ERRAZE@WUR event: Working together to prevent, and mitigate future zoonotic epidemics and pandemics

Mitigation and prevention of zoonoses and future pandemics is one of the major challenges the world faces today. During this ERRAZE@WUR event you will be updated on past, current and planned WUR and ERRAZE@WUR research in this field, and we will discuss future challenges. Together, we can contribute to strengthening our joint national and global capacity in this field.

Organised by ERRAZE@WUR

Wed 25 May 2022 11:00 to 18:00

Venue Omnia, Building 105, Hoge Steeg 2, 6708 PH Wageningen
Price description Free admission, but registration is mandatory. Registration will help us with the planning of breakout sessions, and prevent food waste.

On May 25th colleagues and One Health minded parties and individuals had the opportunity to meet and (re-)connect at our open ERRAZE@WUR meeting in Omnia at Wageningen Campus. This event brought together researchers, policy makers, people from NGO’s and other stakeholders. The strong connections that were apparent between participants underlined that ERRAZE@WUR is able to build on a long tradition of multidisciplinary One Health research at WUR, and with our partners. We hope and assume that all ideas and contacts that were made during the work-in-progress afternoon workshops, lunch and social get togethers will find their way into our work.

The importance of such multidisciplinary work – also including collaborations with the end-users of our work – was exemplified by our speakers.

The relation between biodiversity and zoonosis risks

First on the speaker role was our own Helen Esser, who gave us valuable insights into one of the not-yet fully resolved conundrums of nature: the scientific thriller of the relation between biodiversity, and zoonosis risks. Scales as well as hosts and disease systems all play a role, and make that there is no one simple answer to the question “will more biodiversity make us safer from infectious disease”? Better understanding of all the factors at play will help us reduce risks and anthropogenic impacts.

Human disturbance of biodiversity does increase disease risk, whereas natural changes do less so.
Helen Esser

One Health European Joint Partnership delivering outputs of excellent utility

Hein Imberechts, of Sciensano in Belgium, highlighted the value of the output of the One Health European Joint Partnership (OH EJP) for both the participating research institutes, and the governments of the countries they’re based in. Through WBVR WUR is a partner of this consortium. As the OH EJP is approaching the end of its funding term, many of the outputs are currently being presented online, for example in the LinkedIn profile of the partnership. With OH EJP winding up, and not being renewed, it was surprising to learn that the One Health element will also be lost in the Horizon Europe programme, where human health is once again addressed in a pillar separate from animal and environmental health.

One Health EJP started with asking stakeholders about their needs and interests in relation to AMR, foodborne zoonoses and emerging threats. This helped to connect science to policy.
Hein Imberechts

Understanding social and cultural systems helps to understand virus transmission

The last speaker demonstrated how social sciences are being incorporated in a traditionally pathogen focused research institute. Tamara Giles-Vernick joined us from the Pasteur Institute in France, and took us on a journey through the forests of Cameroun, and the various fields of science that are essential to understanding and mitigating viral transmission chains between great apes and humans. She works in both the lab and field with social scientists, ecologists as well as biologists and virologists, to unravel the types of contact between different species, the cultural systems underlying these interactions, and the virus transmission that may result from it. A gripping story, that also emphasises that just studying a pathogen gives us only limited entry points for stopping transmission, and understanding social and cultural aspects that shape transmission do so much more!

The critical understanding of relations between different kinds of participants in the social herd, their priorities, practices, and where possible dialogue, is crucial to advance health.
Tamara Giles-Vernick

Need help finding someone?

The brand-new venue allowed us to have both small scale interactive meetings, online meetings with alumni in faraway places, and inspiring plenary talks by local and international keynote speakers. We made use of all these opportunities throughout the day. Should you need some help finding that one person you spoke with, but don’t seem to have an email address, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

11.00 - 12.00 Plenary session:
- Welcome and introduction
- Presentation Helen Esser, Assistant professor at the Wildlife Ecology & Conservation Group Wageningen University & Research
12.00 - 12.45 Lunch
12.45 - 14.00 Plenary session:
- Presentation Hein Imberechts, Scientific Coordinator One Health EJP, Sciensano, Belgium
- Presentation Tamara Giles-Vernick, Director of Research and Unit Head, Anthropology & Ecology of Disease Emergence, Institut Pasteur
14.00 - 17.00 Breakout sessions – Workshops:
1) (NL) Laboratoria van de toekomst, by Heather Graham and Rene Dirks
- Two topics: a. Digitaal aanmelden samples – do’s and don’ts, and b. Papiervrij werken in het laboratorium.
2) Toolbox for efficient sampling and analysis for zoonotic organisms, Wim van der Poel
- Presentations and panel discussion about the ongoing work in Theme 2 of ERRAZE@WUR.
3) Models to guide policy decisions: doing it right!, by Michel Counotte
- Why, how and what on models.
4) Solving the conundrum: Biodiversity and zoonosis risks, by Frank van Langevelde
- Presentations and discussions on the role of biodiversity in the risk of zoonosis.
5) Supporting food systems stakeholders facing future pandemic risks – a glimpse at a new proposal, by Annabelle Daburon
- New ERRAZE@WUR project proposal development.
17.00 - 18.00 Drinks and bites