25th International Conference of the World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology (WAAVP) – Liverpool. Aug16-20 2015

WAAVP bannerI recently had the amazing opportunity to attend the WAAVP conference and give oral presentation of my work on “Biotransformation of benzimidazole anthelmintics in Caenorhabditis elegans and Haemonchus contortus.”   This conference was a great experience, usually I’m attending C. elegans conferences, so it was great to get the opportunity to listen to some great parasitology talks and get a flavor of the different topics of importance in this field of study.

This 25th International conference was attended by ~800 participants, with 5 concurrent sessions covering diverse topics such as : Drugs and Drug Resistance, Climate change epidemiology and modeling, Novel approaches to control, Vaccines and Immunology, Companion Animals, One Health, Co-infections, Novel diagnostics, Genes and Genomes.

The Consortium for Anthelmintic Resistance and Susceptibility (CARS) Meeting was the satellite meeting this year.   I hadn’t registered for this meeting but snuck in for part of it. Nobody seemed to mind and were pretty laid back; I even scored a coffee and muffin. That was one of the things I noticed about the conference, which came up again and again, just how friendly and inclusive everyone was. Many thanks to Andrew Kotze (CSIRO Queensland, Australia) for presenting a snapshot of my work during the Drug Metabolism section of the CARS meeting and for giving my talk a plug.

Many interesting and inspiring talks during the conference, especially some of the plenaries: Lord Robert May who covered a diverse range of topics which covered climate change, drug discovery and the future of parasitology. Prof Janet Hemingway CBE spoke on vector control and the trials of collaboration with funding bodies and local governments. Tim Anderson uses a variety of molecular and bioinformatic approaches such as genome-wide association methods to systematically search for the genes involved in resistance in malaria.

Also of interest, mostly because our group doesn’t work in this area, was the work presented on organic sheep farming techniques, natural tannins in feed for parasite control, refugia and sustainable use of anthelmintics.

Me presenting at WAAVP - Main auditorium, boy it was huge!
Me presenting at WAAVP – Main auditorium, boy it was huge!

My talk went rather well – if I do say so myself – I base this assessment on the fact that I didn’t stumble or mumble or get a desiccated mouth. I also got some good feedback and questions.

There was more to this conference than just attending the talks, there was lots of socializing and opportunities to meet past colleagues and friends, and hopefully build new relationships; for instance it was fabulous to see my previous work group from AgResearch, New Zealand: David Leathwick, Tania Waghorn, Ian Sutherland, and to meet Richard Scott. It was also good to catch up with the group from Athens, Georgia – Melissa Miller and Ray Kaplan. I FINALLY got the chance to put a face to name for Roz Laing who I’ve emailed many times and finally got to meet in person, along and others from the Moredun, and the University of Edinburgh and University of Glasgow. Some of these meetings resulted in the exchange some ideas on the in vitro culturing of H. contortus with Collette Britton (University of Glasgow) and C. elegans researcher Chris Hopkins (AxumBio, Utah) fingers crossed some of the ideas will work.

Gilleard Lab attendees, past and present:  Libby, Umer, Janneka, Me (Susan) and Russell
Gilleard Lab attendees, past and present: Libby, Umer, Janneka, Me (Susan) and Russell

Liverpool is a vibrant place with lots of options for yum dinners and drinks, we spent part of every meal trying to decide what restaurant to try next. There were some opportunities to explore the waterfront with its interesting “Superlambanana” statues, and buskers, and Museums. Of course there were many historical buildings too, like the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral where we had our conference dinner entertained by the mandatory Beatles cover band. Liverpool is well worth a second look when I hopefully have more time to explore.

Liverpool Cathedral
Liverpool Cathedral

The 25th WAAVP was a lot of fun and worthwhile experience for me and I’d like to thank NSERC CREATE HPI for giving me the opportunity to attend it.

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