The inaugural Courage Fund ID Conference kicked off yesterday evening with a series of plenary lectures at the Marina Mandarin Hotel in Singapore. This clinical and basic science infectious diseases conference is a first for Singapore in many ways:
- It was organised in partnership by the Singapore Infectious Diseases Initiative, the Institute for Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, National University of Singapore, the Emerging Infectious Diseases programme of the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Agency for Science, Technology and Research, National University Hospital, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore Society of Pathology, and the Society of Infectious Disease (Singapore). This is the first time so many different institutes, societies and agencies have come together to set up an infectious disease conference in Singapore.
- The conference is not funded by any pharmaceutical company, but rather by the Courage Fund – set up in April 2003 during the SARS outbreak in Singapore to provide relief to the victims of SARS and their families, as well as to support charitable purposes for healthcare workers and the Singaporean community that may be affected by widespread infectious diseases.
Despite this being held on a late weekday evening, the turnout was pretty decent.
The first plenary was delivered by Prof Wang Linfa, director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Program at Duke-NUS. He spoke about bats and their links to infectious diseases, of course.
The second plenary was delivered by Prof David Patterson from the University of Queensland, who spoke on the problem of Gram-negative bacterial resistance. Like many other speakers on this topic, including myself, he did not offer much hope.
Dr Kanta Subbarao from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID, USA) delivered the last plenary on influenza viruses and vaccines – a far more positive topic. And the evening concluded with a dinner reception.
A promising start to the conference! The opening ceremony will take place this morning, and the main conference program today will deal with diverse topics such as malaria, emerging infectious diseases, bacterial genomic sequencing, novel vaccines and therapeutics, as well as dengue and chikungunya.