Organizing Committee Programme and activities

Simposio Cuba-UK en Química y Ciencias de la Vida

Cuba–UK Symposium on Chemistry and Life Sciences


Havana, January 10th to 12th, 2006

Sponsored by:

Important Announcement:

Registration and abstract submission (containing name, affiliation, postal address, phone, fax, e-mail) must be received
before December 1, 2005.



The University of Havana in Cuba together with the University of Oxford in the UK, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Cuban Chemical Society under the sponsorship of  the British Council in Cuba, are organising a symposium in Havana, Cuba, to share experience and expertise in the field of applications of chemistry to life sciences.

It is well known, both nationally in Cuba and from mentions in the international media, that the Faculty of Chemistry in the University of Havana has made significant contributions in the field of applications of chemistry to life sciences. It is a world pioneer in producing synthetic vaccines for commercial purposes, such as the vaccine against Haemophylus influenzae  (see Thursday, 27 November, 2003, 02:08 GMT, “Cuba develops 'cheap' Hib vaccine”, by Richard Black, BBC science correspondent), published recently in Science, (Vol. 305, Issue 5683, 522-525 , 23 July 2004). Other research teams in this Cuban university are also engaged in important work in this field (

The British Council in Cuba intends to provide opportunities for both senior and young Cuban and British researchers to meet face-to-face for the exchange of ideas, knowledge and information on priority research topics.

The meeting is to be held from January 10th to 12th,  2006. It is expected that the three day Symposium on Chemistry and Life Sciences will be followed by one or two days of visits to relevant biotechnology research centres in Havana.

Conference objectives:

- To identify potential lines of research for joint Cuba/UK work in chemistry applied to the life sciences, particularly the biotechnological and medical applications of molecular and bio-molecular chemistry.

- To strengthen bi-lateral links already established between Cuba & UK scientists in the field of bioinformatics and related sciences, thanks to a previous British Council sponsored symposium in December 2002.

- To agree on specific actions aimed at taking forward joint projects, including the identification of potential sources of funding.

- To establish an informal and sustainable network in this field linking both senior and young British and Cuban scientists.

Areas of focus (this list is not exclusive):

Of particular interest:

- carbohydrate vaccines for bacteria and parasites and fine carbohydrate chemistry, including lipopolysacharides (LPS)
- synthesis of drugs
- natural products and plant hormones
- supramolecular chemistry
- polymer chemistry and materials and biological applications
- complex phenomena and entropy evolution in chemical and biochemical processes
- nuclear magnetic resonance and optical spectroscopy of biological molecules
computer modelling of molecular structures and processes in life


Organizing Committee

International co-ordinators

Dr. W. Graham RICHARDS

Chairman, Dep. of Chemistry
University of Oxford




Chairman of the Scientific Council
of the University of Havana



Local organizing committee in Cuba:

Esther Alonso Becerra, Universidad de La Habana, Vice Dean in the Faculty of Chemistry

Roberto Cao, Universidad de La Habana and Cuban Chemical Society

Vicente Vérez, Universidad de La Habana

Abstracts and registration

Yania Caballero – López
Phone: +53 7 8704667

Juan Alexander Padrón-Garcia /
Phone: +53 7 8781263

Other members:

Lic. Rachel Crespo Otero (Faculty of Chemistry-UH)

Lic. Susana González (Faculty of Chemistry-UH)

Lic. Yoana Pérez Badell (Faculty of Chemistry-UH)

Lic. Javier Rodríguez Díaz (Faculty of Chemistry-UH)

Lic. Miguel Angel Sires (Faculty of Chemistry-UH)


