TriageTB Year 1 Meeting held virtually on November 16-17, 2020

LINQ’s last Annual Project Meeting in 2020 was that of TriageTB, held virtually on November 16-17. We are proud to work with this talented and motivated consortium, which – despite intermittent lockdowns and ‘the new normal’ this year – has managed to stay productive and move the study forward.

LINQ manages TriageTB and leads the project’s communication and dissemination activities. One year ago, we met our consortium partners in Cape Town, South Africa, for the project’s kick-off meeting. This year’s annual meeting, co-chaired by LINQ and the project’s Coordinator Prof Gerhard Walzl from Stellenbosch University (SUN), was also originally scheduled to be an in-person event. However, due to COVID-19, it was instead held online.

During the meeting, each work package leader presented their progress from the past year. Overall, the consortium has managed to stay productive and move the study forward despite the many challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic.

Capacity Building in times of COVID-19

Prof Hazel Dockrell from The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) leads TriageTB’s Capacity Scheme which aims to strengthen capacities of both scientific and administrative staff of all TriageTB’s partner institutions. 

During the Year 1 Meeting, Prof Dockrell emphasized the scheme’s increased importance in the rapidly changing times we currently live in, saying that ‘We now need these support systems more than ever!’ 

Many mentees agreed with this analysis. ‘The stress of this year sometimes leaves me feeling unfocused and speaking to my mentor can help to put things into perspective again. I feel like I have benefited more [from being a mentee] this year than previous years,’ said one mentee. 

LINQ is actively supporting the TriageTB capacity scheme, where both Julia Buech and Dr Claudia Schacht take part as mentors.

Brainstorming workshops for mentors and mentees

TriageTB’s capacity building scheme consists of 13 mentor-mentee pairs. To help everyone get the most out of their participation in the scheme, Prof Dockrell hosted two 45-minute brainstorming workshops (one for mentors and one for mentees), conceptualized by LINQ’s Liora Jaffe, at last month’s meeting. 

The sessions offered mentors and mentees a chance to discuss common challenges in their role as mentor/mentee - and strategies for overcoming them. The workshops were held in Mural, an online whiteboard software that enables remote teams to collaborate visually.

Locking ahead: TriageTB to deepen the collaboration with its new sister project ENDxTB in 2021

The TriageTB Year 1 meeting included the first official meeting of the project’s Scientific Advisory Board, an independent group of experts that provides oversight of the project as well as expertise and recommendations. The board members participated actively in the discussions and provided valuable feedback on the status of the project. Here, special focus was put on TriageTB’s collaboration with its new sister project ENDxTB, also managed by LINQ. 

ENDxTB, which started in mid-June this year, will receive €6.4 million from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) over five years and aims to evaluate new diagnostics for incident, active, and recurrent TB. Starting in 2021, LINQ will coordinate joint meetings for the two project consortia.