The final INITIATE meeting has recently taken place in parallel with the Cell Symposium: Viruses in health and disease, in Sitges Spain between 19 and 22nd of March 2023. Thanks to this opportunity all ESRs were able to present their posters to all invited speakers and guests of the symposium. Some of the ESRs were also invited to present their poster orally to the audience. A dedicated INITIATE project poster was presented during the poster sessions, providing an opportunity for the project coordinator to explain the goals and importance of an innovative training network, its contribution to the training of a new generation of young researcher in the emerging field of antiviral immunometabolism to a wide audience of stakeholders.

The first day of the satellite meeting was focused on current status of the projects and careers of the ESRs and their feedback on the INTIATE project. All of ESRs were on track: either finished their PhD or heading towards their PhD. In addition, most of the ESRs completed their secondments, and a few of them scheduled these for upcoming months. The members of the External Advisory Board, present during this meeting, provided their comments on the project implementation. Both, Ab Osterhaus and Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, highly positive evaluated the project and its implementation. The meeting focused on what ESRs had valuated the most during their time in INITIATE, what where the hurdles to overcome, how do see their future and what would be their tips for future networks.

As the highlights of the project majority of ESRs mentioned:

– life meetings;
– outstanding network opportunities with PIs and ESRs;
– research environment in secondment laboratories;
– partnerships with industrial and academic institutions;
– outreach activities.

As the suggestions for future projects were mentioned:

– consolidation of collaborative projects between ITN partners from an earlier stage;
– restructure of KnowP module;
– provide more live workshops/courses on advanced techniques;
– to have modules on gender and mental health topics;
– possibility to attend secondment on freely choose – based on project needs;
– increasing a PhD period from three to four years.

The day was finished with informal communication and networking between ESRs, PIs and invited guests.
The other days, the ESRs participated in the congress, presenting their posters, attending presentations by renowned scientists like Prof. C. Drosten and Prof. K.Subara. At the second day, ESRs attended the ‘meet the speakers’ diner, which enabled the ESRs to interact with (invited) speakers of the conference.
At the end, this was an excellent final meeting, and we are sure that all ESR’s and PIs have built a network that will be beneficial for the rest of their careers!