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President’s message: my Pharmacology 2018 highlights

Published: 15 Jan 2019
Category: President's message
By Steve Hill

In my first message to you as your President this time last year, I said that one of my priorities for 2018 was that our annual meeting would be our best yet. And based on what I saw at Pharmacology 2018 last month, and from the feedback I received both during and since, I can confidently say that we delivered. Thank you to all those who attended, presented, and helped to organise such a professional and enjoyable meeting.

While the memories are still fresh I would like to share some of my personal highlights from those three festive days in London.

I was delighted to play my part in kicking off the meeting by chairing a talk on “hot trends in pharmacology” from Mene Pangalos from AstraZeneca – a welcome return to the meeting for one of the real stars of his field. Bookending the meeting, I was also pleased to be asked to chair our closing session on artificial intelligence, featuring a refreshingly cross-disciplinary panel encompassing the worlds of drug discovery and big data. Those four fascinating talks underlined the idea that we pharmacologists have so much to learn from other fields – indeed, the future of healthcare and the life sciences is going to be found in just that sort of interdisciplinarity.

The meeting attracted a record number of abstract submissions. It is always one of my great pleasures to see so many members – especially our younger members – presenting their research, both at their posters during breaktimes and in oral presentations – often for the first time.

Giving those sorts of opportunities to young pharmacologists is absolutely core business for us as a Society.

Congratulations to everyone who took part, and all those who won the daily prizes.

It was an equal pleasure to present our latest set of awards, Fellowships and Honorary Fellowships at the Annual Dinner. As well as being an enjoyable social occasion, the prize-giving element of the evening is always a “pinch me” moment where I am reminded of the incredible calibre of scientists we can count on as members and friends.

On that theme, one of my major highlights was a discussion with Danny Hoyer who had travelled 10,000 miles from Australia to receive his Honorary Fellowship. He simply said how delighted he was by the fellowship because he always considered the Society as “family”. By that simple statement he summed up my own view.

The membership is your friend indeed when you need support and advice, it supports your discipline through thick and thin, provides wonderful opportunities to share your science worldwide and is always there to help you celebrate your achievements, no matter how big or small.

It is a real privilege to be President of such a ‘family’.

As well as I hope being a highlight for the recipients of our prizes and fellowships, having such ambassadors for our discipline is a huge asset to us all. I would encourage you to apply for one of our prizes or awards this year, apply to become a Fellow, or nominate a distinguished colleague for Honorary Fellowship.

As President you would expect me to say this, but at our AGM on day 2 of the meeting it was really gratifying to see Jono, our CEO, share a summary of the Society’s achievements in 2018 (year 1 of our five-year strategy). We set ourselves some stretching goals for the year, and in the vast majority of cases we have delivered or gone a long way towards delivering them.

Please do take a look at that summary – I hope it will make you as proud and excited to be a member of the Society as it makes me.

Finally, as ever, it was great fun to catch up with so many old friends and meet new people around the meeting, before and after sessions, during coffee breaks – or in one of many snatched conversations I had in the QEII Centre’s ever popular lifts!

Exciting changes ahead

At Pharmacology 2018 we announced that from this year we will be moving our annual meeting out of London. The QEII has served us well over the years, but as we all know there is life outside the capital. It is high time we showed to our members that we get that by taking our flagship meeting to other locations around the UK. First stop will be Scotland – watch this space for an announcement about exactly where in the next few weeks.

It may be just a little too soon for some of my hardworking colleagues in the Society office to fully agree with me, but I for one can’t wait to start planning for Pharmacology 2019 – bring it on!

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About the author

Steve studied Pharmacology in Bristol and then undertook PhD studies in the Department of Pharmacology in Cambridge. After postdoctoral studies in Cambridge he was appointed to a lectureship in the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Nottingham in 1981. Steve is currently Professor of Molecular Pharmacology in the School of Life Sciences in Nottingham and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Australia. His research interests are the molecular pharmacology of G Protein-coupled receptors and the study of single ligand-receptor interactions in membrane microdomains using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy.