Highlights from Formosa Immunology Spring School & Symposium 2019

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The inaugural Formosa Immunology Spring School was held from April 9th to 11th in Taipei, Taiwan, followed by the Formosa Immunology Symposium - Frontier of Emerging Concepts in Immunology on April 12th and 13th at the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital. The Formosa Immunology Spring School was the first Immunology program in Taiwan that offered scholarships to 30 young Taiwanese scientists who are dedicated to Immunology-related research, and provided a highly-interactive forum to facilitate these young and promising talents to learn from and discuss their work with 10 world-renowned, leading scientists. At the Spring School, students participated in the courses that comprehensively cover many cutting-edge topics in Immunology.

On April 9th, immediately before the welcome dinner, Dr. Shie-Liang Hsieh from Academia Sinica opened the Spring School with his expertise in pattern recognition receptors and danger signals that guard the front line of our innate immunity. On April 10th, Dr. Jean-Laurent Casanova from Rockefeller University shared his unique insights into how human genetics might predispose individuals with a spectrum of vulnerability to immunological, especially infectious and diseases. Drs. Mitch Kronenberg and Hilde Cheroutre from La Jolla Institute for Immunology discussed iNKT cells and CD4 cells with cytotoxic activity, respectively, and how these two distinct populations of unconventional T cells might play important and not-to-be-neglected roles in maintaining a functional, healthy immune system. Dr. Marco Colonna from Washington University in St. Louis charmed the audience with the beauty of a specific type of brain tissue-resident macrophages, so-called microglia, and how the complexity of immunity may reach beyond to affect the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration. The excitement did not stop there; it carried on to the second half of the courses. On April 11th, Dr. Arthur Weiss from University of California, San Francisco led the students through the development of the T cell receptor signaling paradigm. Dr. Jonathan Sprent from Garvan Institute of Medical Research, himself as an idol admired by even these speakers, gave a vivid storytelling lecture on the T cell development and T cell tolerance. Dr. Sasha Rudensky from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center shared his research journey while studying the role of the transcription factor Foxp3 in the development and function of regulatory T cells. What’s more, the laughers never stopped during the engaging lecture about immunological studies using single cell approaches given by Dr. Burkhard Becher from University of Zurich; the closing remarks given by Dr. Jedd Wolchok from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, who used his Mt. Qixing-hiking photo as a metaphor that immunology is right at the moment to climb to its top, thus inviting all sitting students to stay positive and join the journey, inspiring every student in such an amazing way.

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The excitement was also not only a one-way delivery. In the evenings of April 10th and 11th, two workshops allowed students to have vivid discussions about the opportunities and challenges in pursuing a research career with Taiwanese basic researchers and physician scientists who have been successfully established their own research groups either in Taiwan or aboard. Moreover, during the poster section and oral presentation, the students have the chance to present their work to the Spring School faculty. In return, the aforementioned immunology experts had given many valuable suggestions to inspire students in how to strengthen their research work and provided constructive advice where the students could take their projects to the next level. In the end, student I-Chun Chen won the best oral presentation; students Heng-Yi Chen, Han-Po Shih, Hsing-Kai Feng, and Jhan-Jie Peng were given the best poster awards.

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After the Formosa Immunology Spring School, the two-day Formosa Immunology Symposium ~Frontier of Emerging Concepts in Immunology opened at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital. From basic immunological research to translational clinical studies, from local Taiwanese distinguished scientists to international leading scholars, the symposium drew lots of attention and attendance (~530 registered) from academic scientists, clinical doctors, and pharmaceutical researchers. Many immunologists even flew to Taiwan from Japan and Korea to attend the symposium to join the excitement of discussing the latest, even unpublished, results with local and international scientists. There is no doubt that this very first Formosa Spring School & Symposium is an unquestioned success. The joyfully fulfilling moments during those 5 days will definitely carry all these promising talents like a flying arrow to land on the bullseye of immunological research development in Taiwan. (Written by FISS Team) 

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