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Vol. 28 No. 2
March-April 2006

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

Carotenoids

by George Britton

When the first satellite meeting on the chemistry of carotenoids was held in Trondheim, Norwary, in 1996, only 30 participants attended. But almost 300 came from nearly 40 countries to the 14th International Symposium on Carotenoids held 17–22 July 2005. The growing attendance clearly illustrates interest in carotenoids and the diversification of the field, especially in the areas of human nutrition and health, which are of particular public concern.

The 1996 meeting proved to be the first of a series of IUPAC International Carotenoid Symposia, the latest of which was held in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) in Edinburgh, Scotland, with George Britton from the University of Liverpool as chairman. Much of the framework of the symposium was put in place by Andrew Young from Liverpool John Moores University, before George Britton took on the role for the last few months.

The program in Edinburgh was designed to encourage an integrated, interdisciplinary approach for tackling key issues and to stress the importance of a solid foundation of knowledge of the fundamental physical and chemical properties of carotenoids for understanding and controlling biological functions and actions. The excellent facilities and services of the EICC helped the symposium to maintain the tradition of a friendly, lively atmosphere and stimulating formal and informal discussions. Generous financial support from commercial sponsors in many countries made the symposium possible.

In the formal scientific program, about 220 papers were presented, 80 as lectures or selected oral communications in plenary or parallel sessions, and 140 as posters. As with previous symposia, the texts of plenary and invited lectures will be published in Pure and Applied Chemistry [see PAC 78(8), 1477-1557 (2006)], with Richard Cogdell and Peter Bramley as symposium editors. For the first time, the book of abstracts has also been published as an issue of Carotenoid Science (Volume 9, July 2005, Hideki Hashimoto, ed.), the journal of the Japanese Society for Carotenoid Research.S

In the opening session on “Skin Protection by Carotenoids,” lectures by Helmut Sies, Peter Schroeder, and Regina Goralczyk concentrated on molecular studies and insights into the mechanism of the photoprotective effect of beta-carotene in human skin. Two plenary sessions emphasisedthe importance of interdisciplinary approaches and studies. In the session “Oxidation and Breakdown Products,” topics included the chemistry of the oxidative breakdown of carotenoids (presented by Catherine Caris-Veyrat) and the significance of such oxidation and its products for human health (presented by Werner Siems). In a highly informative and entertaining lecture, Roman Kaiser used example extracts to illustrate the role of “Carotenoid-Derived Aroma Compounds in Flower Scents.” The important influence of the natural physical states of carotenoids and of interactions with proteins on properties and functions was the subject of a further session in which Robert Birge and Tom Moore also reported some novel applications of carotenoids and retinal-proteins. Jonathan Blount spoke in a session on “Carotenoids and Nature” that highlighted the role of carotenoids in coloration and behavior in birds and invertebrate animals. Two plenary sessions reported progress in studies of carotenoids in relation to cancer (speakers included John Bertram and Angelika Herzog) and other aspects of human health (including an invited lecture by Olaf Sommerburg). In additional plenary lectures, Frederick Khachik evaluated available procedures for the analysis of carotenoids by HPLC in his talk “Distribution and Metabolism of Dietary Carotenoids in Humans as a Criterion for Development of Nutritional Supplements,” while Aldona Dembinska-Kiec reported on a major European project and presented details of her own work on “Beta-Carotene and Angiogenesis.”

The remainder of the program was filled with parallel sessions covering “Nutrition and Conversion into Vitamin A,” “Photosynthesis and Photochemistry,” “Eye Health,” “Biosynthesis,” “Chemistry,” and “Commercial Production and Applications.”

The standard of posters displayed was high, and prizes for best poster presentation were awarded to four young researchers: Marc David Grynbaum (Germany), Thais Guaratini (Brazil), Nicole Tillinger (Austria), and Tokutake Sashima (Japan). Each received a copy of The Carotenoids Handbook, from the carotenoids book series.

As a new venture for the symposia, International Carotenoid Society Awards were presented to mark distinguished achievements and dedicated service to the carotenoid field. The Otto Isler Award was presented to Synnove Liaaen-Jensen for “a lifetime of achievement in research on carotenoid chemistry and of dedicated service to the carotenoid field.” Unfortunately, Norman Krinsky was unable to attend the meeting to receive the Trevor Goodwin Award for “achievement in research on carotenoid biochemistry and a lifetime of dedicated service to the carotenoid field”; the award was presented to him later. Finally, the President’s Outstanding Service Award was presented to George Britton “in appreciation of exceptional service and dedication to the principles and scholarship of The International Carotenoid Society.”

In addition to an energizing week of inspiring carotenoid science, participants delighted in exploring Edinburgh and taking part in a whisky-tasting event and a Scottish-themed symposium dinner and Ceilidh.

The 15th International Symposium on Carotenoids will be held in 2008 in Okinawa, Japan, with Hideki Hashimoto from Osaka City University as chairman. Information about this and other carotenoidrelated events is on the Web site of the International Carotenoid Society: www.carotenoidsociety.org.

George Britton <g.britton@liv.ac.uk>, who was program chair of the 2005 conference, recently retired from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Liverpool.


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