With the aim to bridge the translational gap in immunopathology, VIB Translational Immunology brought together research scientists to discuss major advances from the bench to the clinic. The event was held in the charming city of Gent, in Belgium.
It could not be a better place. The venue was at the Music Center De Bijloke; an ancient monastic medieval hospital founded 700 years ago. The area combines a 13th-century grand hall with modern architecture. The place built for healing people was now the site for essential discussions in translational immunology that can have significant implications in healing patients in the future.
At the event, senior and young scientists shared new discoveries. Senior scientists, Ph.D. students, and Postdocs were together discussing the essential pathways on human immunology physiology and the translational potential for new therapies. There were several talks and poster sessions.
During 2 days, twenty speakers were delivering high level science in the beautiful auditorium for around 250 participants. The speakers came in its majority from Belgium, The Netherlands, France, UK and also US, and it was a mix of in-person presentations and digital live presentations, as some of them could not be present due COVID-19 restrictions.
The day one started with the keynote speaker Dr. Alain Fischer from College de France, where he talked about SCID-X1 immunity disorder. It was followed by other two sessions, one in “Lymphocyte Immune Regulation” and another in “Fundamental Immunology for Better Intervention Design”. The second day had three more sessions: “Tissue-Specific Immunity”, “Bugs and Drugs in Immunology” and “COVID-19”.
From a total of 67 posters, I will pick the poster from Lorenzo Canti, a Ph.D. student from the University of Liege, from all the fantastic presentations. He had an interesting question on COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness in hematopoietic stem cells (HSC)-transplanted patients. Why did it call my attention? Because we have been experiencing some harsh societal reactions due to the pandemic, especially concerning vaccines. It is vital to notice that the choice of some can affect the lives of the ones with no choice. While part of the population is not vaccinated, the virus will continually circulate. Therefore the group of people that are more vulnerable to the infection will suffer more consequences, as sometimes vaccination is not a choice. Many other studies were presented on COVID-19, as this is the urgent topic of the moment.
In sum, it was two days in a beautiful city, in a fantastic venue, and with brilliant and insightful people sharing knowledge to translate immunology science to cure. Without forgetting the nice food served (especially the delicious soup) and the “La Chouffe” to close the day.
P.S. To take precautions against COVID-19, the event had only vaccinated participants, and masks were used all the time. GenScript Europe was sponsoring this event.