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Fuelling the immune response

In the run up to our inaugural meeting ‘Fuelling the immune response: UK Immunometabolism meeting 2019’, which will take place on 14–15 March 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, we were asked by the BSI to give you a bit of background on our motives for establishing the new Immunometabolism Affinity Group – a request we are more than happy to meet, with the hope we might pique your interest.

In recent years a new chapter in the thriving field of immunology has begun, namely that of immunometabolism. The importance of metabolism to cellular biology has been understood since the TCA cycle was discovered and Otto Warburg first described aerobic glycolysis in the 1950s. More recently, the importance of metabolism beyond simply ‘providing energy’ but also in driving and supporting cell phenotype has started to be understood – particularly in the context of cancer. However, it has been somewhat ignored by immunologists and often considered as an afterthought. Even in 2017, the term ‘metabolism’ hadn’t yet made it into the index of the 9th edition Janeway’s Immunobiology.

So here we are on a quest to change this. Sarah Dimeloe, Secretary of the Immunometabolism Focus Group Committee, highlights the importance of the relationship between metabolism and immunity: “Immunometabolism provides the link to explain how dynamic fundamental cellular processes underpin the vast diversity and flexibility of immune cell behaviours, which we know protect us throughout our lifetime from many different kinds of threat. Importantly, understanding this link is already enabling discovery of novel therapeutic targets in infection, cancer and immunological diseases as well as helping us understand the pathology of these diseases.” There is so much exciting research and scientific interest in the field out there, but we felt that there wasn’t really a dedicated forum to bring researchers working on immunometabolism in the UK together on a regular basis. So, this is what we hope to establish.

We will be starting by inviting you all to our meeting in March. It will be a great opportunity to network and present your findings. Some of the big names in immunometabolism will be speaking, alongside younger PIs who have just embarked on their journey and are going to excite us with their work. We have also allowed for two sessions, modelled on the Bright Sparks in Immunology, to encourage PhD students and postdocs to contribute and present their data. Transitioning to independence and establishing yourself as a new PI can feel daunting and we know how vital it is to link up with your peers.

We, as a committee, officially formed over a glass of wine at the BSI Congress in 2017. We are young, enthusiastic immunologists from across the UK and hope to provide a supportive platform to foster networking, the exchange of ideas, and the formation of new collaborations and friendships. Therefore, we absolutely welcome and encourage participation from all within the immunometabolism community with a special focus on early career researchers.

Please do get involved and participate in our inaugural meeting in Newcastle – we hope to see you there!

Anna Schurich on behalf of the Immunometabolism Affinity Group committee

Find out more about the BSI Immunometabolism Affinity Group on their webpage or follow them on Twitter at @BSI_immunomet