Come Visit Us At the 29th ICAR Meeting in San Diego!

by Robert W. Buckheit III

April 13, 2016

The 29th International Conference on Antiviral Research begins on Sunday April 17th in sunny La Jolla, California! This year’s meeting is being held at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines Resort. For the past two years our President and CSO has served as President of the International Society for Antiviral Research, and this will be his last annual meeting of the Society as President. ImQuest has been a proud supporter of ISAR/ICAR for many years and we look forward to maintaining our close association with this community of scientists involved in antiviral research. Similar to many of the important initiatives our President has brought to the Society, we remain focused on exploring ways to engage and connect with young investigators, support the development of novel antiviral therapies and develop collaborative and long-term relationships with our many unique clients. Please feel free to Contact Us with any questions, and we look forward to seeing you in San Diego!

Here is the text of Dr. Buckheit’s 29th ICAR President's Message, welcoming delegates to the conference.

On behalf of our officers and board members, I’m pleased to welcome everyone to La Jolla and the 29th International Conference on Antiviral Research. I wish you a highly successful meeting, and I hope that when it’s over, you’ll walk away impressed with the quality of the scientific presentations and with some new additions to your research network.

As we gather in La Jolla, we're deeply saddened by the loss of Chris McGuigan, a friend and colleague for many years. Chris was a pillar of the antiviral research community, a long-time member and past president of ISAR. For me and many others, he was also a mentor, colleague and good friend. His many accomplishments will be honored at the 29th ICAR, and we will feel his presence in spirit. His work will live on with the advances he pioneered and the many students and scientists he mentored, many of whom are active members of the Society. On behalf of ISAR, we send our condolences to the McGuigan family and to his many friends and colleagues on this tragic loss.

As Chris would wish, we will again have a cutting-edge program in La Jolla, offering great science and the all-important time to network and reconnect with friends from around the world. Mark Prichard and his program team have worked hard to attract top speakers, and they've also revamped the abstract submission process and developed a new workshop on Diagnostic Technologies.

The meeting will begin with a tribute to Chris and his contributions to science and to our society, followed by two keynote addresses. The first, by Richard H. Scheuermann of the J. Craig Venter Institute, will explore how the availability of whole-genome sequence data, combined with standard representations of phenotypic characteristics from large numbers of viral isolates, is allowing extensive genotype-phenotype association studies that go well beyond traditional phylogenetic lineage tracing. He will illustrate these concepts by focusing on two areas: the use of statistical genomic analysis to predict influenza virus evolution in the face of adaptive immunity and the identification of novel genetic determinants of disease severity in enterovirus D68.

The second keynote address, by Heinz Feldmann of the NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratory, will take a very different direction, focusing on the past, present and future of Ebola virus. Heinz did his initial training and research in Marburg, Germany, which was the site of the first filovirus outbreak. He will review the history of Marburg and Ebola viruses from their discovery through the recent West African epidemic. He will then provide a look ahead: what research is needed, where do we go from here? Lessons learned in West Africa are clearly critical to understanding how to prevent such a widespread epidemic in the future and to limit its global spread through air travel.

We can also look forward to award lectures from two distinguished senior scientists and a promising younger investigator. Doug Richman from UC San Diego will receive the Gertrude Elion Award; Robert Vince of the University of Minnesota will receive the Antonin Holy Award; and Jerome Deval of Alios Biopharma will receive the Prusoff Young Investigator Award. Their presentations, reviewing some of their past accomplishments and focusing on priorities for future research, will be high points of the meeting.

The 29th ICAR will also feature three symposia, the first of which will cover a variety of topics in structural biology, which has become so important for progress in antiviral research. Speakers from the San Diego/La Jolla area will include Clodagh O'Shea from the Salk Institute and 2015 Prusoff Award winner Erica Ollman Saphire from the Scripps Research Institute.

The second symposium will examine important aspects of Zika virus, which has been spreading rapidly in Central and South America and causing alarm because of its association with fetal anomalies and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Pei-Yong Shi will lead off with an overview of Zika and its relationship to other flaviviruses, and Justin Julander and Johan Neyts will follow with discussions of animal models, antivirals and vaccine development.

The third symposium will focus on DNA viruses. Effective antiviral therapies have been developed for some DNA viruses, but unexpected genetic variation, including the discovery of quasispecies within a host, has highlighted the need for new antivirals and combination therapies. Among the speakers and topics will be Thomas Lion on monitoring adenovirus infections, Paul Lambert on new approaches to papillomavirus diseases and David Bernstein on the current status of vaccines against Herpes simplex virus. In addition to these excellent symposia, a diagnostic technologies workshop on Tuesday afternoon will showcase new, rapid methods to identify viral infections and ensure that patients benefit from effective antiviral therapy. Importantly, such new technologies can potentially maximize the power of clinical trials, by identifying patient populations that are infected with the virus of interest, but are free from other common infections that could mask a clinical response. The workshop will also highlight new tech-niques that can help drive the drug discovery process.

This will be my final message as ISAR President. Two years have flown by, and as I now turn over the Presidency to Jose Este and the role of President-Elect to Johan Neyts, I’m confident that ISAR is in competent hands and our future is bright. During my term as President, I’ve focused on increasing our membership through the new Ambassador Program, and have explored ways to involve young investigators in the Society and ICAR. In future, I hope to continue to address these goals, which are essential for our continuing success.

I wish everyone a highly successful and enjoyable 29th ICAR, and look forward to meeting everyone during the conference.

Bob Buckheit

President, ISAR

Return to the Blog