One of the major stakeholder groups of the SYMPATH project is the scientific community, specifically those working in the areas of synucleinopathies and vaccine development. In order to address this audience it was decided to present the results of the SYMPATH project in the context of a high-profile scientific meeting that brought together world-leading experts to discuss recent progress in developing new potential biomarkers and therapeutic concepts, including vaccines, for Parkinson´s disease (PD) and multiple system atrophy (MSA).
The “SYMPATH Symposium on Targeting Synucleinopathies” took place at the newly opened Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) situated at the Vienna Biocenter on 28th March 2017. As well as offering excellent facilities for the event the venue also provided the possibility of raising awareness of the SYMPATH project and the problems it addresses within one of Austria’s leading hubs of basic research in the life sciences.
The SYMPATH symposium was the result of close cooperation in the planning, organisation and implementation between SYMPATH partners Biolution, AFFiRiS and a symposium organising committee composed of Dr Gergana Galabova (AFF), Dr Günther Staffler (AFF) and Prof. Wassilios Meissner (CHUB).
It was important aim of the SYMPATH symposium organisers to complement the world-class research taking place within the SYMPATH project with a broad selection of world-leading external speakers.
- Kuldip Dave, Michael J. Fox Foundation, USA
- Joaquim Ferreira, University of Lisbon, Portugal
- Gergana Galabova, AFFiRiS, Austria
- Nour Majbour, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar
- Kenneth Marek, Yale University, USA
- Eliezer Masliah, National Institute on Aging at NIH, USA
- Wassilios Meissner, University Hospital Bordeaux, France
- Werner Poewe, Medical University Innsbruck, Austria
- Dieter Volc, Prosenex, Austria
- Dieter Willbold, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany
The symposium commenced with a welcome address by the coordinator Vera Bürger (AFF) and Jürgen Sautter (EC project officer for SYMPATH) followed by 3 main scientific sessions:
- Pathogenesis of PD and MSA and relevance of preclinical models for treatment development (Chair: Günther Staffler, AFF)
- Biomarkers: Diagnosis, prognosis and outcomes for clinical trials (Chair: Oliver Bannach, JUL)
- Clinical challenges and clinical trials in PD and MSA (Chair: Wassilios Meissner, CHUB)
Keynote lectures were presented by Eliezer Masliah, Kenneth Marek and Werner Poewe.
In addition to the scientific presentations the SYMPATH symposium also hosted a poster session featuring all scientific WPs of the SYMPATH project and an interactive exhibition, which attracted additional interest not just from symposium attendees but also researchers from the Vienna Biocenter. The exhibition presented information about Parkinson’s disease and the SYMPATH project as well as incorporating interactive elements designed to simulate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The Parkinson’s disease simulation activities (including gloves which recreated the tremor effect experienced by sufferers) presented as part of the exhibition were open to all and were a great success in creating heightened awareness of the difficulties experienced by sufferers. The symposium exhibition was also doubled as the launch event for the SYMPATH video.
The SYMPATH symposium was a great success, bringing together an excellent selection of world-leading experts in SYMPATH related fields to present the significance of the project and its results in an appropriate context. Lively discussion was generated both in the symposium sessions and also in the plentiful informal discussion breaks and around the poster session.
The SYMPATH symposium itself attracted 115 attendees and also stimulated additional interest in many researchers of the Vienna Biocenter who interacted with the exhibition material. Highly positive feedback was received from many of the speakers and symposium attendees crediting the excellent range of speakers, the good organisation and the positive environment for discussion and scientific exchange.
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