News from the vaccine world

News from the vaccine world

Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, by Benedict Halbroth

Blog VacTrainPosted by Ben van der Zeijst 17 Jul, 2014 09:31

During the first week of July, I took part in the 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Physiology and Medicine. The European Commission had supported my application to the Lindau Nobel Selection Committee, which then invited 20 Marie Curie fellows to this exceptional meeting. Located in the beautiful city of Lindau at the lake Bodensee (which is at the border of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria), 37 Nobel Laureates came together to meet young scientists from all over the world – including myself!

Taking part at the Lindau meeting was certainly one of the most exciting and inspiring events I have experienced so far: I had the opportunity to take part in science breakfasts, numerous lectures as well as several discussion sessions, each accompanied by at least one Nobel laureate. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to meet the laureates in person (e.g. Professor Arieh Warshel) during lunch and dinner events.

Most excitingly, Professor Zinkernagel had accepted me as one of four young scientists to give a presentation in his “master class” about pandemic diseases. This gave me the fantastic opportunity to present and discuss new approaches and ideas in vaccinology with about 70 young scientists as well as Professor Zinkernagel. Getting feedback from one of the most respected immunologists worldwide and discussing ideas with some of the brightest young researchers was most inspiring, gave me tremendous motivation to pursue my research, and strengthened my ambition to become an expert in vaccinology.

Some of the events during the Lindau meeting are published online (including all given lectures): Having a special interest in infectious diseases, cancer, and immunology, I was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to listen to Prof zur Hausen, Prof Zinkernagel, Prof Barré-Sinoussi, or Prof Peter Agre. But many other lectures were equally enjoyable and inspiring: For example, the 89 year old Professor Oliver Smithies emphasised his joy and passion for science and was very convincing that this is the very key to be successful in science!

I am very grateful to have had these fantastic experiences at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting and would like to thank VacTrain, the European Commission, and the Lindau Committee for giving me this opportunity!

Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Introduction to the blog

Blog VacTrainPosted by Ben van der Zeijst 03 Jun, 2014 12:41
In the 20th century between 300 and 500 million people died from smallpox, an infectious disease now eradicated by vaccination. Without vaccines there would be much more cases of infectious diseases everywhere in the world. But we need still more vaccines and some vaccines should be improved.
Look at the numbers (WHO, 2012):
HIV/AIDS:1.7 million deaths
Malaria:627 000 deaths
Tuberculosis:1.3 million deaths

Vaccine development is a long (about 16 years) and expensive (several 100 millions €) process. It is also a complicated process with several players. Universities, public research institutes and biotech companies are involved in early stage research (discovery). Often they continue to test vaccines in animals, providing proof of principle for efficacy and safety. Pharmaceutical companies usually carry out the clinical studies to test the vaccines and produce vaccines. Finally, government agencies decide whether the safety and efficacy of a vaccine is sufficient before admitting it to the market.

Almost everybody has come in contact with vaccines, but to improve vaccines and to develop new vaccines, vaccine specialists with knowledge on the entire process of vaccine development are needed. Therefore, we started ‘VacTrain’, an EU-funded training network consisting of 8 academic and industrial partners in vaccine research and development. VacTrain started in 2012. 11 young researchers are presently working on their PhD studies and are at the same time trained to become vaccinologists. In later blogs you will hear more from them. We will also update you on new developments from within the Vaccine World.

Authors: Dr. Wendy van Hemmen and Prof. Ben van der Zeijst

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