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IBMS Congress: an update

Deputy Chief Executive of the IBMS Sarah May gives an insight into the work that is going on behind the scenes to deliver Congress 2022.

Congress preparations are now well underway and the main lecture programme is proving to be a draw for the many people who have already booked their place. However, I’m not going to dwell on the details of the lecture programme as, in addition to the printed programmes that are in most laboratories, the most current programmes can be found on the Congress website at This will grow over the coming months as new talks and features are added and in November we will be launching the exhibition hall free seminar programme. Naturally we will be featuring some in-depth analyses on what we have learned from our collective COVID-19 experiences, but this is by no means going to be a COVID Congress. So, rather than give a distillation of the lecture programme, I want to give an insight into why and how we deliver this immense event.


For the past 100 years of its 110-year history, the Institute has held a conference with only a break during the second World War. From modest beginnings it has grown into a major professionally organised event that fills the ICC in Birmingham. The decision to move Congress from this September to March next year was one not taken lightly, particularly as it had to be made so far in advance – last autumn to be precise. This was necessary because changing an event the size and complexity of Congress is akin to turning the Titanic – and we did not want to encounter a COVID-shaped iceberg.

Once the decision had been taken to reschedule, the next worry was how a mid-week March event would be viewed when we normally start on a Sunday at the end of September. I am pleased, and relieved, to say that it appears to be fine, as, to date, we have already topped 800 bookings. Yes, 817 at the time of writing this article, to be precise. This tells me two things: there is a need for face-to-face conferences and exhibitions that virtual events simply cannot fulfil, and we have a lecture programme that has new, interesting and relevant material that people want to hear, accompanied by a massive exhibition and multiple fringe activities.

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Image Credit | Pro Vision Photography

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