Charting the Course for Influenza Risk Assessment: Key Takeaways From the CEIRR Network's Animal Surveillance Meeting

MeetingsDecember 15, 2023
A harbor seal laying on a rock in open water.

The CEIRR Network convened for an internal conference dedicated to Animal Surveillance at the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, from November 15-16th, 2023. Dr. Jonathan Runstadler of Tufts University, a CRIPT institution, hosted the event. This gathering brought together a distinguished assembly of about 60 representatives from the Network, including foremost research scientists, public health and clinical domain experts, government officials, wildlife biologists, and veterinarians. The primary objective of the conference was to facilitate discussion of crucial scientific insights concerning influenza virus surveillance in both animals and humans. 

The conference focused on an in-depth exploration of ongoing risk assessment activities both within and outside of the CEIRR Network. The meeting encompassed four key themes: 

H5 and Surveillance in Wild Animals - Led by Dr. Rebecca Poulson, Dr. Wendy Puryear, and Dr. Mark Tompkins 

Domestic Animal Surveillance & Human/Animal Interface - Led by Dr. Amy Baker, Dr. Andy Bowman, and Dr. Ghazi Kayali 

In Vivo & In Vitro Phenotypic Characterization - Led by Dr. Seema Lakdawala, Dr. Troy Sutton, and Dr. Anice Lowen 

Molecular Phylodynamics & Computational Modeling - Led by Dr. Justin Bahl, Dr. Martha Nelson, and Dr. Richard Webby 

On the first day of the conference, leaders in each topic area presented their insights. The subsequent day saw investigators convene in smaller breakout groups to delve into ongoing research gaps and identify needs across the four focus areas. The culmination of these presentations and discussions at the CEIRR Animal Surveillance meeting is poised to shape the framework for an enhanced CEIRR Risk Assessment Pipeline (RAP). This plan will synthesize the collective wisdom garnered during the conference to fortify the Network's capabilities in monitoring and evaluating the risks associated with influenza viruses in both animal and human populations.