Croucher – Keystone Symposia partnership

11 August 2015

The Croucher Foundation is pleased to announce its new three-year partnership with Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Silverthorne, Colorado, USA.

Founded in Los Angeles, 1972, the mission of Keystone Symposia is to serve as a catalyst for the advancement of biomedical and life sciences, by connecting scientists within and across disciplines at conferences and workshops. These events are held at venues that create an environment conducive to information exchange, generation of new ideas and acceleration of applications that benefit society.

The majority of these meetings have taken place in the US, but since the early 2000s, meetings have expanded to locations across six continents, with the first international conference held in Canada (Whistler), 2001; then in Asia (Singapore), 2005; Europe (Cambridge, UK), 2006; Africa (Cape Town, South Africa), 2007; Australia (Ashmore), 2007;) and South America (Ouro Preto, Brazil), 2013. In 2011 Keystone Symposia and Hong Kong University (HKU) jointly sponsored a meeting on Influenza to celebrate HKU’s centenary anniversary. Plans between the Croucher Foundation, Keystone Symposia and Hong Kong University (HKU) will culminate in the second Keystone Symposia Hong Kong conference, likely in 2017. Yearly Keystone Symposia meetings in Hong Kong are planned for 2017-2019.

Conferences are three to four days long, with two daily plenary sessions, workshops and poster sessions. The number of attendees per conference ranges from around 150 – at conferences on more narrow topics – to 250, at those exploring broader topics. Conferences are usually unique, often covering different nuances on the same topic, for example: one may focus on cancer genomics, another on cancer therapeutics. This means that although scientists often attend multiple conferences, repeat speakers are kept down to 30-40%.

Conferences are decided upon through a peer review system, with the process from identification of a topic to holding the meeting generally taking three years in total. Ideas for meetings are submitted for review to a scientific advisory board, subsequently organisers are chosen, then locations and funding are sourced. Meanwhile, as pointed out by CEO, Jane Peterson, “science changes, and so does the program”.

In the case of international programs, which the Hong Kong meeting will be, advisory committees are generally made up of scientists from the region. This is where the Croucher Foundation, with its network of scholars and fellows working on cutting-edge science, is able to assist Keystone Symposia in planning a meeting of high interest to scientists in the region.

Conferences in Asia have been “very successful”, notes Peterson – “our purpose is to engage globally with scientists about what’s going on in science and to increase communication globally”.

Conferences in Singapore, for example, have garnered interest from scientists based in other Asian counties, such as Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. In contrast to meetings held in the US, which on average consist of 60% US-based scientists, and 40% from elsewhere, international meetings tend to reach a an additional audience, with around 20% of scientists coming from the US and 80% from elsewhere.

For access the Keystone Symposia website, please click here.