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The BSI team on our stand at ECI

The British Society for Immunology was delighted to attend the recent European Congress of Immunology (ECI) held in the beautiful city of Amsterdam on 2–5 September 2018. The flagship event of the European Federation of Immunological Societies (EFIS), this year’s conference was held in conjunction with local hosts the Dutch Society for Immunology and was a showcase of the best immunological research taking place in Europe and beyond. The event is held every three years at different venues around Europe and regularly attracts over 3,000 to enjoy the cutting-edge science, unrivalled networking opportunities and convivial atmosphere.

The BSI always aims to have a strong presence at ECI and this year was no exception. We were particularly thrilled that our President, Professor Peter Openshaw, was invited to speak in the Opening Ceremony and present key findings from our recent ‘Careers in Immunology’ report, particularly focusing on the role that international collaborations play in forwarding immunologists’ careers. This was a fantastic opportunity to highlight the work of the BSI to a large international audience and we were particularly gratified by the number of delegates who stopped by the BSI stand throughout the week to find out more about our work. Peter followed up this presentation with another talk in the ‘Men and Women in Immunology’ session, which focused on the findings in our report regarding the different experiences of and perceptions by men and women working in the immunology field. This session generated an in-depth and thoughtful debate, with many delegates sharing their experiences and thoughts.

Meanwhile, the BSI stand in the exhibition area was in full swing with a steady stream of visitors dropping by to find out more about our work, the benefits that BSI membership offers or just to say hello. The Monday of ECI also marked our new CEO, Doug Brown’s, first day in the role – nothing like hitting the floor running! The Congress proved an excellent opportunity for him to meet with many of our members face to face and find out more about their hopes and expectations for the Society. I know Doug would like to thank all those who welcomed him so warmly to our immunological community.

ECI is an excellent opportunity for maintaining our connections on an international level and we made sure that we made the most of the chance to meet with representatives from other European immunology societies to find out more about each other’s work and possible areas for collaboration. During the conference, there was also much anticipation on the vote for the 2024 ECI Congress – our congratulations go to the Irish Society for Immunology, who it was announced will host the event in Dublin in 2024.

Muzlifah Haniffa winning the Early Career Research Prize in Allergology

ECI is also a time to celebrate excellence and we were delighted to see that several UK-based researchers were honoured. The EFIS–European Journal of Immunology (EJI) Ita Askonas Award was presented to Katja Simon (University of Oxford). This prize was established to acknowledge female group leaders in immunology who have run an independent laboratory for 4–8 years and is one of the most prestigious prizes awarded by EFIS – our congratulations to Katja. In addition, the UK was wellrepresented in the ACTERIA (ACTing on European Research in Immunology and Allergology) – EFIS awards.  Muzlifah Haniffa from Newcastle University won the Early Career Research Prize in Allergology while Eduardo Bonavita (Cancer Research UK, Manchester and Humanitas Clinical and Research Centre, Milan) won the Doctoral Prize in Immunology.

Our journals, Immunology and Clinical & Experimental Immunology, were also well represented at the Congress, both on the stand and in ‘An expert’s guide to publishing’ session sponsored by our publishers Wiley. The session saw Immunology Editor-in-Chief Danny Altmann and BSI Journals Manager Christine Fears provide their top tips on how to navigate the peer-review process and maximise your chance of getting your work published.  The session proved incredibly popular with delegates, with standing room only and an energetic and purposeful discussion section. Attending the ECI was a fantastic experience for the BSI staff. We loved meeting the many BSI members present and finding out more about your work. The highlight of the Congress for me was our networking session on the BSI stand where we invited all delegates who were members of BSI to join us for a drink. The turnout was fantastic with members from all backgrounds and career grades coming together to find out more about our work and network with each other. The friendly and collegiate atmosphere really brought home what a wonderful community BSI is.

Our thanks go to EFIS and the Dutch Society for hosting such a vibrant and insightful meeting. We now look forward to the next ECI, which is due to take place in 2021 in Belgrade, Serbia as a collaboration between the Serbian and Turkish Societies for Immunology. 

Jennie Evans
Head of External Affairs, BSI