The Third EWDA Student Workshop was held from the 19th to 22nd of March 2009 at the conference centre of the Mérieux Foundation Les Pensières, in Veyrier-du-Lac, France.
Seventeen disease ecology and global health experts shared their knowledge with 40 students from 14 different countries with a wide range of educational backgrounds, including human medicine, veterinary medicine, biomedical science, epidemiology, microbiology, ecology, and molecular biology.
Both professional and student participants not only shared the latest knowledge on infectious diseases at the human and animal interface, but also and maybe foremost took part in mentoring activities and eye-opening discussions. The program of the workshop strived to illustrate the broad role of global health scientists, 1) as teachers of state-of-the-art science for coming generations of global health scientists, 2) as advisers for policy makers, and 3) as educators for the general public.
On Thursday March 19th, most students and two invited speakers connected during a sunny hike in the Natural Preserve of the Roc-de-Chère, a rocky overhang eroded by a glacier during the past ice-age. From an extensive “lapiaz” (rocs eroded by water, one of the typical Savoyard landscapes) at around 600 meters above sea level, the participants could enjoy a fantastic view of the lake of Annecy and the surrounding mountains still partly covered with snow. In the evening, the Third EWDA Student Workshop was officially opened by a special guest. Dr. Guy Vernet, scientific director of the Mérieux Foundation, presented an introduction of the Mérieux Foundation’s research philosophy and current program, demontrating the multidisciplinary approach to global health dear to Dr. Charles Mérieux, and to the EWDA Student Chapter.
On Friday March 20th, the first day of the workshop started with inspiring lectures by the invited speakers: Prof. Thijs Kuiken (Erasmus MC, Netherlands), Prof. Christian Gortazar (IREC, Spain), Dr. Richard Delahay (CSL, UK), Prof. Marc Artois (Veterinary Faculty of Lyon, France), Prof. Ab Osterhaus (Erasmus MC, Netherlands), Prof. Andy Dobson (Princeton University, USA) and Prof. Tamas Bakonyi (Veterinary Faculty of Bubapest, Hungary). The students presented the posters they prepared during a “Dynamic Slide Show” as a two-minute snapper to invite all participants to come and discuss their findings during coffee breaks. The day ended with a by-night panel on “Public-Private Partnerships for a Better Global Health” at the Chalet de la Pricaz, in a Savoyard-like international atmoshere.
On Saturday March 21st, Prof. Ab Osterhaus opened the day with an inspiring keynote lecture on “the way to science”. The day continued with the interactive working sessions, during which small groups of students were led by one of the invited speakers on their approach to state-of-the-art science. The working sessions were followed by a keynote lecture by Prof. Derek Smith on “Science and Public Health” with a brilliant presentation of scientists’ social responsibility and associated challenges. The now traditional “Grill-the-experts” session allowed students and invited speakers to interact in a more informal atmosphere on the ins and outs and roundabouts of a career in science. The second day of the workshop came to an end after a by-night panel on “Reaching the public for a Better Science”, co-chaired by Mr. Martin Enserink, journalist and European correspondent for the journal Science, and Prof. Hubert Reeves, renowned astrophysicist famous for his inspiring books addressed to the general public.
On Sunday March 22nd, the final day of the workshop started with the Student Act-Out and Student Panel during which the students communicated the results of the working sessions and participated in a press conference (with the audience of students and speakers who enjoyed playing the role of journalists). Summaries of the tips and advices of the invited speakers to the groups of students closed the Student-Act-Out session. Prof. Dan Haydon presented a keynote lecture on the Intervention Strategies at our disposal to control infectious diseases at the animal and human interface. The last part of the workshop was dedicated to research and development, emphasizing that there is more than academia to disease ecology research. A video of the presentation of Mr. Bill Gates at the TED conference last February opened the Fundamental R&D session, featuring Prof. Eric Claassen (Viroclinics), Dr. Jean-Christophe Audonnet (Merial) and Dr. Giuseppe Del Giudice (Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics). A professional panel chaired by Prof. Dan Haydon closed the workshop by summarizing what had been learned during the previous three days and concluding that there are multiple ways to state-of-the-art science, echoing Ab Osterhaus’ message of the preceding day: “do it your way!”.
Pictures can be found here!