Programme and activities

Invited Speakers (Lectures)
  1. David Bucknall, University of Oxford: “Polymeric hydrogel anisotropic tissue expanders for reconstructive surgery”
  2. Roberto Cao, Universidad de La Habana: “Bionanosciences and Supramolecular Chemistry”
  3. Francisco Coll, Universidad de La Habana: “Cuban plant growth regulators. Are they really brassinosteroid analogues?”
  4. Lila Castellanos, Centro de Ingeniería Genética y Biotecnología, “Development of new tools for proteome analyses”
  5. Russell Cox, University of Bristol: “Investigating New Genes, New Proteins and New Compounds in Microbial Polyketide Biosynthesis”
  6. Ben Davis, University of Oxford: “Sugars & Proteins: Exploiting & Exploiting Glycoscience”
  7. Raymond Dwek, University of Oxford: “Glycobiology: principles, technology and therapeutics”
  8. Sabine Flitsch, University of Manchester, “Synthesis of glycopeptides and glycoproteins”
  9. Roy Goodacre, University of Manchester, "Metabolomics and machine learning for understanding microbiological systems"
  10. Christopher Jones, National Institute for Biological Standard and Control, “Physicochemical characterisation of vaccines”
  11. Luis A. Montero, Universidad de La Habana: “Molecular modelling and molecular interactions in biological molecules”
  12. Ricardo Martínez, Universidad de La Habana: “Polymeric systems for the slow release of plant grow regulators”
  13. Aurora Pérez Gramatges, Instituto Superior de Tecnologías y Ciencias Aplicadas: “Interactions in Biopolymer-Surfactant Systems”
  14. Carlos Pérez, Universidad de La Habana: “Protein NMR”
  15. W. Graham Richards, University of Oxford: “Pattern recognition and grid computing in drug discovery”
  16. Guy Grant, University of Cambridge: “Multiscale approaches to protein – ligand interactions”
  17. Vicente Vérez, Universidad de La Habana: “Development of a conjugate vaccine against Haemophilus influenzae type b using a synthetic antigen. A platform for future carbohydrate vaccines”
  18. Reynaldo Villalonga, Universidad de Matanzas: “Neoglycoenzymes: Chemically modulated biocatalysts”

Poster presentations

A session of posters is scheduled for those wanting to show their recent results. Abstracts of posters must be submitted to the organizing committee before December 1, 2005. They must be a single page in either A4 or letter format, written in not less than 12 pt. font, and containing any figure and tables within the limit of a single sheet. Portable document format (pdf) files are preferred, because they will be printed “as is”.

Applications, fees, advanced payment

Applications (containing name, affiliation, postal address, phone, fax, e-mail) must be received before December 1, 2005. The registration fee is £ 100.00 or equivalent in CUC (Cuban convertible pesos). Residents in Cuba may pay the fees of CU$ 30.00 (MN). Details on advanced payments will be informed in brief. However, “in situ” fee payments are allowed for registered participants.

For both Abstracts and registration please contact

Workshop Location

The Symposium will take place in the “Habana Vieja” quarter (“Old Havana”), a primrose environment in one of the most important Spanish colonial settlements in America. A port called San Cristóbal de la Habana was founded in Havana's present location (then called Puerto Carenas) on the north coast of Cuba in 1519. Nowadays, for a city to claim an age of nearly half a millennium is a rare privilege in the New World. The natural deepwater port, together with the land protection to the harbour, made Havana a site that early attracted growing numbers of settlers. A Spanish royal decree in 1634 recognized its importance, calling it the “Llave del Nuevo Mundo y Antemural de las Indias Occidentales” (“Key to the New World and Rampart of the West Indies”). Havana's coat of arms carries this inscription. During centuries eastbound fleets of Spanish ships carrying treasure from the New World rendezvoused at Havana for the trip across the Atlantic to Spain because of the close vicinity of the Gulf Stream, a straight way to Europe. The port thus became the object of attacks by competing foreign powers and was blockaded several times.
By about 1700 the city walls and the formidable major fortifications had been considered as completed. These withstood attacks until, after a three-month siege ending in August 1762, the British under Admiral Sir George Pocock and the Earl of Albermarle took the city as a prize of war. They held it for several months until the treaty ending the Seven Years' War restored Havana to Spain. After recovering the city, the Spaniards built a new fortress known as one of the biggest out of Spain. Fortunately, all fundamental buildings across five centuries are preserved. Old Havana has been inscribed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List decades ago. These sites are designated as having “outstanding universal value” under the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. This convention, which was adopted by all countries in 1972, provides a framework for international cooperation in preserving and protecting cultural treasures and natural areas throughout the world.



For accomodation details please contact Lic. Yania Caballero – López

(email, Phone: +53 7 8704667)


   Last update: September 27, 2005