EFIS on Tour
For several years, the EFIS Board of Directors would choose to hold its periodic meetings (3-4 times per year) in different cities throughout Europe in order to meet with member immunology societies. Until recently, representatives of host societies were invited to attend the EFIS Board’s Saturday meeting, to present their organization, its initiatives and its goals, and to explore areas in which interaction with EFIS could be enhanced. Generally, these encounters were limited to a select few representatives of local societies for 60 - 90 minutes, and while meetings were, as could be expected, always quite cordial, they could also be insular, with the EFIS Board rarely in the position to understand if meetings had any true fallout, especially among societies’ membership ranks.
To enhance interaction with its member societies and their local immunology communities, in 2016 EFIS launched the EFIS on Tour Symposium series. Conceived and proposed by EFIS President René van Lier and enthusiastically embraced by the EFIS Board, these half-day seminars organised on the Friday afternoon preceding the Board's traditional Saturday meeting feature talks by EFIS Board Members and speakers of the hosting societies. Beyond the immediate concrete result of providing a setting for societies to present their most important research lines and to showcase their emerging young talents in an open scientific exchange with the EFIS Board, the far-reaching goal of the EFIS on Tour Symposia is to engage national societies as much as possible at a grassroots level (bearing in mind that EFIS does not have direct contact with societies’ membership bases), and to increase awareness about what EFIS endeavours to do to support the European community of researchers and clinicians working in immunology and related fields.
The EFIS Board is convinced that the EFIS on Tour Symposium series is an initiative that can effectively support the European immunology community and is hopeful that its national societies – especially its smaller members – will seek to take up on the opportunity to engage and share with EFIS the opportunity to organise a symposium in the near future.
An article appearing in the June 2018 issue of the European Journal of Immunology summarizing the EFIS on Tour Symposium series to date can be downloaded here.
The inaugural EFIS on Tour Symposium, co-organised by former, long-standing EFIS Secretary General Anna Erdei on behalf of the Hungarian Society for Immunology (MIT), was held c/o the prestigious Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest in July 2016. Telling of the event’s success was the participation of no fewer than 90 attendees (from Budapest, as well as from Pécs, Szeged and Debrecen), a remarkable turnout given the midsummer holiday for the staff of the Semmelweiss Medical University. Talks by EFIS Directors René van Lier (“Lymphocytes in the frontline: properties of human tissue-resident T cells”), Andreas Radbruch ("The resting and the restless immunological memory"), Lorenzo Moretta ("Human NK cells: from biology to clinical applications") and Pablo Engel ("Viral hijacking of cellular genes to subvert host immunity") were complemented by presentations by then MIT President Imre Kacskovics ("Accelerating antibody discovery using transgenic animals overexpressing the neonatal Fc receptors as a result of augmented humoral immunity”) and MIT Council representative Attila Mócsai ("Neutrophil signalling in inflammatory disease models”). The complete program can be downloaded here.
EFIS on Tour then moved to Athens in October 2016, hosted by the Hellenic Society of Immunology (HSI). The symposium was again very well attended, and appropriately featured two junior clinical scientists, Maria Mytilinaiou and Aikaterini Stavropoulos-Gioka, whose respective talks on stem cells in autoimmunity and the immunopathophysiology of IgG4-related diseases reflected the strong clinical immunology vocation of the HSI. Representing EFIS were again Andreas Radbruch ("Adaptation of T cells to chronic inflammation"), and Winfried Pickl ("The role of T regulatory cells in health and disease"), as well as guests of EFIS, Marieke van Ham of the Sanquin Blood Foundation (Amsterdam) and President of the Fifth European Congress of Immunology (ECI 2018), who spoke about induction and termination of T-cell-mediated B cell responses, and Paola Castagnoli, Chair of the European Network of Immunology Institutes (ENII), who presented on the control exerted by CD103+ dendritic cells on Th17 cell function in the lung. Click here for the Symposium program.
2017 saw two EFIS on Tour symposia, the first of which took place in March in Lisbon. By the EFIS Board’s own admission, this event, hosted by the Portuguese Society of Immunology (SPI) c/o the Institute of Molecular Medicine, was the most scientifically stimulating thus far held in the series and, indeed, owing to lengthy discussion ran nearly an hour overtime. Prominent highlights included talks by SPI members Luis Moita (Gulbenkian Institute of Science), speaking on the importance of disease tolerance in the onset of sepsis, and Henrique Veiga-Fernandes (Champalimaud Research), who presented on neuroimune regulation of mucosal physiology. Moreover, despite a very crowded agenda, there was even time for a presentation by EC Liaison for EFIS, Arnd Hoeveler, on new trends for immunology in current and future EU research programmes. On behalf of the EFIS Board, René van Lier, Andreas Radbruch, Winfried Pickl and Pablo Engel presented their respective groups’ ongoing research efforts to an audience of over 100. Once again, attesting to the appreciation of the initiative was the large turnout of group leaders and their associates and students from research hubs of outside of Lisbon (namely, Porto and Braga). For the full program, click here.
Accepting the invitation of the Croatian Immunological Society (HID), the EFIS Board travelled to Zagreb in October 2017 for its fourth EFIS on Tour Symposium. In addition to the significance of this being the first time ever that an EFIS Board had met directly with the HID, the symposium assumed greater relevance as it was integrated into the HID’s 2017 Annual Meeting. Over one and a half days, the entire EFIS Board and its guests – Günnur Deniz, Ihsan Gürsel and Barbaros Oral of the Turkish Society of Immunology, and former EFIS Treasurer Reinhold Schmidt – had the opportunity to share their cutting-edge findings with an audience of more than 120 meeting participants. The complete program of the event is available here.
The fifth EFIS on Tour Symposium took place this past February, again hosted by a national society with which an EFIS Board had never convened: the Bulgarian Society for Immunology (BuSI). Organised by BuSI Co-President Andrey Tchorbanov (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences), the symposium was held c/o the Medical University of Sofia and featured talks by BuSI Co-President Maria Nikolova ("T regulatory cells in chronic HIV infection: guilty or not guilty"), and BuSI members Snezhina Mihailova ("T cell dysregulation and signalling in primary immune deficiencies") and Dobroslav Kyurkchiev ("Indirect immunosuppression realized by mesenchymal stem cells"). Representing EFIS on this occasion were Andreas Radbruch ("Maintenance of immunological memory - cycling and circulating versus resting and resident memory cells"), Winfried Pickl ("Genetic restriction of antigen-presentation dictates allergic sensitization and disease"), Pablo Engel ("Immunoglobulin superfamily genes captured by viruses for immune evasion") and René van Lier ("Regulation of tissue-resident T cells"). The complete program can be downloaded here.
The most recent stop of the EFIS on Tour Symposium saw the EFIS Board travelling to visit a national society with which it has never met: the Estonian Society for Immunology and Allergology (EIAS). Scheduled for June 1st, 2018 c/o the Technical University of Tallinn, the nearly full day symposium, featured talks by prominent EIAS representatives, including EIAS President Kai Kisand, together with Pärt Peterson, Raivo Uibo and others (most of whom made the effort to travel from the principal immunology research community in Tartu, 2 ½ hours away), as well as by Francesco Annunziato, Chair of the EJI Executive Committee. For the full program, click here.