For the second consecutive year, the IT-DED³ network was present at EuDEC, the annual congress of the European Dry Eye Society (EuDEC). On June 10th and 11th, a delegation of IT-DED³ members came together with more than 400 experts in ocular surface disease and dry eye in Paris to join the second edition of this 2-day congress. It consisted of numerous lectures and discussions with key opinion leaders worldwide. In a session entirely devoted to our consortium and entitled “IT-DED³ An European network for innovation” the audience could learn about the main achievements of our project over the past four years.
Philipp Steven held the role of chairman of this session and introduced IT-DED³ by pointing out the Training Programme as the core of the work plan. Steven stressed the excellent opportunity this European Union-funded network offers to early-stage researchers (ESRs) and the following benefits for the European research community. The Work-Package Leaders Amalia Enríquez-de-Salamanca (WP1), Arto Urtti (WP2), Annabelle Reaux-Le-Goazigo and Françoise Brignole-Baudouin (WP3) presented the main goals and outcome of each team, listing the numerous publications and dissemination through participation in worldwide conferences. The Director of Training, María J. González-García provided an overview of the educational programme and stressed the involvement of the fellows in intersectoral secondments, their participation in lectures and workshops in transferable skills and engagement in the outreach of the network. All these aspects contribute to the uniqueness and innovative nature of this training plan. Camilla Scarpellini, a representative of the ESRs, gave a first-hand testimonial speech based on her experience as a Ph.D. fellow at the University of Antwerp. She emphasized the advantages of being part of an international, multidisciplinary and intersectoral network and its impact on their future career. Last but not least, Michael E. Stern, as head of the External Advisory Board, turned the spotlight on the collaboration between academia and industry. Stern highlighted the benefits of offering the doctoral fellows a comprehensive professional environment and how intersectoral cooperation leverages and extends the exploitation opportunities for research findings.
On June 18th and 19th, the European Dry Eye Society (EuDES) held their first edition of the EuDEC Congress and gave our IT-DED³ network the opportunity to introduce our Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions to a global research community specialized in Dry Eye Disease.
The European Dry Eye Society (EuDES) brings together most European Dry Eye Disease specialists and is the basis for structuring a task force on a European level, to continue expanding knowledge in the wide area of Dry Eye. The first edition of the European Dry Eye Society Congress (EuDEC 2021) consisted of a very informative virtual programme, featuring speakers from all over the world, and was supported by industrial partners that are leaders in this research field.
The participation of IT-DED³ consisted of a full session on June 19th entitled “ITDED3 A European consortium for innovation” and was chaired by Prof. Dr. med. Philipp Steven – head of Division for Dry Eye Disease and ocular GvHD at the University Hospital Cologne. The programme included six oral presentations. It started with an introduction by the coordinator, Prof. Koen Augustyns – Dean of the faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences at the University of Antwerp, and concluded with a presentation about the perspectives of the External Advisory Board, given by Dr. Michael E. Stern – Chief Scientific Officer of ImmunEyez. Four early-stage researchers – Alba Ramos Llorca, Luna Krstić, Adrián Guerrero Moreno and Md Asif Khan Setu – described their different research lines within this project and provided a comprehensive overview of the main goals of IT-DED³.
This participation of our network in EuDEC was not limited to the IT-DED³ session on June 19th. Two members of the External Advisory Board and four supervisors also took part in the congress either with keynote lectures, oral presentations or by chairing scientific discussions. Furthermore, no less than seven early-stage researchers presented their latest findings in the e-poster session.
This is the second occasion in three years that IT-DED³ has participated as a network in a scientific congress, with EVER2019 being the first time.
- Opinion article -
Since March 2020, COVID-19 has changed the way we work. Above all, it forced a shift towards an online environment, also affecting our IT-DED3 project.
The Annual Meetings within the consortium previously planned in person now take place on virtual platforms. For 2020, it was scheduled to be held in Kuopio – Finland, while for 2021 in Paris – France.
Apart from the network meetings, our training program foresees attendances at plenty of different events, which have also been affected by these circumstances. The conferences planned from March 2020 on-wards moved towards an online version. What do our early-stage researchers (ESRs) think about this change?
According to Davide (ESR5), “it is harder to stay focused during the presentations” if they are not in person, while Bao (ESR10) mentions that “it is really disappointing that I could not present my poster” and there was “no opportunity to meet and discuss with industrial partners or other researchers in this field”. Maha (ESR12) agreed with Bao, reporting the “inability to meet different experts in the field more conveniently by networking during the attendance of conferences and the workshops”. On the other hand, our ESRs found that there were some positive aspects, such as that the conferences could be attended from anywhere. As Asif (ESR11) stated, “the main advantage of the online meetings is flexibility. I could join from anywhere in the world and watch the recordings”.
Among the conferences attended, we can find TFOS 2020 (Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society, September 2020), Vision 2020 at Hamilton Eye Institute (University of Tennessee Health Science Center, October 2020), EFMC-ISMC 2020 (European Federation of Medicinal Chemistry, September 2020) or 24rd Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering virtual Conference (ACS Green Chemistry Institute, June 2020).
Despite the positive aspect associated with the virtual environment, our research team is looking forward to meeting in person again. The advantages of face-to-face contact can definitely not be replaced.
- Date: October 17-19, 2019
- Location: Acropolis Convention Center, 1 Esplanade John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 06000 Nice, France (www.nice-acropolis.com)
- Programme (presentations below)
The joint meeting between OcuTher and IT-DED³ was a success! Organised as a satellite seminar to the EVER Congress 2019 in Nice on October 16, this joint activity was a first step towards a promising collaboration between the two MSCA-ITN networks. This goal was certainly met. The meeting opened with outstanding presentations by Prof. Morten Carstens Moe, Head of Research at the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Oslo, and Prof. Tor Paaske Utheim, Director of Innovation at the Oslo University Hospital. Presentations about ongoing research by six of the ESRs followed – three from each project. The afternoon closed with a networking session that provided an opportunity to the ESRs from both projects to expand their research network and get to know their peers, with whom they share similar experiences.
The meeting was followed by the three day Congress 2019 (http://www.ever2019.org/), where OcuTher and IT-DED³ shared a booth at the exhibition area (spot nr. 6).
- ‘Drug discovery: design, synthesis and biological evaluation of novel ferroptosis and necroptosis inhibitors’ by Camilla Scarpellini (ESR2)
- ‘Exploring the role of opioids and chemokines in dry eye pain’ by Adrián Guerrero-Moreno (ESR9)
- ‘Development of new carriers to improve the bioavailability of natural compounds to treat ocular surface disorders’ by Luna Krstic (ESR6)
- Presentation Introduction to IT-DED3 by Maya Berg and Paz Yanez
- Presentation by Camilla Scarpellini (ESR2)
- Presentation by Adrián Guerrero-Moreno (ESR9)
- Presentation by Luna Krstic (ESR6)
- The Théa Sponsored Symposium & Dinner
- Conference booth at the EVER Congress 2019
- Poster presentation at the EVER Congress 2019, by Maha Abdallah (ESR12)