The 1918 influenza pandemic: Historical and biomedical reflections

7-8 February 2019, Ypres, Belgium
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The 1918 influenza pandemic: Historical and biomedical reflections

At the centenary commemoration of the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, many questions with regard to the origin, the development and the impact of this worldwide phenomenon remain largely uncharted.  

  • Where did this virus come from?
  • To what degree and how were its genesis and its rapid transcontinental spread caused and/or facilitated by the war circumstances?
  • Which genetic features of the virus explain its unusually high pathogenicity?
  • How did medical and political authorities react?
  • Why were some age groups spared by this dreadful virus?
  • Is it possible to fathom the impact of the pandemic both on the everyday life of citizens and on general developments in science, culture and politics?
  • How far can a historical approach contribute to the understanding of current-day pandemics, and vice versa?

In order to tackle these questions, an international and interdisciplinary conference will be held in Ypres (Belgium) on 7-8 February 2019. The Scientific Committee warmly invites you to submit abstracts of original research papers related to biomedical and historical aspects of the 1918 influenza pandemic, which you would like to be considered for presentation at the conference. 

Are you an undergraduate student? Then you are welcome to join and you can register using the PhD Student fee.

Poster information:
Format: A0 (841 x 1189 mm / 33.1 x 46.8 in), portrait orientation

Organizing Committee:
Marnix Beyen (co-chair), University of Antwerp, Antwerp, BE
Xavier Saelens (co-chair), Ghent University and VIB, Ghent, BE
Peter Palese, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, US
Anne Rasmussen, University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg, FR
Kaat Wils, KULeuven, Leuven, BE
Marc Van Ranst, KULeuven, Leuven, BE
Dominiek Dendooven, In Flanders Fields Museum (Ieper) and University of Antwerp (Antwerp), BE


Image sources:
Left: “The Spanish Flu rules !”. Cartoon from a Dutch newspaper, 1918-1919.
Right: Negative-stained transmission electron microscopic (TEM) image shows recreated 1918 Influenza virions that were collected from supernatants of 1918-infected Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cell cultures, 18 hours after infection. Content provider: CDC/Dr. Terrence Tumpey.

Confirmed speakers

Peter Piot

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

Samuel Cohn

University of Glasgow, UK

Leo van Bergen

Medical historian, NL

Howard Phillips

University of Cape Town, Cape Town, ZA

John Mathew

Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pashan Pune, Maharashtra, IN

Scott E. Hensley

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, US

Jeffrey Reznick

National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health, US

Heidi Larson

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK

John Oxford

Queen Mary College, London, UK

Debby van Riel

Erasmus MC, NL

Anne Rasmussen

University of Strasbourg, FR

Laura Spinney

Writer & science journalist, FR/CH

Day 1 - 7 February 2019

Thursday, 7 February, 2019
08:00 - 09:00
Registration and poster mounting
Plenary session 1
09:00 - 09:10
Welcome by Xavier Saelens and Marnix Beyen
09:10 - 09:50
Was the emergence and spread of the Great Pandemic aided and abetted by the Great War?
John Oxford
Queen Mary College, London, UK
Invited speaker
Douglas Gill
Historian, UK
Invited speaker
09:50 - 10:30
Socio-psychological reactions to the influenza pandemic, 1918-1920, seen from the history of epidemics
Samuel Cohn
University of Glasgow, UK
Invited speaker
10:30 - 11:00
Tea and coffee break
11:00 - 11:40
100 Years on from the Spanish Flu: Are We Ready for the Next Epidemic?
Peter Piot
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
Invited speaker
11:40 - 12:20
Collective amnesia: why we forgot the worst catastrophe of the 20th century
Laura Spinney
Writer & science journalist, FR/CH
Invited speaker
12:20 - 14:00
Lunch
13:00 - 13:45
Poster session
Parallel session 1: A historical reflection on the 1918 influenza pandemic
13:45 - 14:10
Abbey Sirup will do the trick. The Spanish Flu in the Netherlands
Leo van Bergen
Medical historian, NL
Invited speaker
14:10 - 14:35
Reflections on the Spanish Flu in the Bombay Presidency, India
John Mathew
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pashan Pune, Maharashtra, IN
Invited speaker
14:35 - 15:00
“It threatens the existence of the entire race”: the African experience of the Spanish flu pandemic
Howard Phillips
University of Cape Town, Cape Town, ZA
Invited speaker
15:00 - 15:15
Tea and coffee break
15:15 - 15:40
Selected abstract: A Complicated Story: The Spanish Flu Pandemic in France and the Challenge of Co-Infection and Co-Morbidity
Frédéric Vagneron
University of Zürich, FR
15:40 - 16:05
Selected abstract: Socio-economic aspects of Spanish Flu-mortality in Pula
Iva Milovan Delic
Juraj Dobrila University of Pula, HR
16:05 - 16:30
Selected abstract: In search of the Spanish Flu: A Case of Central Slovenia
Miha Seručnik
Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, SI
Katarina Keber
Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, SI
16:30 - 16:35
Closing of parallel session 1 by Marnix Beyen and move to plenary session 2
Parallel session 2: A Biomedical reflection on the 1918 influenza pandemic
13:45 - 14:30
Involvement of extra-respiratory tissues in the pathogenesis of influenza
Debby van Riel
Erasmus MC, NL
Invited speaker
14:30 - 14:45
Selected abstract: Seroprevalence rates for H1 swine influenza A viruses in humans are dependent on virus clade and birth year
Elien Vandoorn
Ghent University, BE
14:45 - 15:00
Selected abstract: Most middle-aged adults possess non-neutralizing antibodies against contemporary H3N2 virus strains
Sigrid Gouma
University of Pennsylvania, US
15:20 - 15:45
Tea and coffee break
15:15 - 15:40
Selected abstract: Receptor specificity and alternative HA cleavage mechanism are important for efficient influenza virus replication in human neuronal and glial cells
Jurre Siegers
Erasmus MC, NL
15:40 - 16:05
Selected abstract: Hemagglutinin cleavage profiles of human influenza A and B viruses, including that of 1918 influenza
Manon Laporte
Rega Institute for Medical Research, KU Leuven , BE
16:05 - 16:30
Selected abstract: M2e antibodies instruct macrophages to take up influenza infected cells
Bert Schepens
VIB Medical Biotechnology Center, Ghent University, BE
Closing of parallel session 2 by Xavier Saelens and move to plenary session 2
Plenary Session 2
16:30 - 17:15
Present & Past Perspectives on the 1918 Influenza Pandemic
Jeffrey Reznick
National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health, US
Invited speaker
17:15 - 17:30
Closing remarks and practicalities by Dominiek Dendooven
19:40 - 20:15
Meeting at the Menin Gate to attend the Last Post ceremony where a wreath will be laid on behalf of the conference attendants

