The Journal of General Virology Editor's symposium

Posted on October 28, 2019   by Lee Sherry

On 26 September 2019, the Journal of General Virology (JGV) hosted a one day symposium at the University of Leeds. As well as supporting the Microbiology Society by carrying out editorial duties, Editors of JGV maintain active research laboratories. The symposium was an opportunity to showcase the breadth of virology research represented by the Journal as well as providing networking opportunities for virologists. Here, Microbiology Society Champion Lee Sherry discusses his experience of the day.

The first Journal of General Virology Editor’s symposium was introduced by the current Editor-in-Chief, Mark Harris, who told attendees how the Editor’s meeting takes place each year to discuss different aspects of the journal. However, this year Mark wanted to take advantage of having experts from a wide range of virology-related fields together and organise a symposium to showcase the ongoing cutting-edge research within these Editor’s labs. As a post doc working at the University of Leeds, I was lucky enough to attend.

The majority of attendees were early career researchers (ECRs) from the University of Leeds accompanied by the Principal Investigators from numerous virology research groups. There were also some other ECRs who made the journey to Leeds to see the eleven broad-ranging talks on offer. The talks covered all aspects of virology, including virus tropism, virus-host interplay, virus evolution and even prions!

Some of my personal highlights from the symposium included the talks from Professor Silke Stertz from the University of Zurich, Switzerland and Dr Theodora Hatziiannou from Rockefeller University, USA. Silke gave a stimulating account of how her lab recently identified a cross-species entry factor for bat influenza viruses, which differed from the traditional receptors used by human and avian influenza viruses. The most interesting aspect for me was when they introduced the protein into cells that previously couldn’t be infected by bat influenza, the virus was then able to infect them, which really highlighted the importance of this protein as a key entry factor for bat influenza viruses.

One of the key aspects which struck me about the symposium was how far the Editors had travelled for this meeting, which highlighted the global reach of JGV and how research published in the Society’s journals are accessed all over the world.

Overall, I felt this was a great meeting especially for ECRs, as the symposium offered the opportunity to meet a wide-range of experts they may not otherwise get the chance to speak to in a welcoming and friendly environment.