August 25th, 2019

Save the Dates! International Scientific Conferences You Can’t Miss

On this beautiful summer Sunday, I’m sorting through a series of invitations to international scientific meetings.

So many options.

See, they really want me. And how do I know that my participation will be so important?

Just look how personalized the greetings are — clearly intended for me and me alone. I’ve included actual screen shots of the invitations as evidence for the careful thought that went into sending me — yes, me — these invitations.

To say I’m flattered barely begins to describe how these emails make me feel.

First up, from an “Auston Matthews”, who describes himself (herself?) as “Program Manager”:

Here’s what I wrote back:

Dear Mr./Ms. Matthews,

I’m very well indeed! And how are you? How are you enjoying the role of Program Manager?

Now that we’re done with the niceties, let me assure you — the privilege and honour are 100% mine. Being a Speaker towards the 3rd Global Experts Meeting on Infectious Diseases would be something special. I’ll highlight it on my CV in bright yellow marker. Please relay that (plus my best wishes) to the Organizing Committee Members, who no doubt are busy in London planning an exciting meeting.

Before I make my flight arrangements, where is “Bankok”? Is that near Bangkok?

With warm regards,

Dr. PE Paul E

Next — an email from a certain “Henry Walter, Conference Manager”, who generously offers me the chance to visit Rome!

Academic medicine, what a global endeavor!

My response:

Dear Henry Walter,

May I assume we both can communicate on a first-name basis, since you used mine? Hope that’s not too presumptuous!

And you bet I’ll participate in that conference! Not only were the first three iterations of the International Conference on Neurology and Brain Disorders (INBC) scintillating, but I’ve heard that the 4th — INBC 2020 — will absolutely rock.

Let’s speak ASAP about my topic, as I have some ideas. How about a lecture entitled, “Degenerative Brain Diseases of Fish”? After all, I’m the expert.

Hope this sounds INBC-worthy to you. I know the standards are very high!


Default Value

On to invitation number three, which represents the very pinnacle of personalized conference invitations. It comes from a “Dr. Irene Frank”, whose title is “Executive Director, Coalesce Research Group”. They’re based in Greenville, South Carolina, in case you were wondering.

Here’s what I wrote back:

Dear Dr. Frank,

First, very warm wishes back to you! Speaking of, it must be hot this time of year down in South Carolina, ha ha.

Second — Plenary Speaker at Nano 2019, what an honor! I’m speechless. But don’t worry, I’ll get over it by November, and will be ready to go for my plenary talk. I’ll make sure it’s something BIG about this small (nano, get it?) topic. Ha ha again.

Third — just curious, is it hard to organize a conference in Osaka all the way from Greenville, South Carolina? Is there a direct flight? It’s amazing how you folks at Coalesce Research do all that you do, so impressive.

Finally, before formally agreeing to speak, I have to ask — how will you be introducing me? It’s just not clear from your invitation. And I confess — sometimes I feel like a nowhere man, sitting in a nowhere land, making all these nowhere plans, for nobody.



Take it away, guys.

(Part of an occasional series, as these folks show no signs of tiring. And h/t to friend John Winkelman for the inspiration.)

11 Responses to “Save the Dates! International Scientific Conferences You Can’t Miss”

  1. Loretta S says:

    Thanks for the laugh about these conference invitations, Paul. I must admit that I delete them without opening them to see how I have been addressed. I will have to pay more attention to that! “Default Value”. Your parents certainly had an imaginative way of naming you.

    In a similar vein, I sometimes get spam emails with the subject line of “[SPAM]”. At which time I silently thank that particular spammer’s lack of familiarity with whatever script they were using to send the email. Thanks for the heads-up, Spammy! I wonder how many people actually open emails with that subject line?

    It’s a beautiful Sunday here, too.

  2. Dwight Ferris says:

    Hi Dr. PE Paul E – glad to hear we’re not alone being Nowhere people. Always great to read your blogs! Keep up the great work. By the way have you ever done a review of probiotics? We are reviewing whether to keep probiotic formulations on the provincial formulary in British Columbia – I believe the data may be weak but the potential benefits outweigh the risks and that we should continue to carry an option for patients in acute and long term care. Any thoughts? Cheers and keep up the great work – I’m sure many more invitations for far away lands are in our future!

  3. P. Inthavong says:

    Dear Dr. Sax I hope your response towards a certain Australian based ID conference was with intent to accept (as you have been listed as a speaker!). I am very excited and I sorely hope you will attend. – a junior medical doctor with a strong interest in Infectious Diseases and a fan.

  4. D Lighter says:

    I love these things because they exalt my “eminent contributions” to the literature and “amazing speeches”, which always brightens my day. If I respond, it’s usually with a nice email asking about travel and lodging details and how those expenses are reimbursed, and of course, my honorarium. That usually gets me off their list at least for a while.

  5. Liz rantz says:

    Thanks for helping me recognize I am a nowhere woman in medical world; I haven’t been graced with any of these. Despite a successful career, awards etc no distinguished anonymous invites! Always enjoy column.

  6. RBI says:

    My biggest question is what does the Nanomaterial own? because this conference invite seems to talk about Nanomaterial’s something but they don’t list what. Oh I get it, it was pleural and not possessive. Thanks for setting all these poor spambots straight Paul

  7. Randa Abu-Youssef says:

    Haha, thanks for the laugh, Dr. Sax. I actually was surprised to read that you reply to these email addresses, I always thought that if I do write back to them, they can hack me, or somehow give me a virus (the computer kind :). Is it safe to write to them?

  8. David K says:

    Auston Matthews also happens to be the name of a star center for the Toronto Maple Leafs. That kid has a lot of irons in the fire!

  9. Kay Godfrey says:

    I got asked to speak at a mine safety conference once-I think I saved the email-I think publications on infection prevention triggered their algorithm. And can we have a laugh about journals that want contributions? Kaching kaching

HIV Information: Author Paul Sax, M.D.

Paul E. Sax, MD

Contributing Editor

NEJM Journal Watch
Infectious Diseases

Biography | Disclosures | Summaries

Learn more about HIV and ID Observations.