First-Time Attendee’s Guide to the ISTH Congress

First-Time Attendee’s Guide to the ISTH Congress

Aaron Iding, M.D., and Joshua Muia, Ph.D., offer insights into participating in the ISTH Congress

Attending an ISTH Congress for the first time can be an overwhelming experience, particularly if you are attending alone. While many attendees have been to the Congress multiple times, there is a unique group of attendees who are making their first appearance at this year’s Congress. This group is likely to be made of early-career professionals (ECPs) and Reach-the-World participants (from non-high-income economies). This article represents the thoughts and advice from a current ECP, Aaron Iding, M.D., and a former Early Career Committee member, Joshua Muia, Ph.D.

This year, like last year, attendance at the Congress will be entirely virtual due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The program and planned events, however, are still organized as would be for the in-person meetings. The ISTH and ISTH Congress organizers are committed to promoting diversity and inclusivity at all levels and have many activities targeted at these first-time attendees to get them involved and stimulate their careers. Unfortunately, these opportunities tend to be overlooked, due to other priorities and the overwhelming content of the Congress. In this respect, we are delighted to share our prior experiences on maximizing the benefits of attending an ISTH Congress as a first-time attendee.

Attending an ISTH Congress can go a long way in boosting one’s future career prospects, establishing collaborations, expanding your professional network, and increasing research visibility, among others. However, it requires an active approach to bring these things to fruition.

In Joshua’s experience, he vividly remembers his first ISTH Congress in Amsterdam, 2013, at which he was expecting to simply present his research findings and return home. Much to his delight, the Congress turned out to be an exceptional experience where he took part in many career-focused activities and numerous professional networking events. By the end of the Congress, he had established connections and even friendships with other scientists from around the world. These contacts later turned out to be very helpful in his career advancement when he was seeking collaborators, mentors, and references.

During this year’s Congress, many of the sessions are happening concurrently, some requiring pre-registration. Thus, we advise attendees to prepare for the Congress by reviewing the program and prioritizing which live-stream sessions to attend. Aaron attended his first ISTH Congress in 2020 and experienced how –particularly at a virtual meeting – it can be difficult to keep track with so many choices at one’s fingertips. Therefore, we recommend using the interactive program on the ISTH Congress website platform to prepare an itinerary calendar, embedded in your local time zone.

The main sessions this year are four plenary lectures by world-renowned researchers, 28 State-of-the-Art sessions by invited speakers, and 80 Oral Communication sessions with selected abstracts. In our experience, viewing these presentations together with colleagues makes it even more enjoyable and educational. It is important to know that these presentations can be watched later through the Congress platform until July 25, and up to 90 days later, depending on the individual’s registration tier.

In addition, the Congress offers several live sessions specifically aimed at ECPs:

§  A Trainee Session on Sunday, which will be a panel discussion on experiences and strategies for encountering bias at work.

§  12 Career Development sessions from Sunday to Tuesday on early-career subjects such as managing collaborations, deciding between academics and industry or establishing a research team.

§  30 Master Classes from Sunday to Tuesday in which specific research topics (e.g. platelet phosphoproteomics) are discussed in small groups lead by an established investigator.

§  3 ePoster Networking Sessions, Sunday to Tuesday with Live ePoster opportunities to converse with authors in real time.

§  3 Chat Channel sessions in which you can discuss work/life balance (Monday), science and social media (Tuesday), and early career involvement in the ISTH (Wednesday) with your peers.

We also recommend that attendees take some time to learn about the ISTH as an organization and how its many scientific and leadership committees function. This motivated us to be actively involved in its many initiatives. Join us on Saturday, July 17, for the subcommittee sessions of the Scientific and Standardization Committee (SSC) as they provide an update on their projects and how you can get involved. You do not want to miss these SSC sessions.  

In conclusion, we can unequivocally say that the ISTH Congress has a lot to offer, and it is up to you to identify which opportunities serve best your needs and interests. Reach out and get involved to build your network and your career. Get started at


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