Campylobacter, Helicobacter and related Microorganisms Conference 2019

Posted on October 10, 2019   by Gillian Carney

In September, Gillian Carney attended the 20th Campylobacter, Helicobacter and Related Microorganisms (CHRO) conference in Belfast. Here, she details her experience.

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In early March 2019 I was encouraged to apply to present at CHRO. At first I was a little apprehensive at the thought of presenting my work to a room full of international experts in the field, but having now attended, I know that I was extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to not only attend but to participate in this conference. This year’s conference saw delegates from over 30 countries and included over 100 talks, lightning poster presentations, numerous posters and several social events. The topics covered included; pathogenicity and virulence, immunology, genomics and antibiotic resistance and control strategies, to name a few. 

The event started off with a welcome reception at Belfast City Hall. At this reception, delegates had the chance to catch up with old friends and meet new members of this research community in a relaxed setting while enjoying the historic building. The next morning – with slightly sore heads – delegates gathered at the International Convention Centre (ICC) Belfast for three days of talks, posters and lightning poster presentations researchers from all over the world.

One of the first talks of the day, titled ‘Solving the Campylobacter conundrums – a look back in anger’, was presented by Dr Brendan Wren. This presentation highlighted many challenges associated with Campylobacter and the many questions surrounding this pathogen. By discussing these challenges and some of the research questions remaining to be answered, Dr Wren’s talk perfectly set the stage for the upcoming three days of presentations from researchers striving to answer these questions. The first day of talks ended with an energetic game of Soccer Blitz, which saw Campylobacter go head to head with Helicobacter. This year, I am happy to say, Campylobacter won out in the end. 

The second day of CHRO was particularly exciting for me, as this is when I had to present my work. I had become more and more nervous as the time got closer – especially after attending a day full of impressive talks on Monday – but Tuesday morning came and I still had to give my talk. I didn’t faint and I managed to get my findings across to a room full of people, so I’d say it was a huge success. I also benefited hugely from this experience as it then allowed me to talk with others in a similar field who had suggestions I had not considered, pushing my work even further.

However, my highlight of the second day was a keynote presentation by the Nobel Laureate Dr Robin Warren on the discovery of Helicobacter. Dr Warren presented the story of how he and Dr Barry Marshall discovered Helicobacter. Hearing a personal account of this story was fascinating and highlighted how scientific leaps such as this are due to the perfect combination of the right people at the right time and require a huge level of commitment and creativity. Later that evening, the Gala Conference Dinner took place at the Titanic Belfast; the historic site where the RMS Titanic was designed and built. This event allowed delegates to discuss the topics of the conference while enjoying some Irish hospitality and entertainment.

The next day, the conference drew to a close with a final set of talks and posters. I loved my time at this conference. Over the three days, I became more involved in the Campylobacter research community and gained an insight into the challenges faced, as well as the many exciting solutions we are pursuing. I would encourage all early stage researchers to attend and participate in these conferences. as there are countless benefits to these experiences.