UPEI hosting natural products conference

Published on August 18, 2014

Russ Kerr, chairman of the P.E.I. BioAlliance

©Submitted photo

The University of Prince Edward Island will welcome about 100 delegates to P.E.I. for the sixth annual Maritime Natural Products Conference, beginning today.

The Maritime Natural Products Conference will take place until Aug. 20 and is a meeting of academic and industrial researchers and natural product businesses who share a mutual interest in chemical compounds produced by nature.

Interest in these compounds varies from applications in biotechnology and food supplements to organic synthesis and chemical ecology.

UPEI Professor Russ Kerr, chair of the Maritime Natural Products Conference, says: “This conference is an excellent opportunity for students to present their research, make valuable connections with future research supervisors and employers, and be exposed to leading natural product commercial applications.”

The conference program will feature two guest speakers, 32 student presentations, a partnering meetings program, and networking events.

Tuesday morning’s program will feature guest speaker Bruce A. Littlefield, Ph.D, who currently holds the position of distinguished scientist, oncology at Eisai, Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of the global Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai Co., Ltd.

Littlefield has overseen numerous oncology drug discovery programs including a program which led to the development of eribulin mesilate (Halaven), currently approved in 53 countries worldwide for treatment of certain patients with advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

On Wednesday morning, guest speaker Baldomero M. Olivera, Ph.D.. will present. Olivera is a distinguished professor of biology from the University of Utah. His laboratory has discovered biologically-active peptides found in the venoms of predatory cone snails, which have been developed by biotech and pharmaceutical companies as therapeutic drugs for the treatment of intractable pain, with further applications being explored for treatment of heart attacks, strokes, epilepsy and other neuropathologies.

Delegates are largely comprised of students and researchers from the University of Prince Edward Island, University of New Brunswick, Dalhousie University, Acadia University and Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Representatives from the National Research Council of Canada, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Three Oaks Innovation, BioMer Innovations, DSM Nutritional Products, Nautilus Biosciences Canada, Novartis, BioVectra, Delivra and Neurodyn will also be attending the conference.

This event is made possible by conference supporters Nautilus Biosciences Canada, UPEI, P.E.I. BioAlliance, NSERC, NRC-IRAP, Innovation P.E.I., Delivra, BioVectra and DSM Nutritional Products.