1 Nov 2013
Bacteriophage in Medicine, Food & Biotechnology was held at St Hilda's College, Oxford, UK from 10 - 12 September 2013. It covered the research and commercial applications of bacteriophages, including pharmaceutical production and formulation, medical applications, toxicology, food and biotechnology, and molecular biology. It was a multidisciplinary environment, with engineering, biology, genetics, medicine and food technology discussed.
My presentation 'Enhancement of the Antimicrobial Properties of Bacteriophage K via Stabilisation in Oil-in-Water Nano-emulsions' showed the role of nano-emulsion formulations in the enhancement of the antimicrobial activity of bacteriophages, compared to simple suspensions of the phage. Our findings are novel, and ultimately the purpose of presenting them was to gain feedback from a specialised academic and industrial audience. Several suggestions were extremely interesting, regarding the formulation and also the microbiological basis of the project, and these are being taken into account for future experimental work.
The conference was attended by some eminent speakers, notably Professor John McCafferty, (University of Cambridge, UK), Dr Herald Brüssow (Nestlé, Switzerland), and Professor Peixuan Guo (University of Kentucky, USA). They covered a range of subjects; from the uses of the fundamental knowledge about antibodies and bacteriophage structure to the creation of new drugs and forms of treatment for worldwide spread diseases, such as diarrhoea. Most presenters were renowned in the field, not only in the UK, but internationally, and hence the quality of research presented was outstanding.
The conference covered issues regarding fundamental science in Molecular Biology, but most importantly for me, there was a whole session dedicated to the commercial application of bacteriophages and development pathways for their use in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
The most important impact that this conference will have on my career is gaining a deeper understanding of the opportunities in academia and industry in this field; and from a short-term perspective it provided some additional ideas for my PhD work.
The whole research group had the opportunity to present our work at the conference. The added value for us as a group includes the interesting discussions that arose after attending the talks, and the chance to share the new things we learnt. This will help us in our goal to follow a common route in a multidisciplinary project.
From my point of view, the benefits of joining SCI are not very well known in the postgraduate academic community. Therefore I would suggest that SCI increase its visibility. SCI sends information about what is done in different fields, it offers opportunities to join courses or attend conferences to improve our skills as researchers, and of course the possibility to be awarded with a grant or bursary is a huge reward for hard work in research.
Patricia Perez Esteban
University of Bath