PIIVeC holds successful virtual annual meeting
PIIVeC held its Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) from September 21st to 24th 2020. This year, due to the COVID pandemic, it was held entirely online. More than 70 participants attended the conference under the theme of maximising impact and sustainability.
For four days, the PIIVeC management board, research career development fellows (RCDFs), early career researchers (ECR), LSTM and external researchers discussed the achievements and impacts of PIIVeC after three years of the project, the disruption caused by COVID and the future and sustainability of the programme.
The first day included a general overview given by Prof. Hilary Ranson on the achievements of PIIVeC to date, followed an introduction to the capacity strengthening grants of Global Challenge Research Fund given by Dr. Phillip Woodgate. It finished with a group activity where participants devised activities that can help to maximise the impact and sustainability of PIIVeC work.
Days two and three were focused on the evidence generated by the RCDFs, ERCs and LSTM researchers. Sessions included “evaluating tools,” “surveillance and monitoring,” and “engagement, policy and capacity.” Some of the topics addressed were effective traps for vectors of onchocerciasis, machine learning, surveillance of chikungunya, genetic diversity of metabolic genes conferring insecticide resistance, and how resources are allocated for neglected tropical diseases. ECRs presented their work through online posters; some of their work is closely related to their RCDF supervisors while others are exploring further research questions. Posters were on diverse topics, including the determination of bloodmeal origin in tsetse flies and the economic impact of malaria in cotton production. They were presented through a system of online “breakout rooms” which participants indicated was a success, allowing high flexibility and interactivity.
The last day was dedicated to think about the future of PIIVeC and the evolution of partnerships. Prof. Ranson highlighted the current gaps in evidence to inform vector control. Dr. Silas Majambere talked about the Pan African Mosquito Control Association and a new initiative developing country level vector control advisory groups. Prof. Moses Bockarie discussed career opportunities in VBD research, and Dr. Justin Pulford talked about strengthening capacity of research organisations to sustainably deliver evidence. This was followed by a lively panel discussion ranging from the role of southern and northern partners in future consortium to scientific journal responsibility in promoting careers of African scientists.
Although consortium members regretted being unable to meet in person this year, it was an excellent conference with zero carbon footprint.