Report from the III ICGEB Workshop of Human RNA Viruses, 3-5 April 2012, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Held every two years, the ICGEB Human RNA Viruses workshop has been held in Italy, India and, most recently, in Argentina


3-5 April in Buenos Aires, Argentina

The ICGEB Workshop on Human RNA Viruses is organized every two years by Alesssandro Marcello, Group Leader, Molecular Virology and Oscar Burrone, Group Leader, Molecular Immunology, ICGEB Trieste. This year, the Workshop has been co-organized with Andrea Gamarnik at the Insitute Leloir in Buenos Aires. The Third World Academy of Science (TWAS) sponsored travel grants that enabled the participation of over 60 researchers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, India, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The workshop hosted an international panel of speakers on various aspects of virology. Takashi Fujita from Kyoto University, Japan, provided an overview of the mechanisms of innate immunity to viral infections followed by Adolfo Garcia-Sastre from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA who investigated the role of TRIM factors in modulating innate immunity to viruses. Hepatitis viruses were introduced by Shahid Jameel Group Leader, Virology, ICGEB New Delhi who also presented his recent findings on the function of HIV-1 Nef. The clinical and molecular aspects of HCV infection were described by John McLauchlan from the Virus Research Centre in Glasgow, UK. This is an interesting time for HCV because of the introduction of novel antivirals into the clinic that will require the follow up of large cohorts of patients to optimize treatment regimens. Nora Lopez from the Centro de Ciencia y Tecnologia Cesar Milstein, Buenos Aires, Argentina talked about the molecular basis of Arenavirus replication, a work relevant to the understanding of the molecular basis of pathogenesis of the Junin Arenavirus, the etiological agent of argentine hemorrhagic fever.

Christian Mandl, Head of Virus Research at Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics in Boston, USA illustrated the progress towards the development of novel vaccines for viral infections based on the delivery of recombinant viral vectors. Initially developed for RSV and HCMV, this strategy could become a platform for the rapid intervention against emerging pathogens.

Luis Enjuanes from the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología in Cantoblanco, Madrid, Spain brought the participants up to speed on Coronaviruses and on a recombinant attenuated vaccine for SARS. These viruses carry the largest genome among RNA viruses and their complex genetic organization is a source of surprising strategies to replicate in the host cells. Francesca Arnoldi from the University of Trieste, Italy, showed how Rotaviruses replicate in the cytoplasm of infected cells within protein structures called viroplasms. The meeting ended with presentations by the organizers describing their current research. Andrea Gamarnik investigated the structure-function relationship of Dengue virus RNA in viral replication, while Oscar Burrone presented a novel method to produce biotinylated Rotavirus particles. Alessandro Marcello showed how to approach localization and dynamic of viral RNA in living cells exploiting HIV-1 and Flaviviruses.

The workshop, in addition to the talks from the panel of international speakers, selected posters and short oral presentations from participants, providing an opportunity to discuss their research activities. Between talks participants and invited speakers had the opportunity to interact, share data and investigate opportunities of career both in academic research and in the industry. Among the discussions that took place at the venue was the debated issue of biosecurity following the recommendations of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) of the United States over the disclosure of research on highly transmissible H5N1 flu viruses generated in the laboratory. Adolfo Garcia-Sastre spoke about the current re-evaluation taking place in the USA on research activities that may provide knowledge that could be directly misapplied by others to pose a threat to public health and safety. The so-called ‘dual use’ research concept has generated a lot of interest for the possible impact on laboratories involved in virus research also outside the US.

After Italy, India and Argentina the ICGEB bi-annual Workshop on Human RNA viruses has established a successful format to promote research in virology among ICGEB Member States. The organisers are evaluating where to host the meeting in 2014 and are looking for suitable venues to repeat the great success of the previous editions.


Argentina is one of ICGEB's 61 Full Member States.

(Full Member State) 
ICGEB Liaison Officer 
Dr. Fernando Goldbaum
Dirección de Relaciones Internacionales
Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva
Av. Cordoba 831, piso 4 
1054AAH Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: +54-11-48918470; Fax: +54-11-48918460 


See the ICGEB Meetings and Courses to be held in 2012 and sign up to receive regular updates and information.

The organisers are very grateful to Henry Puerta-Guardo who volunteered to take the Group picture giving up the opportunity of being part of the group photo!

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