Bioactive Natural Products:

translating promise into practice

St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, UK

Monday-Wednesday, 11th-13th July 2016


Registration is closed

Downloads and Links

First announcement


Travel directions

Map of St Catherine's College



The RSC Biotechnology Group and sponsors invited you to a residential conference focused on contemporary scientific research which will facilitate the therapeutic use of small molecules derived from natural sources. The tradition of using naturally occurring small molecules as medicines is thousands of years old, but many front-line pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals in contemporary use owe their origins to natural sources. Modern research methods have brought back into the spotlight the concept of developing novel biomedical and agrochemical products from so-called natural products.

This conference, which follows three earlier successful meetings organized by the Biotechnology Group at the University of Sussex in 1996, at the University St Andrew in 1999 and most recently at Magdalen College, Oxford in 2009,  highlighted the current trends, challenges and successes in the industrial exploitation of natural products from a global perspective. The event brought together key academic and industry interdisciplinary scientists, to disclose recent progress in this field, identify new perspectives and promote networking to facilitate the use of bioactive natural products in medical, agrochemical and related areas of societal need. You were warmly invited to Oxford in 2016 to participate in this vibrant and timely event.


Call for Posters and Presentation Opportunities

Poster:  All delegates (including exhibitors) were invited to submit abstracts to present their work as posters.  The closing date was extended to 31st March. 


Oral:  ECRs (early career researchers) who are aged 30 or younger and lecturers who are within three years of their appointments were also selected by the organising committee to deliver a twenty-minute oral presentation after the closing date of 31st March.


Abstract template:   The closing date for abstract submissions was 31st March.


Exhibition Opportunities

A small relevant trade exhibition was held.  Each exhibitor was offered stand space measuring no more than 3 m wide x 2 m deep, a table, wi-fi and electricity.   Registration fees were:

£500    Exhibition stand only (excludes attendees)

£120    Trade stand staff (no access to technical programme)

£150    Delegate pack insert (maximum of two sheets of A4 fixed together)

£100    Your literature on a table-top display (no size limit)




Monday 11th July

08:15Registration opens
 Session 1 - Chair: Dr Colin Bedford
Prof Joe Sweeney Conference Chairman
09:00How natural products can inspire chemical biology and drug discovery
Prof Herbert Waldmann, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology, Germany


Diversity and diversification: microbial chemistry for discovery and development
Dr Stephen Wrigley, Hypha Discovery, UK


The bio-origin of bioactive bacterial pyrrolizidine alkaloids
Dr Hai Deng, University of Aberdeen, UK


Mining the genomes of Burkholderia bacteria for novel antibiotics
Dr Cerith Jones, Cardiff University, UK


Session 2 - Chair: Prof Joe Sweeney
14:00Harnessing natural product biosynthesis
Prof Sarah O’Connor, John Innes Institute, UK

ECR 1:  Plant-endophyte communication for biosynthesis of bioactive natural products: maytansine as an example

Dr Souvik Kusari, TU Dortmund, Germany


ECR 2:  Reductive chain release and subsequent transamination diverts products of modular polyketide synthases towards alkaloid metabolism

Dr Joleen Masschelein, University of Warwick, UK




Using nature’s chemical diversity as a stepping stone for drug discovery
Dr Philipp Krastel, Novartis, Switzerland
16:50Poster session 1 and drinks reception



Tuesday 12th July

 Session 3 - Chair:  Dr Irene Francois
09:00From artemisinin to a tetraoxane-based antimalarial drug candidate that circumvents K13-dependent clinical artemisinin resistance
Prof Paul O’Neill, University of Liverpool, UK
09:50New paradigms and challenges of natural products drug discovery programs
Prof Bruno David, Pierre Fabre Research Institute, France
11:05Marine natural product drug discovery: leads for treatment of inflammation
Dr Lena Gerwick, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, La Jolla, USA

Biomimetic natural product synthesis

Dr Andrew Lawrence, University of Edinburgh, UK

 Session 4 - Chair:  Dr Paul Race
14:00Using natural products to invent new chemicals for crop protection
Dr John Clough, Syngenta, UK

