On Friday, April 3, the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic forced the American Diabetes Association to restructure its flagship professional event, the annual Scientific Sessions, from an in-person meeting to a virtual experience to be held over the same dates, June 12-16, 2020.
What won’t change, according to Jose C. Florez, MD, PhD, Chair of the 80th Scientific Sessions Meeting Planning Committee, is the groundbreaking science and stellar programming that diabetes professionals expect from the Scientific Sessions.
“This is not a watered-down version of the Scientific Sessions,” Dr. Florez said. “With very few exceptions, it’s the full meeting that was envisioned before COVID-19 struck, but now in a format that is accessible to all and on their own time. It’s the same amount of science delivered by the same speakers who were selected before COVID, but now attendees can access it from the comfort of their homes without incurring any risks.”
Like never before, this year’s Scientific Sessions will connect professionals from all over the world for comprehensive, unparalleled education through symposia, mini-symposia, oral presentations, poster presentations, professional interest group discussions, and special lectures and addresses over the course of five days. Presentations will be pre-recorded and released at their originally scheduled time. After the virtual meeting, registered attendees will receive unlimited access to virtual content for 90 days.
“I want to give a huge shout-out and thank you to the entire community for staying with the program, for contributing in virtual form, and for interacting creatively and productively with the team that is putting the meeting in place. Many hours of hard work have gone into ensuring that the premier scientific diabetes meeting in the world does not go undone in the pandemic. This is really a testament to their dedication, their vision, and their hard work,” said Dr. Florez, Chief of the Endocrine Division and Diabetes Unit and the John T. Potts, Jr., MD, Endowed Chair in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Director of the Diabetes Research Group at the Broad Institute.
Pivoting to a Virtual Experience
The ADA executive team monitored the coronavirus situation closely this spring, constantly evaluating the various aspects required to pull off a successful in-person meeting—the health and safety of participants, domestic and international travel, and the ability to congregate in a physical space, to name a few. As time passed, more accurate information emerged about the nature of the disease course and the need for health-care professionals to remain available locally to take care of patients.
A key tipping point came when we realized that we could no longer hold the in-person meeting in Chicago at the McCormick Place convention center. The executive team, which was already working on contingency plans, quickly identified vendors to help produce a virtual meeting that would cater to attendees, scientists, health-care professionals, advocates, and exhibitors.
But programming was always the key to a successful transition, so the Meeting Planning Committee contacted all presenters originally scheduled for the in-person meeting. The response was enthusiastic, and about 90% of the in-person presentations are still part of the virtual meeting, Dr. Florez said.
Despite the full schedule, there’s no worry of missing concurrent programming this year—another benefit of a virtual meeting.
“For a physical meeting, we often try to make sure sessions of a similar topic don’t conflict with each other, but that is not always possible,” Dr. Florez explained. “Having the program online and available for several weeks after the meeting eliminates the risk of overlap and lets registrants review it as many times as they want, so they can see the full gamut of diabetes research.”
Clinical Trial Results
The Virtual 80th Scientific Sessions will include reports on two new clinical trial results—DAPA-HF and VERTIS-CV—and five updates, which will be previewed at ADAMeetingNews.org throughout May and June. Click the links below as they become available to learn more about the studies.
Friday, June 12
- The Next Generation of Automated Insulin Delivery Systems for Persons with Type 1 Diabetes—Four New Clinical Trials
Saturday, June 13
- NEW! DAPA-HF Update—Have We Lost SGLT2 Inhibitors to Cardiologists?!
Sunday, June 14
- New Insights from the Restoring Insulin Secretion (RISE) Study—Differences Between Adults and Youth with Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes
Monday, June 15
- Update from the TEDDY Study
- Twenty Years of Pediatric Diabetes Surveillance—What Do We Know and Why It Matters—The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study
Tuesday, June 16
- Results of the eValuation of ERTugliflozin EffIcacy and Safety CardioVascular Outcomes Trial (VERTIS-CV)
- New Data on Clinical Outcomes from the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study (DPPOS)
Dr. Florez highlighted several other prominent sessions that are on his radar, including ADA Diabetes Symposium—Unraveling the Heterogeneity in Type 2 Diabetes on Sunday, June 14, and Perspectives on the Future of Precision Diabetes Medicine—A Joint ADA/EASD Symposium on Monday, June 15.
“Those sessions will address the question, ‘If diabetes is heterogenous, then how do you apply modern technologies to identify potential ways to diagnose and treat?’” he said.
There’s also a strong focus on type 1 diabetes throughout the Scientific Sessions, including the symposium Functional Cure of Type 1 Diabetes—Where Shall We Take the Islet Cells From? and the mini-symposium Combination Immunotherapy to Preserve Beta-Cell Function in Type 1 Diabetes, both on Friday, June 12.
Organoids are another hot topic this year. Dr. Florez recommends the symposium The New Physiology—Organs in a Dish—Promises, Pitfalls, and Potential Clinical Applications on Saturday, June 13.
An annual highlight, The Year in Review—Highlights of the Past Year in Basic, Translational, and Clinical Science, will invite scientists to explain significant findings in their fields on Monday, June 15.
Dr. Florez also looks forward to the debates each year. “If you’re a practitioner, you can’t miss the debates. They’re going to be lively,” he said. This year’s debates include:
Saturday, June 13
- Should the Artificial Pancreas Be Single or Dual Hormone?
- The Use of Continuous Glucose Monitoring in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus—Is There Value?
Sunday, June 14
- Should Metformin Be Considered First-Line Therapy for Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes with Established Arteriosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease (ASCVD) or at High Risk for ASCVD?
Monday, June 15
- Primary Cardiovascular Prevention with SGLT2 Inhibitors or GLP-1 Receptor Agonists—Are We Ready for Prime Time?
Sessions that highlight health care disparities are perhaps more critical this year as COVID-19 and its downstream implications are disproportionally affecting vulnerable populations and those with diabetes, Dr. Florez said. One such sessions is Disparities in Diabetes and Diabetes Care—What Can We Do about It? on Monday June 15.
“Diabetes is a risk factor for poor disease outcomes in COVID-19,” Dr. Florez said. “Some of the evidence we’re seeing is that even if you adjust for some of the risk factors that tend to go along with diabetes, it seems like diabetes itself puts people at risk of doing more poorly, or their diabetes gets worse during COVID-19 infection. And many people who get COVID-19 suddenly have diabetes unmasked. What that highlights is that we just don’t know enough about the pathophysiology of diabetes.”
Not Registered for the Virtual 80th Scientific Sessions?
Register for the Virtual Scientific Sessions, the one virtual meeting you don’t want to miss! Experience major lectures, symposia, Interest Group discussions, oral abstract presentations, ePosters, and a virtual Exhibit Hall. Receive continuing education credits for physicians, international physicians, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, and certified diabetes care and education specialists (previously known as certified diabetes educators).