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In June, ASN presented NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE, a brand-new virtual meeting, over 4 days to a global audience of more than 25 000 people from 130 countries. Researchers, practitioners, and professionals from academia, industry, and policy arenas, as well as the science communicators and the media, tuned in online for lectures, scientific sessions, satellite programs, virtual abstract presentations, virtual exhibits, panel discussions, live Q&A, and interaction. Only weeks earlier, ASN was hard at work planning for a similar-but live-event that was expected to take place in Seattle.


NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE evolved as a new event when ASN canceled its flagship in-person meeting, Nutrition 2020, in response to COVID-19 concerns. Yet, with a high number of abstract submissions and registration numbers that put ASN on track to have the largest meeting in its history, ASN's Board of Directors and leadership team remained committed to delivering an experience the nutrition community craved.


While planning for the event that was to be NUTRITION 2020, ASN had been watching the initial spread of COVID-19. When it began to appear in the United States-and in particular, Seattle, the host city for NUTRITION 2020-the Board and leadership team knew they would have to make critical decisions.


"Our leading priority is always the health and safety of our attendees," explained Richard Mattes, MPH, PhD, RD, president of the ASN Board of Directors. "We had to balance that with our mission to advance to advance the science, education and practice of nutrition. We needed to find a way to keep attendees safe while providing a platform for sharing the research that advises the science and practice of nutrition. And it was important that we continue to offer young scientists the experience of presenting their science."


Throughout March, ASN continued with plans to hold the in-person live event with significant precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of attendees. However, as the situation changed on a daily-and often, hourly-basis, it became evident that the meeting would not go off as originally planned, and ASN began to communicate openly about the potential for alternatives.


"We started to plan for a hybrid meeting of part-live and part-online content. But soon, social distancing measures that banned large gatherings and stay-at-home orders led us to cancel the meeting in Seattle, and we directed the ASN staff to pursue development of a virtual meeting," Mattes explained.


Within days, the ASN staff reinvented the meeting as NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE. The ASN Foundation agreed to sponsor the event, offsetting any registration fees for participants. "It was important to us that we refund all registration fees and offer the new meeting at no charge. We wanted to show our support for the nutrition community during one of the most challenging times any of us had ever, and may ever, experience in our careers," said Robert M. Russell, MD, ASN Foundation President.


Staff contacted speakers, presenters, sponsors, and exhibitors and gained their support in presenting their content in a whole new way. A new schedule was developed, new technology was secured, and an innovative virtual event emerged.


In the end, ASN presented NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE last June 1 to 4, aiming for the original dates that the live Nutrition 2020 event had been scheduled but steering clear of the weekend to leave that for family time. NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE included 24 hours of programming over the 4 days, as well as virtual abstract presentations, community activities, and a virtual trade show. In addition, ASN added a Boot Camp to keep participants up and moving and sold ASN Together t-shirts to support Northwest Harvest working to fight hunger in the former host city of Seattle.


During NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE, ASN announced the 2020 Class of ASN Fellows and Award Winners. Their terrific accomplishments will be celebrated again in-person at NUTRITION 2021, July 10 to 13, in Boston.


The Board credits constant and open communication and the innovative thinking and nimbleness of the entire ASN organization as key factors in being able to act quickly and efficiently. "Many decisions were made throughout long days of monitoring the ever-changing situation. Our plan evolved as federal, state and local leaders and health officials made ongoing announcements. Each time a new decision was announced, we adjusted our plan accordingly. This constant evolution of our plan made it easier to arrive at the most effective solution," Mattes said.


Mattes continued, "We are grateful for our Scientific Program Committee, Councils, Interest Sections, partners, sponsors, exhibitors, and presenters. Without their commitment and flexibility, we couldn't have produced a successful online with high-quality programming and engagement."


Recorded sessions from NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE, plus additional prerecorded content, will be available for free until July 5. After the date, free access will continue for ASN members only. Not a member? Visit to join ASN now for access to this content and other benefits, all more essential to you now than ever.


Be sure to mark the return of ASN's flagship meeting, Nutrition 2021, on your calendar for July 10 to 13 in Boston. Visit to sign up for updates.


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