Our Regional Group connecting immunologists in the West Midlands has recently expanded to bring together and encourage collaboration between all those interested in immunology across the whole Midlands region. Here, Dr David Bending and Dr Kendle Maslowski, the Group’s Co-Chairs, tell us how they are widening their geographical scope, discuss their exciting ongoing activities and explain how you can get involved.
Previously called the BSI West Midlands Immunology Group, which largely encompassed university and clinical immunologists based within the Birmingham region, the BSI Midlands Immunology Group (MIG) is currently undergoing an expansion to bring together even more of the immunology community. The experience of the pandemic led to increased cross-Midlands interaction due to the nature of virtual platforms such as Zoom. The main change for the BSI MIG is that we have widened our geographical remit to include the University of Nottingham in the East Midlands. Nottingham now has dedicated representation on our committee at both academic and student levels, and we hope that this will increase engagement between the Universities of Birmingham, Aston and Nottingham.
BSI MIG’s aim is to support the BSI in creating a connected community by promoting interaction among immunologists across both academic and clinical settings. We hold monthly seminars and an annual symposium, usually in spring. Our events throughout the year bring together students, early career researchers, clinicians, and group leaders to present and discuss the latest advances in research in immunology.
The pandemic restrictions led us to diversify our seminar series by inviting speakers to present virtually from across the globe, including San Francisco (USA) and Melbourne (Australia). This is something we typically may not have considered before the pandemic and has led to new and exciting collaborations. We were delighted to restart our in-person seminar series this February. The BSI MIG is particularly keen to invite early career researchers and new group leaders to help them promote their work and build networks, so please reach out to us if you would like to give a talk – we would be delighted to host you.
The BSI MIG is particularly keen to invite early career researchers and new group leaders to help them promote their work and build networks.
Our research interests cover almost every facet of immunology, including adaptive and innate immunity, autoimmunity, cancer immunology and clinical immunology. So far this year we have had many fantastic talks, including seminars on macrophages in the meninges and the immunosuppressive effects of stroke. Our seminars are typically held on a Friday at the University of Birmingham, but from July some will also be held at the University of Nottingham, with opportunities to speak at both institutions. We always offer our seminar speakers an opportunity to meet with researchers and many take up the opportunity to stay for a night in Birmingham and enjoy a meal to network with immunologists from the Midlands. We also organise a lunch for students and early career postdocs to meet with the speaker. We believe these are excellent opportunities to meet informally with external scientists.
One of our key events is our annual symposium. Our last in-person symposium before the pandemic was in 2019. We successfully held a virtual symposium last June, which was a great success and succeeded in our aim of attracting speakers from across the Midlands. On 13 May 2022, we hosted our postponed symposium from 2020 at the University of Birmingham’s Edgbaston Park Hotel. This was the launch date for the formation of the new Midlands Immunology Group, and we had a great line up of speakers. Our annual symposia are great opportunities for early career researchers to get involved in organising events, scoring abstracts, and getting experience in chairing scientific sessions. And the event itself is a great experience for presenting posters or short talks in front of a familiar and engaging audience.
Dr David Bending & Dr Kendle Maslowski
University of Birmingham, Co-Chairs of the BSI Midlands Immunology Group