Scientists, journalists and members of the public will have a unique opportunity to hear world-class experts present their latest COVID-19 research and advancements, during a half-day virtual symposium hosted by the Helmholtz Association consortium for Immunology and Inflammation (I&I) and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC).
The speakers are leaders in the field who have made profound contributions to the COVID-19 pandemic response, including:
- Professor Michael Meyer-Hermann, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Germany
A physicist modeling the spread of the pandemic, who has advised the German government on response strategies and lockdowns.
- Professor Susan R. Weiss, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, USA
A microbiologist who has studied coronavirus replication and pathogenesis for 40 years, with insight into how the different coronaviruses work and cause disease.
- Professor Jean-Laurent Casanova, The Rockefeller University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, USA
A geneticist who has identified an important aspect of why COVID-19 disease can be severe in some patients and not in others.
- Professor Michel C. Nussenzweig, The Rockefeller University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, USA
An immunologist investigating monoclonal antibody treatments, now in advanced clinical trials, with insight about how well different antibodies might fight virus variants.
- Professor Uğur Şahin, BioNTech, Germany
An oncologist who led development of the first mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 in record time, with insight about the historic achievement, the vaccine and variants.
- Professor Christian Drosten, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
A virologist who has studied coronaviruses since 2002 will introduce and moderate the general discussion at the end of the symposium.
The presentations will be geared to share the latest advancements and updates in the field among scientists, but organizers welcome the public to attend the virtual event as well. “It’s a great opportunity for not just scientists, but everybody to access real science on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19,” says Dr. Michela Di Virgilio, who heads MDC’s Genome Diversification & Integrity Lab and is a symposium scientific organizer. “It is a moment to dispel a lot of disinformation,” she says.
While first and foremost a scientific event, Professor Klaus Rajewsky, who heads MDC’s Immune Regulation and Cancer Lab and is a symposium scientific organizer, anticipated lay audiences will still be able to glean useful insights.
“The speakers are all experts who know how to explain the subject in a way that starts from simple principles and then go to specifics,” he says. Afterwards, attendees will be able to “look at the pandemic with the eyes of present-day science.”
Organizers also hope that the event raises awareness about the importance of investing in basic research, especially in the field of immunology. COVID-19 vaccines could only be developed so quickly thanks to decades of basic, animal and translational research. “The stage was really set,” Rajewsky says. “In not even a year, these scientists produced a number of very efficient vaccines – an incredible success of science that will surely help to get the pandemic under control.”
Text: Laura Petersen
Date: March 3rd, 2021
Time: 3:00 – 7:30 pm CET
Science journalists should contact Jana Schlütter, Deputy Head of MDC Communications, for press credentials to cover the event:
- (full program)
Editor, Communications Department
Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC)