Recap of the first NIHR BioResource Scientific Conference 2023

On 28 June 2023, we held our first NIHR BioResource Scientific Conference – find out more about how it went, the topics discussed and the feedback we received!

After many months of planning, countless emails, platform testing, and microphone checks, we are pleased to say, the first NIHR BioResource Scientific Conference was a success! On 28 June, over 200 people logged in to discover how using NIHR BioResource infrastructure and access to samples, data and volunteer recall can help make vital health research possible.

The event was all about highlighting the variety of cutting-edge academic and industry-led translational research that focused on a wide range of disease areas and our role in accessing data, samples, and of course, participant recall by genotype and/or phenotype.

To kick off the event, Professor Patrick Chinnery, our Co-Chair, introduced everyone to the workings of the BioResource, our mission, the studies we have been involved with, how we facilitate research, current cohort statistics, as well as a highlighting our partnership work with Egality Health and eight  community organisations addressing health inequality and increasing the diversity of our volunteers.

NIHR Bioresource Scientific Conference 2023 landing page
NIHR Bioresource Scientific Conference 2023

COVID-19, Alzheimer's Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease 

The first of our speakers was Dr. Richard Unwin of the University of Manchester who gave us a detailed talk on Plasma Complement Regulators Correlate with Severity of COVID-19, which involved looking into the reactions caused by the COVID-19 virus in individuals to see what drives certain responses and their connected symptoms.

Next up, we had Jessica Daly from the University of Sussex detailing a study that involves our volunteers and focuses on The Effect of the APOE Polymorphism on Memory in Healthy Adults. Jessica explained how they ran a study using our participant portal to recruit volunteers aged 45-65 years old who match the APOE genotype. Participants were asked to complete location, precision and memory tasks as part of the study.  The outcome of Jessica’s study resulted in there being no evidence of an APOE genotype effect in healthy mid-age participants.  

Our last talk before the break was from Prof. Jack Satsangi from the University of Oxford. His talk focused on Personalising Care in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, specifically in patients with  Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, and how the BioResource supported his research. He also discussed the realistic aims for researchers, clinicians and patients in the 21st century, and looks to the future of therapeutic strategies and personalised care with an emphasis on prevention and hopefully, one day, a cure.

We then gave everyone a break to refresh, recharge, and grab a cuppa and some biscuits before diving back into session two!

Our speakers at the NIHR BioResource Scientific Conference 2023
Our speakers at the NIHR BioResource Scientific Conference 2023

Vaccines, rare diseases and stem cell gene therapy

Kicking off session two, Dr. Adam Abdullahi, from the University of Cambridge discussed Evaluating Longitudinal Age-Related Immune Differences Following Vaccination to SARS COV-2 as well as the effects post-vaccination, using data from BioResource cohorts. This was some of the first data in the world explaining differences in vaccine responses between younger and older people.

Following on, Dr. Peter Dixon from King's College London presented his talk on Pregnancy Research, Rare Diseases and how his work could not have been completed without the support of the BioResource and our Rare Diseases team. Dr Dixon explained BioResource’s involvement in his rare diseases research from 2013-2018 and how we enabled the recruitment of women with severe hyperemesis gravidarum for genomic studies.

Our final guest speaker was Dr. Florence Enjalbert from Orchard Therapeutics, talking about Hematopoietic Stem Cell Gene Therapy as a Novel Therapeutic Approach for Severe NOD2-Deficient Crohn’s Disease. Dr. Enjalbert’s study was made possible by collaboration with the BioResource.

To conclude the event, our very own NIHR BioResource Director Dr. Nathalie Kingston gave a recap on the studies we’ve been involved with such as rare diseases and COVID-19, praising our participants for dedicating their samples and their time. She also highlighted our unique capability to recall volunteers for different studies, the number and variety of samples we have available to help researchers, and our work to increase diversity and inclusivity among volunteers.

Thank you vFairs!

We also want to thank the vFairs events management platform for hosting the event and their team for all the behind-the-scenes work in making sure everything ran smoothly, providing regular updates, and their excellent communication throughout.

Thank you to everyone else!

We want to say a huge thank you to everyone that attended, to all the speakers that took time out of their day to come and present their studies, findings, and research, as well as our team who worked tirelessly in putting this all together so we could have a successful event.

We received some great feedback, relating to how BioResource data is utilised and accessed effectively, as well as praise for the speakers, the topics covered, and the studies we’ve been involved in. From the feedback, we had overwhelming support from people saying they would recommend BioResource conferences to colleagues and other researchers. We also had some great topic suggestions for the future, focusing on bleeding disorders, and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), as well as questions on how patients are recruited to give samples and about hearing a patient’s viewpoint of volunteering with the BioResource.  

If you were unable to attend the conference we have a recap of it available. 

Watch this space – another NIHR BioResource Conference is in the cards for the near future.

How can you help?

If you are interested in volunteering with the BioResource to be part of future research we support, whether or not you have a health condition, we’d love to hear from you. All of our volunteers consented to the NIHR BioResource and will be re-contactable to participate in further research, following standard protocols for being a BioResource volunteer.

You can keep up to date with NIHR BioResource on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you are a researcher interested in working with the NIHR BioResource to support your work, please get in touch.

Want to make a difference?

Our volunteers help to advance health research that benefits generations to come. Every volunteer makes a difference.