4. World Congress of Epidemiology

4.1 Introduction

The World Congress of Epidemiology (the Congress) is generally held every three years and marks the beginning and end of Council terms, along with the start and completion of the Association’s triennial spending plan. The relevant Bylaws governing the Congress are found here. Between 800-1200 delegates involved in research and teaching epidemiology attend this scientific program. A list of past Congress locations can be found here .

4.2 Structure of the Congress

The World Congress of Epidemiology is owned by the Association and is an IEA-branded event that is planned, organized and managed by the Congress Committee, which is comprised of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and one member of the Executive Committee. (See Section 2 for details on the Congress Committee.)  In addition, one member of the Executive Committee must serve on the Congress Committee’s Scientific Committee. Speaking roles for Council members should be provided where appropriate.

The Association provides local organizers an organizing loan (currently USD $50,000) that is expected to be repaid within 6 months of the close of Congress. In exchange for this, the Association licenses its name and the term “World Congress of Epidemiology” for use by organizers to promote the event.

The relationship between the Association and Congress organizers is governed by a contract that sets out general requirements. These agreements may vary and are tailored to meet the needs of both the Association and local organizers. A sample agreement can be found here . Planning materials employed by previous local organizers can be found here .

4.3 Process for selection of a host and requirements for bidders

Beginning in 2027, the location of the Congress will rotate among the seven Association regions, alphabetically by region name: Africa in 2027; Europe in 2030; Latin America/Caribbean in 2033; the Middle East/North Africa in 2036; North America in 2039; South East Asia in 2042; and Western Pacific in 2045. 

It is the responsibility of each region to secure proposal(s) for the year they will host the Congress. If no proposals are received from the region whose turn it is, or if the submitted proposals are deemed unsuitable for hosting a Congress by the Executive Committee, the next region scheduled to host the Congress will be invited to submit proposals. The Executive Committee will review all proposals and may ask bidders for clarifications or additional information. 

Once the Executive Committee has determined a final list of suitable proposals, members are invited to vote for their preference. Only the name of the selected location will be announced publicly once members have voted. No other information related to the decision will be shared.

In 2018, a spreadsheet style decision-matrix was created to enable members to quickly evaluate and compare proposals from different locations should there be more than one bid from a region. An example of the matrix can be found here .

The Congress program shall consist of scientific poster and podium presentations, and may include plenary sessions, symposia and/or workshops. Members of the Executive Council should be invited to participate in the scientific program, e.g., by delivering talks or chairing sessions, as appropriate. Segments of the program shall be set aside for the delivery of the Association’s awards, described below. Local organizers may additionally identify local awards and prizes and may choose to set aside further segments of the program for their delivery.

To ensure the smooth operation of the Congress, the Association arranges a site visit with the local organizers approximately one year before the Congress begins. This site visit is paid for by the Association, and typically no more than 3 members of the Executive Committee attend.

4.4 Commercial support 

Commercial support for the Congress may be obtained from any ethical organization with prior approval from the Executive Committee. However, sponsors shall not influence, or seek to influence, the scientific content of the program, nor shall they be involved in the selection of speakers. Sponsorship should not be sought from organizations which promote partisan ideas unrelated to epidemiology, such as political, religious or sectarian organizations. 

4.5 Special IEA Awards and Prizes

4.5.1 The Robert Cruickshank Memorial Lecture
Since 1984 (2002 excepted), a special lecture has been given at each Congress to honor the memory of Professor Robert Cruickshank, first chairman of the Association, for his role in the founding of the Association (see History of the IEA). Organizers of the Congress should ensure that this lecture is prominently featured in the program.

The Association provides a plaque, Congress registration fees, and reimbursement of travel fees to the recipient.

4.5.2 The Richard Doll Prize in Epidemiology
The Association established the Richard Doll Prize in Epidemiology in 2007. A list of past prize winners can be found here .

The prize is given to an epidemiologist of the highest scientific standard. The recipient will be honored for scientific achievements that have advanced the understanding of the determinants of a disease of importance for health in populations through a body of research that may involve a series of studies, rather than a single publication. 

The prize is presented at each Congress, with the equivalent of $5,000 in the local currency of the recipient and a plaque produced by the Association. The prize winner will be given the opportunity to address the participants of the Congress in a 30-minute plenary session on a topic of his or her own choice during the first or second day of Congress. Travel and accommodation will be paid by the Association. The winner will be introduced by the President. Additional information on the Richard Doll Prize can be found in section 9 of the Bylaws and here .

Nominations and selection
Nominating persons, agencies or organizations should fill in the Richard Doll Prize nomination form and forward it along with the CV of the candidate and a supporting statement to the President. The nomination should be kept confidential.

The prize winner will be selected by a committee of four jury members – the Immediate Past President, President-Elect and two members of Council - chaired by the Association President as follows:

    1. One or two weeks before the vote a telephone conference of the jury members will take place, chaired by the President, to discuss whether any of the candidates should be excluded from the vote because of inadequate documentation, evident non-pertinence of the qualifications, or because these are patently insufficient. Decisions to exclude candidates require the unanimity of all five jury members. No discussion on the candidates admitted to the vote takes place, being incumbent to each member of the jury to examine the documentation and form his/her own judgement. All proceedings are carried under a strict rule of confidentiality.
    2. Conflict of interest. Jurors may not nominate candidates to the prize and remain on the jury. If a juror does nominate someone, the juror must be replaced as a member of the jury.
    3. Rules of voting. Only expressed votes are counted (not abstainers); after the first round of voting, any candidates with no votes will be excluded; in each subsequent round, the candidate with the lowest number of votes will be excluded; in the first four rounds, a total of at least three votes is required for a candidate to be the winner; if a total of at least three votes is not reached in the first four rounds a simple majority of the votes expressed is required for the fifth round of the vote, and if it becomes necessary, in a sixth round; if no decision is reached after six rounds then the prize is not assigned and a new call for nominations will be made. 
    4. The names of the candidates are kept strictly confidential all throughout the process and at the end only the name of the winner is made public.

4.6 Travel bursaries

The Association provides Congress bursaries to early-career epidemiologists working or living in low income countries identified by the World Bank. The bursaries may be used for registration fees, accommodation and/or travel (at the lowest economy fare), but they might not cover the full expenses of traveling to and attending the Congress.

A selection committee to identify candidates for travel bursaries will be appointed by Council. Other than in exceptional circumstances, bursary recipients should be members of the Association who are active in practice, teaching or research. A bursary application can be found here .

Successful bursary applicants are expected to submit an abstract to be considered for a possible poster or podium talk at the Congress, but acceptance of the abstract is not guaranteed. 

4.7 Expectations of Councilors

All councilors (both incoming and outgoing) are expected to attend and participate in the Congress. Expenses will be reimbursed, with proper documentation, provided the councilor stays for the full duration of the Congress and participates in activities, including, as appropriate, the outgoing and incoming Council meetings.

Costs eligible for reimbursement to councilors include:
    • Economy air travel expenses to the airport nearest the Congress, along with ground transportation to the hotel, and
    • A USD $40 per diem for meals that are not provided as part of the Congress program. 

The Congress Committee is responsible for providing:
    • Congress registrations to Councilors, and 
    • Accommodations from the day of arrival (normally no more than one day prior to the day of the first scheduled meeting) until and including the last day of a councilor’s official IEA engagements. Those councilors exiting Council depart on the last day of the Congress. For the rest, including new Council members, the last day of Congress will be the first day of the second Council meeting which usually takes place during the afternoon of the last day of Congress and continues the following day. 

Councilors may choose to reduce the demands on the Association budget by not seeking reimbursement.