On October 5th, the VITAL consortium held its 3rd General Assembly. The General Assembly is a meeting for all EFPIA partners and academia involved in the project. Due to the current pandemic this meeting was held online and a total of 75 participants attended. During the meeting all work packages gave an update on their progress and a scientific presentation sharing preliminary results on ongoing studies. Additionally, a new program item was introduced: the Young Investigator Presentations. Finally the consortium received feedback from the Advisory Board and the project officer from IMI.

Research from the Consortium

The different Work Package (WP) leads gave a short update on the progress within their work package. The updates included the progress of the different studies and dissemination activities. After each update, there was a scientific presentation. For WP1, Alejandro Orrico Sanchez presented preliminary results of the retrospective pilot study on data collected via FISABIO, Valencia. From University Medical Center Groningen, Yannick van Sleen elaborated on the WP2 study on inflammation data collected in the VITAL cohort. Baudouin Standaert of GSK gave a presentation on the results of ‘Infectious diseases in ageing adults in hospital care’, a 5 year retrospective study in a hospital in Belgium. This is an older study conducted outside of the VITAL consortium, but is related to research conducted in WP3. Finally, Maxime Quatrehomme of CIRI presented results of interviews conducted with healthcare professionals for WP4. After the presentations of each work package, a cross-WP discussion was held on progress and results.

Input from outside the Consortium

During the meeting the consortium was pleased to welcome Jean-Pierre Michel as keynote speaker on Healthy Ageing and Vaccines. Jean-Pierre Michel is a VITAL Advisory Board Member and a professor at the Geneva Medical University. His presentation was on the different views of Healthy Ageing, how vaccines helped to eradicate or decrease the morbidity and/or mortality of diseases and successes of immunization. An important part of the General Assembly is the opportunity for feedback of the Advisory Board and Teck-Ang Lim, project officer at IMI. Both parties gave their congratulations on the accomplishments of the consortium despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and provided the consortium with constructive feedback for the future.

‘Congratulation to the VITAL team. To improve life expectancy, we should combat accidence risks and reduce them. Our life expectancy is also influenced by the choice of others around us. Therefore educating is key.’

A New Agenda Item – YIP awards

Within the VITAL consortium there are a lot of young investigators contributing to the project. Management Board member Jim Janimak (GSK) introduced the idea of having young investigators do flash presentations on their research for the VITAL project. And so the Young Investigator Presentation (YIP) award was born. Each WP nominated one young investigator to present their research and preliminary study results, see the overview below for the four presentations:

WP1: Mónica López Lacort – How math helps vaccines

WP2: Alper Cevirgel – Immune heterogeneity to explain vaccination responses

WP3: Simon van der Schans – Fiscal Health Modelling – Developing a fiscal health model framework for VITAL

WP4: Manuela Wennekes – Quantitative SLR on effective interventions targeting healthcare workers to improve vaccination of older adults.

The winner was chosen by the Advisory Board members based on scientific excellence and innovation. This year’s VITAL YIP award was won by Simon van der Schans with his presentation on Fiscal Health Modelling.