Articles from this issue




The IUPHAR 2006 meeting in Beijing in July was the latest meeting that members of the BPS attended. The popularity of flights to Beijing was best illustrated by the varied experiences of those of us who were booked onto the Friday afternoon BA flight out of Heathrow. Two colleagues of Adrian Hobbs ended up being ousted from the flight with some major pocket money and an overnight stay in sunny London.

My own experience was one of those that you dream about. On arrival at check-in, I was informed by a serious looking BA attendant “Unfortunately, the flight is very busy and we will have to upgrade you to Club Class”. I should add that I had previously booked a seat next to your president in Economy Class.

Well, as you would expect, after a few milliseconds of moral debate I succumbed to the pleading (well, that was going to be my excuse to the president!) from the young lady from BA and consequently began to conjure up images of champagne and cocktails sitting next to Scarlet Johansson in Club Class (en route to a Chinese version of Lost in Translation — more of that later). I was brought back to earth with the actual arrival of “Scarlet” in the shape of Graeme Henderson, who had also succumbed to the promise of a champagne lifestyle for the next nine hours.

Beijing was a revelation as far as I was concerned, and the meeting proved to be a great success. Many congratulations to IUPHAR and the Chinese Pharmacological Society for all the hard work that went into it. Chinese pharmacology is in a very healthy state, and the quality of the young people coming through is of a very high standard. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole visit. Well, I did after we had all assembled in the bar of the Crowne Plaza from 11pm to 2am on the Saturday evening, bleary-eyed from travelling and staying awake for 28 hours to watch the ritual exit of England from the World Cup on penalties.

The opening ceremony of IUPHAR 2006 began on the Sunday and one of my lasting images is that of the massed postgraduate Chinese helpers in yellow tee shirts singing to the assembled delegates. With EPHAR 2008 in mind, I am looking forward to our own version of postgraduates singing from the Stretford End at Old Trafford where the EPHAR 2008 dinner will be held. Auditions will be announced shortly! I am also hoping to persuade the new president of EPHAR, Arthur Weston, to give a demonstration of penalty-taking to encourage the local postgraduates to join in with the chorus on the terraces.

Those of you who were present in the Crowne Plaza at 2 am on Sunday morning will get an idea of the possible chorus lines, ranging from the discerning observations of Tom Blackburn and Adrian Hobbs to the blissful cheering of the Portuguese delegates.

Graeme has already referred to the success of the BPS trade stands, the 75th anniversary lecture by Rod Flower and the reception that followed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Many thanks to Rod, Luisa, Gill, Anna and Kevin for all their hard work. Rod gave a memorable lecture that illustrated the real strength and breadth of British pharmacology. A great time was also had by all at the reception, although for some reason Maria Belvisi needed some convincing the next evening that Graeme had actually given a speech and that food (a superb buffet) had actually been served!

Many of us also had a chance during the meeting to experience some of the sights in Beijing, including the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. Navigation proved to be relatively trouble free and the hotels had taken the precaution of printing “Take the pharmacologist home” cards in Mandarin to show to the local taxi drivers. This generally worked well, although Jeff Aronson and his wife discovered that not all of the drivers knew where “home” was or could interpret a map, and they spent an eventful time in the early hours of one morning touring the outskirts of Beijing looking for landmarks that they recognised! You may find that the next designer accessory with logo to be marketed by the BPS (to follow on from the success of the designer white carrier bag) is a GPS receiver.

The last two days of my trip to China were spent at a satellite meeting on “The Pharmacology of Adenoceptors” organised by Ian McGrath and colleagues, which was held in the stunning surroundings of the Great Wall at Juyongguan. The meeting was excellent and the evening climb onto the Great Wall (under floodlight) after the conference barbeque was truly memorable.

My reference to Lost in Translation above concerned a question to the organisers at Juyongguan enquiring whether the bus taking delegates to the airport could drop three of us at the airport hotel (which it was due to go past). The translation of this resulted in a 30-minute animated discussion in mandarin between the bus driver and the organisers, which finally resulted in the polite translated response “No, unfortunately it isn’t possible”. I was dissuaded by colleagues with flights to catch from adding any supplementary question!

I hope to see you all at the 75th Anniversary meeting in Oxford.

Steve Hill