Last week was full of scientific camaraderie and collaboration, as we held our Final Showcase meeting on March 19-21 in Atlanta, Georgia.
We had over 150 attendees, of which about 60% were Principal Investigators and their students and staff, and the remaining 40% were NoroCORE stakeholders. Our stakeholders are extremely diverse, and represent industries such as sanitation and hygiene, retail food and foodservice, and the cruise lines, but also public health and regulatory agencies, both inside and outside of the US! It was great to see old and new faces, including many new and graduated students.
The full agenda can be downloaded here, and here are just a couple of the meeting’s highlights:
- Mary Estes (Baylor College of Medicine) and Jan Vinjé (CDC) spoke about ongoing progress and research with the new human norovirus cultivation system, and the future directions of molecular virology for this virus.
- Maren Anderson (MEA&FS Consulting) demonstrated the NorOPTIMAL system, which has been a very cool output of the project. Building upon a huge body of scientific literature, it allows the user to create a representation of their facility (such as an eldercare facility), introduce a little (or a lot of) norovirus, and see what happens in detail. It also lets you test out different prevention and control methods, like increased disinfection practices and handwashing, to see what is most effective.
- We held a stakeholder panel with open discussion to relay the major needs still present in different industries, and where they see norovirus management and their fields heading in the future.
- RTI International gave a synopsis of their external evaluation of the NoroCORE project, which many neat insights for us and future collaboratives.
- The meeting closed with a lively group discussion of what NoroCORE could do with additional funding, as well as where this monetary support could be found.
- Fifty posters were proudly displayed in the adjoining room, and well-attended.
- The NoroCORE Executive Board presented a photo of themselves (below) to Dr. Lee-Ann Jaykus, our Scientific Director, along with a nice gift as thanks.
We closed the meeting with a well-timed quote from one of our longtime colleagues:
“It may be diarrhea to you, but it’s bread and butter to us.”
In other words, we all came together to work on a nasty problem, both figuratively and literally, and for many of us in NoroCORE, norovirus and food safety are their careers.
We deeply thank all who could attend, and those who have supported and been involved with the NoroCORE project these past seven years.