It is with great pride and gratitude that we thank everyone who took part in the 6th Annual Congress of the European Academy of Neurology last week. This was the first ever EAN Virtual Congress and truly a pioneering event in terms of neurology and academic conferences more widely. We took the decision to go online with the congress in late March, due to the fast evolving COVID-19 situation, to protect our delegates and the wider public. It was not an easy decision to take but we also saw an opportunity in this crisis to make scientific exchange and education more accessible across the world. That is why we decided to make registration free of charge, so that those who normally cannot attend such a congress would have chance to do so for the first time.
We were truly delighted by the response. With more than 42,500 registered congress participants, the EAN Virtual Congress is a record-breaking event on so many levels. It is by far the biggest EAN Congress thus far, and the largest neurology meeting in history. We had attendees from every corner of the globe, many of whom may not have had the opportunity to attend an in-person EAN Congress or any international academic conference for that matter. With almost 21% of the participants being undergraduate students, this was also an incredible chance for us, as neurologists, to make an impression and attract more talent into our discipline. The response to our special ‘Why neurology? From a student to a professor’ sessions was especially well received and we believe we sowed the seeds for a new generation of neurologists.
The Virtual Congress was also an experiment that will inform the delivery of future congresses and event. For this we thank all speakers that took part. We are so grateful for all those who joined us on this journey. It was a new experience for all to present at a conference in this way, but thanks to the dedication of everyone who contributed, we were able to create a full congress experience online. We also need to thank the EAN Head Office Team in Vienna and the technical crew for working to put this all together in the short space of eight weeks, a truly remarkable achievement.
It was also exciting to see so many participants from outside Europe join us online, many from countries that do not normally account for a large percentage of attendees at in-person congresses. The huge interest among students from countries such as Brazil, elsewhere in Latin America and Asia shows us the potential of and interest for neurology around the world. With that lesson in mind, we will certainly be working to ensure Virtual access to the Congress remains in place even when we return to the in-person format.
As we look back on this great achievement, we also look forward to seeing many of you in person again in Vienna, Austria from June 19 to 21, 2021. While it will be a great pleasure to once again welcome attendees in person, we look forward to a long relationship with our online participants.