Good morning, 2022!
It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since our last outlook issue. At the beginning of last year, we set out to empower the community — and both Jessica and I are extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished last year — like launching Instill, running Evergreen , and publishing State of Phage results in the PHAGE journal.
2022 will have no shortage of exciting projects. This year will be slightly different — and we’re very excited for what’s to come!
As some of you might have heard, Jessica and I are partnering with Dr. Jon Iredell’s team and the Australian / New South Wales government to establish a system for running personalized phage therapy clinical trials.
In Sydney, we look forward to building together a body of knowledge and a system to underpin personalized phage therapy. We’ll be collaborating with regulatory bodies, agencies like CSIRO, institutions like University of Sydney and the Westmead Institute of Medical Research (where we’ll be based), and healthcare providers and prescribers.
We will also be talking to a wider variety of stakeholders in the research healthcare space, like regulators, physicians, pharmacists, biobank operators, health economists, data scientists/bioinformaticians, and software engineers. Together, we’ll identify and understand all the pieces necessary to enable phage therapy at scale. We’ll incrementally build a framework and digital tools to better assist in data gathering, decision-making, regulating phage therapy, and operating future clinical trials. This is what we’re dubbing the “operating system” for phage therapy.
What is a phage therapy “operating system”?
Phage therapy is vastly complex. There are many pieces to keep track of: from regulatory concerns to patient monitoring, patient health data, experiment data, and sourcing and manufacturing. We just want to know: “what’s the best way to do something?” and “is it working?” Our operating system is a collection of SOPs, methods, and digital tools like apps, databases, APIs, and data dashboards to aid us in the data collection and decision-making. Regardless of whether phage cocktails or serial phage therapy is used, we need an objective framework for recording and analyzing why we made that decision, and did that decision lead to success or failure?
To build out our operating system, Phage Atlas, we will be collaborating with and learning from groups like the Queen Astrid Military Hospital, Israeli Phage Bank and TAILOR to establish best practices, SOPs, interoperable data standards, and such. We’ll need to design tools, workflows, and templates that make phages simple to work with, and experiments affordable and replicable. In the long term, Phage Atlas will incorporate concepts from bioinformatics, data design, biobank and lab inventory management software design.
The ultimate goal is having a system that can help us make better decisions in the phage therapy process, while communicating the effectiveness and efficiency of each decision that went into the phage treatment.
What about community projects?
Naturally, we’ll be preoccupied with building out the phage therapy infrastructure (and fending off spiders and drop bears. What does this mean for our phage community work?
Fewer PHAVES, more community-run events: When we first started PHAVES, there were very few phage “zoominars.” But today, organizations like Ibadan Phage Research Team and Africa Phage Forum are carrying the torch and sprinting forward! In 2022, we’ll be running fewer of our own events, but look forward to promoting various phages community events and voices from around the world. If you’d like us to promote your event and build a page for you, like iVoM Season 2 or the Viruses of Microbes Abstract Submission Portal, we’ll be more than happy to help. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More Capsid & Tail articles by the community: Our weekly Capsid & Tail of links, jobs, and community posts will continue. We’ll write fewer of our own stories, but we’ll encourage more voices — from students to professors, to discuss their research. This is an excellent way to get your papers noticed and cited! (Plus, you might find new collaborators!).
More Instill: Instill.xyz started out as a wild idea to address the increasingly dire peer review problem in our field. To our delight, we’ve been overwhelmed in the last few months with submissions and insights! We will be working hard to make it even more useful, and better integrate it with Phage Directory and our partners like PHAGE Journal.
We need your help more than ever!
We’d love to see more blogs, webinars, and podcasts from all corners of the world — we already have 1,200+ phage researchers from 80+ countries reading Capsid & Tail! We would love to promote various voices, and achievements of the phage world. Here are a few things you could do to help us:
Write something for Capsid: We’d love it if more researchers published editorials, voices, and opinions on science and the phage world. How could phages integrate with adjacent fields like microbiome, fecal matter transplant, antibiotic drug discovery, and longevity? Did you discover some cool, time-saving hack? Show it on Capsid, and maybe you’ll help someone else out! If you already have a blog, we’ll be happy to cross-post it! Learn how to contribute a guest post here.
Run an event! I’d love if someone could run more hyper-specific conferences in topics like plant phages, animal health, bioinformatics, regulatory implications in various countries, and many more topics. There are still so many questions to be worked out and answered in the phage world.
Promote your event, meetup, blog, newsletter or podcast: If you run a webinar or meetup or other community activity, send us your promotion, and we’ll help you get noticed. Also, if you send us the recording and/or meeting notes afterwards, we’re more than happy to promote your work to the wider community, and add to the corpus of phage knowledge.
2022: the year of the phage
I have a strong feeling 2022 will be THE YEAR of phage. New phage sub-communities are popping up everywhere. ISVM is ramping up its efforts. Everyone’s itching to get back into the lab and back to conferences to share their science again. I think this year we’ll see massive leaps in the field: we’ll see an explosion of niche in-person and zoominar meetups; more cohorts will want to bring phage therapy to their countries; maybe we’ll even see a few successful clinical trials this year?
Here’s to dreaming big — here’s to a brilliant year of the phage!
— Jan & Jessica, Phage Directory