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Allergy School in Grainau

8th EAACI-GA2LEN Immunology Winter School
“Basic Immunology Research in Allergy and Clinical Immunology ”
11-14 February 2010, Eibsee Hotel, Grainau, Germany


The 8th EAACI-GA²LEN Immunology Winter School took place in Grainau near Garmisch-Partenkirchen at the foot of Zugspitze-the highest mountain in the German Alps.
This year’s Winter School was organized by EAACI Immunology and Dermatology Sections and hosted by Thilo Jakob and his team of the Allergy Research Group, University Medical Center Freiburg. The main topic of the 2010 Winter School was “Basic Immunology Research in Allergy and Clinical Immunology”, and aimed to guide participants through a broad spectrum of molecular basis of clinical immunology and allergology.
After a vigorous review of all submitted abstracts, 70 participants were selected and invited. 25 abstracts were chosen for oral presentations and for some juniors it was the first and very valuable experience of public speaking. 60 EAACI junior members from 19 countries were given a grant comprising of registration fee and full board accommodation. 8 juniors received a grant including also full travelling expenses.

The Winter School 2010 included 6 sessions circling around 4 main topics: innate immunity, adaptive immunity, mechanisms of allergic inflammation and regulation of allergic immune responses. Each session was opened by a keynote lecture followed by presentations of selected participants. The opening lecture “Control of immune responses by regulatory T cells” was given by Shimon Sakaguchi (Kyoto, Japan). He provided the audience with new data and a critical point of view on the role and mechanisms of action of regulatory T cells, which initiated a lot of discussions continued during the other sessions and coffee breaks.

On Friday morning Carsten Schmidt-Weber (London, UK) continued the story of T cells, giving an exciting lecture on different T-cells subsets and phenotypes. This keynote lecture was followed by 5 presentations of selected participants referring to the mechanisms of immuneregulation and tolerance induction. In the afternoon Stefan Martin (Freiburg, Germany) and Jean-Francois Nicolas (Lyon, France) lively and critically discussed the aspects of the contribution of innate and adaptive immunity in contact dermatitis, looking from different angles on the pathogenesis of this disease. The session continued with presentations on new concepts on mechanisms of allergic contact dermatitis given by the junior participants.
On Saturday morning, Michel Gilliet (Houston, TX) provided exciting new insights into the role of antimicrobial peptides in immune sensing of self-nucleic acids. Thomas Bieber (Bonn, Germany) continued the dermatological aspects of immune responses with the lecture “Atopic dermatitis: Novel concepts of an old disease”. After the key-note lecturers, participants presented their data on different mechanisms of allergic inflammation. During the afternoon session Thomas Bieber also presented the new ideas on the editorship of “ Allergy”, the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and encouraged the participants to publish their best data in “Allergy” .

Finally, Caroline Sokol (Boston, MA) captured the attention of the audience on Sunday morning by showing the exciting results on the role of basophils in allergic immune responses. This Sunday key-note lecture was followed by oral presentations on “Novel approaches in immunotherapy”.

The evenings of Friday and Saturday continued with a poster sessions in a cozy atmosphere and high-standard presentations from the selected participants which was accompanied with beer, wine and sweet buffet. The first session included posters on various aspects of allergens, allergen carriers, immunotherapy and immune regulation. During second posters session, participants presented their data on T cell subsets, dendritic cells, mast cells and basophils as well as on different pathogenetic mechanisms of asthma, COPD and atopic dermatitis. During each session the participants had the unique opportunity to discuss their data with the keynote lecturers, organizing committee scientists and themselves.
Based on the feedback and the evaluation forms it looks like the 8th Immunology GA²LEN Winter School has managed once again to create an engaging scientific environment in which immunological concepts in allergy and dermatology were covered with very active discussions. One goal of the meeting was to create a warm scientific environment for discussion on basic immunology in different allergic diseases. Indeed, every dinner and coffee break became a real social event thanks to the informal and friendly atmosphere. In addition, between the morning and the evening sessions, there was an amazing and unique opportunity to practice different winter sports or do some sightseeing. Not only junior participants but also lecturers enjoyed skiing, skating or tobogganing.
The planning of the 9th Immunology GA²LEN Winter School is already on the way. Look out for the announcements on the EAACI and GA²LEN web pages!

Lilit Hovhannisyan

Official Representative of EAACI Dermatology Section,
Junior Members and Affiliates Working Group,
Institute of Molecular Biology of Armenian National Academy of Sciences.

Milena Sokolowska

Official Representative of EAACI Immunology Section,
Junior Members and Affiliates Working Group, Medical University of Lodz, Poland