First DZL Academy Symposium – Virtual exchange between early career lung researchers

Screen shot of participants of the First DZL Academy Symposium

From 29-30 September 2021, the DZL Academy hosted their first symposium entitled “When bugs hit the lung – infections as drivers of acute deterioration of lung disease”. About   180   early career scientists, experienced   researchers and   clinicians   from   different   disciplines   and   organisations   gathered virtually for an in-depth exchange on a hot topic of translational lung research.

The symposium was primarily aimed at early career scientists of the DZL Academy. However, members of other organizations such as the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), the German Respiratory Society (Young DGP), the German Society of Infectious Diseases (DGI) and the German Society of Internal Medicine (DGIM) were also invited to the symposium,
thus reflecting and contributing to the translational orientation of the symposium.

Program focuses on the main topic “Infections of the lung”

The program included 11 lectures on various aspects of lung infections, given by leading international experts in the field of chronic and acute lung diseases. In addition to the talks, the programme included a moderated discussion forum on electronic posters of 29 early career scientists. A two-hour virtual networking event in the evening of the first day enabled personal exchange with senior scientists on topics such as career development and challenges and rewards of translational research. Before, during and after the event, all participants were invited to exchange via the symposium chat on interdisciplinary and specific topics.

DZL Academy Fellows Dr. Lucas Kimmig, assistant physician at the University Hospital Giessen, and Dr. Espen Groth, assistant physician at the LungenClinic Grosshansdorf and member of the Young DGP, welcomed the participants and guided them through the two afternoons of the symposium. The opening lecture was given by Prof. Tobias Welte, Director of the Clinic for Pneumology at the Hannover Medical School and Director of the DZL BREATH site, who talked about lessons learned from the current Corona pandemic. His talk was live-streamed to the DZIF Autumn School.

In the following five sessions, with two lectures each, the main topic “Infections of the lung” was examined from different perspectives. The speakers discussed mechanisms of acute lung injury caused by viruses and bacteria. They also talked about the influence of infections on disease progression in patients with pulmonary fibrosis, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Further talks focussed on the role of the lung microbiome and how air pollution (e.g. nanoparticles) may reactivate viruses and thus impact on chronic lung diseases. The symposium was organized by the DZL Academy under scientific direction of Prof. Silke Meiners, group leader at the Research Center Borstel, Prof. Michael Kreuter, section head at the Thoraxklinik Heidelberg, with Lucas Kimmig and Espen Groth.

Positive wrap-up of the symposium’s organizing commitee

The aim of the event was to gather early career scientists and experienced scientists from basic research and clinical practice,  to stimulate interdisciplinary discussions, to advance translational lung research and to promote early career scientists. In this sense, the symposium was a big success, as Michael Kreuter summarized at the end of the symposium: “The symposium covered a broad spectrum of topics in basic, translational and clinical research and stimulated an in-depth exchange between scientists from clinical and basic research. We hope that all participants took away new ideas about how translational research can be implemented in practice and how it can benefit our patients.” Silke Meiners added, “In particular, the networking of early career scientists with each other and with renowned researchers was very successful.”

The planning for the second DZL Academy Symposium has already gathered speed and all DZL Academy Fellows are invited to participate in a survey to shape the focus and format of the 2022 programme.



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