New Zealand’s Largest Ever Scientific Congress To Be Held In August
World’s leading biomedical scientists will gather in Christchurch this August
Auckland, New Zealand, 25 June 2001 - Up to three thousand of the world’s leading biomedical scientists will be in New
Zealand from 26 to 31 August for the 34th International Congress of Physiological Sciences. The Congress, the largest
ever held in this country, will take place in Christchurch and is an economic and scientific coup for New Zealand.
Hosting the Congress recognises the leading role played by New Zealanders in the global scientific community and the
event is expected to inject up to $28 million into the economy.
The Congress Executive Director, Dr Paul Hill of the New Zealand Physiological Society, said physiology was the most
exciting biological science of the new millennium with some of the most significant practical applications. It brings
together information from diverse sources ranging from the molecular to the behavioural, to understand normal and
abnormal function in the whole body.
“Physiology is the foundation of modern human and veterinary medicine. It contributes to the alleviation of pain and
suffering in humans and animals. The Congress sessions will illustrate the practical significance of groundbreaking new
physiological studies for medicine, pharmaceutics, animal health, athletics, occupational health and the environment.
“The Congress is also an opportunity to showcase New Zealand achievements in this area, creating opportunities for the
recognition of our best young researchers by international experts. It will open doors to postgraduate and post-doctoral
work overseas with some of the world’s most respected scientists,” he said.
Comprehensive programme attracts prize-winning scientists
The Congress, themed “From Molecule to Malady’, has attracted some of the world’s most respected scientists, including
Nobel prize winners. The scale of the gathering is huge, with 16 distinguished lectures, 79 synthesia and up to 3000
research papers presented as posters. In addition, there will be more than 35 satellite meetings held throughout
Australia and New Zealand, immediately before and after the Congress.
Topics covered address research into a wide range of human health issues, including aging; altered responses to stress;
cystic fibrosis; hypertension; heart disease; mood disorders; pain prevention, diabetes and obesity. Speakers include:
- Professor Jared Diamond of the University of California in Los Angeles, noted scientist and Pulitzer Prize winner for
his book Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. Professor Diamond is one of the best-known proponents of a
holistic view of science and its impact on our biological and social evolution.
- Professor Erwin Neher of the Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Goettingen, Germany, winner of the
Nobel Prize in Physiology for his work with Professor Bert Sackmann on the development of a technique for studying the
mechanisms by which cells communicate.
- Professor Jere Mitchell of the University of Texas, a world-leading cardiovascular physiologist specializing in
exercise physiology and recipient of the Distinguished Scientist Award from the American College of Cardiology.
Professor Mitchell was the Sir John Logan Campbell Medical Trust Visiting Professor at the University of Auckland in
In addition, outstanding and world-renowned New Zealand scientists will present their research to the international
- Professor Peter Gluckman of The University of Auckland, founder of NeuronZ and Director of the Liggins Institute.
Professor Gluckman is currently undertaking world-leading research into drugs that may help prevent brain damage at
birth, head injuries, strokes and diseases such as Alzheimers. Research supported by NeuronZ is also helping sufferers
of multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
- Professor Peter Hunter of The University of Auckland, an internationally recognised bioengineer whose pioneering work
in the Physiome project allows computer modelling of the human body’s functions, from basic cell structure to complex
interactions. This technology is being used by the US bioinformatics company Physiome Sciences Inc., which Hunter helped
to set up. The research has also enabled the Nasdaq-listed company, LifeFX Inc to create realistic talking"virtual"
people in web-based internet applications.
- Professor Garth Cooper, a leading expert in diabetes research and Professor of Biochemistry at The University of
Auckland. Professor Cooper was a founder of the US firm Amylin Pharmaceuticals. Last year, he was involved in the launch
of Protemix Corporation Ltd., a New Zealand biotechnology company dedicated to the discovery, development and
commercialisation of novel treatments for diabetes mellitus and other metabolic diseases.
New Zealand Olympian Peter Snell will also take part. Associate Professor Snell specialises in exercise physiology
research and is director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center,
As well as the main Congress, the trade exhibition that accompanies the Congress will bring some of the world’s leading
international biotechnology companies to Christchurch, showcasing the city’s burgeoning technology community. An
innovative social and cultural programme has also been organised, accessible by members of the public as well as
Congress participants. It includes tours of the local region as well as a concert by renowned international pianist
Andras Schiff. Schiff will visit New Zealand especially for the Congress and will also hold concerts in Wellington and
Auckland during his stay.