International partners meet for the launch of the EU-funded Horizon 2020 project
On 16 February 2020, MISTRAL launched its EU-funded Horizon 2020 project entitled “Microbiome-based stratification of individuals at risk of HIV-1 acquisition, chronic clinical complications, antimicrobial drug resistance, and unresponsiveness to therapeutic HIV-1 vaccination”. The two-day kick-off meeting, organized by MISTRAL coordinator the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute and hosted by “la Caixa” Foundation at Casa-Palau Macaya (Barcelona), brought MISTRAL stakeholders and scientific and ethical advisory board members together to discuss MISTRAL’s roadmap.
The event was launched on day one with an outline of the main goal of the MISTRAL project: decoding the role played by the gut microbiome in HIV infection pathogenesis and cure. Participants then attended presentations that addressed key microbiome, immune system and bioinformatics issues, with stakeholders providing details of the different research lines (distributed in work packages) that will be pursued in the four years of the MISTRAL project. “The microbiome is an area of enormous potential in the field of biomedical research”, explained IrsiCaixa researcher and MISTRAL coordinator, Roger Paredes. “We only understand a tiny part of the role played by microbes in our bodies. In MISTRAL, research into the influence of intestinal microbes on HIV infection will provide valuable information for future prevention and cure/eradication treatments.”
Day two of the event provided a framework – covering science, legislation, data management and integration, finance and ethics – within which stakeholders defined and agreed on tools and procedures to facilitate execution of the project. The event concluded with a commitment to ensuring that MISTRAL would greatly advance HIV and microbiome knowledge, with the kick-off meeting marking a promising beginning. The event was an excellent team-building initiative in that it offered opportunities to cultivate strong relationships and acquire essential knowledge for the joint building of a new project.