The first in-person CARINA network meeting took place in Birmingham on Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 June. We'd like to say a huge thank you to all our speakers, presenters, sponsor and attendees who helped to make the meeting a success. Thank you to our Management Board for all their hard work in bringing together an excellent programme that fostered some great discussions between network members. In total, despite train strikes, we welcomed 40 attendees over the course of the two days.
Following an introduction from CARINA Chair, Arne Akbar, we kicked off proceedings with a keynote talk from Janet Lord focusing on frailty, how it is defined and how it is linked to immune ageing. This was followed by a series of spotlight talks on the first day of the meeting looking at immune ageing from different several perspectives including: psychoneuroimmunology, cognitive ageing, circadian rhythms and B cell ageing. This set the stage for a productive discussion session on the roadmap for CARINA – how we can best facilitate an interdisciplinary approach and priorities for delivery over the course of the project. Completion of a comprehensive gap analysis, support for data sharing and creating a universal definition of frailty to allow for crosstalk between disciplines emerged as key action points that we look forward to working on in the coming months.
Momentum was maintained for day two of the meeting where the keynote address from Neil Mabbott focused on the potential of large data sets for ageing research and we heard from Lynne Cox from the UK Ageing Network. She discussed how we can work with the ten other networks funded by MRC and BBSRC in their grant call to transform ageing research in the UK. A presentation about the early career researcher (ECR) group within CARINA sparked discussion on the types of practical support and guidance that could be provided within the network for ECRs. Additionally, we were delighted to welcome our two patient and public involvement (PPI) representatives who sit on the CARINA Scientific Advisory Board to a fireside session where they shared valuable insights on the importance of PPI and inclusivity in ageing research.
The breakout session entitled ‘What are the gaps’ was brought together the important discussion points from across the two days. Network members identified the tools needed to accelerate immune aging research, what we need to know and where opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration may be. This will feed into CARINA’s work on a gap analysis mapping the key research areas in immune ageing and how we can address them.
Our huge thanks go to the funders of CARINA, BBSRC and MRC, for funding the meeting. Thank you to UK Spine who provided extra financial support and to the British Society for Immunology for supporting the organisation.
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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 network meeting. It is only through hearing from you what you liked and what we could do better that we can make future network meetings even more relevant and successful.