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NEONATAL SOCIETY AUTUMN 2002 NEWSLETTER

Summer Meeting in Tours, France 28-29th June 2002

The summer meeting in France was successful although only a few of our French colleagues attended because of clashes with other meetings. The scientific content and the hospitality were both of a high standard. Thanks must go to Nikki Robertson and Elie Saliba for organising the meeting.

Professor Petra Huppi gave the 6th annual Tizard lecture and talked on 'Steroids and the developing brain - what have magnetic resonance techniques taught us ?'. She reviewed the ontogeny of the brain and cortical morphogenesis and went on to discuss the use of magnetic resonance in investigating brain morphology. In particular she reviewed the use of diffusion tensor imaging in studying white matter development. There followed a review of how early brain development is modified in the IUGR infant and in those given steroids. There are concerns that steroids not only reduce brain volume but have an effect in reducing grey matter. IUGR has long term consequences on cerebral cortical development and behavioural competence. Infants with IUGR have a more immature cortical structure compared with controls.

The other invited speaker was Pierre Gressens from Paris who gave a state of the art lecture entitled 'Neuroprotection in the newborn brain - interactions between stress, glutamate and glucocorticoids'. He described eloquently a mouse model of PVL in which damage could be induced by direct injection of a glutamate analogue. The glutamate receptors are complex with differing ontogeny depending on the region of the brain. The mouse model has been used to study various neuroprotective agents. There were a series of experiments in which he showed how cytokines alone did not cause lesions but along with glutamate there were white matter lesions. Of interest were the experiments exposing pregnant mothers to chronic ultramild stress. This was associated with increased susceptibility of white matter lesions in the offspring of the stressed mothers compared with controls. The effect may have been mediated through a reduction in trophic growth factors in the stressed animals.

Helen Budge was the winner of the Young Neonatologist's Prize. Again the standard of applicant was very good and it is encouraging that such a high level of research continues. She talked on 'Programming of fetal adipose tissue development by maternal nutrition and prolactin' and reviewed much of the work that has been presented to the Society over the years from the excellent research in Nottingham.

The free papers were all of good standard and resulted in an interesting and varied meeting

Future meetings

The next meeting of the Neonatal Society will take place on Thursday 7th November 2002 at the Royal Society of Medicine, Wimpole Street, London. The deadline for abstracts is Monday 7th October and these should be sent by e-mail to arrive by midnight on that date. Details on submitting abstracts can be found on the website www.neonatalsociety.org. Travel bursaries are available to support researchers who are presenting at the meeting. Details are available on the website and from the treasurer, Professor Anne Greenough at King's College Hospital.

The Curosurf lecture will be given by Professor Rob Hume from Dundee.

The AGM will be held at this meeting and this will include the election of a new President who will take up the post after the AGM in 2003.

The Spring meeting of the Society will be on March 13th 2003, again at the Royal Society of Medicine. The McCance lecturer will be Dr David Fitzpatrick who will talk on 'Identifying genes that cause human malformations'.

The summer meeting next year will be in Oxford and further details will appear on the website.

The Royal Society of Medicine starts major refurbishment next year which will disrupt meetings. I am looking for alternative venues in London for next Autumn's meeting and will keep you posted on this.

Abstract publication

The abstracts from the Autumn meeting 2001 have been published in the July edition of Early Human Development 2002;68:127-138.

New members

The following have been elected to the Society : Dr Angela D'Amore, Dr James Tooley

Other matters

There is a Study Day on 'Infant Nutrition Perspective' to be held on October 17th 2002 in Hammersmith Hospital. This is the twelfth of a very successful series of annual study days on infant nutrition. Details can be found on the website www.confmed.co.uk/infantnutrition

Andrew Lyon
Meetings Secretary

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