Leading biomedical researchers based in Qatar and the MENA region, Europe, and the Far East met for the two-day ‘Ion Channels and Transporters in Health and Disease’ conference.Sponsored by Qatar National Research Fund’s (QNRF) Conference and Workshop Sponsorship Program, the conference was led by Professor Douglas Bovell, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q).
Sixteen speakers presented the findings of their projects to their peers on the intricate biological processes that take place at the cellular level causing conditions such as diabetes, brain disorders, gastrointestinal disease and heart disease.
Ion channels are proteins that form semi-permeable gateways across the cell membrane, allowing essential ions to pass in and out as and when they are needed for a variety of processes that keep the cell alive and functioning.These tiny valve-like structures are little known to most people but are essential to the survival of virtually all life on earth. Understanding more about how these ion channels operate sheds light not only on the basic science of animal and plant cells but also on the pathological alterations that cause disease, helping researchers develop effective new medications.
Professor Bovell welcomed the many talented researchers to the meeting and highlighted Qatar’s desire to develop a knowledge-based economy for the future.
Eminent scientists who spoke at the event included Professor Brian Harvey of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), who presented findings on the gender-specific nature of cellular functions. Professor Hsiao Chan of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) spoke about the role of ion channels in insulin release in cystic fibrosis-related diabetes.