ECR 3:   Fully automated workflow for efficient detection and rapid identification of new hits from plant extracts
Paul Coulerie, Nestlé Institute for Health Sciences


ECR 4Evaluation of 41 essential oils as antimicrobials against bacterial phytopathogens Pseudomonas syringae pv pisi and Pectobacterium carotovorum
Marimar Bravo Cadena, University of Oxford

16:00The challenge of exploiting microbial sources to deliver novel bioactive natural products
Prof Olga Genilloud, Fundación Medina, Spain
16:50Poster session 2
Wednesday, 13th July
 Session 5 - Chair:  Prof Joe Sweeney, University of Huddersfield
09:00Efficient ways to investigate plant and micro-organism metabolomes for the search of new lead compounds of natural origin
Prof Jean-Luc Wolfender, University of Geneva, Switzerland
09:50Lichen symbioses as a bioresource for natural products
Dr Martin Grube, University of Graz, Austria
11:05Exploiting new biotechnologies for discovery and development of bioactive natural products
Prof Gregory Challis, University of Warwick, UK
11:55Close of conference


Student Travel Grants
The organisers were able to offer a number of student travel grants for full-time postgraduate students and post-doctoral fellows who are able to present a poster and who are RSC student members. The closing date for travel grant applications was 19th June.

Registration and Fees

Registration is closed, and fees included attendance at all sessions, abstracts, lunches, refreshments, and wine reception on Monday.

Up to 18th March
£350   RSC member
£450   Non-member
£250   RSC retired or student member (undergraduate, post-graduate, post-doc)
£300   Student non-member (undergraduate, post-graduate, post-doc)

From 19th March to 29th May
£400   RSC member
£500   Non-member
£300   RSC retired or student member (undergrad, post-grad, post-doc)
£350   Student non-member (undergrad, post-grad, post-doc)

£30     Late booking fee (payment received by the Secretariat after 29th May)
£320   Accommodation package (see below)

Cancellation Policy

In the event of cancellation by 26th June 2016, 80% of the registration fee paid will be refunded. Cancellations must be received in writing. Refunds will not be possible from 27th June onwards, although substitutions are possible at any time.

In the unlikely event of cancellation of the meeting, fees paid will be refunded in full. Registration acknowledgements will be sent within two weeks.


The accommodation package cost £320 and comprised:
• Single en-suite bedroom in St Catherine’s College for three nights (10th, 11th, 12th July)
• Breakfast for three mornings, and dinner in college on 11th and 12th July.


Those who had booked the accommodation package were asked to collect their bedroom key from the Porters’ Lodge (shown as Arumugam Building on this site plan) which is open 24 hours-a-day.
08.00     Breakfast served in dining room (service will end at 09.00 -

             there will be a specific table marked for our conference
14.00     Check-in opens on day of arrival
10.00     Check-out required on day of departure.

Venue and Travel

The conference venue was St Catherine's College, Manor Road, Oxford OX1 3UJ, UK, and detailed travel information may be found on this weblink.


St Catherine’s College is a celebrated and exceptionally attractive venue, featuring famed contemporary architecture, designed by Arne Jacobsen.


By air:  Four major airports are within 90 minutes' travel – London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted and Birmingham International – and all are connected by direct coach services to Oxford.

By train/coach:  Oxford is well-served by regular train and coach services from many parts of the UK. 

By road:  Oxford has excellent motorway access.  Please note that there is no car parking available at the College and delegates arriving by car are advised to use Park and Ride facilities that are available on all main roads entering the City.

On foot:  The is 15 minutes' walk from the city centre.



The organisers are grateful to those below for their support of the meeting:
• The RSC for student travel grants
• NPRONET for poster session and prizes

• Syngenta (details to be confirmed)




Organising Committee

The conference is being organised by committee members of the RSC Biotechnology Group:
Prof Joe Sweeney (Chair), University of Huddersfield
Dr Colin Bedford, University College London
Mr Neville Nicholson, Consultant
Dr Irene Francois, Consultant
Dr Paul Race, University of Bristol

Secretariat Contact

Maggi Churchouse, 3 East Barn, Market Weston Road, Thelnetham, Diss IP22 1JJ, UK

Telephone: +44 (0)1359 221004



Registration is closed