On 13 – 15 November, Microbiology Society Champion Lee Sherry attended the Federation of Infection Societies Conference, or FIS, in Newcastle. Here, he discusses his experience from the meeting and how being a Society Champion complements his research career.
I was able to attend a few different talks whilst at FIS 2018 which I found to be a highly interesting and different to the conferences I usually attend. What struck me most whilst listening to the state of the art talks on the treatment regimens of HIV and HCV patients was how the talks focused on the clinical outcome as well as the feedback on side effects of treatment from patients. This was interesting; as an academic researcher I am used to looking at things in terms of the direct effect of a drug/compound on virus infection in cells. Here, the focus was a lot more holistic, offering information on the importance of early treatment following diagnosis as well as the specific effects of different classes of viral inhibitors.
I was also able to take in some talks in the vaccine session, which again offered a wider view of vaccination research taking place in the UK. For me, the most fascinating talks were by Dr Angela Minassian, who spoke about the importance of human challenge models in vaccine development and Dr Shamez Ladhani, who emphasised the importance of ‘smart’ vaccinations; how by being able to vaccinate certain cohorts of children has huge benefits for the elderly. Thus reiterating the importance of vaccines to community-wide health.
As part of my role as a society champion, I tried to get a number of attendees to sign up for e-mail updates about future FIS meetings as well as other Microbiology Society events. The ability to bring clinicians and clinical scientists into conversation with laboratory based research scientists could be hugely beneficial.
Tell us more about your day job
I am currently a post-doctoral research associate in the Stonehouse group at the University of Leeds working on the next generation of poliovirus vaccines to use in a post-eradication world.
You are an active Champion, tell us more about this role
As Society champion, one of the primary roles is to inform people about the society and the benefits. However, when you work in a University with such a high number of society members the role of a Champion is to make sure that the members are reminded of the opportunities that membership offers them, from the ECM forum to the various grants available to help fund research visits or conference attendance to help members communicate their science worldwide.
Why is it important to be part of an organization like the Microbiology Society?
Being a member of a larger network is incredibly beneficial, particularly as an ECR as it offers you a way to meet hundreds of other like-minded people with whom you can share ideas and start collaborations. An excellent new feature of the microbiology website is the Members’ directory on Mi Society which allows you to find people with similar research interests quickly and easily, allowing you to strike up a conversation before trying to find them in the crowds of people at the annual conference.
Do you have any advice for members who might be thinking about how to get more involved with society activities?
Do it, you only need to search the website and see if any of the events or issues are of interest to you and send an email to the society who will be more than happy to welcome you and point you in the right direction to help you get started.