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Report on the Edinburgh Infectious Diseases Annual Symposium 2018

Edinburgh Infectious Diseases hosted their seventh annual symposium last month, in the convival surroundings of the Informatics Forum at the University of Edinburgh.

EID18 whole room
Full house for the annual symposium.

Excellent science

The day was packed with excellent talks from both senior and more juniors researchers.  During the first session we heard from Eleanor Riley (Director of the Roslin Institute), discussing Malaria - Salmonella confections in Africa; Darren Obbard (School of Biological Sciences) describing identification of novel viruses from Drosophila; Mark Stevens (Roslin Institute) on Salmonella pathogenesis in cattle and Thamarai Schneiders (Division of Infection and Pathway Medicine) dissecting antimicrobial resistance in Klebsiela bacteria.  

Following coffee Rose Zamoyska (School of Biological Sciences) spoke about T cell activation; Alasdair Nisbet (Moredun Research Institute) described recent work to simplify a recombinant cocktail vaccine which protects against parasitic nematodes in sheep; Nisha Philip (School of Biological Sciences) presented work on post-transcriptional mechanisms in Malaria parasite development and transmission; and Finn Grey (Roslin Institute) introduced recent results on the interferon response to human cytomegalovirus.

This year we had short invited flash presentations from PhD students and postdocs on topics including machine learning for bacterial genomics (Nadejda Lupolova), life history-immune trade off in wild red deer (Greg Albery), and RSV-associated acute respiratory infection in older adults (Ting Shi), which kept the audience on their toes and paying attention.

 

Attendees asking questions
Plenty of questions from the attendees.

After lunch the excellent science continued with presentations from Rowland Kao (Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies) on the national epidemic of bovine Tuberculosis in cattle and badgers; from Peter Barlow (Edinburgh Napier University) on host defence peptides in rhinovirus infection; and Meghan Perry (Western General Hospital) on the presence of antibiotics and AMR in hospital sewage.

Poster presentations

There were also very lively poster sessions over the coffee breaks and lunch time.  Once again we had an excellent poster competition - the judges had their work cut out to make the final decisions.  

In the end Spring Tan from Bob Dalziel’s lab (Roslin Institute) won the prize for best postdoc poster for her work to develop a genome wide CRISPR knockout library to study host pathogen interactions in cattle, and Omar Alfituri from Liam Morrison’s lab (Roslin Institute), was awarded the student prize for his studies on the effect of pre-disposed local skin inflammatory response on African trypanosome infection.

Poster winners
Poster judges and prize winners. Left to right: Gary Entrican, Ross Fitzgerald, Omar Alfituri, Clifford Leen, Bernadette Dutia and Spring Tan.

Ker Memorial Prizes

We were delighted to award the Ker Memorial Prize for the most outstanding thesis on infectious disease submitted to the University of Edinburgh during 2017 to Rodrigo Bacigalupe

Rodrigo carried out his PhD in Ross Fitzgerald’s lab (Roslin Institute) on population genomic analysis of the niche adaptation of bacterial pathogens, and presented his work to the symposium.  

Ker memorial lecturer 2018
Ross Fitzgerald (left) with Ker Memorial lecturer Mike Ferguson (centre) and Ker Memorial Prize winner Rodrigo Bacigalupe (right).

This year the Ker Memorial Lecture was given by Mike Ferguson, Regius Professor of Life Sciences and Academic Lead for Research Strategy at the University of Dundee. 

Mike gave a very insightful and inspiring talk about the collective endeavour he has been involved in for many year to develop drugs against neglected tropical diseases.

The day concluded with a drinks reception, which again provided a relaxed opportunity to chat over the days presentations and make plans for the future.  The eighth annual symposium is only 11 months away after all!