#ASV2017 - a virology party!

On my way back from the 2017 American Society for Virology meeting, I recap the good times
Published in Microbiology
#ASV2017 - a virology party!

Share this post

Choose a social network to share with, or copy the shortened URL to share elsewhere

This is a representation of how your post may appear on social media. The actual post will vary between social networks

As I sit at the airport waiting for a flight that will take me home, I remember the good times and excellent talks at the recent ASV meeting. One of my sons asked for 10 photos a day on this trip, and although I did not quite manage, I took a few (and have borrowed a few from Twitter) and so I will make this mainly a graphic post.

I heard there were some great pre-meeting Satellite Symposia, but my first session was the Keynote Address by Eva Harris, on Dengue and Zika virus infections and a Bench-to-Field program her lab is involved in, following a large cohort of children in Nicaragua, and taking back samples to understand disease dynamics and pathogenesis in humans. The  meeting was off to a great start!

A LOT of virologists mesmerized by Eva Harris.

Madison greeted us with a spot of rain followed by the world's most gorgeous double rainbow over Lake Monona. You can't see it here, but we could see the rainbow end-to-end; that was a first for me!

Photo credit: American Society for Virology @AmerSocVirol

That night, we were in for a treat, the Shake-the-Lake Festivities (http://shakethelake.org/) were underway that day, and at the Monona Convention Center we had front row seats -with popcorn!- to the fireworks. I've never been to such an impressive meeting Welcome Reception :).

Photo credit: Lara Herrero Marcus @lara_marcus

In addition to great science, the ASV2017 was a great opportunity to meet new people, reconnect with others, discuss virology and publishing with all, and visit a few local labs. 

With Paul Duprex and Ben-Hur Lee

Andrea Gamarnik, yours truly, Carla Saleh and Stacy Horner. Photo credit: Behn-Hur Lee @VirusWhisperer

With Yoshi Kawaoka, Yoshi Matsuura and Amie Eisfeld having a little Madisonian BBQ after a visit to the Influenza Research Institute. I made the mistake of ordering a full rack of ribs and Amie had to take half home. Certainly NOT baby-back ribs... 

The energy, scientific curiosity, and celebratory mood were contagious. Numerous talks were standing-room only.

I don't want to select specific talks for their scientific content, because many were very good and I did not take pictures in all, and the fact that there were several simultaneous afternoon workshops meant that I did not attend all lectures. However, I'd like to mention a couple for their refreshing unorthodoxy.

Chris Sullivan started his talk by explaining that hipsters are those who figure out something is cool way before the rest of us mortals realize it. According to this definition, virologists are the hipsters of the ncRNA field and he finished his lecture thanking THE ncRNA hipsters, whose contributions have been instrumental for our understanding of viral, prokaryotic and eukaryotic ncRNAs.


Geoffrey Smith gave a very inspired talk: started by reciting Shakespeare (!!!) and after going over his lab's recent work, ended with a passionate defense of immigration and its contribution to scientific advance, and heartfelt advocy for vaccination. For the latter part, he adapted Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech -after reciting the original- to say he dreamed of a world in which vaccines could be developed for all infectious diseases that afflict mankind, and in which existing vaccines were used by all, in order to prevent the spread of disease. Finally, he exhorted all of us who share his dream, independently of our professional role, to go forth and advocate for vaccination. A very uplifting penultimate lecture!

Photo credit: Laura Ruhge @llruhge

Of note, over half of the speakers at ASV2017 were women, suggesting that the analysis of female speaker presence performed by Robert Kalejta and Ann Palmenberg has not fallen on deaf ears. In addition, the two Ann Palmenberg Junior Investigator Awards went to very deserving women, Stacy Horner and Siobain Duffy, who are leading labs working on Flavivirus-host interactions and the evolution of emerging viruses, respectively. 

There was even some time to sample fine Madison cuisine in excellent company before it was all over.

With Carla Saleh, Andrea Gamarnik, Ricardo Rajsbaum, Peter Nagy and Sebastian Aguirre

And the grand finale were some 500 virologists on the dance floor - they managed to exhaust the DJ!

Photo credit: American Society for Virology @AmerSocVirol

A big congratulations to the Local Organizing Committee because I know that pulling off an event of this size is not easy, and everything ran smoothly: the meals and coffee breaks, the social activities (viral olympics included) and, yes, also the lectures :). 

Although it was a great meeting, I can't wait to get home. See you all next time!

Please sign in or register for FREE

If you are a registered user on Research Communities by Springer Nature, please sign in