Final Report – COST ACTION BM1007 2nd Training School

Jerusalem, Israel, January 20-21, 2014

The COST Action BM1007 Mast Cells and Basophils – Targets for Innovative Therapies 2nd Training School was held in Jerusalem, Israel at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Belgium House on the Edmond J. Safra Campus. The training school on "The Search for Mast Cell and Basophil Models – Are We Getting Closer to Pathophysiological Relevance?" was organized by Prof. Francesca Levi-Schaffer of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Prof. Ronit Sagi-Eisenberg from Tel Aviv University as part of the activities of Group 1 to study the physiological and pathophysiological importance of mast cells and basophils in health and disease.

The 34 students who participated in the School came from 12 countries throughout Europe ranging from Sweden and Denmark to Spain and Israel for two full and intensive days of training. The students were divided into six groups, each with a trainer leading an unbiased screening of the literature on mast cells and basophils that addressed the question of pathophysiological relevance and limitations of the different available in vitro and in vivo models. Each group analysed three assigned papers and one to three supporting papers, chosen from papers suggested by all the trainees, covering the topic of their group.

The six groups and their trainers were:

  • Group 1: Models for in vivo and in vitro studies on basophils (Franco Falcone, University of Nottingham, UK)
  • Group 2: Animal models for mast cell research (Katerina Tiligada, Medical School - University of Athens, Greece)
  • Group 3: Mast cell deficient mice models (Frank Siebenhaar, Charité – Universitätsmedizin, Germany)
  • Group 4: Mast cell deficient mice models (Francesca Levi-Schaffer, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)
  • Group 5: In vitro models for human mast cells (Ilan Hammel, Tel Aviv University, Israel)
  • Group 6: In vitro models for rodent mast cells (Ronit Sagi-Eisenberg, Tel Aviv University, Israel)

On the first day of the training school, Ms. Ilana Levi, Director of the Foreign Relations Department of the Israel Ministry of Science and Technology welcomed the participants. Introductory lectures were then given by Prof. Yoseph Mekori (Dean, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University and Chairman, Department of Medicine B, Meir Hospital, Kfar Saba) and Prof. Ehud Razin (Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem). Additional lectures were given by the trainers Prof. Katerina Tiligada (Greece), Prof. Frank Siebenhaar (Germany), Prof. Franco Falcone (UK), Prof. Francesca Levi-Schaffer (IL), and Prof. Ronit Sagi-Eisenberg (IL).

In the afternoon of the first day, the trainees broke into six groups and started the discussions and analysis of the assigned papers, continuing into the second day. Each group prepared an oral power point presentation on the topic of their group that included the following points: 1) the biological questions best addressed by the models discussed in their group; 2) if more than one model existed, an analysis of whether the distinct models yielded similar results and if not what the discrepancies were; 3) the group’s critique of the models discussed. Each group summarized current data and presented the limitations of different models at the same time attempting to assign appropriate models to the biological question being addressed. The six group presentations and abstracts are included as attachments to this report.

Following the group presentations, general discussions were held, final abstracts from the groups were prepared and concluding remarks made.
At the end of the second day, all the trainees and trainers retreated to a local Jerusalem restaurant for a group meal where they relaxed, ate, drank and socialized.

We are planning to use the oral presentations and abstracts as a basis for a review article that will provide a comprehensive overview of the current mast cell and basophil models, their advantages, drawbacks and physiological relevance.
The Training School was supported in part by the Dr. Adolph and Klara Brettler Center for Research in Molecular Pharmacology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the David R. Bloom Center for Pharmacy at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, and the EU COST Action.

Feedback from the training school participants was solicited through an anonymous questionnaire. 100% of the respondents rated as excellent or very good how approachable the trainers were; 88% rated as excellent or very good and 12% as moderately good the lectures on the first day; 81% felt that the balance between the lectures and group session was excellent or very good with 19% feeling it was moderately good; 92% indicated they would integrate the knowledge learned into their research; 96% rated as excellent or very good the overall organization of the training school; and 89% rated the social interactions as excellent or very good.


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