Final PERISCOPE meeting in Ghent – May 2022

The PERISCOPE (PERtussIS COrrelates of Protection Europe) Consortium met in Ghent, Belgium, from May 16 to 18, 2022 for its final meeting before project end in August 2022. Dimitri Diavatopoulos of Radboud University Medical Center (RUMC), the project coordinator, and Juan Vargas from Sanofi Vaccines, the EFPIA coordinator, were happy to welcome 58 participants from the 21 partner institutions and international stakeholders from more than 10 different countries in person. An additional 18 participants joined the meeting virtually.  This event was hosted by GSK Vaccines, one of the industrial partners of the consortium.

After a long stretch of not being able to meet in person, the meeting in Ghent was very welcomed and a well-received platform to have in-person conversations and meeting partners once again to discuss the ongoing research. We were especially honoured to welcome our scientific and external advisory representatives Karen Makar (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – BMGF), Alessandro Sette (La Jolla Institute for Immunology) and Tod Merkel (U.S. Food and Drug Administration – FDA).

Over the course of three days, the consortium presented and elaborated on the results which were gained from several studies performed by our clinical partners over the course of the project. The days and sessions were dedicated to three overall topics: vaccination, infection and cross-study analysis.

After a warm welcome by the coordinator Dimitri Diavatopoulos, the first day was allocated to the overall vaccination pillar, which included three speakers: Beate Kampmann (LSHTM), who presented recent results of the GaPs study, Qiushui He (UTU) who spoke about the developments within the MIFI study and Dominic Kelly (UOXF), who presented the AWARE study design. The day ended with a presentation given by BMGF representative Karen Makar about the foundation’s focus and dedication, as well as opportunities for PERISCOPE.

Day 2 was kicked off by a presentation given by Alessandro Sette about T-cell responses in COVID. The session was followed by two workshops on T-cells and biobank & data management led by Cecile van Els (RIVM) and Martijn Huijnen (RUMC) respectively. The afternoon was dedicated to the overall infection pillar and moderated by Robert Read (US). It hosted multiple speakers including Camille Locht (IPL), Cecile van Els, representatives of CEA and US, as well as the coordinating institution RUMC. After a General Assembly meeting in the evening, the consortium was able to spend time together in the beautiful city of Ghent on a guided food tour.

The last day of the meeting focused primarily on the future of PERISCOPE. The sessions addressed questions of sustainability and a presentation on early results of a cross-study analysis. It also included a talk given by external advisor Tod Merkel, who later moderated the panel discussion on the future of PERISCOPE alongside Andrew Gorringe (PHE). The panel discussion centred around three questions:

  1. What are the game changers for pertussis vaccines that have come from PERISCOPE?
  2. How do these help for the development and registration of new pertussis vaccines?
  3. What do we have to do next? What are the remaining questions for new pertussis vaccines

With the project coming to an end soon, this meeting was crucial to giving everyone the opportunity to meet each other once again and engage in fruitful discussions, listen to exciting presentations and participate in social gatherings. The PERISCOPE management team is very thankful to everyone who was able to join the meeting in person and took the time to conclude a valuable research collaboration between the 21 international partners.