Fifth EWDA Student Workshop 2013

From the 11th to the 14th of June of this year, the 5th EWDA Student Chapter Workshop entitled “Emerging Zoonoses: Diseases Without Borders” was held at Les Pensières Conference Centre in Veryrier-du-Lac, France. Forty highly motivated students and 12 world class scientists teamed up to exchange ideas, to inspire, to teach and to learn from one another.

Hiking @ lake Annecy by Janneke Schreuder
Hiking @ lake Annecy by Janneke Schreuder

The event started with a hike in the wooded cliffs surrounding the beautiful lake of Annecy. Students and speakers got the opportunity to mingle while enjoying the magnificent scenery as well as getting some exercise before the start of three very intense days. In the evening, the programme was opened, followed by two eye-opening keynote lectures by Dolores Gavier-Widen and Sarah Randolph, placing emerging infectious diseases in a global perspective. After a delicious meal, (most) participants went to bed on time to be rested for the next morning’s early start.

At 8am, a bright-eyed Ab Osterhaus kicked off the day with a talk about emerging respiratory viruses, ambitiously covering all imaginable facets of the topic in the space of an hour. Thijs Kuiken, thorough and precise as ever, gave an overview of the species barrier and Christian Drosten impressed the students with some cutting edge molecular virology. Students in turn impressed speakers with their short presentations, on subjects ranging from pathogen survival strategies to wildlife surveillance to network analysis and transmission. Marc Artois amused and bewildered the audience with his discourse on synanthropy and Richard Kock had everyone’s undivided attention with his presentation on the wildlife-livestock-human interface in Africa.

Sarah Randolph, Thijs Kuijken and Christian Gortazar by Mariella Aalto - Araneda
Sarah Randolph, Thijs Kuijken and Christian Gortazar by Mariella Aalto – Araneda

In the late afternoon, students got two minutes to advertise their posters to the audience in the dynamic slide show, followed by a successful and animated poster session. For some students this was their first time presenting at a scientific gathering and to help them develop their skills, Christian Gortazar subsequently gave a very informative and interactive session with tips and tricks on how (and how not!) to present science. After dinner, the participants got to sit back and relax with a movie on the outbreak of a major emerging zoonosis; “Contagion”. To avoid letting the overwhelmed and well-fed students fall asleep, they were given a pop-quiz with questions regarding the movie which resulted in a lively discussion.

Students listening to Leslie Reperant during her workshop. By Mariella Aalto - Araneda
Students listening to Leslie Reperant during her workshop. By Mariella Aalto – Araneda

On Saturday another delicious breakfast, this time accompanied by some lovely spring sunshine, heralded what was to be another productive day. Four to five students teamed up with one speaker and spent the entire morning working on their specific topic, ranging from transmission to surveillance to conservation to modelling to control regarding zoonotic diseases. In the afternoon, Christian Gortazar enlightened the audience on options for wildlife disease control and Linda Lowenstine made a very strong case for the role of the pathologist in emerging disease investigation. Marie-Pierre Ryser then wrapped up the scientific session with a global perspective on wildlife health surveillance. To give students an idea of the possibilities in science, with both the advantages and the pitfalls, a PhD, a Post-Doc, a Research fellow and a Professor gave their view on science as a career. Apparently when one googles “why work in science”, there are almost 2 billion hits, but this session seemed to sum it up nicely. For any questions that left unanswered during this session, there was a panel discussion where the students got to ask speakers anything at all.

Marc Artois auctioning items by Mariella Aalto - Araneda
Marc Artois auctioning items by Mariella Aalto – Araneda

For the final evening everyone put on their party outfit and was welcomed with an aperitif that was served on the veranda overlooking the moonlit lake. To fill the gaps in the sponsoring of the event, but also as a part of the nights entertainment, the banquet was accompanied by an auction of items brought by students and speakers. Ab Osterhaus and Marc Artois had a few drinks and expertly raised an astounding 2800€ and many more laughs.

On the Sunday the programme mercifully started an hour later and, despite the previous night’s events, students were well awake with the adrenalin rush of having to present what they learned in their small group working session on Saturday morning. Becki Lawson then elaborated on dynamism of endemic and emerging diseases and after lunch, Thijs Kuiken summarized the workshop in a short overview that served to integrate presentations and re-iterate take home messages. The final panel discussion cleared up any lingering questions and at the end, all participants were tired but inspired!

The EWDA Student Chapter thanks all the EWDA for their support, both in time and money, all students and speakers for their inspiration and time, and Les Pensieres conference centre for their hospitality in receiving us. Once again it was a huge success and look forward to welcoming a new board and supporting for the next workshop in 2015!

The EWDA Student Chapter Board

By Mariella Aalto-Araneda
The whole group at Les Pensieres Conference Centre, Veryrier-du-Lac, France. By Mariella Aalto-Araneda


Pictures made by Janneke Schreuder can be found here:


This was our wonderful program:  Program 5th EWDA Student Workshop

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