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Vol. 30 No. 6
November-December 2008

Conference Call | Reports from recent conferences and symposia 
See also www.iupac.org/symposia

Carbohydrates

by Berit Smestad Paulsen

From 27 July to 1 August 2008, the University of Oslo, Norway, was the host of the 24th International Carbohydrate Symposium (ICS 2008). The conference consisted of the two Whistler award lectures, nine plenary lectures, 20 invited lectures, 115 oral contributions, and 400 poster presentations. There were 605 attendees from 40 countries at the conference, including an impressive group of 140 Japanese scientists. Other countries represented were Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, P.R. China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Hungary, India, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Korea, South, Latvia, Mali, Then Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom and United States. The participants ranged from well-know senior scientists to young Ph.D. students, making the symposium an important meeting place for the younger generation.

Whistler award winner Carolyn Bertozzi, USA.

The president of the International Carbohydrate Organisation, Mario Pinto, began the conference with a memorial lecture dedicated to the important carbohydrate chemists and biologists who had passed away since the last meeting. Welcome speeches were then given by the chair of ICS 2008, Berit Smestad Paulsen, rector of the University of Oslo, Geir Ellingsrud, and Knut Fægri, dean of the Mathematical and Science Faculty. Hans Vliegenhart greeted the participants on behalf of IUPAC.

The International Carbohydrate Organization established in 1984 an award in honor of Professor Roy L. Whistler to recognize scientists “who have made contributions of excellence in carbohydrate chemistry and biochemistry and with promise of continuing significant contributions”. This award is always presented following the Opening Ceremony of the symposium. In 2008 the award was given to two outstanding scientists within the carbohydrate world: Carolyn Bertozzi and Yukishige Ito.

Bertozzi is the leader in applying organic chemistry in living systems, most specifically for the study of glycosylation. To this end she has designed elegant chemical methods to introduce labelled unnatural compounds into the cellular biosynthetic machinery, thereby allowing for a wide range of studies to monitor changes in glycosylation in tissues and cells. Her cell surface engineering makes an essential contribution to biomedicine with a broad impact at the chemistry to biology interface.

Whistler award winner Yukishige Ito, Japan.

Ito’s contributions cover the chemical synthesis of glycoconjugates for biological investigations, including novel synthetic methods of development. He has made distinguished contributions in many areas; of exceptional note are methods developed for alpha sialoside and beta mannoside linkages and the synthesis of some enormously complex molecules. His fundamental synthetic work on all aspect of large N-glycans makes it possible to focus in a very systematic way on the processing and quality control of glycoproteins in the cell, thereby clarifying key enzymes and chaperones at the molecular level.

Bjørn Erik Christensen, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway, was in charge of the scientific program of the symposium, which covered most aspects of carbohydrate chemistry:

  • synthesis
  • analysis
  • glycobiology, glycomedicine, glycomics
  • therapeutics, new materials, and
    bionanotechnology
  • polysaccharides—structure, functions,
    applications
  • industrial applications of carbohydrates

The plenary and oral session presentations ranged from biosynthesis of new bioactive oligosaccharides to structural elucidation of polysaccharides from various sources to their bioactive functions in different cell systems. Analytical and bioassay methods for structure activity studies were also presented.

Berit Smestad Paulsen is a professor at the School of Pharmacy, University of Oslo, Blindern, Oslo, Norway.


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