Contact: Alexander Shtifman
Phone: 617-713-8989
alex...@childrens.harvard.edu

The Immune Disease Institute for Biomedical research held its sixth annual scientific retreat from Sunday, September 10th through Tuesday September 12, 2006 at the Sea Crest Hotel in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

The three-day event, organized by IDI Investigator Tomas Kirchhausen, brought together investigators, post-doctoral fellows, students, administrators and members of IDI's newly created Scientific Advisory Board to share information about the research taking place at IDI. Dr. John Baldwin, President and CEO of the IDI, said that "This was a meeting of unparalleled scientific excellence and one that brought the entire Institute together - from students, and post-docs, to junior and senior faculty, to our own Board of Trustees, and, notably, to our new and truly distinguished Scientific Advisory Board. The meeting was the quintessence of the coalescing and ever-strengthening identity, the pervasive quality, and the international reputation of the Immune Disease Institute. Our many constituencies, including the Scientific Advisory Board, are already looking forward to next year's retreat."

The IDI retreat format was created back in 1997 as a way of generating scientific interchange and collaboration, but there were several changes to the format made this year. The retreat was lengthened from one night to two nights to give the participants more time for enhanced interaction, and for the first time the retreat was combined with a meeting of the Scientific Advisory Board. There were also several sponsors for the retreat, including Genentech, MedImmune, Serono Intl, Biogen Idec, and Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. Over 200 people attended in all.

Over the course of the three-day retreat, each Principal Investigator gave a 20 minute presentation on the most exciting, recent work taking place in his/her lab, and then answered questions posed from the audience.

Investigator Klaus Rajewsky commented that this year's retreat was a great step in the right direction. "The SAB is very helpful in generating the right kind of interaction and feedback...and it was nice to have a demonstration of how truly very good the science is here at IDI."

In between Investigator presentations, students presented their work in posters. Nearly 100 posters were available for review by all. The SAB served as judges in selecting the top four scientific posters, and awards were given to Saveez Saffrian of the Kirchhausen Lab, Noritaka Nishida of the Springer Lab, Marc Schmidt-Supprian of the Rajewsky Lab, and Sonia Sharma of the Rao Lab.

Dr. Fred Alt, Scientific Director of IDI says "it was a great atmosphere - this was by all accounts a huge success."

But don't think it was all work and no play. After dinner on Sunday the participants were treated to the sounds of The Cell Mates -a band made up of scientists, including Yale researchers and SAB members Drs. Flavell and Melman. Dr. Alt even sang a few tunes with the band, including Run Around Sue, which his assistant Kate Banks said was "unbelievable!" In fact, everyone seems in agreement that Dr. Alt is a great singer. Who knew?

It was a truly informational few days, and a great time was had by all. Tom Kirhhausen agrees the event was "really great" and the Institute is already planning for its seventh annual retreat in the fall of 2007.