It was a pleasure to listen to the high quality science in the Integrative Physiology theme that finished with an exciting lecture by Don Bers, our visiting Newton-Abraham Distinguished Professor - Head of Department Professor David Paterson
Welcomed by Head of Department Professor David Paterson, on Friday 28 June 2019, academics and scientists from research groups spanning Cardiac Sciences, Metabolism and Cell Physiology came together at St Anne's College for a day of talks showcasing the enormous range of science coming out of the Department's Integrative Physiology theme, alongside hearing the expertise of our newly arrived Newton-Abraham Visiting Professor, Dr Donald Bers.
The day was split into four sessions, with the first session chaired by Professor Paterson. DPAG's research community first heard talks from two Group Leaders: Professor Anant Parekh FRS on a major role for store-operated calcium channels in sustaining mast cell activation, and Associate Professor Lisa Heather on research aimed at understanding why type 2 diabetes impairs the heart's ability to function after a heart attack. They were followed by two Postdoctoral Research Scientists: Dr Ying-Chi Chao on a compartmentalised regulation in cardiac myofilament that could hold the key to treating diastolic dysfunction, and Dr Elizabeth Haythorne on how hyperglycaemia adversely affects mitochondrial function in pancreatic islets, causing the progressive failure of specialised pancreatic cells to secrete insulin.
After a break, the second session was chaired by Associate Professor Heidi de Wet, and the audience reconvened to hear Associate Professor Samira Lakhal-Littleton on the effects of iron deficiency without anaemia on cardiovascular function, Associate Professor Pawel Swietach on the three pillars of his Group's research: cancer, cardiac and red blood cells, Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Shih-Jung Fan on the function of small informative packages sent by cancer cells, and Associate Professor Maike Glitsch on her Group's research into OGR1, one of only three extracellular proton-sensing G protein coupled receptors that acts as an extracellular pH sensor in a variety of tissues. Just before lunch, Associate Professor Sarah De Val presented an overview of the Department's Athena SWAN initiatives and how these support both the research and working environment of DPAG Researchers.
The third session was chaired by Professor Helen Christian, beginning with Postdoctoral Research Scientist Dr Michael Puljung on his spectroscopic studies into a particular potassium channel that acts as a trigger for insulin secretion, followed by Associate Professor Heidi de Wet on the function of a newly identified type 2 diabetes susceptibility gene called ABCC5, and Associate Professor Neil Herring on how neurotransmitter Neuropeptide-Y can trigger dangerous heart rhythms.
The final session was chaired by Professor Manuela Zaccolo, during which she introduced the Keynote Talk of the day, given by Dr Donald Bers. Dr Bers' talk was delivered in three parts; covering the function of mitochondrial calcium, how diabetic hyperglycaemia promotes myocyte oxidative stress, and the dysfunction of ketone bodies in heart failure.
The Theme Day provided an opportunity for researchers across a wide range of disciplines to meet and discuss their work, share ideas and gather inspiration for new and existing projects. Novo Nordisk Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Vincent van der Vinne commented: "It was interesting to see other groups in the Department that I don't typically interact with. It's given me a better view of what people work on and I can try to relate it to my own work." Postdoctoral Research Associate Dr Susann Bruche agreed, commenting: "This is the first time I've heard many of the speakers talk and it's really nice to find out what people do."
More details on the individual talks can be found here.