Due to the Corona crisis, the 5th transMed consortium meeting (30 months) could not be held as originally planned, on site, at Tübingen University (Germany). Instead, the transMed partners arranged for a two-day virtual meeting, held via video conferencing, from 29th to 30th June, 2020.
As for conventional network meetings, the virtual meeting started with progress presentations from all 13 transMed ESRs. As opposed to previous occasions, here, more time was allowed for discussions on individual progress reports. Although most of the training courses originally planned for the Tübingen meeting could not be held, on the second day of the virtual meeting three training lectures were given. The first of these was given by Sigrid Diether on “Project Management”, followed by a talk from François Paquet-Durand on “How to generate scientific impact”, and finally, Thomas Wheeler-Schilling on “Time Management”.
The meeting concluded with a “virtual round table” discussion on essential soft skills for researchers.
The 4th transMed consortium meeting (24 months) was held at the University of Iceland, in Reykjavík in Iceland, in the premises of the children’s hospital, from 20th to 22nd January, 2020.
The meeting started with educational lectures, the first of which was given by Olöf Birna Olafsdottir (HI) on the development and application of retinal oximetry as a biomarker for a diverse set of retinal and CNS diseases. This was followed by a second educational lecture given by Christina Fasser, president of the international RD patient organisation Retina International (RI), who talked about the challenges for RD patients who are now, for the first time, facing real therapeutic opportunities.
Further talks included the progress presentations from all 13 transMed ESRs, as well as discussions with the external advisors Peter Humphries, Janet Hoogstrate and Christina Fasser.
On the afternoon of the last meeting day, the local hosts arranged for a tour of some of the most impressive Icelandic sights in the vicinity of Reykjavik. The departure of the transMed consortium members after the meeting was delayed by a severe storm and the temporal closing of Reykjavík airport. Both ESRs and PIs used this extra day for informal meetings and discussions in smaller groups, to further define joint projects, collaborations, and activities.
The 3rd transMed consortium meeting (18 months) was held at the University of Modena, Italy, in the premises of the faculty of law, in the former San Geminiano convent, from 10th to 11th July, 2019. The meeting started with progress presentations from all 13 transMed ESRs. This was followed, by a series of educational and keynote lectures given both by transMed PI´s and by invited external guests.
The first lecture in this series was given by the external guest Alberto Auricchio (University Federico II, Naples, Italy) on the development and use of adeno-associated-virus (AAV) for gene therapy of hereditary retinal degeneration (RD). Andreas Rentsch (BIOLOG) then talked about the strategies that may be employed for the chemical synthesis of new drug candidates and their further development, citing as an example the processes used during the previous DRUGSFORD project. Per Ekström (ULUND) presented functional and morphological biological readouts in experimental animal studies, while John Groten (PamGene) spoke about the development of clinical biomarkers, including companion diagnostics and surrogate biomarkers. Afterwards, Einar Stefánsson (HI) talked about topical drug delivery to the retina and how cyclodextrin formulations can enable such transfer for highly lipophilic drugs. Finally, Graziella Pellegrini (UNIMORE, HOLOSTEM) gave a keynote lecture on the generation of epithelial tissues from stem cells.
The 18 months transMed consortium meeting was preceded by a two-day hands-on-course on retinal cell culture and retinal cell differentiation (08th to 09th July 2019). This course was organized by the local host Valeria Marigo at the University of Modena for interested ESRs. Seven ESRs participated in this course.
From 12th to 15th February 2019 the 2nd transMed consortium meeting was conducted in conjunction with the mid-term review meeting. At the time of the 2nd consortium meeting all transMed fellows had been hired and they displayed their first research results in a series of scientific presentations.
The meeting was also used to discuss future research activities, training courses, and joint projects.
After the consortium meeting the successful mid-term review ensued. The representative of the EU expressed great interest in the individual projects and the progress made. After the meeting all transMed fellows remained in Prague for another hands-on course on the manufacturing of drug delivery systems organized by the local partner InoCure
The 1st transMed consortium meeting took place from 18th to 20th September at Lund University in Sweden.
In this meeting the first transMed fellows presented themselves and their PhD projects to the partners and partner organisations. Several keynote lectures, including from Retina International, Hannover Clinical trial Centre (HCTC), and the Lund Ophthalmology Department, gave the fellows an introduction to the topic of retinal degeneration and complemented the meeting programme.
After the consortium meeting proper, a training course for in vitro organotypic retinal explant cultures was given by the partner at Lund University.
The transMed kick-off meeting was successfully held on 4th to 5th December 2017 in the premises of the Tübingen Institute for Ophthalmic Research. During the meeting, representatives from partners and partner organisations presented their institutions and companies.
The up-coming transMed educational courses and supervision arrangements for transMed fellows, as well as future dissemination activities were discussed. Furthermore, recruitment procedures were debated, and general rules set up. The detailed planning of the next consortium meeting to be held in September in Lund, Sweden received particular attention.