Organizing Committee:

Marnix Beyen (co-chair), University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
Xavier Saelens (co-chair), Ghent University and VIB, Ghent, Belgium
Peter Palese, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA
Anne Rasmussen, University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France
Kaat Wils, KULeuven, Leuven, Belgium
Marc Van Ranst, KULeuven, Leuven, Belgium
Dominiek Dendooven, In Flanders Fields Museum (Ieper) and University of Antwerp (Antwerp), Belgium

Day 2 - 8 February 2019

Friday, 8 February, 2019
Plenary Session 3
09:00 - 09:10
Welcome by Xavier Saelens and Marnix Beyen
09:10 - 09:50
Rumours and the role of limited information in the 1918 influenza pandemic
Heidi Larson
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK
09:50 - 10:30
Howard Phillips
University of Cape Town, Cape Town, ZA
10:30 - 11:00
Tea and coffee break
11:00 - 11:40
Immune history and pandemic influenza susceptibility
Scott E. Hensley
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, US
11:40 - 12:20
Mapping the flu : health borders at stake, Europe, 1918-1920s
Anne Rasmussen
University of Strasbourg, FR
12:20 - 12:30
Closing of the meeting by Marnix Beyen and Xavier Saelens and explanation of the practical arrangements for the social program
12:30 - 14:00
Lunch
13:00 - 14:00
Poster session
Social program

Optional for registered attendees and registered accompanying persons.

14:00 - 15:30
Visit Lijssenthoek Cemetery and visitor centre in Poperinge (Hospital site during WWI)
Goliath-room of Yper Museum (Cloth Hall) : "Influenza, heritage and public history"
15:30 - 16:00
Selected abstract: Radio Influenza, a digital art commission by Jordan Baseman, to mark the centenary of the 1918-19 influenza pandemic
Danny Birchall
The Wellcome Trust, London, GB
16:00 - 16:15
The social impact of the Spanish flu
Marc Van Ranst
KU Leuven, BE
16:15 - 16:30
Introduction to In Flanders Fields Museum, with special attention to (the absence of) the Spanish Flu
Dominiek Dendooven
In Flanders Fields Museum and University of Antwerp, BE
16:30 - 17:30
Visit of In Flanders Fields Museum
17:30 - 18:30
Closing drink in the museum café (sponsored by the city of Ieper)

Organizing Committee:

Marnix Beyen (co-chair), University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
Xavier Saelens (co-chair), Ghent University and VIB, Ghent, Belgium
Peter Palese, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA
Anne Rasmussen, University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France
Kaat Wils, KULeuven, Leuven, Belgium
Marc Van Ranst, KULeuven, Leuven, Belgium
Dominiek Dendooven, In Flanders Fields Museum (Ieper) and University of Antwerp (Antwerp), Belgium

Attendees

The full list of attendees will be available on 04-02-2019 until 15-02-2019.
This list will only be available for registered attendees of the event.

Abstracts

The full list of abstracts will be available on 04-02-2019 until 15-02-2019.
Only registered attendees can download abstracts.