A Report on the 9th International Meeting on Antimicrobial Peptides

CONFERENCE REPORT
9th International Meeting on Antimicrobial Peptides,
Utreht, The Nederlands, 28–30 August 2019.

The 9th IMAP (International Meeting on Antimicrobial Peptides) was held at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, from the 28th to the 30th of August, 2019 http://peptideconferences.org/imap-2019.

Group photo of Participants of the 9th IMAP

Since its birth in 2012 in Leipzig, this annual Meeting has significantly attracted a growing number of participants, especially among young scientists with a common interest in peptide science. This has fostered an intensive interaction among them, encouraging interpersonal relationships and the establishment of scientific collaborations. The current conference has covered different topics within the field of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), from their design and synthesis; mechanism of action to their development for biomaterials and therapeutic application(s). The Organizing Committee consisted of Eefjan Breukink & Edwin Veldhuizen, Utrecht University (Co-Chairs); Lidia Feliu (Universitat de Girona); Kai Hilpert (St. George’s University of London) Ralf Hoffmann (Leipzig University); Karl Lohner (University of Graz); Maria Luisa Mangoni (Sapienza University of Rome). As with previous IMAPs, it was agreed that such a meeting should favor the involvement of PhD students and postdocs offering them plenty of space to present their skills and to divulge the results of their scientific work.

Ralf Hoffmann organized the first meeting which was held in Leipzig in 2008 as a one-day meeting in the course of an European project with about 40 participants from 8 countries and published as a special issue in the ‘International Journal of Peptide Research & Therapeutics’. The 9th IMAP was able to gather a total of 144 international participants among renowned speakers on the subject including 51 senior scientists, 22 postdocs and 54 PhD students who enjoyed the exchange of experiences and ideas in a friendly and informal atmosphere.

EPS sponsorship was acknowledged by the organizers during the meeting and the logo of the Society was displayed on the printed material of the conference as well as on the website of the IMAP meeting.

Scientific and Social Programme

We kicked-off the first morning session with the keynote lecture by Prof. Robert E. Hancock (University of British Columbia), a pioneer in the field of antimicrobial peptides, who spoke about the “Development of peptides as therapeutics – the big issues”.

During the Symposium there were 7 presented lectures by the following invited speakers:

  • Kevin Bicker, from Middle Tennessee State University who spoke about “High-throughput identification and characterization of antifungal peptoids effective against Cryptococcus neoformans”
  • Alessandro Tossi, University of Trieste, “Cathelicidin defence peptides – variations on a variable theme”
  • Paula Gomes, from University of Porto who spoke about “Only a click away: antibacterial coatings upon grafting antimicrobial peptides onto chitosan using click chemistry”
  • Alison McDermott, from Northumbria University who spoke about “Antimicrobial peptides at the ocular surface: functional roles and pharmaceutical potential”
  • Markus Weingarth, Utrecht University who spoke about “High resolution studies of peptide-antibiotics in cellular membranes”
  • Mike Dawson, from Spero Therapeutics who spoke about “Discovery and development of SPR206: a next generation polymyxin analogue”
  • Sebastian Zaat, University Medical Center, Amsterdam, “Antimicrobial peptides; selective synergy, and supramolecular systems”

View of the Lecture Room

Among 99 submitted abstracts, the Scientific Board selected 25 of them for oral presentation and 7 of them for rapid oral presentation.

In total, there were four sessions, each one including at least one lecture by invited speakers. The first session was dedicated to Peptide synthesis and design; the second one was focused on the Mechanism of action; the third one was dedicated to Biomaterials and Surface action followed by the last session on AMP/Host Defence Peptides in Immunomodulation & Therapeutics.

The 65 abstracts which were not selected for oral communication were presented by scientists during poster sessions which were held during Lunch break of August 28 and 29.

Participants viewing and discussing the posters

BBA-Biomembranes sponsored the prizes for students and postdocs

The winners of the Oral / Rapid Oral Presentation were:

  • 1st place Samuel Moorcroft, University of Leeds for his talk “Light controlled release of antimicrobial peptides and photothermal enhancement of bactericidal properties from a hydrogel wound dressing”.
  • 2nd place Melanie Balhuizen, Utrecht University for her talk “Application of PMAP-36 in OMV biogenesis and immune modulation for vaccine purposes”.

The winners of the Poster Presentation were:

  • 1st place Shehrazade Jekhmane, Utrecht University for her poster “The mode of action of antibiotic-peptide plectasin in membranes”.
  • 2nd place Simon Loosli, ETH Zurich, for his poster “Proline-Rich Peptides Bind Bacterial Second Messengers”.

Winners of both Oral and Poster competitions

The social events of IMAP included 5 coffee-breaks, 1 welcome reception and 3 lunches, all served at the Conference Venue.

Participants during coffee/lunch break and exhibitors space

The social dinner took place at the historic restaurant Stadskasteel Oudaen and was enjoyed by 85 delegates, organizing committee members and speakers.

Dates and Venue for the Next IMAP 2020 were announced: it will held in Trieste presumably from 26th to the 28th of August.

Contributed by Maria Luisa Mangoni

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