A Report on the 35th European Peptide Symposium. Dublin, Ireland. 26th – 31st August 2018

As Finbarr O’Harte, co-chair of the 35th European Peptide Symposium (EPS), highlighted during his concluding remarks, this meeting was hosted in a venue consistently named for a peptide event. Held at the Helix on the campus of Dublin City University (DCU), the EPS biennial international symposium happened for the first time since 1989 in Ireland, one of the recent member states which joined the EPS in 2008.

Participants of the 35th EPS in one of the Helix Foyers, where the coffee/tea breaks and exhibitions took place (left) and in the Helix Theatre, where the oral presentations were delivered (right).

The Symposium was opened on the 26th of August by Chandralal Hewage (University College Dublin), Chair of the 35th EPS, who introduced Brian MacCraith, President of DCU, and David Andreu, Chairman of the EPS. They welcomed the participants on behalf of DCU and the EPS Executive Committee, respectively. Following the traditional gong banging, the Symposium started with the presentation of the Miklós Bodanszky Award to Norman Metanis (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel) for his outstanding contributions to peptide science using selenium chemistry. Next, Norbert Sewald, Scientific Affairs Officer of the EPS, announced Christian Hackenberger (Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie, Berlin, Germany) as the winner of the Leonidas Zervas Award, in commemoration of his outstanding contributions to peptide science involving functional peptide- and protein-conjugates for extra and intracellular targeting. The opening ceremony concluded with the presentation of the Josef Rudinger Memorial Award to James P. Tam (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore). This Award commemorates Josef Rudinger’s role in the foundation of the European Peptide Symposia and the diverse contributions he made to peptide chemistry. Its current edition acknowledges James Tam’s life-long dedication to peptide science and to the peptide scientific community.

The main Symposium took place from Monday the 27th to Thursday the 30th of August, consisting in 9 Invited Lectures and 70 Oral Presentations, delivered over 14 sessions. Their topics included: Biologically Active Peptides; Glycopeptides, Lipopeptides and Macromolecular Assemblies; Amino Acids, Proteins and Synthesis; Prodrugs, Conjugates, Targeting and Uptake; Peptide Mimetics; Proteomics, Bioinformatics, Structural and Conformational Studies; Peptides in Chemical Biology and Therapeutics; Nanotechnology, Imaging and Analytical Techniques. In addition to the large number of local participants, over 525 international participants from more than 27 different countries could share discussions and data on international research in the field of peptide science during these sessions, the coffee/tea and lunch breaks, as well as the closing reception and the conference dinner. As for the 34th EPS, German delegates constituted the largest group of participants, followed by representatives from the USA, UK, France, Switzerland and Japan. Other Asian and European countries, as well as Australia and Canada were also represented among the participants. 33 exhibitors also took part in the Symposium.

The programme of the 35th EPS also included a Young Investigator Mini Symposium (YIMS) on Monday afternoon, the ESCOM Science Foundation (ESF) Dr. Bert L. Schram Networking Mixer during a buffet lunch on Tuesday and three poster sessions during which 260 posters were presented. Eleven investigators under 35 years of age presented at the YIMS. Tyler Lalonde (University of Western Ontario, Canada) and Sabine Schuster (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary) received the Bert L. Schram Awards for best oral presentations, presented by ESF representatives Elizabeth Schram and Johan Elgerma. They also presented the six Dr. Bert L. Schram Poster Presentation Awards, selected among 94 posters running in the competition.

Recipients of the Dr. Bert L. Schram Poster Presentation Awards, with David Andreu, Chairman of the EPS, Elizabeth Schram, President of the ESF, Johan Elgerma, Secretary/Treasurer of the ESF (left), Chandralal Hewage, Chair of the 35th EPS, Norbert Sewald, Scientific Affairs Officer of the EPS (right).

In addition, three poster awards from Wiley were presented by Nuno Santos (Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal). Also sponsored by the ESF, the Networking Mixer lunch is an exclusive event bringing together EPS young scientists, ESF representatives, EPS officers and international senior scientists from academia and industry. It provided a unique opportunity to PhD and postdoctoral researchers to network and discuss current research topics, as well as career options and professional opportunities.

A special issue of the Journal of Peptide Science containing the abstracts of the Invited, Oral and Poster presentations, the details of the sponsors and exhibitors, as well as the proceedings of the 35th Symposium will be published in the coming months.

Three hundred participants joined the conference dinner on Thursday night. On Friday, participants could choose between the tours of the National Stud and Japanese Gardens, Dublin City and Guinness Storehouse, Malahide Castle and Gardens, Trinity College and Book of Kells, to discover some of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions.

EPS Executive Committee, ESF representatives and 35th EPS Chair. Pictured are (back row, l-r) Krzysztof Rolka, Communication Officer of the EPS, Johan Elgerma, Secretary/Treasurer of the ESF, Norbert Sewald, Scientific Affairs Officer of the EPS, David Andreu, Chairman of the EPS; (front row, l-r) Elizabeth Schram, President of the ESF, Anna Maria Papini, Treasurer of the EPS, Paula Gomes, Secretary of the EPS, Chandralal Hewage, Chair of the 35th EPS.

The Scientific Advisory Board, Alethea Tabor (University College London), David Andreu (Pompeu Fabra University), Ernest Giralt (University of Barcelona), Florine Cavelier (Université de Montpellier), John Howl (University of Wolverhampton), John Wade (University of Melbourne), Knud Jensen (University of Copenhagen), Maria Luisa Mangoni (Sapienza Università di Roma), Maurice Manning (University of Toledo), Meritxell Teixidó (Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Barcelona), Norbert Sewald (Bielefeld University) and William Lubell (Université de Montréal), was substantially involved in the running of the Symposium. Tia Keyes (Dublin City University), co-chair of the 35th EPS, was also instrumental in the operations of the event on the campus of DCU, including the scientific and social events and the accommodation. A very special thanks to the sponsors of the 35th EPS as well; without their generous support, the Symposium could not have taken place. During the closing ceremony, Patrick Timmons (University College Dublin) was also presented with a token of appreciation, to acknowledge his significant contribution to the organisation of the 35th EPS. At the end of this ceremony, David Andreu handed over the EPS gong to Meritxell Teixidó for the 36th EPS, which will be held in Barcelona, Spain on August 30 – September 4, 2020.

David Andreu, Chairman of the EPS, handing over the EPS gong to Meritxell Teixidó, Chair of the 36th EPS.

Written by Marc Devocelle (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland),
National Representative for Ireland at the EPS Council.

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