“The German Symposium on Zoonoses Research, held annually, has become a real melting pot for zoonoses researchers. Without these events much inter- and cross-disciplinary research in this field would not be possible. The fact that this year’s Sym-posium is being hosted jointly with the International Conference on Emerging Zoonoses further underlines its importance,” emphasized Professor Lothar Wieler from the Freie Universität Berlin and a co-organiser of the event. He was speaking on the occasion of the Joint Conference: German Symposium on Zoonoses Research 2014 and 7th International Conference on Emerging Zoonoses, which begins today in Berlin, welcoming 350 participants. “In today’s high-tech and ethically challenging scientific community, inter- and cross-disciplinary exchange is the only way to move forward,” continues Wieler.
“This conference comes at the right time, considering the ongoing Ebola virus and MERS coronavirus outbreaks and several other emerging and reemerging zoonotic diseases worldwide,” says Professor Heinz Feldmann (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA), who played a leading role in the planning of the event. “I think this will be a very fruitful conference at a perfect time and location. I hope the conference can also reach the attention of funding agencies and policy makers to secure funding for zoonotic diseases in future years.”
The Symposium is held every year by the German Research Platform for Zoonoses, which has been uniting physicians and veterinarians from universities and government institutions as well as experts on fundamental research, epidemiology, public health and clinical applications since 2009. This year for the first time, the conference is being hosted as a large-scale international event with guests from around the world who will present the results of their work.
This will generate synergy, as veterinarian Lothar Wieler underlines: “The Zoonoses Platform is filling the enormous gap that formed as a result of specialization in the fields of human and animal medicine in the second half of the 20th century. Without the Zoonoses Platform, we would not be able to enter into scientifically-grounded dialogue regarding the transmission of multi-resistant bacteria or discuss the impact of pandemic influenza viruses.” The current Ebola outbreak demonstrates just how closely human and animal diseases are linked. Knowledge of these connections – with regard to Ebola and many other zoonotic diseases – paves the way for targeted prevention, and enables potential future outbreaks to be recognised faster.
Heinz Feldmann stresses the pioneering international role Germany has assumed in recent years, thanks to its intensive collaboration initiatives: “The German zoonoses network is very well developed. Actually, it is an excellent example for zoonoses networking worldwide. I wish it worked like this in other countries, too; and I really hope that funding for the network will continue.”
At the symposium, the German Academy for Animal Health awarded Dr. Fabian Leendertz (Robert Koch Institute) with its research prize. Leendertz, a veterinarian specialising in microbiology, has made a significant contribution in epidemiological contexts – particularly in the field of new exotic zoonoses. His projects this year included heading a large team of researchers investigating the origin of the Ebola virus in Guinea, the source of the current outbreak of the disease in West Africa.
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German Research Platform for Zoonoses
Zoonotic research is performed in Germany at universities and government institutions, in both small work groups and large networks. The knowledge and experience of physicians, veterinarians, infection biologists and scientists from other disciplines play a key role. Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, the German Research Platform for Zoonoses provides an infrastructure and scientific support, fostering collaboration between all stakeholders. Its task is to enable closer links between biomedical fundamental research and human and animal medicine to pave the way for more efficient research into zoonoses in Germany. The Zoonoses Platform is jointly operated by the University of Münster, the Friedrich-Loeffler Institut (Riems site) and TMF.
International Conference on Emerging Zoonoses
The 2014 Conference in Berlin follows six successful conferences, each of which provided an interdisciplinary forum for physicians, veterinarians, epidemiologists, immunologists, virologists, microbiologists, public health experts and others concerned with the ever-increasing threats associated with the transmission of infectious diseases from animals to humans.