Let’s get right to it: It’s a no go for our planned face-to-face meeting in Chicago. But we are sticking with our current fall meeting dates of Sept. 23-26, planning instead to hold a full-on virtual conference. Dust off your calendars!


As the coronavirus continues to rage, gathering in person wasn’t even a possibility during our recent leadership team discussion about our fall meeting. We want to keep you safe, not to mention your families, colleagues, and patients. And we want good attendance. With dates already blocked, the SWOG leadership team felt we’d get the best turnout if we stick with the September schedule we’ve got, holding a robust virtual meeting in place of what we had previously planned.

As we move forward, we will be following a few guiding principles. The meeting will be accessible – so all sessions will be open to all members. The meeting will be engaging – so sessions will be as brief as possible and, as much as possible, use polling, chat boxes, break out rooms or other tools aimed at increasing participation. The meeting will also be relevant. Committee chairs are being instructed not to conduct routine business that can be handled over email or on monthly calls. Work should predominantly involve setting or reviewing strategy. Increasing member engagement in SWOG will be a key item. We’re all busy, and we want to make sure the time we share is productive and participatory.

We’ve all learned enough about online meetings these last several months to know that the technology has to work well in order for the meetings to be effective. No one wants to struggle with ineffective log-ins or bad sound. And no one wants to sit through a three-hour session simply staring at a screen. We’re looking into the best meeting platforms to use, and are limiting research support committee meetings to two hours and research committees – including TM and working group sessions – to four. The latter may not be in one block – they can be divided over as many as three separate sessions.

To respect time and ensure engagement, or because they didn’t lend themselves well to a digital setting, these customary fall sessions will NOT be held: Plenary I, the Harry Hynes Plenary II speaker, the committee chair meeting, the poster session, the digital engagement Twitter training, and protocol kick-off and protocol-specific meetings.

These key meeting sessions WILL be held: board of governors, site operations, the NCORP principal investigator meeting, a digital cocktail reception (not key, perhaps, but fun) and the online exhibitor space. I’ll host an abbreviated, one-hour plenary that will be shown live and also recorded for later viewing.

I can also tell you that CME credits and the meeting app will be available, as will a virtual agenda book that will include brief committee updates as well as summaries of all trials launched since Fall 2019 meeting. You deserve to know what’s new.

Finally, I can promise committee chairs that they’ll have staff or professional support to run effective sessions and I can promise all members that recordings and summary notes will be available as quickly as possible after the meeting ends.

Stay tuned for more information about our meeting. Keep an eye on SWOG.org for updates on the agenda and schedule. You should also be hearing from your chairs about individual sessions. I look forward to seeing you online, and I am glad SWOG is going strong!