November 2006: 'Pancreatitis and Calcium Signalling'

This widely advertised BSG/AGA research workshop was held at the Liverpool Medical Institution from 12-14th November 2006, with support from the Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition, Gastroenterology Research Group, Physiological Society and Solvay Healthcare. Still bereft of effective, specific therapy, pancreatitis was the sole focus for 50 hugely supportive delegates plus UK as well as USA trainees at our first ever international meeting devoting two whole days to the latest fundamental bioscience in the field, the flowering of which should lead to therapeutic fruit.

Within the aura of the semicircular tiered and galleried auditorium of 1837 in the Grade II* listed Liverpool Medical Institution we covered physiological and pathological calcium signalling, interacting signalling mechanisms, premature digestive enzyme activation, NF kappa B, cytokines, immune mechanisms, mitochondrial injury and cell death pathways.

Much of the most relevant and very best research was presented by Michael Duchen (UCL), Oleg Gerasimenko (Liverpool), Anna Gukovskaya (UCLA), Ilya Gukovsky (UCLA), Andrew Halestrap (Bristol), Markus Lerch (Griefswald), Pierluigi Nicotera (Leicester), Anant Parekh (Oxford), Rosario Rizzuto (Ferrara), Miklos Sahin-Toth (Boston), Ashok Saluja (Minneapolis), Alexei Tepikin (Liverpool) and Pedro Verdugo (Washington). Shmuel Muallem (Texas) challenged everyone in the Physiological Society’s Lecture – and enlivened many discussions - on how close we might be to solving pancreatitis. Stephen Pandol (UCLA) and Ole Petersen (Liverpool) overviewed much important work and gave excellent co-direction to the whole symposium. The renaissance ambience was realised in the palazzo style of the otherwise pleasantly minimalist Hope Street Hotel – ideally named for new treatments and ideally sited for walking in the city’s cultural quarter between two grand cathedrals – and in Paul Askew’s London Carriage Works, Liverpool’s top restaurant (Good Food Guide 2006). Don’t you wish you had chosen not to wait until Liverpool is European Capital of Culture in 2008 but had come to the most enjoyable meeting on pancreatitis to date!

Professor Robert Sutton