OVAG 2020 – A Message from OC’s President

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all staying safe and keeping others safe by wearing your masks!!!!

Due to the pandemic currently raging, it should come as no surprise that this year’s OVAG was virtual.  Thanks to a grant and an invitation from University of Michigan, we were able to build a meeting site with materials on the Canvas platform.  Since we were virtual, we sent invitations to everyone who had ever attended an OVAG workshop (since 2009) to participate.  Everyone was given access to the online materials – and those materials were extensive!!!!  We also held a weeklong “Live Session” that ran from July 6 – 10.

97 people attended the weeklong Zoom sessions – lasting 5 to 6 hours per day (though not everyone was able to attend every day as many work at centers or in the forest).  On day 1 we had 64 people, Day 2 we had 76, Day 3 we had 78, Day 4 we had 84 and on Day 5 we had 72.  We had 51 people attend all 5 days.  The following countries were ‘logged in”: Indonesia (61 people), Malaysia (8 people), the United States (11 people), United Kingdom (9 people), Africa (1 person), Korea (2 people), India (2 people), Thailand (2 people), Australia (1 person).  It was an amazing turnout.

Topics we covered were of course an extensive session on the Corona virus as well as other emerging and/or reemerging infectious diseases and was to mitigate responses.  We, as OVAG, came up with our own helpful guidelines and steps to manage any outbreak that might occur and how to prevent it if possible.  We went over some anesthetics, nutrition, TB, field projects, Exhibit Design Tool (from University of Birmingham, UK), the orangutan microbiome, molecular diagnostics (parasites), a much requested dentistry session, clinical husbandry issues and we even managed to squeeze in a day for case studies. 

The ‘live’ participants not only spend so many hours on line with us, but they also had a lot of ‘homework’ to complete.  Several quizzes and assignments were required of them and now they all have to be collated!

While not the face to face OVAG we have all become used to – we were still able to conduct a fruitful, educational and communal experience.

Next year – fingers crossed we will be back in Southeast Asia for OVAG 2021 ( our lucky 13th!!!)

Thank you for all your support in helping to make our 2020 OVAg workshop successful!

Dr. Raffaella Commitante,


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