Past Meeting Organizers
HBV 2006 Vancouver: Pictures
HBV 2005 Heidelberg: Pictures and Program
From the very first meeting that was organized by Dr. Jesse Summers
and Dr. Harold Varmus in 1985 and held at Cold Spring Harbor, New York,
to this year’s meeting in Heidelberg, Germany, the International
Meeting on the Molecular Biology of Hepatitis B Viruses has provided
an essential forum for researchers to share their discoveries, questions
and insights in a highly interactive environment. After 20 years, it
continues to be the definitive international scientific meeting focused
exclusively on the hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis D (HDV) viruses.
As with any meeting such as this, there is always an interesting story
behind its creation. Dr. Jesse Summers, one of the co-founders of this
meeting, was asked to share his memories about how the meeting was started.
“The first meeting was modeled around the tumor virus meetings
and others that had been held there for many years. There was no stated
purpose or mission but prior to this meeting there was no forum for
the discussion of the molecular virology of hepatitis B viruses other
than as an adjunct workshop to the “International Symposium on
Viral Hepatitis”, a large meeting of physicians and epidemiologists
that was held every four years in expensive venues.
These meetings were too infrequent, and did not lend themselves to
allowing many students to make presentations about their work. Student
(or PI) presentations of unpublished projects in 10 to 15 minute talks
are the most important aspect of the meeting in my opinion, because
this format helps to maintain a concise and dynamic presentation of
the most "working" information possible from diverse groups.
Harold Varmus and I organized the first meeting; Pierre Tiollais
and I organized the second; and Bill Mason and Hans Will organized
the third, all at Cold Spring Harbor. At the first meeting the attendees
voted to hold the meeting yearly, and that is the last time that that
attendees voted on anything I think.
Several years into the meeting it was decided (negotiated) to hold
the meeting in Europe once every three years. Recently it was decided
to hold it in Europe every other year.
At each meeting past organizers have met over lunch to elect the
organizers for the meeting to be held in two years. This is an informal
process, loosely chaired by one of the current organizers and the rules
for nominating the candidates are not clear. This process is totally
ad hoc and is not written as official procedure to my knowledge.
For the first few years, the organizers were responsible for reading
all of the abstracts, assembling a program, and then getting people
to chair the sessions. This format has been used most years I think,
but one or more past organizers have chosen to delegate the responsibility
of selecting abstracts for oral presentation to a pre-selected group
of people who then chair the session for their selected talks.”
What distinguishes the International Meeting on the Molecular Biology
of Hepatitis B Viruses from other scientific meetings is that,
first and foremost, it is a small and focused gathering that encourages
informal interaction among researchers at all stages of their careers.
Second, it emphasizes work-in-progress by limiting presentations to
unpublished data. Finally, it provides an important training venue
for graduate students and post-doctoral scholars. The large majority
of oral presentations have traditionally been given by post-doctoral
scholars and graduate students, which is a major strength of the meeting,
and almost all poster presentations are given by trainees.
The aim of the International Meeting on the Molecular Biology of
Hepatitis B Viruses is to bring together international scientists
studying diverse aspects of hepatitis B and D viruses and to provide
extensive opportunities for both junior and senior scientists to engage
in joint discussions of the latest conceptual and technical advances
regarding these viral pathogens and related diseases.
Page last modified October 21, 2009