PANGEA Consortium Conference Uganda 10-14 October 2022
After not being able to meet in person for three years it was an absolute pleasure to see everyone again in Entebbe this October for the annual meeting of the PANGEA consortium.
Although the official part of the conference didn’t begin until Monday morning many delegates arrived early to have pre-conference discussion and squeeze in sightseeing around Victoria Lake such as Shoebill safari and visit to the Chimpanzee sanctuary and for the most adrenaline hungry ones; - a white-water rafting trip. For some people it was their first PANGEA conference, so this was a great way to meet some of the other participants and learn about their field of research.
Setting off with overviews from Joseph Kagaayi (RHSP), Pontiano Kaleebu (UVRI/MRC Uganda) and a presentation on ‘what do we know now that we didn’t know before’ by Christoph Fraser the scene was set for a great start. The sessions on the first day included presentations about sources and sinks and followed by overviews of recent MRC and UVRI projects. In the afternoon researchers from across the consortium gave shorter lightening talks on new projects. The first day finished with a lively panel discussion around the topic Phylogenetics – ‘what is needed in Africa now? What should PANGEA 3 be about?’ There is a lot of appetite for HIV sequencing and phylogenetic work, for setting up sequencing capacity in Africa and also for expansion into other pathogens.
The conference dinner was beyond all expectations. The scenery and the food were outstanding, but what really brought people up and together was the African dance. Fruitful discussions continued on the following day with presentations covering migration and networks, drug resistance, new avenues, ethical issues within phylogenetics, RHSP projects and technical developments within HIV research. Another energetic panel discussion with the topic ‘What’s next in HIV prevention?’ closed the day. All chairs did a great good job in facilitating discussions and thanks to all participant for sharing their thoughts and introducing new ideas.
After a technical session on Wednesday morning, we left Entebbe and headed south to Masaka on a two day’s fieldtrip to visit RCCS field survey site, RHSP headquarters and MRC field station. At all venues, we were given a warm welcome and tour around the facilities. RHSP had arranged for the group to visit Kasensero, taking us to where HIV was first discovered in Uganda. It was very valuable and important for the meeting participants to meet the Ugandan researchers and managers of the community cohorts to get a better understanding of where the data is coming from.
Thanks to everybody who participated in the conference and a special thanks to Joseph Kagaayi, Pontiano Kaleebu and Deogratius Ssemwanga and Agnes Nantango, Fiona Namanda and Jackie McKina for making everything happen. They all went above and beyond to make sure everybody remembers RHSP and MRC/UVRI as fantastic hosts.
2023 will see more exciting PANGEA projects in the areas of phylogenetics, epidemiology, sequencing methods, ethics and social sciences. Go to www.pangea-hiv.org to learn more about the consortium.
Louise Karlsson on behalf of the PANGEA team