The 36th European Immunogenetics and Histocompatibility Conference (EFI 2023) returned to France after fifteen years. Beautiful Brittany and France’s fifth largest city, Nantes, on 26-29 April 2023 welcomed 882 doctors, scientists, students and other experts in the field of immunogenetics and transplantation from all over the world. The venue was the modern La Cité des Congrès de Nantes convention center, which, with its location and interior layout, provided ideal conditions for the EFI conference.
On the first day, the conference was opened in the afternoon by Professor Pierre-Antoine Gourrard, Chairman of the EFI 2023 Organizing Committee. The opening ceremony included a musical performance by students from the University of Nantes. The official opening was followed by a cocktail in the premises of the convention center, where participants could network for the first time and taste local specialties such as oysters, French macaroons and, of course, famous French wines.
The main theme of the conference was “Big Data in Immunogenetics at the Crossroads of Care, Tools and Research”, which highlighted the importance of tools and new challenges in the field of immunogenetics. The four-day scientific program consisted of 5 plenary sessions, 4 teaching sessions, 4 special sessions, 8 sessions on selected abstracts, a special poster session and a session on the best abstracts. There were also 5 company symposia, which took place during lunch breaks and were of great interest to the participants.
The conference had a rich social program. In addition to the aforementioned welcome cocktail, a conference dinner and an after party were prepared for the participants. The conference dinner was held at the unique venue “Les Machines de l’île” on the Île de Nantes. Inspired by the famous local Jules Verne and the mechanical world of Leonardo da Vinci, this fantastic place is located in the premises of the former shipyards. Before the dinner itself, the participants could see a gallery of mechanical animals, which are moving sculptures. They could even try some of them. A surprise for all participants was the arrival of a huge elephant on which the scientific and organizational committee was riding. A local jazz band played for dinner and a typically French menu was served with a vegetarian option. In the late evening, the participants moved to the nearby Stereolux club for a dance after party.
It is a tradition that all EFI 2023 conferences include a charity run. This year’s 5km Tulip Run, organized and sponsored by GenDx, was held in a nearby park and 56 runners took part. The money collected from the Tulip Run will go to the French association France ADOT – Fédération des Associations pour le Don d’Organes et de Tissus humans.
The conference also enjoyed a lot of attention from partners and exhibitors. The event was financially supported by 11 companies and a total of 25 exhibitors participated in the exhibition. Even the city of Nantes itself got involved. All participants received a free ticket for public transport and had the opportunity to use discounts for the purchase of souvenirs.
The trend of recent years is sustainable action. The EFI 2023 conference was no exception. Each participant received a bag that was made from recyclable material. Only a small ‘pocket’ program was printed, the complete program was available in the mobile application and on the website of the event. Participants received a water bottle at registration, water was available at drinking fountains located throughout the congress center. All tickets for the evening events were part of the participant’s name tag, thanks to the unique QR code, entrances could be checked on the spot, and participants therefore did not need any paper tickets. No plastic utensils were used for refreshments and lunches in the congress center.
Finally, we would like to thank the European Federation of Immunogenetics (EFI), the local organizing committee, partners and exhibitors, speakers and all participants, and last but not least, the GUARANT International project team, led by senior project manager Marcela Rajtorová.