Our first results-driven scientific meeting was held in La Rochelle, France, on October 6 and 7. In addition to the research teams, we also had our two external advisors. It is important to have outside views on research and their substantial contributions were very much appreciated.
The UPEC group did a fantastic job in organising and structuring the meeting. There was plenty of formal time for discussion, as well as time for informal discussions around the breaks, meal times and evening. The meeting itself covered the entire range of topics that lie within the ArrestAD programme. Talks included a recap of our objectives and strategy, administrative matters, ethics, and communication plans. The latter have an important ethical angle, as institutional publicity offices often oversell research. In the case of biomedical research, and perhaps very particularly to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, over positive spinning of research results would likely be upsetting for patients and families. So this is something we will avoid. On the research front, substantial progress has been made on all fronts, from the patient side (patient recruitment, sample processing and so on) to the molecular and research tools. The good news is we are well up on our deliverables and hitting the milestones in each WP and as at our Kick Off meeting, we all learned a lot from each other.
The group as a whole, though we have not met often, gels very well. The extensive discussion time allowed forward research planning between teams, something that always takes time in multidisciplinary research.
The trip to La Rochelle also enabled a number of us, on the way in or the way out, to visit UPEC, where our Coordinator works. This was to ensure that we could plan in detail those parts of the research that will involve two labs working together on a particular task. In our case, this was to determine how we will extract the heparin-binding proteins using Liverpool protocols on French patient samples in UPEC. Happily, all is in order and we should move smoothly onto this phase of the work mid- to late 2018.
Our next meeting, which will be the PIs only, will be in Brussels in February 2018, when we present our progress to the external panel appointed by the European Commission. This will provide excellent feedback, as well as a chance for the team to discuss their progress.