APC Symposium 2023 – another cracking event!
An annual highlight for APC, our 2023 Symposium was a great success. The APC family gathered from all over the country to immerse ourselves in the latest developments in microbiome science. UCC President Prof John O’Halloran opened the day with a warm welcome and set the tone for a brilliant role of speakers. APC Director Prof Paul Ross gave an APC Overview highlighting the achievements and impacts of the past year.
In the first session chaired by Sinéad Corr we heard from Jens Walter who spoke about ‘Microbiome restoration to improve cardiometabolic health’; Seamus O’Mahony on ‘Nutritional protein ingredients from whey using microfiltration technology’; Rachel Moloney presented on ‘Understanding the role of empathy in a novel rat model of gastrointestinal pain’ and Mary O'Connell Motherway on ‘Assessment of the Safety of “probiotics” in Food Supplements’.
Several of our Industry partners were invited to join a panel to discuss “How the next 20 years of microbiome science can help industry achieve its innovation goals”, moderated by our Chief Operations Officer Brendan Curran. The lively discussion had some great insights on how our research can continue to be highly relevant to industry innovation strategies from Fonterra’s Mark Malone, Jenny Roper of Novozymes One Health, Laura Collins from Cognitive Health, Kerry, Arjen Nauta from FrieslandCampina and Jan Knol from Danone Nutricia Research.
Our new Operations Manager Lorraine Draper unveiled APCs new Equality Inclusion, Diversity & Wellness strategy and shared some of the diverse events that have been enjoyed by the APC Family. She also chaired the PhD Student ‘Lightning Talks’ featuring Belen Gonzalez Pastor, Sam Seymour, Dalimil Bujdos, Daria Nikolaeva, Gabriel Tofani, Ramya Balasubramanian, Lu Yao, and Gaston Cluzel.
After lunch Fergus Shanahan introduced his new graphic story of the human gut microbiome “Listen to your Microbes”, a beautiful publication with very special artwork by Laura Gowers.
Our Postdoc ‘Lightning Talks’ were chaired by John Kenny and we heard from Ivan Sugrue, Cas Mosterd, Samuel Breselge, Dhrati Patangia, Elizabeth Schneider, Colin McNamara and Florence Herisson.
The final session was chaired by Órla O'Sullivan where we learned about two Public and Patient Involvement studies at APC about IBD Insights from Naomi Hanrahan and Kevin Moore, a member on the IBD PPI Panel. Siobhain O’Mahony also spoke on PPI in her work examining the ‘Interplay between Inflammatory Mediators and the Microbiota in Endometriosis.’
Capping off the conference, Prof. Ruth Ley was in attendance to receive the annual Charles Donovan Microbiome Prize Award which recognizes outstanding contributions in the field of microbiome science. Prof. Ley who is Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen delivered the keynote APC Distinguished International Lecture on “A shared evolutionary history for humans and microbes”.
A thoroughly deserving winner of the prize, her accolades include critical research into the ecology and evolution of the human gut microbiome and, while working with Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, being the first to link the microbial ecology of the gut to health and disease, with pioneering research on obesity in mice and humans. Her lab made the first observations of the role of the gut microbiome in pregnancy as well as the first links between human genetic diversity and the microbiome, and her work continues to reveal fundamental insights into the gut microbiome.
The event continued into the evening where our numbers mingled and deepened relationships. After a wonderful evening meal we drew prizes for our fundraising raffle which raised over €1,800 for Crohn’s Colitis Ireland. The grand finale of the evening was the announcement of the APC Annual Awards. Huge congratulations to all the winners listed hereunder:
- APC Public Engagement with Research Award – Naomi Hanrahan
- APC Team Member Award – Ellen Murray
- APC Scientific Excellence - Post-doc/Fellow Award – Conor Feehily, Ian O’Neill and Calum Walsh
- APC Scientific Excellence - Student Award – Dhrati Patangia
- APC Future Leaders Award – Linda Katona
- APC Industry & Entrepreneurship Award – Siobhain O’Mahony
- APC Image of the Year Award – Andrey Shkoporov and Colin Hill for their image in their Nature paper ‘Structural atlas of a human gut Crassvirus’