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NEONATAL SOCIETY SPRING 2003 NEWSLETTER

Autumn meeting, Royal Society of Medicine, 7th November 2002
This meeting included the second Curosurf Lecture given by Professor Robert Hume, Professor of Developmental Medicine, University of Dundee. He talked on 'SwitchedAtBirth - disordered perinatal adaptation: prevention of the neurodevelopmental and endocrine consequences'. He gave a fascinating review of his work in molecular mechanisms involved in adaptation to extrauterine life, with particular reference to glucose homeostasis and thyroid hormones.

Spring meeting, Royal Society of Medicine, 13th March 2003
This was a predominantly 'brain orientated meeting' with excellent invited talks and free papers of good scientific quality.

Dr Huseyin Mehmet, Weston Senior Lecturer in Neurobiology, Imperial College, London talked eloquently on therapeutic strategies to combat cell loss in perinatal brain injury. He reviewed the work of his group into apoptosis and brain injury, in particular discussing the effect of brain cooling on apoptosis. He showed that hypothermia delayed, but did not prevent, apoptosis following brain injury. This may give more time for other therapies to be given and he discussed the role of anti-apoptotic drugs and the possibility in the future of stem cell replacement of damaged neurons. He introduced the work on triggering mesenchymal stem cells to differentiate along neural cell lines and this was discussed further in one of the free papers from the same group in Imperial College.

Dr Lorraine Young from Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham picked up the subject of stem cells in her excellent review on 'Human embryonic stem cells: From the beginning to the future'. She discussed the promise of stem cell biology - the potential to form a number of different lineages, as an important application that could revolutionise understanding of disease, and to provide new and more accurate models of human disease. Then came the reality - these cells are very difficult to maintain in their undifferentiated state and directing their differentiation is difficult. Keeping the cells normal in their undifferentiated state is also very difficult and there are major concerns about the number of chromosomal abnormalities.

Huseyin gave us a glimpse of a 'brave new world' and Lorraine showed just how much work is still needed before we get close to achieving it.

Dr David FitzPatrick, MRC Senior Clinical Geneticist, Edinburgh gave the McCance lecture and talked on 'Identifying genes that cause human malformations'. This was a wonderful look at the detective work that is needed to try and identify the genes that cause birth defects and the talk was of the high standard expected of the McCance lecturer.

Future meetings
The summer meeting will be in Oxford on 26th - 27th June. The closing date for abstracts is 23rd May and details are on the web site. Invited speakers include Professor Ronald Harper, Brain Research Institute, UCLA and Professor Lyne Murray from the Winnecot Foundation. It promises to be a great meeting but needs your support. Encourage your juniors to present and attend the meeting.

There is also the third Young Investigators prize and nominations are invited. They do not have to be members of the Society. Closing date for applications is 25th April.

The autumn meeting, including the AGM, is at the RSM on 20th November 2003. This will be in the North Hall which is smaller than our usual venue due to renovation work at the RSM./p>

Elections
At the AGM in November 2002 Professor Andrew Wilkinson was elected as President, to take up post following the AGM in November 2003. At the same time Terence Stephenson and Andrew Lyon will complete their time as General and Meetings secretaries respectively, as will other members of the committee. We will be looking for nominations for new committee members.

Abstract publications
The abstracts from papers presented at the Autumn meeting 2002 have been published in the February 2003 edition of Early Human Development (71:89-98). The Spring and Summer abstracts were sent to Early Human Development but do not appear to have been published - I will investigate this and report back

New members
Brian Wharton and Ted Mucklow have been elected as Honorary Members.
The following have been elected to the Society : J Dorling, C Kissack
Please encourage everyone who has presented to the Society and whose abstract has been accepted for publication to apply for membership. An application form can be downloaded from the web site.

Other matters
Web site and e-mail

TThe e-mail database of members is being updated. This will be used to inform members of meetings and other news which on the web site. This newsletter is being sent by electronically and only by post to those without an e-mail address. The meeting programmes and abstracts will continue to be sent by mail as well as appearing on the web site. If anyone who is on e-mail has not been receiving any messages then please let me know your address.

Andrew Lyon
Meetings Secretary

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