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Travel Story: Bing Wang

Bing Wang from the Robinson Research Institute travelled to Lisbon, Portugal in May to attend and present at the 15th Congress of the European Meningococcal and Haemophilus Disease Society (EMGM). Bing presented her research on “Case fatality rates of Invasive Meningococcal Disease by serogroup and age: A systematic review and meta-analysis”, and “Lifetime costs of Invasive Meningococcal Disease: A Markov model approach”

This is what Bing had to say about her experience.

What was a highlight of the travel?

The excellent presentation delivered by Dr Shamez Ladhani. He showed the potential vaccine impact of the first national meningococcal serogroup B vaccine program against Meningococcal serogroup W and Y diseases. As the SA state MenB program started in October last year, their results have provided very useful information for our evaluation project.

Did you attend any workshops, labs, research facilities or attend any meetings associated with your travel?

At the 15th Congress of the European Meningococcal and Haemophilus Disease Society (EMGM), the audience was very interested in my oral presentations. I received positive feedback and had direct conversations with different stakeholders in each category (research institutes, governments, and pharmaceutical companies). I met with Dr Shamez Ladhani from Public Health England in the UK, and discussed the evaluation of Meningococcal B (MenB) vaccine programs. I also met with other collaborators and discussed future collaboration opportunities such as setting up a new cost of illness study of IMD in South America. During the EMGM Congress, I attended the General Assembly as a member of EMGM. Even after the EMGM congress, I have still received emails to enquire about my research.

Did you meet any researchers or collaborators of significance? Why are they important to your work?

I met with several senior representatives from Research & Development and Epidemiology departments at GSK, Pfrizer and Sanofi. They are very interested in my research and understand the importance of research projects I have been working on. These meetings were very useful in maintaining connections and increase opportunities for potential collaboration.

How will the experience support you and your research going forward?

All those discussions about pre-hospital antibiotics, atypical symptoms, cross protection have inspired me and will influence my future research directions.

What was the most exciting thing you learned/experienced whilst traveling?

I had previously felt networking was awkward and difficult at an international conference. But I have had very positive networking experience during the EMGM. I met with researchers from research institutes, governments, and pharmaceutical companies. As we are all working in the research area of meningococcal disease, I felt very conformable to start a conversation about research findings and then lead to a meaningful connection.

What was the most interesting or unexpected moment of your travel?

The most interesting moment was one researcher admitted she was using wrong throat swabbing techniques at the beginning of a meningococcal carriage study. Her presentation showed there was a significant difference in carriage rates between using wrong and correct swabbing procedures. As Al Franken said, “Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your ‘mistakes’ for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.”

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