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The Future Of Meningococcal Vaccines

Microbes and Molecules 2002 Conference
Physiology, Health and the Environment

University of Canterbury, Christchurch.
26-29 November 2002

Media Release
26 November 2002


These are just some of the ‘hot science’ issues which will be covered in three days of intense discussion at the Microbes and Molecules 2002 Conference in Christchurch from November 26-29. Nearly 300 top scientists from New Zealand and around the world will gather at the University of Canterbury to share information about leading-edge research into Physiology, Health and the Environment.

The Microbes and Molecules 2002 Conference addresses major scientific discoveries and areas of research at the very frontiers of science.

Some of the key themes to be discussed are plants and human health, genetics and the biology of BSE, the genetic basis of disease, horizontal gene transfer, GE and biosecurity, antibiotic resistance.

"This meeting is an exciting grouping of our leading ‘life scientists’ and will feature research which is shaping our world and our health, and which will have a profound effect on our lives in years to come," says Dr Vissers from the organising committee.

Microbes and Molecules 2002 brings together leading scientists representing the NZ Society for BioChemistry and Molecular Biology, the N.Z. Microbiological Society and the N.Z. Society of Plant Physiologists.

Seven international speakers will also address the conference on leading-edge developments in their areas of research interest and the impacts these are having on science, health and the environment world-wide.

Keynote speaker is the 1997 winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Sir John Walker from Cambridge University, UK. Sir John played a key role in unravelling the enzyme mechanism behind the formation of the whole basis of biological energy in cells, adenosine triphosphate or ATP. ATP is vital for all physiological functions, including the building of cells, muscle contraction, and transmission of nerve messages. Every day one person uses a quantity ATP the equivalent of one and a half times their body weight.

Sir John Walker will speak at the opening of the conference on Wednesday 27 at 0900 where he will describe the work that led to the Nobel Prize.

Other key speakers at the conference of public interest are:

Professor Philip Hogg, University of New South Wales, Sydney.
Prof. Hogg has designed and developed an oral compound that inhibits the exchange of proteins involved in HIV-AIDS and cancer. This could have a significant effect on the treatment of HIV. Clinical trials will start next year.

Dr Rino Rappuoli, Iris/Chiron, Italy.
Dr Rappuloi is an expert on commercial vaccine development and will speak on the future of Meningococcal B vaccines and the Meningococcus genome. This is of topical interest with N.Z. now trialling a meningococcal vaccine. Thursday 28. 1430

Dr Peter Pockley. Science Writer and Broadcaster, Sydney.
Dr Pockley is the former Australia and New Zealand correspondent for ‘Nature’ magazine and contributes to a wide range of print and broadcast media on science issue. Recently he covered the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification. He will speak on how regulations and the law affect scientists in the laboratory . Session Thursday 28. 1600-1730

Howard Pharo. National Adviser,Risk Analysis, MAF, Wellington
Dr Pharo has wide international experience in veterinary medicine and provides technical advice in such critical areas as disease control and risk analysis. He will speak on regulations and the scientist, and measures in place to avoid a foot and mouth epidemic in N.Z. Thursday 28. 1500

Dr Jack Heinemann. University of Canterbury
Dr Heinemann will chair a session on the controversial subject of horizontal gene transfer with GMOs and the risks involved. Areas covered will be conditions that create the opportunity for HGT, how it happens, techniques for monitoring and assessing impacts. Session Friday 29, 1030-1200

Microbes and Molecules 2002 will also present three National Award lectures:

“The Riddle of Rheumatic Fever- Does N.Z. Provide Some Answers?”
Diana Martin. N.Z. Microbiological Society. Wednesday 27. 1630.

“Genetic Analysis of Ovine Reproductive Traits”
Dr Sue Galloway. N.Z Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. Friday 29 1pm

“Plant Stress Responses”
Dr Andrew Allan. N.Z. Society of Plant Physiologists. Friday 29 4.30pm

Other areas of possible public interest are sessions on Plants and Human Health, Campylobacter and Public Health, BSE and Prion Diseases, Bacterial Antibiotic Resistance, Resistance and Antifungals.

The conference is being held in the Commerce Conference Centre at the University of Canterbury. A programme can be downloaded from the website


or obtained from contacts below.

For further information, abstracts of papers, and interviews contact:

Dr Margret Vissers
Christchurch School of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Otago.
Ph: work (03) 364 0577, home (03) 385 6796)

Conference Administration (03) 364 2645

Contact for Conference dates 26-29th November
University of Canterbury (03) 366 7001 ext 4804 025 364 167

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