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Pharmacology 2020, Online, Worldwide

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Published: 24 Mar 2021


In 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Society made the decision to pivot the annual meeting to an online event for the first time. The Meetings and Events team worked hard to develop a platform that was right for the Society’s members by breaking the event down into 4 key parts: scientific content, poster presentations, networking, and sponsorship.
With an online event it was important to consider healthy online hours to avoid screen fatigue. To support this, the event was extended from the usual three days to five days to create space in the programme for wellness breaks in between sessions, during which delegates were encouraged to stretch, hydrate, and rest their eyes. This expansion of the programme also allowed for more sponsored sessions.
The Meetings and Events Team also carefully considered how online audiences consume content in comparison to at an in-person meeting and made all content ‘on-demand’, meaning that each of the sessions were recorded and made available to attendees for viewing the day after each session. This relieved the pressure for the attendees to consume all the content live and allowed those who missed sessions to catch up at their own leisure - something that you cannot do at an in-person meeting!
The Pharmacology 2020 homepage hosted the scientific programme where delegates could watch the presentations and ask live questions to the speakers. We added production value to the programme by including interval music before sessions and in the wellness breaks, and sponsored adverts before sessions.
Posters were a key element of the event and both the Meetings Committee and the Meetings and Events Team were keen to not lose the interaction that authors would receive at an in-person meeting. Live poster sessions were included in the main programme so that delegates and authors had dedicated time to view the posters and engage with authors. The posters were dynamic and interactive, and offered authors the chance to upload a narration of their poster and chat live to any delegates.

One of the challenges of a virtual meeting is facilitating effective networking. The online Community was repurposed during Pharmacology 2020 to facilitate networking and host a smaller programme which included daily morning yoga sessions, sessions on equality, diversity and inclusion, and more. Society staff also recorded ‘Life at the BPS’ videos, which offered a chance for the membership to hear what each team had been working on throughout 2020 and future projects that they wanted to showcase. Networking is a vital and valuable part of events and is something that the Meetings and Events Team are continuing to work on and develop for future meetings such as Pharmacology 2021.
The social events at our Pharmacology meetings have always been a highlight for members and so the Meetings and Events Team were still keen to include a social event even though the meeting was online. The ‘Flavour Explorer Experience’ was a great way to bring delegates together in a fun environment to for a series of multi-sensory flavour experiments. The event was interactive, with the over 100 registered attendees receiving a ‘Flavour Experience Box’ through the post prior to the event which was opened during the session.
Pharmacology 2020 was highly successful and this was reflected in the key performance indicators as well as the attendee feedback. The registration numbers reached over 1200, which was a 13.5% increase from 2019 and a 4.8% increase from 2018. Within the 1200 registrations, 53 countries were represented, the top 5 represented countries were 69% from the United Kingdom, 4% from Brazil, 3% from India and 3% from the United States. There was also a 268% increase in Undergraduate Members attending the meeting compared to 2019. This demonstrates that although there are many benefits to an in-person event, it is also key to provide a virtual aspect to all events moving forward to reduce any potential barriers in attendance.
“I must say that I have attended a lot of online conferences over the last year, and this is the best platform that I have seen.” - Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, President, British Pharmacological Society
“This year I got to experience Pharmacology as a delegate, speaker, and exhibitor, and all three experiences were totally seamless and super easy to manage, despite the new format.” – Dr Laura Ajram, Medicines Discovery Catapult
“I found myself wishing I had more time this week to join more sessions (including the well-being). This is something well-worth continuing. Hats off to the meetings team. This is an awesome effort to put all this together and the meeting became the light at the end of the tunnel of this year and raised my spirits and optimism for next year. Well done BPS!” – Pharmacology 2020 delegate

2021 Events

Pharmacology 2021

Join us from 7-9 September for our annual meeting, Pharmacology 2021. This meeting is the highlight of the Society’s year and your chance to connect with hundreds of fellow scientists from across the pharmacology and therapeutics community. This is a very special year for the Society, as 2021 marks 90 years since its foundation, and 75 years since the first edition of the British Journal of Pharmacology. This is an opportunity to celebrate our history and the impact that pharmacology has had on the world since 1931, and to look to the future of pharmacology and therapeutics in a rapidly changing world.
Submit an abstract and register the for event now!

BPS & SMR joint meeting: Current Trends in Drug Discovery

9-10 June 2021, Online, Worldwide
The British Pharmacology Society (BPS) and the Society for Medicines Research (SMR) are pleased to announce their second joint meeting, bringing together presentations from both internationally recognised speakers and from early career scientists giving them an opportunity to discuss their research through either oral or poster presentations.
Register and submit your abstract now!

BPS & ELRIG joint meeting: Translating Ideas in Therapy

30 June-01 July 2021, Online, Worldwide
The British Pharmacology Society (BPS) and the European laboratory research & innovation group (ELRIG) are pleased to announce their first joint meeting. The global need for effective medicines is increasing, whilst the biology underlying new drug concepts is becoming increasingly complex. This meeting will outline how our research community is rising to address these challenges by following the early life cycle of new medicine concepts through 3 critical stages: 1) Identifying your target. 2) Drugging your target. 3) Gaining clinical insights.
Register and submit your abstract now! 

Meetings Committee

The Society’s Meetings Team coordinates and arranges scientific meetings and events throughout the year, including the Society’s annual meeting. As part of this, they work closely with the Society’s Meetings Committee who review symposia submissions and set the programme for the Pharmacology meetings. Meetings Committee comprises 11 members from across different areas of the Society and is chaired by the Vice President Meetings, who is elected by members to work with Council to lead on the Society’s meetings and events provision. The current Vice President Meetings is Professor Cherry Wainwright.

The Meetings Committee also advises on, and manages, the programme for all Society meetings to ensure they meet the needs of the Society’s members, in accordance with policy and direction given by the Society’s Council. The Committee also delivers other high-quality scientific events in consultation with members, and in collaboration with other Societies and partners.

Through the provision of bursaries, Meetings Committee also enable members to attend and present their work at BPS and external meetings. If you are keen to get involved with the work of Meetings Committee, please keep an eye out for future vacancies.


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Published: 24 Mar 2021

About the author

Sophie Bowtell

Sophie Bowtell is the Senior Events Manager at the British Pharmacological Society. Sophie is responsible for the Society’s Annual Meeting and overseeing the Focused Meetings and BPS Live webinars. Sophie is also leading on the programme for the 19th World Congress of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology 2023 (WCP2023) which is due to take place in Glasgow on 02-07 July 2023.

Nic Engler

Nic Engler is the Head of Events & Partnerships for the British Pharmacological Society and responsible for the strategy and oversight of meetings and events on behalf of the Society, and of strategic partnerships to support commercial investment in scientific content. 

Nicola Williams

Nicola Williams is the Events Coordinator at the British Pharmacological Society. Nicola has responsibility for the Society’s Focused Meetings, BPS LIVE Webinars and assists with the Training Workshops. Nicola is also supporting the team with our Annual Meeting in September 2021 and the 19th World Congress of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology in 2023 (WCP2023).

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