Message from Melinda Suchard (SAIS chairperson)
I am excited to welcome you to “Immunology on the Frontline” in a year when immunology has stolen the show, featuring daily on international news stations. The same old questions that we have discussed in the SAIS community for decades in relation to diseases such as Tuberculosis and HIV are suddenly on everyone’s lips – why do some people die of COVID-19 while others recover, why do some people become symptomatic while others don’t react at all, why do some vaccines work better than others, why do different medical comorbidities cluster together, why can’t we cure more people if we understand the immune system, why do some individuals suffer anaphylaxis?
In this multidisciplinary conference we will learn from cross-disciplinary experiences in vaccinology that apply to COVID-19 and beyond. We will hear from leaders in the field of infectious disease immunology. We will hear about patients with inborn errors of immunity which often shed insights into infectious disease pathology. We will hear advances in immunotherapy for malignancies and autoimmunity as well as new applications for drug repurposing. We will also hear from emerging researchers who are breaking down barriers and challenging the status-quo.
There is something for everyone – what we lose by the virtual platform in terms of networking we gain by accessibility and comfort. We encourage participation by researchers, clinicians, students and all curious folks who find immunology daunting yet fascinating and recognize its major relevance to all facets of clinical medicine.
Message from Theresa Rossouw
It is a privilege and honour to welcome you to the first virtual conference presented by SAIS. In these times of pervasive anxiety and uncertainty, it is reassuring to know that great strides have been made in the fight against COVID-19, with Immunology featuring prominently at the forefront of these discoveries. Never before has Immunology been recognised as being so instrumental in promoting health and preventing disease. Indeed, concepts such as herd immunity, neutralising antibodies, B- and T-cell responses, and cytokine storms have become household terms that permeate many dinner conversations. At this year’s SAIS conference, we therefore showcase the immense advances that have been made in the field, which, while propelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, are certain to spill over to a wide range of diseases with an immune-related pathophysiology. In this regard, the conference features presentations and posters from many distinguished international and national researchers, as well from dynamic young scientists, to update us on a broad spectrum of topics, ranging from the large pandemics and epidemics, such as COVID-19, HIV, TB, cancer, and allergy, to the often-neglected topics, such as auto-immunity, primary immunodeficiency and the emerging field of immunometabolism. While we will miss the coffee table conversations and networking opportunities, we believe that the virtual platform gives everyone the opportunity to view the conference from the front line.
Conference organising committee
Cathy van Rooyen
Louise du Toit
Sylvia van den Berg
SAIS executive committee 2021