World Microbe Forum, Global and Groundbreaking

Feb. 10, 2021

ASM and the Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS) are bringing together 2 of the biggest meetings in the microbial sciences, ASM Microbe 2021 and FEMS 2021, to create an all-new,
Bauke Oudega, Ph.D.
Bauke Oudega, Ph.D.
Source: FEMS
Jennifer Gardy, Ph.D.
Jennifer Gardy, Ph.D.
Source: Jennifer Gardy
global, online meeting – World Microbe Forum

Jennifer Gardy, co-chair of the ASM Microbe Program Committee, and Bauke Oudega, chair of the FEMS Congress Programme Committee, provide an inside look at what you can expect from this groundbreaking event. 

Describe World Microbe Forum in 3 words. 

Oudega: New, excellent, exciting! 

Gardy: Global microbial party! 

Everyone is tired of virtual meetings. What makes World Microbe Forum different from other microbial science meetings? 

Oudega: World Microbe Forum (WMF) is different from other microbial science meetings because of its scale and content. For 16 to 18 hours per day, participants can listen to the best speakers in almost all subfields of microbiology. It covers an enormous amount of the most current microbial science (bacteria, viruses, yeast and molds, parasites) from all over the world. The scale is enormous — from the number of symposia and workshops, the participation of world class speakers and the coverage of all aspects of microbiology — it is truly the first meeting of its kind.

Gardy: What I’ve always loved about ASM Microbe is the breadth of content – there are so many different session types and topics, including a lot of professional development and non-bench/clinical material. WMF is offering the same thing, but even broader. WMF is totally unique — I think one of the big things that sets us apart is, not only do we have content for everyone interested in the microbial sciences, but that content is around-the-clock — no matter where you are in the world, at some point in your workday you’ll be able to tune in live to hear from leading experts in the field. And with the option to view sessions on-demand, too, you can fit all the great content we’ve got planned into your schedule in a way that works for you. I’m also really excited about how truly global this meeting is — we’ve got scientific societies from around the world bringing their content and their speakers to the virtual stage and I think a lot of our attendees are going to be hearing from speakers they might not have ever seen before.

What can the microbial sciences community expect from World Microbe Forum? 

Oudega: The microbial community can expect world class presentations, representation from many continents, lively discussions and many opportunities to meet speakers, colleagues, educators and new friends.

Gardy: All the contributing societies have organized some fantastic science, as always, and we’re making sure that even though the event is virtual, you’ll still have the opportunity to network with each other and with speakers. What I think might be unique this year is that because we’re so international, people will be hearing talks from microbial scientists they may not have known about — I’m really hoping this exposure, coupled with the interactivity we’re building into the meeting — leads to new connections and collaborations.

You have developed scientific meeting programs before. What content are you excited to see come together at World Microbe Forum? 

Oudega: The best speakers and content from at least 4 continents will come together, sometimes in back-to-back symposia and sometimes in lively combined sessions. Combined sessions on teaching, professional development, empowerment, business development opportunities and more will also be exciting and engaging parts of the program.

Gardy: It’s been really fun working on the joint sessions — with a truly global meeting like this, we have the opportunity to secure some high-profile speakers! I’m also excited for the sessions that our partners at the African Society for Laboratory Medicine have organized. The African continent is rich with fantastic microbial sciences, but logistics and resource constraints often prevent African scientists from participating in North American meetings. WMF will be a unique opportunity to hear and learn from these scientists.

What do you want attendees to walk away with from World Microbe Forum? 

Oudega: I, like many attendees, want to walk away with a lot of new and exciting information, new scientific ideas, new or renewed collaborations, new insights into the microbial sciences and the idea to go to such a meeting in the future!

Gardy: People value conferences for different reasons — for some it’s the networking, for others it’s the chance to build out their CV and share their science, some people love the opportunity to be exposed to new science. For many people, it’s a combination of the above. We’ve all learned that going virtual is a challenge, but it’s my hope that ultimately people are going to come out of WMF feeling like they were able to get what they wanted out of the meeting. I also hope we can help create a new paradigm for microbial sciences meetings so that going forward, hybrid in-person/virtual meetings become the norm. It’s a more equitable (and climate-friendly) way for the community to come together.

International experts will gather for this groundbreaking event to examine, discuss and envision solutions that science can offer to solve some of the gravest concerns confronting us today.