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Next week over 1000 scientists are descending on Queenstown, New Zealand, for the annual Queenstown Research Week and Queenstown Molecular Biology (QMB) Meetings. This year there are 12 meetings on topics ranging from enzyme engineering and epigenetics to neuroscience and personalised medicine.

This year, Dr Deborah Williamson, Prof Greg Cook and I have organised a joint QMB and Webster Centre for Infectious Diseases Satellite meeting on translational medical microbiology. Our two day meeting will cover molecular microbiology, host-pathogen interactions and disease modelling, and we have a great line-up of international and local speakers. I’m also pleased to announce that we have a 50:50 gender split for our speakers, something I was passionate about achieving.

Our plenary talks are being given by Associate Professor Bill Hanage from the Harvard School of Public Health, Associate Professor Tim Stinear from the University of Melbourne and Dr Nico Petty from the iThree Institute at the University of Technology, Sydney.

I’m really excited to have been part of organising this meeting, which brings together scientists and clinicians from all over New Zealand with an interest in infectious diseases. Translational medical microbiology is a research area of great need in New Zealand – our rates of infectious diseases are bucking international trends, increasing by 50% over the last two decades. Added to that, our high rates of sexually transmitted diseases are a ticking infertility time bomb.

It is sad then that what is arguably one of the most important health challenges facing our country has been left out of the upcoming National Science Challenges. Something we can ask Minister Steven Joyce about when he opens the main QMB meeting!

To follow along with our satellite and all the other meetings going on during Queenstown Research Week, we will be live tweeting using the hashtag #QRW13.

*And if you are wondering what the collective noun for a group of scientists is then check out this fabulous storify from Twitter last year – #sciencecollectivenouns. It’s hilarious. I quite like ‘hyper-proliferation of oncologists’. Being a microbiologist I was also quite taken with ‘a colony of microbiologists’