In 2021, social distancing was a paramount concern to protect all from the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. This prompted changes in our regular program to a virtual venue. The T21RS Virtual Conference was held from June 8 to 10, 2021, through an online platform. This unique virtual program came with challenges but also led to new kinds of experiences for our participants and to new ways of thinking about connecting our members. This year we had 342 attendees join in from over 25 countries. Reduced admission to some countries was offered to support participation further.
There were 91 abstracts accepted for virtual platform lectures, poster presentations, and short “trainee blitz” presentations. We had growth in the number of our Ph.D. student members, who all presented work demonstrating their commitment to enhancing the health of individuals with Down syndrome. We were treated with thirty blitz talks from our student members who are all rising research stars. Three of these trainees were awarded presentation prizes. Having a virtual program allowed participants to experience the “venue” in real-time and return to the recorded sessions to watch again. This new “venue” allowed more visibility for the Science and Society cultural program as all families and members can share the program on social media.