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Building Connections at the SciFiMed Annual Meeting

After weeks of preparation and lots of excitement, the SciFiMed annual meeting finally took place in Marburg, home to Emil von Behring, the world-famous physician and first Nobel Prize winner in medicine and physiology. Von Behring's work in Marburg led to important discoveries in the field of immunology, particularly in the study of the complement system, which is essential for the body's immune response.

The meeting consisted of two parts, one for group leaders and PIs and another for non-PIs (primarily PhD students and technicians). This allowed for peer group discussions and activities, as well as opportunities for everyone to interact and get to know each other.

The non-PI meeting started with a casual gathering at one of Marburg's oldest restaurants. Although some had met at conferences and most had met online, it was the first time everyone was able to sit at the same table and chat in person.

The next day, the non-PIs gathered in the laboratories of the Experimental Ophthalmology at the University of Marburg. There, they compared the established hemolysis assay using sheep with a new technique using liposomes to test complement activity. PhD students from the University of Complutense and the University of Regensburg, who use these techniques regularly in their research, introduced and performed both assays. They also provided insights into the evaluation and presented the results to everyone on the final day of the annual meeting. Many thanks to Clemens, Bárbara, Ferdinand, and Laura for their preparation and execution of this great day!

The first day ended with a dinner at a lovely Marburg restaurant, where good food, drinks, and interesting discussions about science, life, and everything in between were enjoyed by all.

The next day was the first full day of the meeting. With not only PIs and non-PIs present, but also parts of the scientific advisory board, discussions and talks were lively and intense. After introductory talks from each partner, sharing results from the last few months and discussing challenges and problems they had faced, the conversation shifted to a variety of topics. After a short lunch, discussions continued and eventually turned into a final plenary discussion.

With the latest ideas still fresh in their minds, everyone took a break and went on a bus ride to the other side of Marburg to a building called "M600." This building is part of the newly established Research and Development Campus of CSL Behring. Vicky Pirzas and Dr. Lars Grönke, managing directors of CSL Behring Innovation GmbH, were kind enough to give us an exclusive tour of the impressive campus and provide insight into the holistic approach behind the project. Thank you, Vicky and Lars, for your time and sharing the results of your work with us!

After such a diverse day, what better way to unwind than with a glass of hot wine or punch at the Marburg Christmas market and a typical Marburg dinner: Auflauf! This oven-baked dish with various ingredients, mainly cheese, is one of the most beloved and widespread meals among Marburg residents.

On Friday, the last day of the meeting, we began with the results from the non-PIs before continuing the discussions from the previous day. Before long, it was time to say farewell. Marburg sent the SciFiMed consortium off with some freshly fallen snow, turning the lovely city into a winter wonderland.

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