Research Round Table at the 2020 Annual Meeting: Hopes and Hurdles for Neuroscience Research During a Pandemic

Ines Koerner, MD, PhD, FNCS
Chair, Research Committee

Brenda G. Fahy, MD
Ines Koerner, MD, PhD, FNCS

The SNACC Research Committee invited all neuroscience researchers to a round table discussion during the 2020 SNACC Annual Meeting on Friday, September 11, 2020. The Zoom discussion was moderated by Research Committee members Linda Aglio and Keith Vogt. Susana Vacas, Phillip Vlisides, and Dinesh Pal kicked off the discussion by reporting how the pandemic and the associated restrictions impacted their own research projects. Over 35 SNACC members and interested colleagues joined the discussion to share their own experiences and discuss opportunities to advance neuroscience research in the new pandemic reality. Participants across the research spectrum expressed a shared sense of sadness and loss as lockdown measures during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic closed laboratory space and brought clinical trials to a halt. Their inability to continue hands-on experiments and studies threatens researchers’ academic productivity and creates concerns about future funding. At the same time, multiple participants experienced barriers to recruiting new fellows and staff, as universities established hiring freezes and travel limitations continue to prevent international exchange. Clinician-scientists also endorsed additional challenges from increasing clinical work demands. Most participants agreed that social distancing and remote work created a sense of isolation and distance from colleagues and peers that threatens to blunt creativity and hamper collaboration and exchange ideas.

On the positive side, many discussants reported that the forced pause of their experimental work allowed them to focus more on analyzing and summarizing data and provided a welcome nudge to explore new ideas and areas of interest. There is a concerted effort to take advantage of virtual means to create more deliberate and frequent meetings with colleagues, fostering community, and sparks new collaborations. Participants also noted that knowledge exchange has become easier and more accessible, as scientific conferences went from in-person to virtual meetings. In summary, despite persisting concerns about returning to the laboratory or clinical trial space, participants shared optimism that interaction and collaboration in the virtual space will provide opportunities to advance research.

Save the Date:
Coffee and Research
January 29, 2021

In response to the concerns expressed at the Research Round Table, the SNACC Research Committee will provide a new forum for SNACC members and other interested neuroscience researchers to support networking and new collaborations and continue exchanging ideas. The new “Coffee and Research” series of hour-long bi-monthly virtual discussions will highlight SNACC members' research projects and stimulate creative exchange. The first “Coffee and Research” meeting will take place on Friday, January 29, 2021, 12 noon – 1 PM PST/ 3 PM – 4 PM EST. Please mark your calendars and invite your colleagues.

Save the Date!
4th Annual SNACC
Neuroscience Symposium
Saturday, June 5, 2021

Building on the great success of the 3rd Annual SNACC Neuroscience Symposium, and first virtual conference, 2020 SNACC Neuroscience Symposium “Perioperative Neuroscience” in May, we are delighted to announce that the Neuroscience Symposium will return in 2021. The fully virtual symposium will bring together neuroscience researchers to share and discuss ongoing studies and recent findings related to the neuroscience of anesthesiology and critical care. Mark your calendars and plan to submit your work for this exciting opportunity to share your data, learn from colleagues, and forge new collaborations. The format of the symposium encourages discussion and open exchange of ideas. Abstract submissions for the 2021 SNACC Neuroscience Symposium will open in early 2021.

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