In September 2022, 25 researchers from 7 institutions, representing academia, the state, and industry, met to discuss establishing a forum for the advancement of veterinary immunology in South Africa. The meeting was initiated by members of the local organizing committee of the 13th International Veterinary Immunology Symposium (IVIS), that will be held in South Africa in 2023, and was made possible through financial support by the IUIS Veterinary Immunology Committee (VIC).
On Day 1, the meeting was opened with a brief introduction by Dr Sven Parsons, the local chair of IVIS2023, after which Prof Theresa Rossouw, the President of the South African Immunology Society (SAIS), spoke about the history, functioning, and planned future of the Society. SAIS is affiliated to the Federation of African Immunological Societies (FAIS) and the IUIS and is the host organization of the IUIS Congress that will be held in Cape Town in 2023. The opening presentations were followed by “meet-and-greet” sessions, which gave representatives of the major research institutions involved in veterinary immunology an opportunity to showcase their work and identify needs and opportunities within the discipline.
On Day 2, an open floor discussion was held on the potential benefits of initiating a formal association of veterinary immunologists in South Africa, and how this should best be done. A unanimous decision was taken to organize under the auspices of SAIS and an interim steering committee was nominated to drive this process.
Since this meeting, many of the attendees have joined SAIS, and an interim steering committee has initiated engagement with the SAIS Board on the formation of a veterinary interest group or sub-committee. Two of our members were invited to give oral presentations at the SAIS Conference that was held in October 2022, and the initiative to establish a veterinary interest group was discussed at the recent SAIS Annual General Meeting.
We are extremely grateful to VIC for making this initiative possible and we look forward to greater opportunities for networking and collaboration between veterinary immunologists in Southern Africa.