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Innovation in Immunology 2019

From basic to translational immunology, and back

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Faith Osier

President-elect, International Association of Immunological Societies (IUIS)

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Clive Gray

Past-President, South African Immunology Society (SAIS)

Faith Osier and Clive Gray will co-chair the 18th IUIS Congress of Immunology in Cape Town in 2022.  Africa has never before hosted such a meeting and being the cradle of humankind, immunology in Africa is a blend of ancient roots with cutting edge science.


The combination of a high burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases with scientific leadership will lead to the emergence of global leaders in translational immunology. Holding the IUIS meeting in Cape Town represents an opportunity to bring the World’s immunologists to Africa with the aim of forming new partnerships, collaborations and discussions that can spark unique and innovative initiatives.

2022 Congress of Immunology theme

The 18th IUIS Congress of Immunology will be held in Cape Town in 2022. The theme is “From Basic to Translational Immunology and back”. It will beimportantto focus on how the global immunology community can align initiatives to translate basic immunological findings to address the burden of diseases that challenge the African continent. By so doing, we aim to harness the connectivity between immunology and human health.

We believe that this focus and theme, woven into the scientific programme, can provide a watershed moment for many delegates as we wish to use the occasion to give context to basic immunology. For example, the field of cancer and how checkpoint inhibitors, first discovered from fundamental immunology mechanistic studies, have yielded a whole new field of immunotherapeutic agents that is ripe and ready to be rolled out in Africa.

Developing the new generation of leaders tackling disease in Africa

The translation of these findings to clinical trials and then seeking further mechanisms in humans that can lead to improving these treatments is a key feature to the future relevance and direction of immunology. How do we tackle the burden of infectious disease? Vaccines, the quintessential translation of immunology, to malaria, TB and AIDS is pressing and a fertile area of immunity.

Not only do we wish to bring the World’s best immunology minds to Africa in 2022, but we aim to build a legacy of capacitation in Africa. The Federation of African Immunology Societies (FAIS) has formed the FAIS Legacy Project (FLP) that aims to train 1,000 PhD students from the continent across the spectrum of immunology research. The goal of FLP will be to harness the research strength of laboratories across the Globe to partner with laboratories and groups in Africa to train young PhD students in immunology.

This initiative has already commenced as an innovative, pre-meeting legacy and will continue for many years afterwards as a post-meeting legacy of the first IUIS meeting in Africa. The FLP will help to build a new generation of excellent young leaders, urgently needed to tackle the communicable and non-communicable disease burden in Africa by developing innovative immunology-based interventions.

The FLP also plans to use this training framework to provide a bridge between basic and translational immunology, coupled to industry partnerships, to help drive scientific discoveries for innovations that touch lives.

This is a winning strategy that could be adapted at other IUIS congresses.

About the IUIS Congress of Immunology 2022

Faith Osier and Clive Gray will co-chair the 18th IUIS Congress of Immunology in Cape Town in 2022. Africa has never before hosted such a meeting and being the cradle of humankind, immunology in Africa is a blend of ancient roots with cutting-edge science.

The combination of a high burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases with scientific leadership will lead to the emergence of global leaders in translational immunology.

Holding the IUIS meeting in Cape Town represents an opportunity to bring the World’s immunologists to Africa with the aim of forming new partnerships, collaborations and discussions that can spark unique and innovative initiatives.

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