The 2018 Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (CEIRS) Annual Network Meeting was hosted by Center for Research on Influenza Pathogenesis (CRIP) in New York City. The purpose of the meeting was to share updates on CEIRS efforts, enhance alignment throughout the Network, and foster collaboration. Center Principal Investigators provided updates on their Center’s activities and accomplishments, and investigators gave short presentations on their research.
Meeting sessions were held on influenza transmission, adaptation, and pathogenesis; animal influenza; pandemic preparedness; human influenza and host response; molecular virology; and progress towards broadly protective influenza vaccines. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. John Tsang, who discussed the work of the System Genomics and Bioinformatics Unit in the Laboratory of Immune Systems Biology at NIAID, using machine learning to build predictive models and identify parameters that can predict immune response following interventions, and how machine learning in bioinformatics can be used to leverage existing data to further influenza research.
In support of the CEIRS Network’s aim to foster collaboration within the scientific community, a panel was held to discuss opportunities for CEIRS to work with different agencies across the US government. Representatives from NIAID Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation (DAIT), NIAID Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) participated in the panel. Panel participants discussed specific topics, activities, and resources that could be leveraged into collaboration with CEIRS members.
To close the meeting, a friendly debate was held between CEIRS investigators. The debate topic was “Animal Studies vs. Human Studies for Understanding Influenza: Which are more important?” Each team debated the benefits and shortcomings of using animals vs. humans for influenza research for topics such as early life imprinting, correlates of protection, and developing a universal influenza vaccine. Team Animal was deemed the winner of the debate after polling meeting attendees.
CEIRS investigators will convene next at the CEIRS Network Surveillance meeting being held in Columbus, Ohio. The 12th Annual Network Meeting will be held in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2019.