Science and Footy Collide at the Pneumonia Conference

The “Sputum Cup”

The International Symposium on Pneumococci and Pneumococcal Disease (ISPPD) is not the catchiest name but the subject matter is critical in Global Health.

The bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, more commonly known as the pneumococcus, is the leading cause of pneumonia in the world.

Pneumococcal vaccines are now given to 40% of the world’s children, with the poorest children being provided the vaccine through the Gavi Alliance.

The research presented at the conference, hosted by MCRI and University of Melbourne researchers, was wide ranging with sessions on:

  • host-pathogen interactions
  • vaccine studies
  • genomics and transmission

Plenary sessions focussed on pneumococcal disease in emergency settings and indigenous populations.

The conference, held in April 15-19, was co-chaired and organised by Prof Kim Mulholland and Dr Catherine Satzke from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne.

The conference was officially opened by the Governor of Victoria, the Honourable Linda Dessau.

A total of 1171 delegates from 85 countries attended, with a mix of clinical and basic science researchers, industry and clinical practitioners.

Generous funding, provided by our sponsors, facilitated travel grants for 177 delegates from 51 countries to attend the conference.

The keynote speech of the conference, The Robert Austrian Lecture, was given by Prof Kim Mulholland.

Dr Sam Manna, from the Pneumococcal Research Group at MCRI, was presented with a Robert Austrian Research Award.

Delegates were given the opportunity to experience the culture of Melbourne with a performance from Circus Oz at the opening ceremony, and a dinner at the Melbourne Museum.

The conference program also included a traditional sporting event where teams competed for the “Sputum Cup”.

Through the University’s link with the North Melbourne Football Club, delegates were able to attend a special Footy Clinic at the Arden St oval.

More than 80 delegates were given an introduction to AFL, from North Melbourne players and coaching staff, before competing for the Cup.

Victors were “Team USA” which included Dr Cattram Nguyen from MCRI and Dr Heidi Smith-Vaughan from Menzies.