Another successful Edinburgh Infectious Diseases symposium held on 20 May 2015

Edinburgh Infectious Diseases held its fourth Annual Symposium at the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh on Wednesday 20 May 2015. 

The day brought together over 200 researchers speakers from across all three Colleges of the University of Edinburgh, and also from other organisations including the Moredun Research Institute, NHS Lothian and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.  

L to R:  Our venue at the Royal College of Physicians; Rick Maizels, Director of Edinburgh Infectious Diseases introducing the day; Henry McSorley takes questions; Amy Pedersen begins her presentation.

Excellent range of talks

Over the course of the day attendees were treated to 13 talks, which spanned the spectrum of infectious diseases research in Edinburgh.  In the first session of the morning, attendees heard excellent talks on the implications for infectious diseases of the resolution of inflammation (Adriano Rossi, Centre for Inflammation Research), the epidemiology of E. coli O157 infection (David Gally, Roslin Institute) and host-parasite interactions in severe malaria (Alex Rowe, Institute of Immunology and Infection Research). 

Following the morning coffee break, we listened to fascinating talks on community based approaches to infection control in Nicaragua (Alex Nading, School of Social and Political Science), heard about how secretion products from parasitic worms may be used to control allergic asthma from (Henry McSorley, Centre for Inflammation Research), and learned about the massive expressed genetic variation in trypanosomes (Liam Morrison, Roslin Institute).  Lee Innes (Moredun Research Institute) wrapped up the session before lunch with a very insightful presentation Toxoplasma gondii – she also won the prize for the most pictures of very cute baby animals in a single talk!

L to R:  A full house at the Royal College of Physicians; Harry Campbell; Helen McShane receives her award as the Ker Memorial Lecturer; Alice Street; Amy Pedersen.

Presenters from all three Colleges of the University

After a tasty lunch, we embarked on another wonderfully varied session of stimulating talks.  Amy Pedersen (Institute of Evolutionary Biology) started us off with a talk about immunological responses in a wild rodent model.  Sam Lycett (Roslin Institute), followed with a talk about the evolution of influenza and its spread across the globe, Alice Street (School of Social and Political Science) gave a fascinating analysis of the challenges of infection diagnosis in resource-poor settings, and Harry Campbell and Harish Nair described some of their work in the Centre for Population Health Sciences on the epidemiology of Respiratory Syndrome Virus.

L to R:  Busy poster sessions for all participants; relaxing at the drinks reception to conclude the day; our Ker Memorial Prize winner Wei Yuan Hsieh with his supervisor Peter Ghazal.

The Ker Memorial Prize and Lecture

The last part of the day was dedicated to the Ker Memorial Prize and Lecture.  Drs. Claude Buchanan Ker and his son Frank Leighton Ker were prominent Edinburgh physicians in the early part of the 20th century.  Claude Ker’s granddaughter, Miss Aileen Ker now funds the Ker Memorial Prize, which is awarded to the student presenting the best PhD thesis in Infectious Diseases.  This year the prize went to Wei Yuan Hsieh, who completed his PhD on the “Functional Characterisation of the Host Sterol Metabolic Network in the Interferon Antiviral Response”, in the Division of Infection and Pathway Medicine with Peter Ghazal.  Miss Ker also supports the Ker Memorial Lecture, and on this occasion we were delighted that Prof Helen McShane from the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford was able to present the lecture describing her work to develop new vaccines against Tuberculosis. 

Exciting poster sessions

Over all the breaks we had vibrant poster sessions with almost 40 posters being presented.  The judges had a difficult task to choose the best overall poster, and in the end awarded two prizes – one for the best student, presented to Carly Hamilton (Jayne Hope’s Lab, Roslin Institute) for her poster on “Bovine Natural Killer cells recirculate in steady-state conditions and increase their expression of CD25 and production of IFN-γ after co-culture with BCG-infected dendritic cells”, and one for the best postdoctoral researcher, presented to Prerna Vohra (Mark Stevens’ lab, Roslin Institute), for her work on “Unraveling Salmonella pathogenesis in cattle”.  Many congratulations to both!

The day concluded with convivial reception where wine and conversation flowed, and brought to a close another very successful celebration of the wealth and depth of research in infectious diseases that is carried out in Edinburgh.

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