Save the date for the 2020 VASE Conference in Washington, DC!
I’m delighted to share that last week we announced the dates and location for the third international Vaccines Against Shigella and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) Conference (otherwise known as the VASE Conference) – September 29 to October 1, 2020 in Washington, DC. We also opened our call for break-out workshop topic ideas, with a submission deadline of February 17. I’ve been on the planning team for all of the VASE Conferences, and I must admit that I’m especially excited for this one.
When we hosted our first VASE in Washington, DC in 2016, we were amazed by the turnout – we had far more attendees than we expected, and we never imagined we would get 71 abstract submissions for a first-time conference. We knew then that VASE would need to return to DC again in the future, given the rich breadth of local attendees who joined us that year. That said, VASE 2018 in Mexico City wasn’t too shabby either! We hosted nearly 200 attendees from about 30 countries, and had a 20 percent increase in abstract submissions, representing a wide range of research topics.
So, why am I so excited about our next conference? For 2020, VASE is evolving. We are extending the conference to encompass three full days (as opposed to the previous 2.5 days), as well as expanding the scope to formally include other emerging pathogens, such as Campylobacter and non-typhoidal Salmonella, as important contributors to the global diarrheal disease burden. While we aren’t changing the VASE name and its focus on Shigella and ETEC, we want to more intentionally include these significant, but often neglected, diarrhea-causing pathogens for which vaccines are urgently needed.
What isn’t going to change about VASE? We’ll still be gathering together top-notch scientists, public health professionals, immunization leaders, vaccine industry representatives, donors, and other experts for a uniquely collaborative and interactive conference. The program will continue to feature (even more) abstract-based presentations, break-out workshop sessions, and keynote speakers. And, perhaps most importantly, we’ll continue to design VASE to ensure ample opportunities to network with people who are tackling the same issues as you in the field of enteric vaccines.
We have three themes for VASE 2020 that will shape the agenda. The first is a continuation of a 2018 theme: as diarrhea mortality rates in children decline, the focus must shift to including the longer-term impact of diarrhea on child growth and development. Second, new data on the burden of emerging enteric pathogens and antimicrobial resistance in these pathogens indicate that vaccines addressing a broader scope of agents will be critical to controlling diarrhea. And, last but not least, the application of innovative new tools to better define protective immunity and develop new enteric vaccine approaches will improve efficacy, delivery, and uptake.
Right now, please save the date for VASE 2020 and consider submitting an idea for a break-out workshop topic to directly contribute to building the conference. And, get ready for January when the call for abstracts and the travel grant application portal will open!