Articles from this issue




The latest meeting in the James Black conference series was held at the De Havilland campus of the University of Hertfordshire on the topic of “The challenges of Drug Discovery”. The campus is splendidly modern, with a fantastic armadillo-shaped lecture theatre and a superb sports complex that was available free of charge to our delegates.

The facilities included a swimming pool, fitness centre and a huge climbing wall. We were so impressed with the site that we will be returning there for future focused meetings. Look out for the new line of BPS designer swimwear and lycra climbing apparel that will be launched in the future for all those who forgot (?) their kit this time! Notes will be required in future in order to be excused PE.

I would like to thank my co-organisers (Steve Charlton, Richard Eglen, Mike Collis, Martin Todd and Helen Connor) for all their help and for the successful outcome of our experiment on con-ference organising by teleconference. This seemed to work exceedingly well, although I always had a nagging feeling that we had overlooked something crucial during the seamless exchanges across the telephone wires (once you had remembered that the participant who shouted the loudest got control of the microphone!). In the event it was the laser pointers that were my undoing, which I discovered - fifteen minutes before kick-off - hadn’t yet been discovered by the University of Hertfordshire.

In the event, a high-speed emergency rush across town put a working laser pointer in the hand of John Fozard two milliseconds before he got up to speak. I then took executive action and instructed the Office to buy some of our own. What I forgot, however, was to provide a full specification for the high-powered Class III laser that I had in mind. These duly arrived the next day and I proudly put a BPS pointer (I hesitate with hindsight to call it a laser pointer) in the hands of Steve Charlton as he stood up to take us through a complex series of slides on quantitative pharmacology.

Needless to say, you needed a lot of imagination to see the red spot from the single photon output of the device in question. Steve soldiered on with an outstanding and impressive once-in-a-lifetime rendition of quantitative pharmacology by numbers (the third curve on the left of the bottom second right panel…the cell flashing red and green at the top of…etc), which gave me time to retrieve our original laser pointer from its bemused owner across town!

The meeting itself was highly successful. We had a fantastic programme of high quality speakers and it provided a good forum for colleagues from industry to debate the future of pharmacology in their industry. We were also delighted to see Sir James himself in sparkling form leading the questioning from the front row of the auditorium.

The major message to take from this meeting was that pharmacology is alive and kicking within the pharma-ceutical industry. Pharmacology is vital to all aspects of the drug discovery process but many research workers in the industry don’t realise that they are pharmacologists! The BPS has a major role to play in pro-viding a forum for these colleagues to develop their constituency and to arrange scientific meetings of immediate relevance to industry.

We will be setting up an industrial specialist interest group and I encourage all senior managers in industry to provide me (Stephen.hill@ or the BPS Office ( with a means by which we can contact this important cohort of individuals.

I have just set the programme for the 75th anniversary meeting in Oxford at Christmas. With 305 abstracts and a full and varied programme of symposia, be prepared for a hectic and, I hope, enjoyable meeting.

This meeting will feature the TiPS Young Pharmacologist of the Year symposium (for scientists within 5 years of the award of their PhD or MD) as well as the GSK and AstraZeneca prizes for the best oral and poster communications respec-tively by a young person under the age of 30.

We are also contemplating a prize for the best exhibition of disco dancing by a veteran pharmacologist (greater than 20 years post PhD) at the Christmas party. Anyone declining poster refereeing duties will be automatically entered.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed the appearance on the web site of a call for symposia for the Winter meeting in Brighton in 2007. Requests from both SIGs and individuals are very welcome and I encourage you all to put forward suggestions so that we can ensure that there is something for everyone.

I believe that the meetings are the lifeblood of our Society and it is important that we develop meetings that you want to attend. I hope that, in time, the first entry in your diaries each year will be the Winter BPS meeting as a “must-go-to” event that you can’t afford to miss. With your help we can achieve this.

See you all in Oxford,

Steve Hill
Vice-President (Meetings)