For the first time since the kick-off meeting in early 2020, the Annual Meeting of EATRIS-Plus took place face-to-face. The meeting was held on 10 May 2022 in Malaga, Spain and took place alongside the Combined EATRIS Board of Governors’ and National Directors’ Meetings (9-10 May 2022). Furthermore, on 11 May 2022 the Spanish National Node Meeting was held subsequently to hand over the Directorship from Joan Comella (VHIR) to Maria Laura Garcia Bermejo (IRYCIS).
This year the EATRIS-Plus Annual Meeting focused on bringing our community together around the following key topics: the Multiomic Toolbox development, national node capacity building, and Patient Engagement.
Supporting the progress of personalised medicine through scientific tools
One of the most important outputs of the project is developing the Multiomic Toolbox that will provide the researchers’ community with resources to enable high-quality cross-omic analyses and data integration in clinical samples. The Toolbox will be an open-access resource and consists of standard operating procedures (SOPs), guidelines, reference materials, quality parameters, data analytical tools, the repository of Multiomic data, and criteria for reference values. Partners involved in the development (WP1,2,3) are RadboudUMC from the Netherlands, the Finnish Institute of Molecular Medicine, the Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine from the Czech Republic, Uppsala University from Sweden, Ramon Y Cajal Health Research Institute, and of course EATRIS. A two-hour workshop in the morning led by EATRIS Biomarker Platform Manager Emanuela Oldoni took place that focussed on the development of the Toolbox. A separate afternoon workshop led by Anna Niehues and Peter-Bram ‘t-Hoen from RadboudUMC was dedicated to Data Analysis also attended by the bioinformaticians of each institute. The Multiomic Toolbox is scheduled to be piloted in early 2023.
Strengthening EATRIS National Nodes
EATRIS-Plus is at its core an infrastructure development project with an aim to strengthen EATRIS’ long-term capacities as translational enabler for Personalised Medicine. Being a distributed Research Infrastructure, one of the most important mechanisms in ensuring this sustainability is increasing the capacity of the national nodes. Through the project financial and know-how support as well as training and exchange opportunities for all nodes have been made available to plan their future development.
Project Manager Eliis Keidong gave a presentation on Node Capacity Building at the National Directors’ Meeting on 9 May 2022. The presentation focused on following up on the nodes’ sustainability planning activities including stakeholder outreach and management, industry and patient engagement, and community building. One of the most important vehicles for all EATRIS Institutes employees to participate in experience exchange is the recently launched EATRIS-Plus Staff Exchange Programme, which supports operational and scientific staff visits across EATRIS institutions
A Node Capacity Workshop was organised on the afternoon of 9 May 2022, gathering all National Directors and Coordinators and focussed on furthering the hub-and-spoke model by providing concrete input to the Strategic Development of the nodes. Attendees were grouped in four and rotated through two tracks of the four available: Impact assessment at node level; Alignment of national node with national personalised medicine strategy; Utilising knowledge management tools; and Node outreach & communication.
On 10 May 2022, a was an additional workshop led by EATRIS Imaging and Tracing Platform Manager and Industry Outreach Coordinator Sara Zullino in collaboration with Montserrat Daban, the Scientific and International Relations Director of Biocat focused on SME and Industry engagement. EATRIS’ Senior Scientific Programme Managers Martin de Kort and David Morrow presented case studies that considered unfamiliar or unforeseen situations when engaging with industry partners, and the participants were invited to work through those scenarios in a role-playing manner.
Over the course of 2022, the project is planning for additional Node Capacity-Building workshops in anticipation of the development of the nodes’ sustainability plans that will be integrated into the EATRIS Sustainability Plan (due Q3 2022).
EATRIS accelerating Patient Engagement
One of the highlights of the meeting was the Patient Engagement Roundtable moderated by Valentina Strammiello (Head of Programmes, European Patients’ Forum), and attended by EATRIS-Plus Patient Advisory Committee (PAC) Members Oriana Sousa, Merete Schmiegelow, Bojana Mirosavljevic, as well as EATRIS WP1 researchers Alain van Gool (RadboudUMC), Marian Hajduch (IMTM) and Maria Laura Garcia Bermejo (IRYCIS). The Roundtable brought to the forefront the added value of early patient engagement in research, as well as discussed the future potential of the Patient Engagement Toolkit for Researchers that is currently under development in collaboration with EPF, EATG, PAC Members as well as many EATRIS community researchers. The Patient Engagement Toolkit is due by the end of 2022.
In addition to the roundtable, the PAC had two other satellite meetings focussing on the Toolkit development. You can read more about the EATRIS-Plus PAC and Patient Engagement related activities here.
Led by EATRIS Scientific Director Toni Andreu, the meeting concluded with a plenary session about the future of EATRIS, as well as reminders of the most important upcoming and ongoing initiatives of the project.