My journey in leishmaniasis research started a while ago, when I still was an undergrad student starting the first internship in a prestigious research institution in Brazil. At that moment, I felt so excited about the work with a fascinating and intriguing parasite that I could not wait for a chance to be with those that were carrying out most of the published works I had as reference for my own projects.
Two weeks ago, I finally had this opportunity at the 6th World Conference on Leishmaniasis (WorldLeish) and I cannot stop saying: it was worth every second! The WorldLeish Conferences are held every four years in countries where leishmaniasis is one of the major health issues. This year, the conference was in Toledo, Spain, and brought together almost 1500 leishmaniacs from all over the world to present and attend oral or poster sessions on numerous topics on leishmaniasis, ranging from taxonomy and molecular studies on Leishmania spp. to advances in treatment and diagnostic tools for both anthroponotic and zoonotic diseases. I was scheduled to present in the first poster session, when everybody is clearly eager to discuss and share valuable ideas on your research topic hahaha. As a young scientist that started a MSc project on an innovative and challenging topic, which is the interaction between Leishmania and its host cell via exosomes, I was really looking forward for this moment, surrounded by experts in this field. I was surprised in seeing how the research on exosomes have expanded so quickly and how many good concepts and models are coming up from it. It was easy and enjoyable to get myself engaged in endless conversations with other grad students on personal experiences and novel ideas that we could develop together in collaborative projects. The WorldLeish was also an excellent chance to meet my Brazilian fellows from Oswaldo Cruz Foundation-Bahia. It was more than a pleasure to see again these friends of mine that were back there helping me out in the lab when I was giving my very first steps towards this moment of my life.
The WorldLeish was a fantastic experience that I had the opportunity to share with my supervisor, the famous Lash, “the flash”, and his wife, Rani, who were also attending it. Believe it or not, I never saw Lash so excited about meeting a bunch of old friends before this conference hahaha! Regarding the city, there is no doubt that the organizers could not have chosen any better place than Toledo. This city is spectacular! A peaceful and historical countryside was all I was asking for after a busy term. I truly miss the amazing view from the terrace of the Congress Center El Greco, where we had our daily Spanish meals outdoors, admiring the landscape. I will definitely come back one day and get lost in the narrow streets of this charming city!
To sum up, I could not be more grateful for participating in the 6th WorldLeish! I learned so much during these five days of conference that now I feel more confident to move forward, incorporating new and exciting concepts in my project. I am very thankful to Lash and HPI for making this possible!