Meetings Handbook

for ISHR North American Section Meeting Organizers


Last updated June 2005




The annual meeting of the North American Section of the International Society for Heart Research (ISHR-NAS) is typically organized and hosted by a Section member and is held at a site selected by the Section member in consultation with Council.  This approach to meeting organization has several advantages for the ISHR-NAS and the meeting organizer:  (1) rotating leadership of meetings assures that a wide variety of research topics is addressed in successive meetings; (2) annual meetings are held in venues that typically foster interactions and vigorous scientific exchanges among attendees; (3) organizers have opportunities to feature new scientific topics at the meetings they host; and (4) organizers have opportunities to communicate to meeting attendees the breadth and depth of cardiovascular science at their home institutions. 


The annual meetings comprise the central activity of the ISHR-NAS, and thus, the success of these meetings is the primary determinant of the success of the ISHR-NAS in fulfilling its scientific missions.  In awarding and sponsoring meetings, the Council of the ISHR-NAS is committed to scientific quality and impact and emphasizes meeting themes that are of interest to the greatest number of its membership.  Council is also committed to ensuring that the primary interest areas of the ISHR-NAS are represented at every meeting, so that the annual meeting is reliably a critical meeting for the majority of its membership.  At the same time, Council encourages the introduction of new scientific topics at annual meetings both for general interest and as a means to evaluate the appropriateness of adopting new primary interest areas for inclusion in subsequent meetings.


The Meetings Handbook addresses the processes for proposing, organizing and running an annual meeting and also describes the financial and administrative support the ISHR-NAS provides to meeting organizers.  The ultimate goals of the handbook are (1) to assure that each meeting is as successful as possible in terms of attendance and scientific content and discussion and (2) to provide guidance and support to the meeting organizer.  Despite best intentions, the Handbook is sure to contain ambiguities or simply does not address issues of concern to meeting organizers—queries and suggestions are welcomed!  Questions about meetings should be addressed to the President, President-Elect or Secretary of the ISHR-NAS.


Meeting Themes


The meeting organizer sets the theme of the meeting in consultation with the ISHR-NAS Meetings Committee.  The theme should convey the overall emphasis of the meeting and is a key marketing tool for attracting interest and participation in the meeting.  A list of meeting themes in recent years is available from the Secretary of the ISHR-NAS.


Timeline for Meeting Planning and Organization


3-5 years prior to meeting

·     Contact ISHR-NAS President or President-Elect about interest in hosting an Annual Meeting

3-4 years prior to meeting


·     Submit meeting proposal to ISHR-NAS Council

·     Negotiate tentative contract with conference site


·     Upon Council approval of proposal, sign contract for conference site

·     Negotiate contracts for hotels or other accommodations

2-4 years prior to meeting

·     Consult with previous ISHR-NAS meeting organizers for their


    insights and suggestions


·     Engage local site conference management services

·     Review requirements for conference site


·     Review/plan social program options

2 years prior to meeting

·     Solicit suggestions from the Meetings Committee of the ISHR-NAS for potential symposium topics and speakers


·     Convene Local Planning Committee to:

-     identify symposium and workshop topics

-     identify speakers

1.5-2 years prior to meeting

·     Meet with conference site staff to discuss initial meeting requirements


·     Develop meeting proposal for presentation to Council


·     Submit proposed topics and speakers to ISHR-NAS Council for review and advice


·     Contact potential sponsors for support

·     Submit applications for meeting support, e.g., NIH


·     Request financial support from ISHR-NAS

1 year prior to meeting

·     Publish Save the Date announcements; display meeting posters at ISHR-NAS meeting

·     Provide the Secretary/Treasurer of the ISHR-NAS with tentative program, list of invited speakers, symposium titles, keynote lecturers, and social events for posting on the ISHR website


·     Mail/email Save the Date announcement of the meeting; the announcement should include the same information that is posted on the ISHR website

·     Make arrangements with local or other Academic Medical Center for CME credits for meeting attendance


