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CARINA Network cross-sector meeting

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Lorna Harries delivering her keynote talk

CARINA recently hosted a highly successful cross-sector meeting at the Royal Society in London on Tuesday 23 January 2024. The aim of this meeting was to bring together stakeholders from different sectors, including academia, industry, clinical and government, to examine how they can best work together to promote collaboration and drive the field of immune ageing forward.

The CARINA Management Board brought together an excellent programme that included speakers from different sectors and career stages to foster insightful discussions.


Sharing research, ideas and perspectives

At the start of the meeting, CARINA Chair, Arne Akbar, welcomed attendees and outlined the intentions for the meeting, highlighting the importance of cross-sector interactions, and the sharing of ideas and industry expertise, as well as CARINA’s ambitions to nurture the next generation of scientists in the immune ageing field. The meeting then kicked off with keynote talks from guest speakers Kambiz Alavian, Co-Chair of the UK Ageing Network, and Maaz Mussad from Moderna, who discussed collaborative priorities for the future and working with the pharmaceutical industry. Kambiz’s talk highlighted the appetite for and importance of ageing research and prompted fruitful discussions surrounding the coordination of resources and ensuring accurate socioeconomic representation within cohorts. Maaz’s talk particularly focused on the differences between academic and industry research priorities.

Following these keynotes, we heard from three early career researchers from the CARINA Network: Emma Chambers, QMUL; Roel de Maeyer, University of Oxford; and Laura McCulloch, University of Edinburgh. They each presented their spotlight talks on their own areas of research, which covered the role of inflammatory mononuclear phagocytes in ageing, the ultimate animal model in understanding immune ageing and how the immune system can be targeted to improve stroke recovery. Attendees asked many interesting questions, and it was great to see such insightful discussions.

The momentum of the morning continued after lunch with our final keynote, Lorna Harries from the University of Exeter, co-founder of SENISCA, and member of CARINA’s Scientific Advisory Board, who spoke on translating basic science for industry. Some key takeaways from this talk included tips on engaging and working with industry, such as the key differences between industrial and academic research, the different types of industry engagement, the importance of protecting your ideas and choosing your investors carefully, and the vital role of teamwork. Lorna highlighted how engagement with industry is a viable way to translate your science for the real world and her talk prompted more great discussion.

CARINA Network breakout groups discussing

Opportunities, barriers and solutions

For the final part of the meeting, attendees were grouped together for a breakout session to discuss the opportunities, current barriers, and solutions to effective collaboration between researchers and industry in the field of immune ageing. The networking and collaboration opportunities available at CARINA Network meetings were highlighted and the role that the Network could play in helping individuals to navigate relationships with industry was also pointed out. Some barriers that were discussed included how to define the scope of collaboration between academia and industry, and how academic freedom could potentially be restricted by such collaboration. Attendees also spoke about the varying quality of training for researchers working in different sectors, as well as the need for more industry representation in peer review and funding panels. The importance of securing long-term funding and support for the infrastructure of immune-ageing research going forward was a frequent discussion point. It was noted that the UK is a world leader in this sector and it’s important that this momentum is built on at a national level to encourage future investment and drive forward this area of research to deliver real health benefits to patients.

Future plans

Initial feedback about this meeting has been positive, as attendees found the day to be highly beneficial and a great opportunity to form many new and important connections. The CARINA Network continues to be a valuable resource for researchers working on the immune system throughout the life course and we want to maintain this going forward. We will have more events in the future and are planning to build on the momentum from this meeting to look at how we can better facilitate academia-industry connections in the longer-term.
We'd like to say a huge thank you to all our speakers, presenters, and attendees who helped to make the meeting such a huge a success. Our huge thanks also go to the funders of CARINA, BBSRC and MRC, for supporting this meeting.

Megan Bailey, Marketing and Communications Officer


We want to hear from you!

Meeting attendees should now have received an email containing a link to a feedback survey. Please do take the time to fill this out and tell us about your experiences at the meeting. It is only through hearing from you that we can improve.