Scientists in the rapidly emerging field of Metabolomics have met in Brisbane for the 13th Annual Conference of the Metabolomics Society.

With Metabolomics research in Australia gathering momentum and metabolomics-focussed laboratories steadily increasing in number, some 540 delegates from Australia and around the globe attended the four day conference held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC).

The conference chairs were Professor Melissa Fitzgerald and Dr Horst Joachim Schirra, both from the University of Queensland.

The study of metabolites provides telling clues to our future health. It is the systematic study of the small-molecule metabolic products of cells, tissues, organs and biological fluids over discrete time scales and under specified conditions. Metabolomics technologies have proven invaluable in essential research areas spanning drug discovery, personalised medicine, early diagnosis of diseases, nutrigenomics, biomarker discovery and agriculture.

Whether or not it could play a part in the early detection of cancer is being explored.  The opportunities for this keep growing as metabolomics technology and techniques continue to develop.

A strong line-up of keynote speakers from Japan, Denmark, China, Canada, Sweden, England and Australia led a conference program comprising 27 oral sessions, five plenary sessions, four poster sessions and a program of workshops and networking events.

A focus of the conference was a deeper engagement between researchers within the Asia Pacific region to promote metabolomics research and develop collaborative partnerships.

The conference is the official meeting of the Metabolomics Society bringing together all the major international organisations involved in human, plant, microbial, animal and environmental metabolomics.

BCEC Advocate, Professor Mary Garson, Professor of Organic Chemistry from the University Queensland School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and one of the main drivers of the conference said it provided an important platform for members of the metabolomics community to learn about advancement in the field and strengthen professional networks.

“It was an opportunity for Australia to showcase its world class research in what is a rapidly growing discipline that promises powerful insights into the mechanism of human health and disease.”

Professor Garson who was the first Australian to receive the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC’s) Distinguished Woman in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering Award for leadership and contributions to chemistry, works closely with BCEC and has hosted two previous international conferences at the Centre; World Chemistry Congress 2001 and the International Symposium on Biodiversity and Natural Products 2011.

BCEC General Manager, Bob O’Keeffe said the conference provided the opportunity for   Australian and Queensland scientists active in the field of Metabolomics to showcase their world-leading research and to develop new strategic international partnerships within the sector.

“To have the 13th Annual Conference of the Metabolomics Society in Brisbane, recognises that our local researchers and academics are at the leading edge of this emerging science.”

Tourism and Events Queensland CEO, Leanne Coddington, said the conference attracted an influential international audience to the state.

“This is an important event on our calendar which attracted visitors and profiled Queensland amongst international leaders,” Ms Coddington said. “Business events are an important part of our tourism economy and growing this portfolio is an integral component of TEQ’s long term strategy for the state.”

Brisbane Convention Bureau Acting General Manager, Juliet Alabaster, said Brisbane’s aptitude for medical research and many ‘new world city’ attributes played an integral role in attracting conferences like Metabolomics 2017.

“The successful Metabolomics 2017 is a shining example of how Brisbane’s world-leading medical research and talent, superior facilities and services, and characteristic warm welcome is seeing the city stand-out as a destination of choice for prominent international conferences,” Ms Alabaster said.

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