Lorentz Center Workshop 

Between 12th and 16 February 2024, we hosted the first HypoVax Global workshop entitled “Connecting people to reverse vaccine hyporesponsiveness”. The workshop took place at the Lorentz Center located in Leiden, the Netherlands. The Lorentz Center is well known for hosting international scientific meetings that are innovative, engaging, interactive and of high scientific quality.
The aim of our workshop was to bring together a dynamic group of individuals to focus on understanding the challenge of population-level variations in immune responses to vaccines including attenuated responses to vaccines (vaccine hyporesponsiveness). Through the workshop, we aimed to foster connections between researchers at various career stages and start the building blocks for a research consortium. Workshop participants included researchers from around the globe as well as partners from industry, funding organizations as well as technology transfer experts.
The workshop was attended by a total of 52 participants who travelled from 14 countries. Most participants were affiliated with academic institutions (73%) followed by industry (12%) and biomedical research institutes (8%). There was a good balance in the participants in terms of career stages and gender: senior level (36%), mid-career (33%) and early career (31%). Most participants were female (56%).

Workshop format

The format of the workshop was 5 intense days with plenary sessions, group breakout sessions, round-table discussions, and a mini workshop for early career participants. Built into the programme were many opportunities for participants to get better acquainted.

Week’s activities

The week started with plenary lectures that introduced the HypoVax Global knowledge hub as well as to the problem of vaccine hyporesponsiveness. The morning of the first day also covered an exploration of how a research network or consortium can investigate vaccine hyporesponsiveness using high dimensional population-level immunology and computational biology analysis tools. Presentations also covered implications for vaccine development. The afternoon of the first day continued with a plenary session that focused on what hyporesponsiveness means and is perceived followed by data from population field studies and clinical trials.

The second day of the workshop started with an exploration of insights into vaccine development from the perspectives of industry, funders, and a technology transfer expert. The afternoon continued with a plenary session with presentations on immune responses to vaccines as well as population-level differences in immune responses. Early career researchers were also given the opportunity to share their research findings through a series of short presentations.

The focus of third day of the workshop was on the application of innovative computational tools to the analysis of high throughput immunological data. During the morning, an interactive data session was held that included lectures and the demonstration of a data dashboard. The data session continued into the afternoon with a breakout session where groups got to reflect on research data sharing and its implications. The afternoon focused on the application of novel thinking and “moonshot” pitches (bold, novel plans to accomplish something that seems impossible). After listening to an inspiring pitch, workshop participants were divided into groups to develop their own moonshot ideas to tackle vaccine hyporesponsiveness.

The aim of the fourth day of the workshop was to have an interactive group breakout session where groups brainstormed about charting the way forward in terms of research into vaccine development taking into account the issue of hyporesponsiveness. The brainstorming session closed with a plenary where each group shared their ideas. Later in the day, workshop participants bonded during a beautiful canal tour of Leiden. The workshop was wrapped up in the 5th day with an interactive session where all participants focused on key points arising during the week, the next steps towards building a consortium and the plans for a consensus paper based on workshop proceedings.
The workshop was a great experience for all attendees and was the true definition of cementing old and new collaborations. It underlined the importance of making connections between people in a conducive environment where equality and diversity were the key aspects.