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Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator.”

Robert Kennedy once said: “Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator.” We agree on that.

For the European Scientific Working group on Influenza we have created a brand new concept to enhance public health security: the Multiparty Group for Advice on Science (MUGAS). The idea of MUGAS is to stimulate scientific debate over unsolved issues that seem to hamper public health guidance. After all, the best health policy measures are based on undisputed scientific data. Still, MUGAS meetings are quite different from similar initiatives taken by individual research institutes, companies or leading academics, as MUGAS explicitly calls upon all parties involved to share their views and have their voices heard. In other words, the MUGAS concept has been designed to bring benefit to society, in an open and transparent environment that allows in-depth discussion based on the latest scientific knowledge. MUGAS meetings on “hot” topics can therefore be initiated by any scientist or research institute that aims to improve public health in Europe. ESWI will be organizing the first MUGAS on the explicit request of Professor Ab Osterhaus (Erasmus MC Rotterdam), Professor Arnold Monto (University of Michigan/School of Public Health), Professor Menno de Jong (Academic Medical Center Amsterdam) and Professor Rich Whitley (University of Alabama at Birmingham) who engaged in a partnership to organize a Multiparty Group for Advice on Science meeting that will review oseltamivir data and develop a statistical analysis plan.

Our translational “Science Policy Interface”(SPI) programme at scientific conferences enjoys growing international attention and interest. While we are shaping the concept into a “SPI 2.0″ for the Fifth European Influenza Conference in Riga, Latvia (2014), the organizers of the One Health meeting (2015) invited us to implement the concept at their conference. Needless to say we are very enthusiastic about it!

Meanwhile, our work for the Viroscience lab in Rotterdam is in full progress. We developed a portal site for their educational work – yes: it is a lab that takes its responsibility towards society very seriously! Have a look at www.planetvirus.nl. And we continued to give science a “face” and to bring it closer to the people: check the lab’s spoken annual report at www.virosciencelab.com and have a look at SEQUENCE, the brand new lab magazine.

Oh, and we are moving! Literally. I’m writing this blog while surrounded by moving boxes. Our new address: Zevensterstraat 1, 9270 Laarne, Belgium.

Keeping the words of Robert Kennedy in mind: we might change our pink trademark any time now – will be made clear when we launch our new website! While travelling, I often think about the words of Richard Branson: “A business has to be involving, it has to be fun and it has to exercise your creative instincts”. Cheers!