A Message from the Incoming President

Sarah Gaffen, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

As I pen my first ICIS President’s letter, I want to start by sending a heartfelt thanks to the inimitable Chris Hunter, who served as ICIS President for the last two years. It is not exaggerating to say that it is a genuine honor (not to mention slightly intimidating) to step into his shoes. Chris expertly shepherded the ICIS back to in-person meetings after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Hawaii 2022 and Athens 2023 were both enormous successes, showing that we are back, bigger and better than ever.

The 11th Annual Meeting of the International Cytokine and Interferon Society in Athens, Greece proved once again its importance on reporting the most exciting and cutting-edge advances in basic, translational and clinical research related to cytokine & interferon biology. This international conference brought together over 650 investigators from 46 countries, spanning a myriad of research disciplines in the field and impacting all aspects of medicine. A major goal of our meeting is always to promote interactions among scientists focusing in diverse areas of cytokine signaling and function.  Reflecting this, there were sessions regarding development of new treatments for autoimmune diseases, cancer, regenerative medicine, infectious diseases and allergic, metabolic, neurologic, and other inflammatory conditions. While we saw many longterm attendees at the meeting, we also enjoyed many new faces. One of my infectious disease colleagues attending for the first time told me the ICIS meeting is going to be his new “go-to” conference because he was so impressed with “the quality of the science and the interweaving of basic fundamental science with clinical applications and commercialization.”

This year’s meeting featured students and postdocs from all over the world sharing their science at both oral and poster presentations.  With the support of our sponsors, we were able to support 49 travel awards, which were allocated to trainees with top abstracts (as determined by the ICIS awards committee, headed by Hiroki Yoshida and 
Katherine Fitzgerald. The ICIS Early-Career Committee, led by Adriana Forero and Juan Mendoza, organized a popular and well-attended ECR networking session. All trainees and junior faculty just starting their labs intermingled with selected senior invitees from academia, industry, and publishing – a highlight of the evening was the stunning view of the Acropolis as well as a cameo acoustic jam session by Dr. Luke O’Neill’s band, Metabollix. Another popular feature of the 2023 meeting that remains a priority was free child-care offered to families, some of whom are single parents or dual scientist households who would otherwise not have been able to participate. This was another a feature of the meeting that would not have been possible without our sponsors.

Next year the Cytokines 2024 meeting will be held October 20-23, in Seoul, Korea, held jointly with the Korean Association of Immunologists (KAI). The chairs of the meeting (Drs. You-Me Kim and Sang-Il Lee) are currently assembling an excellent scientific program. We are very excited to travel to Asia and join with the KAI, and we hope to see many of you there. Again, thanks to our sponsors we will have plenty of travel awards, so be sure to apply!