We had been looking forward to meeting in person in Vienna this year but a certain virus has meant that this year’s Seerave Fellows Retreat had to be held in front of screens at home or in the office. Nevertheless, we are pleased to announce that the third Seerave Fellows Retreat from November 2nd – 6th, 2020 was as inspiring as always. A series of virtual meetings allowed the members of the network to update each other on the different research projects and also enable everyone to exchange skills and knowhow and discover further synergies within the network.
Next to holding the meeting virtually, this year’s meeting was set up slightly differently: Over the first three days outstanding presentations were given by the fellows on the current projects. Furthermore, high level introductions by the principal investigators of the different scientific projects were aiming to further explore synergies between the diverse research strategies of the members of the Seerave Network and set the ground for new collaborations. Summarized, as the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to add pressure on clinical and research resources at all levels, we are very proud to be able to say that all members of the Seerave Network found a way to drive and develop the science around the virus or even reallocated resources towards fighting the pandemic. This has included developing rapid COVID diagnostics and serotyping approaches, investigating the effects of COVID on immunotherapy and also offering epidemiological insights to health care providers and governments.
Day four was aiming at presenting initiatives by the Seerave Foundation beyond purely scientific research. In this context, a sneak preview of the documentary “Missing Microbes” by Sarah Schenk and Steven Lawrence was presented. Updates on the feasibility study of “The Microbiota Vault” was given by Dominik Steiger (EvalueScience). Current efforts and strategies on the “Continuous Inflammation Monitor” were presented by Seeraves CSO Manuel Fankhauser. The food tracking app “MyFoodRepo” and their plans to scale up to the US and Germany was presented by Talia Salzmann (Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne). The smart toilet initiative and their current prototype has been presented by Kevin Hoenacker from BiomeSense. And finally the most recent project of the Seerave portfolio: the Periodic Table of Food Initiative (PTFI) by John de la Parra (Rockefeller Foundation).
In conclusion, after an extraordinarily difficult year we, as the Seerave Foundation, would like to thank all the members of the Seerave Network for having contributed to furthering Seerave’s vision of broadening and enhancing the focus on the nutrition, microbiome and immune system axis. We remain convinced that this becomes ever more relevant in today’s world.