Are you ready to shoot the sh*t about new vaccines for diarrhea?
Let's face it, after more than eight years leading PATH's work on developing vaccines against Shigella and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) and more than three decades of working on enteric diseases, you might assume that I've heard it all when it comes to diarrhea. Not in the least!
There have been some amazing advances in the enteric vaccine field over the last few years, and I'm sure there are lots more that I don't even know about. That's why I'm so excited to announce PATH's first international Vaccines Against Shigella and ETEC (VASE) Conference. We're launching this new biennial conference series in Washington, DC on June 28 to 30, 2016, and we want you to be there.
I know what you're thinking - why should I come to yet another dry scientific meeting? Well, this is where we're hoping that VASE will break the mold. We're taking a unique approach to the typical vaccine conference. We want to bring together a diverse group of scientists, public health professionals, immunization leaders, vaccine industry representatives, international donors, and other experts to engage in collaborative discussions focused on making Shigella and ETEC vaccines a reality for children in the developing world.
Truly making these vaccines a reality for these kids is the key. Although we expect to include plenty of updates on vaccine research, burden of disease, and other typical scientific topics, we're aiming for every presentation, session, and discussion to include a link back to this important end-goal. (If you have a presentation idea, I urge you to submit an abstract - deadline for submission is March 1, 2016.)
We're also reaching far and wide to bring together a diverse group of participants from across the globe. We aren't charging a registration fee to make it easier for anyone to attend (registration opened on February 15 - sign up now!), and we're offering the opportunity to apply for a travel grant (deadline for applications is May 1, 2016) if you need help getting here. We really want to get voices from the front lines of the war against diarrhea in the room for these discussions, since they're the ones who can best help us figure out how to get these new vaccines to the kids who need them most.
Finally, we're designing a conference program that has lots of opportunity for interactive discussion, including some focused small-group workshops to really zero-in the challenges and potential solutions to making new enteric vaccines a reality.
One last point: while the primary focus of the conference is on Shigella and ETEC, we recognize that there are many other neglected enteric diseases emerging as important causes of illness and death among infants and children in the developing world. For this reason, we are also hoping to include broader work on these and other pathogens in the conference program.
I hope to see you at VASE 2016!
Photo credit: PATH/Richard Walker.