Sunday, May 31, 2015

This Month in Blastocystis Research (MAY 2015)

Words cannot describe my gratitude for being part of the 1st International Blastocystis Symposium, which was seen through to marvelous success by Dr Funda Dogruman-Al, her colleagues and students, her professional arrangement committee and the scientific committee, made up by Dr Graham Clark, Dr Kevin Tan, Dr Hisao Yoshikawa, Professor Ibrahim Dogan, Funda Dogruman-Al, and myself.

Funda Dogruman-Al in the middle flanked by some of the delegates outside Gazi Hastanesi.

A total of 70 delegates had registered, comprising 37 national and 33 international attendees. Countries represented included Australia, Japan, Russia, China, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, Qatar, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Spain, France, Denmark, UK, USA, and Mexico.

Some of the delegates gathering before the gala dinner.

A presymposium workshop taking place the day before the launching of the actual symposium focussed on methods for diagnosis and molecular epidemiological studies of Blastocystis.

The two-day symposium included 13 half-hour lectures, 10 shorter oral presentations, and 27 posters.

Lectures were given by Dr Graham Clark (one of his three talks was on behalf on Prof Andrew Roger and post doc Laura Eme), Dr Kevin Tan, Dr Hisao Yoshikawa, Dr Philippe Poirier, Dr Özgür Kurt, Dr Javed Jakoob, Dr Funda Dogruman-Al, and myself, and covered updates on genomics, cell biology, host-parasite interactions, genetic diversity, epidemiology, clinical significance, treatment, and methods used for detection and molecular characterisation.

We were spoilt with lots of 'Turkish Delight': Here are some of the dancers performing at the gala dinner.

There were six prizes in total; three for the best oral presentations and three for the best posters. Prize money was donated by Elsevier.

The prize winners were as follows: 

Oral presentations:
1st Prize: Erdogan Malatyali, Adnan Menderes University, Aydin, Turkey
2nd Prize: Sitara SR Ajjampur, National University of Singapore, Singapore
3rd Prize: Unaiza Parkar, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia

Poster presentations:
1st Prize:  John Anthony Yason, National University of Singapore, Singapore
2nd Prize: Joel Martinez-Ocana, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Ciudad Universitaria, Mexico City, Mexico
3rd Prize: Chen-Chieh Liao, National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan

Over the next few months, original manuscripts – seminal papers and reviews – will be developed for a special issue on Blastocystis in of Parasitology International to mark the event.

An important landmark in Blastocystis history has been made, and we are already looking into our chances of developing the 2nd International Blastocystis Symposium, which may be in 2017.

A huge THANK YOU to Funda for all her efforts, and KUDOS to all contributors for making this such a fantastic event!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Expected Social/Cultural Activities at 1st International Blastocystis Symposium

A lot of thrilling activities and ideas are in the making for the 1st International Blastocystis Symposium in Ankara later this month (!

For instance, the social programme is expected to include the following:

1) Performances of Turkish classical music and folk music by students from Gazi University State Conservatory of Turkish Music at the opening and closing ceremonies
2) Needle work exhibition
3) Traditional Turkish arts exhibition
4) Glass work workshop
5) Marbling workshop
6) Gilding workshop 
7) Reed flute (‘ney’) contest

This should provide the delegates with lots of opportunity to meet different branches of Turkish culture.

Hence, the ceremonies + coffee breaks and lunches will be busy and fun! For the Gala Dinner we are currently trying to engage with two different folk dancer teams from Gazi University… and...(suspense!)...  there might be a chance the Gala Dinner will be free of charge for all participants! Stay tuned!

1st International Blastocystis Symposium - Accommodation Funding!

We are pleased to announce that "Society for General Microbiology" ( is going to fund two nights of accommodation for 40 young researchers (below 40 years old) attending the 1st International Blastocystis Symposium (

Those who apply with a presentation and with no other funding will have priority in application.

Please inform your other colleagues who are interested in Blastocystis research about this important news.

(Please note: Applications should be sent to alfunda[at]

Looking forward to seeing you in Ankara...

Unstained Blastocystis. Courtesy of Dr Marianne Lebbad.