·     Email Save the Date announcement to all ISHR members using the email address database of the International Section.  The email announcement should include the same information as the printed announcement


·     Invite speakers in writing


·     Send meeting announcement to Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology Editorial Office, request abstract information and forms

10 months prior to meeting

·     Compile Registration/Call for Abstracts brochure

7 months prior to meeting

·     Mail Registration/Call for Abstracts brochure

5 months prior to meeting

·     Select menus for event

·     Contract for transportation

4˝ months prior to meeting

·     Young Investigators application deadline

4 months prior to meeting

·     Abstract deadline


·     Abstracts reviewed by program committee

4- 3.5 months prior to meeting

·     Copies of acceptable abstracts are sent to JMCC Editorial office for final approval (via express mail or fax)

3 months prior to meeting

·     Registration deadline

12 weeks prior to meeting

·     Send original abstracts with final approval to JMCC production office via express mail.  Also indicate the number of journal copies needed for the meeting and the address for shipping the journals

6-8 weeks prior to meeting

·     Final conference site arrangements


·     Preparation of conference materials, including final program

4 weeks prior to meeting         

·     Hotel reservations deadline


A Typical Meeting Program


The Annual Meeting is usually 3˝ days long and features five main scientific activities:  Young Investigator Competition, keynotes, symposia, posters, and workshops.  While there is flexibility as to how the meeting is organized, a typical program will include the following:


Day 1, morning:          Scientific interest group sessions


Day 1, afternoon:        Opening ceremony

Young Investigator Competition

                                    Presidential Symposium



Days 2-4:                     3 symposia each morning and afternoon, i.e., a total of 18

                                    AM and PM poster sessions following the symposia and extending

                                         into lunch and afternoon receptions

                                    Keynote speakers either before or after following am symposia

                                    Lunch-time workshops, e.g., technologies, career development, etc


Day 2, evening:           Speaker dinner


Day 4, evening:           Business meeting (brief!), banquet and after-dinner speaker


While the topics of several symposia are determined by the local organizing committee (with advice from the Meetings Committee of the ISHR-NAS), topics covered in most symposia should include the primary interest areas of the ISHR-NAS (updated May 2005):


Basic Cardiac/Myocardial Biology

Cardiac Hypertrophy

Heart Failure

Inherited/Acquired Cardiomyopathies

Biology of Ischemia and Cardioprotection

Inherited/Acquired Arrhythmias

Myocardial Regeneration

A particularly effective strategy for developing specific topics and speaker rosters for meeting symposia is to initially work with the Local Planning Committee and the ISHR-NAS Meetings Committee to identify topic areas, the number of symposia within each topic area, and an organizer/moderator for each symposium.  The organizer/moderator can then work with the meeting organizer and with other symposium organizers to develop a detailed list of speakers.  Meetings that coordinate symposia on related topics have enjoyed greatest success.


Dates for Meeting


ISHR-NAS section meeting have been held at various dates throughout late spring (beginning in May) and summer.  For continuity and consistency, the ISHR-NAS Council believes that meetings should be held in the same month each year, ideally in May or June.  Every attempt should be made to be certain that the dates chosen do not conflict with relevant Gordon Conferences, special meetings of the AHA, or meetings of other sections of the ISHR.  In years in which there is an ISHR World congress (2007, 2010, etc.) the Annual Meeting of the ISHR-NAS will be held in conjunction with the World Congress, either immediately before or after the Congress and at the Congress site or immediate vicinity.


ISHR-NAS support for meeting organizers


The ISHR-NAS provides funding of up to $35,000 (as of 5/2005) to offset meeting costs.  Upon request, some or all of these funds are payable in advance to allow meeting organizers the flexibility to pay deposits on meeting venues or to engage the services of professional on-site conference organizers.  The ISHR-NAS fully funds the Young Investigator Competition and usually provides travel funds for a limited number of research trainees on a competitive basis.  The ISHR-NAS Meetings Committee will provide advice about meeting organization and content and will also assist in developing a business plan for the meeting, e.g., projections as to attendance, income, and likely costs.