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News from the vaccine world

Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, by Benedict Halbroth

Blog VacTrain Posted on 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
, Prof
, 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 VacTrain Posted on 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

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

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

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