Report of 'The 6th Central European Conference - Chemistry Towards Biology'

The 6th Central European Conference “Chemistry towards Biology”, was held on September 10 - 13 2013 in Trieste, Italy. Actually, the kick-off meeting of this series of conferences took place right in Trieste in 1998 as the result of an agreement between Croatian, Italian and Slovenian scientists; but soon after the participation was enlarged to scientists from all the Central Europe Countries. The 2013 Trieste conference was is held under the auspices of the University of Trieste and the Alps Adriatic Rectors’ Conference and organized by two Departments of the Trieste University: the Dept. of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, headed by Prof. Silvano Geremia, and the Dept. of Life Sciences, headed by Prof. Giannino Del Sal. The local organizing committee was coordinated by Prof. Roberto Rizzo of the Life Sciences Dept. who, together with the Rector of the Trieste University, Prof. Maurizio Fermeglia, addressed the welcome of the Town to all participants. However, the duty of Prof. Rizzo was also to remember the colleagues of the Conference Steering Committee who unfortunately recently passed away: Prof. Zvonimir Maksić, Prof. Ivano Bertini, Prof. Emeritus Boris Kamenar, and Prof. Lucio Randaccio.

About 90 scientists attended the Conference presenting 27 oral communications and 27 posters which were distributed into the seven research topics identified for the conference sessions:

  • Carbohydrate chemistry and biochemistry
  • Chemistry of cell biology
  • Nucleic acids chemistry
  • Structure, function and interactions of proteins
  • New/engineered enzymes
  • Drug design, medicine and biomaterials.

The participation of young scientists at PhD or PostDoc level was strongly encouraged providing bursaries covering the Conference fee and the accommodation expenses.

Six sessions started with plenary lectures given by internationally renowned scientists. Prof. György Miklós Keserű of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences introduced the topic “The role of Nature and Nurture in Medicinal Chemistry”; Kristina Djinović-Carugo of the University of Vienna lectured on the “Regulation of Ligand Binding and Z-Disk Assembly from Crystal Structure of Human Muscle A-Actin”. Prof. Lucia Gardossi of the University of Trieste talked about the “The Synthesis of Polymers by Immobilized Enzymes for Biotechnological Uses” while Prof. Robert Vianello of the Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb illustrated “Computational insight into the Catalytic Activity and Irreversible Inhibition of Monoamine Oxidase for Targeting Neurological Diseases”. During the last morning session, Prof. Francesco Nicotra of the University of Milan “Bicocca” explained “The Role of Glycosylation in Regenerative Medicine” and Prof. Georg Gϋbitz lectured on “Synthetic Enzymes for Synthetic Polymers”.

Within the Conference activities, particularly appreciated was the organization of a round table discussion on the next European research funding programme 2014-2020 “Getting ready for Horizon 2020”. This event was organized by Prof. Lucia Gardossi of the Dept. of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and by Dr. Stefano Brumat of the Trieste University administration. After an introduction of the Rector of the Trieste University illustrating the role that this University can play in coordinating EU projects, a representative of EU DG Research & Innovation, dr. Tomasz Calikowski, elucidated the opportunities contained in the next EU funding programme for science and technology. The second part of the discussion was devoted to the individuation of groups of scientists with common interests in order to individuate possible future networks for EU funding requests.

The structure of successful EU network was illustrated by representatives of two active structures: TRANS2CARE and PLASTICE, the former is a Italian-Slovenian project devoted to improve health care and the latter focuses on sustainable plastics in Central Europe. These two project also contributed to funding the Conference together with the “CRTrieste” and the “Beneficentia” Fundations.

Although the weather was not as nice as expected for the beginning of September, the participants also enjoyed the beautiful Trieste as well the social dinner, which was offered at the restaurant “Harry's Grill” in the main square of Trieste on the water front.

The welcome by the Rector of the Trieste University

The poster of the Conference

The presentation by Prof. Sanja Tomić, Zagreb

Official speech at the Conference Dinner

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