Successful bat research networks rely on strong connections among members that are formed through trust, collaboration, and dialogue, and will weaken or cease to exist if any of these elements are missing. Therefore, a central aim of the Western Asia Bat Research Network (WAB-Net) is to host a scientific workshop within the region, once every year. Each workshop is designed to bring together bat researchers, laboratory experts, and zoonotic disease specialists from across the region, with the aim of fostering communication and collaboration among regional stakeholders, strengthening scientific capacity, and improving overall understanding of bats and bat-borne viruses within Western Asia.
The location of each workshop is to vary from year to year (while remaining within the Western Asia region), and each workshop is to include participants from varying disciplines, levels of experience, and national backgrounds.
3rd Annual WAB-Net Workshop
The 3rd annual workshop was held virtually (due to health and travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic) from 14-15 December 2020, and involved over 80 virtual participants from 13 different nations within Western Asia. The virtual workshop included presentations, panel discussions, and interactive sessions about the following topics: bat-virus research in the time of COVID-19, fieldwork and sample sharing, collaborations with natural history collections in host-pathogen research, community engagement, media communication, regional bat research, and capacity building.
See below for the full meeting agenda.
2nd Annual WAB-Net Workshop
The 2nd annual workshop was held in Amman, Jordan from 9-11 December 2019, and involved over 55 participants from 10 different nations within Western Asia . The 1st day of our workshop took place at the Royal Scientific Society in Amman (one of our network’s regional laboratory partners, and co-host of the workshop), and included lectures, group discussions, and a laboratory tour. Over the course of the workshop, topics discussed included: a review of global coronavirus (CoV) diversity, and specifically bat-borne CoV diversity in Western Asia; the importance of integrating conservation with viral surveillance; bat acoustics and the importance of building a regional call library; One Health; data-sharing practices; and designing and procuring funding for independent research projects. Participants were also able to present on individual research as it relates to bats and bat-borne viruses in the Western Asia region.
Photos from the 2nd Annual WAB-Net Workshop
1st Annual WAB-Net Workshop
The inaugural WAB-Net workshop was held in Tbilisi, Georgia from 17-20 September 2018, and involved over 30 participants from 11 different nations within Western Asia. Topics discussed at the workshop included: the aim of the newly founded Western Asia Bat Research Network, taxonomic identification and bat diversity; biosafety and biosecurity; bat-borne viral zoonoses; and an introduction to ‘One Health’. The workshop concluded with a laboratory tour at the R. Lugar Center in Tbilisi (one of our network’s regional laboratory partners), and a session led by members of the Bat One Health Research Network (BOHRN), a network that aims to “characterize global threats of bat-borne pathogens and formalize community standards and conservation-conscientious practices for One Health disease research.” (www.bohrn.net).