtual, and somewhat surreal, new reality.

ISNI has also had to make some major adjustments. As realities of the pandemic began sinking in, the ISNI Officers, in close communication with the NICE 2020 local organizing committee, and in coordination with the Global as well as regional ISNI Schools, made an early decision to postpone the 15th International Congress of Neuroimmunology originally slated for November 2020 in Nice, France. Thanks to rapid ratification by the ISNI SAB, we were able to capture dates at same venue for ISNI NICE 2021 which, together with the 3rd Global Schools of Neuroimmunology (GSNI) pre-course, are now slated for November 8-12, 2021.  Planning for a most exciting ‘ISNI 2021 Nice’ congress is in full-swing, led by the local organizing committee of Professors Sonia Berrih-Aknin and Roland Liblau from Toulouse, together with EEM. The ISNI schools have also adjusted their timing with the 3rd Asia-Pacific School of Neuroimmunology (APSNI) currently to take place in Sydney, Australia (tentative dates June 23 – 25, 2021); the 4th Americas School of Neuroimmunology (ASNI) Course slated for Ohio, USA (May 9-11 2022); and the 18th European School of Neuroimmunology (ESNI) Course to take place in Belgrade, Serbia in 2022 (dates to be determined).

As disruptive as the pandemic has been, some silver linings can be found. While ‘home’ has had to double as the place of ‘work’ as well as our major ‘social venue’ which has offered its own challenges, it has been an opportunity to enjoy quality family time, a precious commodity for those of us who travelled way too much in the past. We have learned that much can be accomplished remotely, and even the least tech-savvy amongst us have gained proficiencies in a range of web-based communication platforms, contributing to enhanced connectivity.

In keeping with this evolution in connectivity, ISNI will launch several new initiatives in the new year. Among these will be a regular ISNI Newsletter providing updates on global events and activities in the field of Neuroimmunology, a web-based hot-topics educational series, an ISNI-Young initiative (“for trainees, by trainees”) and increased overall outreach including through social media and enhanced ISNI Website.

Meanwhile, and on behalf of ISNI Officers Fran Quintana, Lesley Probert and myself – wishing you all well – and may 2021 prove to be a much happier, healthier and more fulfilling and connected year for everyone!

Very best
Amit Bar-Or

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