Dynamics of Immune Repertoires: Exploration and Translation

IMMREP22 scientific report - A. Eugster, U. Hershberg, M. Or-Guil and G. Yaari

Main focus and key participants
The Dynamics of Immune Repertoires international workshop and seminar was comprised of six interlinked working groups and one 5-day seminar. Due to the pandemic, we were gifted a very long planning period. This allowed us to integrate between relatively disparate topics that together underlie the knowledge we are missing in the study of immune repertoire dynamics. We also took advantage of the enthusiasm of our different research communities to return to interact face to face following the disconnection of the pandemic. We were thus fortunate to find 12 brilliant leaders in their field to organize the six working groups studying:
- (in chronological order but in equal importance) –
WG1: “T cell trajectories and TCR diversity in health and disease”,
WG2: “Evolutionary footprints in immunoglobulin V genes”,
WG3: “The primary B-cell immune response”,
WG4: “Machine learning in computational immunology”,
WG5: “Evolutionary scales of the immune system”, and
WG6: “Can TCR specificities be predicted?”.
We were also able to cover these topics with many talks by senior, established researchers in those fields during the seminar week, offering participants a very broad overview over this still very dynamic field.

Integration of newcomers and new ideas
The co-operation of our workshop organizers allowed us to invite both the key players as well as newer emerging researchers in each field, to both, the workshops and the seminar week. Our ability to allow (some of the) participants to stay throughout multiple working groups as well as the week-long seminar enabled a cross topic integration of ideas. All 4 scientific advisors come from multidisciplinary backgrounds and so we were very aware of the need for education to discussions across disciplines. We thus encouraged participant to exit their comfort zones and attend both the more computational WGs (4 and 6) and the more experimental biology WGs (1,2 3 and 5). In addition, we ensured the poster session included early studies incorporating both computational and experimental aspects of immune research.

Wider scientific impact
IMMREP22 had several general and concrete impacts. First and foremost, it extracted our scientific community from the doldrums induced by the isolation of COVID-19. It also opened several novel avenues of research stemming from each of our WGs. WG1described a new comprehensive theory for T cell dynamics in health and disease; WG2 started an initiative to create a novel method for V(D)J segment verification and annotation allowing for easier, less centralized and more coherent integration of community findings; WG3 resulted in a more integrated multi scale view of initial immune responses from which a review of key facts and open questions is being created. WG4 has re-invigorated the field of artificial immune systems leading to a new series of workshops starting in the summer of 2023, as well as a special issue in Immunoinformatics. WG5 re-integrated ideas from comparative immunology into our main-stream human and murine focused understanding of immunity. WG6 made several important advances in our understanding and ability to model T cell specificity and kicked off an ongoing collaboration. (Initial results published here https://doi.org/10.1016/j.immuno.2023.100024). Together, all working groups have shown the power of a multidisciplinary approach focused on the study of diversity and dynamics in immunology and biology in general, and resulted in scientific papers and new and exciting initiatives and collaborations.