AIRR Community holds virtual conference on various aspects of COVID-19


By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich

As COVID-19 continues to bring about the cancellation of international medical conferences around the world, all is not lost. Virtual conferences via Zoom are diverse and abundant.

The Adaptive Immune Receptor Repertoire (AIRR) Community ran a special online event over three days from September 8 to September 10, 2020 for which more than 350 people registered, and an average of 140 people participated at any given time.

Due to the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for speedy scientific progress to bring it to a halt, the AIRR Community of The Antibody Society held a special event focused on AIRR-sequencing data and COVID-19.

The virtual meeting provided recent analyses of the B- and T-cell receptor repertoires of COVID-19 patients. In addition, it also focused on a key objective of the AIRR Community in the context of the pandemic, i.e. how the scientific response to the COVID-19 pandemic might be leveraged to promote the implementation of standards for AIRR-seq data.

Different representatives of the iReceptor Plus team played a major role at the event.

The first day of discussions was dedicated to the topic of T-cell receptor repertoire data inform the pathophysiology of COVID-19, implications for diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, and was moderated by  iReceptor Plus’s Lindsay Cowell, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

The second day covered similar topics, but focused on B-cell receptor repertoires.

The last day was entitled COVID-19: A catalyst for the implementation of the FAIR guiding principles for AIRR-seq data.

One of the panels was dedicated to the state of FAIR 2020: Achievements, Catalysts, Obstacles and Risks in which Christian Busse, from the German Cancer Research Center took an active part.

Another panel dealt with how are database providers making COVID-19 data FAIR? This session featured iReceptor Plus’s scientific manager Prof. Felix Breden, from the Simon Fraser University in Canada.

The AIRR Community is already planning another virtual event entitled “Meeting V: Zooming in to the AIRR Community”

The meeting will include three four-hour virtual sessions on December 8th-10th, 2020 and will include AIRR-C working group and sub-committee presentations, scientific sessions, an interactive poster session, and re-imagined workshops, pipeline and repository tutorials, software tool demonstrations and networking events.