This is the key message from the 16th International Congress of Immunology (ICI) which opened Sunday (21-26 August) at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre hosted by the Australasian Society for Immunology and the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS). More than 4,000 delegates from 70 countries are in attendance to discuss new research and developments in the field of immunological science.
Welcoming the delegates on opening day, ICI president Jose Villadangos said, “There has never been a time when more hopes and dreams lie at the feet of immunology. We have the potential of cancer immunotherapy, there are vaccines for allergies, and we have a new beast that we need to use immunological tools against in Zika.”
There has never been a time when more hopes and dreams lie at the feet of immunology.
Jose Villadangos, ICI
He said, “These immunology congresses used to be largely about basic research – and it’s still the backbone of what we do, but now immunology is at the forefront of clinical therapies as well.”
The current congress has attracted the highest participation of young students and early career researchers like Justin Nono Komguep from the Division of Immunology at the University of Cape Town in South Africa who is excited to meet researchers from other countries.
“My research is on how immunoparasitology is used to target fibroproliferative diseases with special focus on liver fibrosis. I am hoping that my research will enable us to have a direct therapy against liver fibrosis, which will benefit people in the developing and developed world,” he said. Michelle Sue Lee from Immunology Frontier Research Centre in Japan is attending her first immunology conference. “I am looking forward to learning from others the techniques they are using to understand how immune cells interact and respond. Understanding the immune system is important for combatting diseases.”
IUIS president Jorge Kalil noted, “Globalisation poses new challenges to immunology. Rapid spread of viruses is a terrible threat to humankind. Dengue infects more than 300 million people per year and the association of Zika and microcephaly frightens the world. This is why international efforts are so important.”
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s South-East Asia & Pacific desk.