The Schizophrenia International Research Society held its first scientific conference in Venice, Italy, June 21 to 25th, 2008. A wide range of controversial topics were presented in overlapping and plenary oral sessions. These included new genetic studies, controversies about early detection of schizophrenia and the prodrome, treatment issues, clinical characteristics, cognition, neuropathology and neurophysiology, other etiological considerations, substance abuse co-morbidity, and animal models for investigating disease etiology and for use as targets in drug studies. Young investigators in the field were awarded travel grants to participate in the congress and one of their roles was to summarize the oral sessions and subsequent discussions. The reports that follow are the culmination of this work produced by 30 young investigators who attended the congress. It is hoped that these summaries will be useful synopses of what actually occurred at the congress for those who did not attend each session or were unable to be present. The abstracts of all presentations, as submitted by the authors a few months prior, were previously published as supplement 2 to volume 102/1-3, June 2008.