The DEFEND consortium held its second annual meeting at the Hotel Elisabeth in Mechelen, Belgium on 26th – 27th September 2019. The meeting brought together over 45 participants, from 24 partner organisations, travelling from across Europe and even as far as South Africa, to hear updates on the work being carried out as part of the DEFEND project. The project was delighted to have in attendance members of the Multi- Actor Panel (MAP), who provided advice and support in the dissemination and exploitation and impact of DEFEND outputs and also members of the Ethics Advisory Board (EAB), whose role is to advise the Consortium on ethical issues within the project.
Following an opening address from the Consortium Coordinators, Dr Pip Beard (The Pirbright Institute, UK) and Dr Kris De Clercq (Sciensano, Belgium), the first day focused on updates from each of the scientific work package leaders. Progress was reported on and findings discussed, sparking lively and collegial debate. The day also included talks about the African swine fever situation in Romania from Institutul De Diagnostic Si Sanatate Animalia (IDAH) and an update on lumpy skin disease in The Russian Federation from FGI Federal Centre for Animal health (FGBI ARRIAH). The DEFEND project was delighted to welcome our EC Policy Officer, who gave a highly relevant overview with his presentation titled ‘EU research funding on African swine fever: State of play and plan’ and how DEFEND sits within the portfolio of EU- funded research into livestock diseases.
The working procedures of the DEFEND project was the focus of day 2. This included an update on communications, dissemination and the impact of the project. The day also included consideration of the participation and promotion of women in science. Female leadership is highly visible in DEFEND, with a female lead and over 40 % female representation at the meeting. Participation and promotion of women in science and gender equality are core values of the project and further work is currently being planned around these areas.
The meeting was voted to be a huge success with feedback provided indicating that the meeting was incredibly useful for knowledge exchange and progression across all of the work packages. The feedback gave particular focus and praise for the outstanding organisation of the meeting by the team at Sciensano, whose hard work and diligence could be seen throughout the two days.
The DEFEND Project Support Team would like to thank everyone that attended the meeting for their input and spirit of collaboration, the DEFEND project would not be successful without this focus on achieving its aims. We look forward to seeing what the next 4 years hold for the project.
If you would like further information please visit our website, Twitter or Facebook page www.defend2020.eu, @defend2020.
Defend is a Horizon 2020 project running from 2018 to 2023. This research received funding from the European Union’s Horizon research and innovation programme under agreement No. 773701