3 weeks left until the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) officially begins! COMBACTE will be present in the exhibition hall, and will host its 5th consecutive Investigators Meeting. This week’s ECCMID highlight is Dr. Cuong Vuong – Management Board Member of COMBACTE-MAGNET and Principal Scientist at AiCuris Anti-infective Cures GmbH, Bacteriology, in Wuppertal, Germany. Read about why Dr. Vuong enjoys collaborating with the academia, and how that plays an important part in the development of new drugs.

Dr. Vuong is the cross-functional leader in antimicrobial drug discovery and development with in-depth expertise in antibacterials, bacterial disease, virulence, interference, and biofilms of Gram-negative and Gram-positive pathogens, and in vivo bacterial infections.

When was your first ECCMID? How has that changed compared to where the conference is now?

“My first ECCMID was in 1999, in Berlin. I was a PhD student at that time. It did not cover my area of interest, which was basic research on bacterial pathogenesis, so I wasn’t impressed. The event was more focused on clinical microbiology and infectious diseases and therefore I did not return until two years ago, when I attended again as part of the COMBACTE-MAGNET partner and the New Drugs for Bad Bugs (ND4BB) program within the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).

That was in Copenhagen, and I was there to catch up with other partners within the consortium. This time it was quite amazing. The congress had made huge progress since 1999. It was no longer focusing only on clinical microbiology and infectious diseases, but also on a lot of new drug discoveries. More companies were joining too, which made it very interesting.”

Why is ECCMID important?

“ECCMID is most likely the biggest conference of its kind worldwide. The scientific coordinator of ECCMID is also a friend of mine, and he told me the conference is getting bigger and bigger every year. It is therefore by default a very important event to attend whether you come from the microbiology and/or infectious diseases field, or conducting research and clinical trials.”

Will you be giving any presentations during the ECCMID?

“AiCuris is part of the RESCUING Study (WP5) in COMBACTE-MAGNET and we will have four poster presentations. Together with my colleagues from the RESCUING Study Team, I will be at these posters to discuss our work with attendees and answer their questions.”

Why is it important that COMBACTE attends ECCMID?

“I think it’s important for the project to position itself clearly within the community. To show that there is something going on in Europe and that we in Europe are working to develop drugs, and not just relying on what happens in the US. On top of that it is also good for branding. We can present our activities in Europe, we can show that we have a voice here.”

What is it that you enjoy about being at ECCMID and why?

“The connection, the network with the academic partners. For us in the industry, we have more contact with other people from the industry, but not so much with the academic partners. ECCMID provides the opportunity to do exactly that; get in touch with clinicians and basic researchers and discuss with them.”

What kind of sessions do you like to attend?

“Depending on the focus of the sessions, I like to follow the progress of clinical trials, updates on research, recent discoveries. I also find the Pipeline Corner Meeting very interesting. This meeting was originally initiated by Ursula Theuretzbacher at the ECCMID conference in 2015 . The Pipeline Corner is a meeting where Small and Mid-Size Enterprises (SMEs) present themselves and what they have in the antibacterial drug pipeline.”

What motivates you to be part of COMBACTE?

“I was in academic research for a very long time, and of course that ended when I joined AiCuris. I missed the interaction with academic groups, with clinicians. We mostly work on our own in drug discovery and development and with Contract Research Organizations (CROs) as we try to get our drug developed. Unfortunately, there is less intellectual input from the academic view point, and this is something which we think is essential. It’s important to have a second opinion from experts in this field, and the COMBACTE network provides that kind of input, and that kind of feedback is needed to get a broader overview in the complex world of drug development. We learn a lot from our academic partners.”

Will you be present at the COMBACTE booth?

“Yes, I always like to be at the COMBACTE booth. I think it’s a nice place to have meetings and discussions, or catch up with people.”

Do you have a message for our network?

“It is a huge challenge for the COMBACTE network. A lot of people are following the COMBACTE’s progress, and IMI allocates a lot of money to the three COMBACTE projects. Together (academic and industry partners), we hope to be successful developing at least one drug to marketing approval. This will prove that COMBACTE is really capable of conducting and translating clinical trials.”

On behalf of the Management Board, see you at the COMBACTE booth in Vienna, Austria, for the27thEuropean Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID)!