Our very first Isala event is almost here!

Big news! The very first Isala event is approaching! During this event, many well-known experts will give a scientific lecture on a saga of topics related to vaginal health. The Isala symposium (in English) will take place on Tuesday January 24th 2023 between 1 and 8:30 PM at ‘Campus Drie Eiken’ of the University of Antwerp. Hopefully you already registered (whether or not online) to have a great time with us. 😊

The audience will meet many well-known speakers. Here, we give you the unique opportunity to get to know them better in a glimpse:

  • Prof. Jacques Ravel is a pioneer in the field of vaginal microbiome research. As you know, women have a second ‘microbiome organ’ next to the gut. However, a lot of useful knowledge is lacking here. That was great motivation for Prof. Ravel to study the vaginal microbiome to better support women. He and his team started this research in America, more specifically at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He quickly became a worldwide expert and a long list of scientific publications followed. Very nice work! It will be a unique opportunity to see and hear him live in Belgium.
  • Prof. Sarah Lebeer is such a true pioneer too, but then across the Atlantic Ocean, in Belgium. She is known as the leading lady of the Isala project and she rocks! In the meantime, Isala’s research extends far beyond our own national borders. At the symposium, she will happily talk about how it all started. Moreover, she will guide you through a fascinating story to show the current status of the project and she will unveil a tiny bit of the rosy Isala future.
  • As responsible general practitioner of the Isala project, Prof. Veronique Verhoeven already answered a lot of questions from participants. Besides, she investigates self-sampling and the human papillomavirus (HPV), on which she will further elaborate. In her career, she has handled a lot of vaginal samples that were screened for infectious diseases one by one. In this way, she makes a difference for many girls and women. On a regular basis, she takes a different tack, a little further away from here, to apply her extensive experience as a doctor. Thus, she has already made many adventurous expeditions to Antarctica. Very cool!
  • Prof. Gilbert Donders is Isala’s responsible gynecologist. He works at the University Hospital of Antwerp and the Sacred Heart hospital in Tienen. Moreover, he founded his own medical practice company and non-profit organisation for clinical research, that was named Femicare. He explores the vaginal microbiome from a clinical point of view and is specialist in vaginal infections. Prof. Donders was the first to describe the vaginal condition ‘aerobic vaginitis’, which was outlined in our interesting blogpost. At the symposium, he will immerse the audience in his story with pleasure. And whether he is aware of the ins and outs of Isala’s dreams and achievements. As co-promotor of doctoral researcher Sarah Ahannach, there is no way around this.
  • Furthermore, our postdoctoral Isala researcher Dr. Sandra Condori will address you with a lot of enthusiasm. She explores the variety of compounds that are present in the Isala swabs. Partly thanks to her, Isala is on the rise at an international level too! Sandra will provide you with an exciting Isala trip to her home country Peru and our sister project Laura.

She will take the stage together with Dr. Caroline Masquillier. In turn, Caroline will talk about her research on the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in South Africa. She investigates how the households of HIV-positive patients can offer them support and thus combat this epidemic. A few years ago, she already won the Prize for Science Communication. These skills clarify her fixed spot in our Isala advisory board.

  • Prof. Karolien Poels is the last speaker at the symposium, but certainly not the least. With her research she gains insights into different media environments and ‘complex’ communication. She will talk about this indispensable research and what it implies for Isala. Since a lot of intimate data is collected by the Isala researchers, both the contribution and involvement of her and our nice communication expert colleague Charlotte De Backer from MIOS are definitely a must-have.

No, we are not done yet. The origin of the Isala story and interesting results will be further explained in detail by Sarah Ahannach during her doctoral defense that evening. We already give a small preview of this exciting Isala trip. 😊 Originally we were looking for 200 vaginas. Eventually we found more than 6000 (wow!). In that way, we could write history together with you! It started a little less than three years ago. And how we have expanded! Many team members joined. This implies that several research lines were launched as well. Isala also left its mark abroad by setting up various sister projects. Currently, you can follow our ins and outs through various communication channels and we are happy to be hosted at events too.

One of our good intentions for this new year is to further make Isala’s dreams come true in various areas. To start off, we are really looking forward to January 24th to celebrate this day under the sign of Isala. This event is a real milestone in our story that we couldn’t write without our epic participants. THANK YOU, again! But certainly don’t worry if you can’t make it. You will certainly hear from the Isala team in the (near) future. Stay tuned!