Postponed from January 2021, the Rigi Workshop “Cell Biology of Infection” could finally take place from January 30th to February 1st 2022 at Hotel Rigi Kulm. 25 PhD, post-doctoral or master students from 6 different Swiss universities participated in the event, and the participants unanimously found that the workshop “met their expectations”, and they “would recommend the workshop to colleagues”.
The workshop was organized by Hubert Hilbi (SSM section Molecular Microbiology), Urs Greber (LS2, SSM section Virology) and Claudia Rutte (Swiss Academies of Sciences, SCNAT).
The Rigi Workshop 2022 comprised 9 keynote lectures delivered by outstanding scientists: Nikola Biller-Andorno (UZH, “Risks and opportunities for society and medicine in the times of pandemics”), Carmen Buchrieser (Institute Pasteur Paris, “Legionella pneumophila”), Michael Way (Francis Crick Institute London, “Vaccinia virus” and “Publishing experiences – the editor’s view”), Melanie Blokesch (EPFL, “Vibrio cholerae”), Silke Stertz (UZH,“Influenza viruses”), Cyril Zipfel (UZH, “Concepts of innate immunity in plants and animals“), Yohei Yamauchi (University of Bristol, “RNA viruses”) and Roland Brosch (Institute Pasteur Paris, “Mycobacterium tuberculosis”). All student participants delivered a short talk and prepared a graphical abstract illustrating their research. In addition, the participants received beforehand some reading material on the topic “Legionella” or “Adenovirus”. During the workshop, this literature then served as the basis for a teamwork to prepare and present a research grant proposal. In the evening, Federico Germani and Nikola Biller-Andorno organized a game on the topic “misinformation”, and there were occasions to meet and discuss with the speakers.
TOPIC - Cell Biology of Infection
Infectious diseases are a significant threat to human and animal health, as well as to whole societies. Throughout history, viral, bacterial and parasitic epidemics have plagued humans and livestock. Major killers are viruses causing small pox, influenza or AIDS, bacterial pathogens causing plague, tuberculosis or typhoid fever, and parasitic protozoa causing malaria or leishmaniasis. The Covid-19 pandemic is the most recent example of an infectious disease with world-wide impact. Climate change and widespread travel augment zoonotic transmissions of infectious agents to humans, and bacterial antibiotic resistance emerges with increased use of antibiotics in humans and animals.
While the etiology and manifestation of infectious diseases are vastly different, unifying principles are that viral, bacterial, and parasitic pathogens interact with, infect and destroy eukaryotic cells. The pathogens subvert pivotal cellular pathways by producing toxins, effectors and modulators, and they activate the immune system of the host. These processes unveil fascinating and sometimes entirely new biology. An in-depth molecular understanding of processes underlying pathogenesis not only provides insights into the mechanisms of diseases, but also offers intriguing glimpses into the cell biology of eukaryotic cells. These insights eventually contribute to fighting and curing infections.