Meeting report: 1st International Workshop on Oculocutaneous Albinism in Subsaharian Africa

July 29th, 2015
1st International Workshop on Oculocutaneous Albinism in Subsaharian Africa

1st International Workshop on Oculocutaneous Albinism in Subsaharian Africa

Last week, on 24-25 July, the 1st International Workshop on Oculocutaneous Albinism in Subsaharian Africa took place at the Sawa hotel, in Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon. This meeting was organized by Robert Aquaron (Univ. Aix-Marseille, France), Albert Mouelle (Univ. Douala, Cameroon) and Charlotte Baker (Lancaster Univ., UK) and counted with the participation of several additional scientists from different countries, including: Patricia Lund, Benoît Arveiler, Alain Taïeb, Alain Froment, Pierre Bey, Robyn Kerr, Jennifer Kromberg, Martial Zannou and Lluís Montoliu. The meeting was co-sponsored by Lancaster University, Wellcome-Trust, Avene/Pierre-Fabre laboratory and the European Society for Pigment Cell Research (ESPCR), among many other government (Yvonne Matuturu, from UNESCO, Burundi, several ministries in Cameroon) and non-government institutions (Jon Beale, Standing Voice). The meeting was attended by more than 120 participants coming from several countries in Africa, including: Cameroon, Burundi, Benin, Ivory Coast, Mali, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, Niger, Nigeria and Republic of the Congo.

From left to right: Robert Aquaron, Charlotte Baker, the Rector of the University of Douala, Albert Mouelle and the President of ASMODISA

From left to right: Robert Aquaron, Charlotte Baker, the Rector of the University of Douala, Albert Mouelle and the President of ASMODISA

This meeting was in many ways unique and exceptionally successful and the organizers must be praised for having managed in bringing to Cameroon many different people with a common interest on albinism in Africa. Basic researchers, clinicians, anthropologists, dermatologists, ophthalmologists, experts in human rights, professors at universities, members of associations and organizations in support of people with albinism, advocating for albinism, people with albinism themselves, students and public in general gathered in Douala to discuss both scientific and social aspects of albinism, particularly focused into topics that affect people with albinism in Africa. Albinism is the same genetic condition present in Europe and Africa, and everywhere else in the world. However, whereas people with albinism in Europe can concentrate their efforts in the visual handicapping features of albinism, while protecting their skin from the sun with adequate creams and clothes, the absence of these simple materials in Africa makes these individual unfortunately and unnecessarily prone to develop skin cancer, and with fatal consequences if tumors are not treated in time. Hence, the dermatological aspects of oculocutaneous albinism, mainly OCA2, the commonest form of albinism in Africa, become extraordinarily relevant and, consequently, were the subject of many presentations and discussions throughout this workshop in Douala.

Two participants with oculocutaneous (OCA) albinism attending the conference in Douala. The person on the left is OCA2, the person on the right is OCA1.

Two participants with oculocutaneous (OCA) albinism attending the conference in Douala. The person on the left is OCA2, the person on the right is OCA1.

Raising positive awareness and advocating for people with albinism was a common aim for all organizations attending this workshop in Douala. ALBA and Genespoir, the Spanish and French associations in support of people with albinism, contributed with copies of the book on “Albinism. One genetic condition: two realities, Spain and Senegal”, originally published in Spanish by ALBA in 2009 and later translated to French by Genespoir in 2012. French copies of this book with many testimonials by people with albinism from both Europe and Africa were distributed among representative delegates from African associations in support of people with albinism. Two flyers, sponsored by ESPCR, dealing with the workshop and with oculocutaneous albinism type 2, OCA2, were distributed to all the participants.

Robert Aquaron distributing sun protection cream among participants (click on image for VIDEO)

Robert Aquaron distributing sun protection cream among participants (click on image for VIDEO)

The meeting closed with a Gala Dinner where sun protection creams (50+ SPF) generously donated by Avene/Pierre-Fabre laboratory, were distributed among people with albinism participating in this conference and the corresponding associations representing them. At this Gala Dinner we could enjoy performances by several groups with people with albinism sharing their talent dancing, singing or in a fantastic mannequin parade where a local fashion designer is using them to present his creations. Among these performances there was one outstanding, by John Chiti, from Zambia, a gifted music composer that uses the language of music and his rhythmic songs to talk about his albinism and albinism in general, advocating for this genetic condition and increasing positive awareness among the society.

Dances at the Gala Dinner of the Albinism Conference in Douala (click on image for VIDEO)

Dances at the Gala Dinner of the Albinism Conference in Douala (click on image for VIDEO)

Performance of John Chiti, music composer from Zambia, at the Gala Dinner of the Albinism Conference in Douala (click on image for VIDEO)

Performance of John Chiti, music composer from Zambia, at the Gala Dinner of the Albinism Conference in Douala (click on image for VIDEO)

In summary, this was a splendid conference where we all shared our progress into the understanding and treatment of albinism, where we could discuss, face to face, directly with people with albinism in Africa and their associations, listening to their needs and their requests for help and support. This should be the first of many additional workshops to come, in Africa, to keep this momentum and push forward the awareness on albinism in this continent where the priorities and requirements for life are somehow different from what we are used to hear in Europe. Attending a meeting in Africa is always a moving and very emotional experience, where you are directly confronted with the problems and the difficulties one usually reads in the books and journals, or watches on TV. But being there is something else. There is a saying that goes: “when you leave Africa, Africa doesn’t leave you any more”. Robert Aquaron told me about it some years ago, when I still didn’t have the chance to visit Africa. Now, after coming back from Cameroon I can only say: so true!.

Robert Aquaron near Mount Cameroon

Robert Aquaron near Mount Cameroon

Many thanks are due to Robert Aquaron and the rest of his colleagues for having promoted this conference on albinism in Africa.
Lluis Montoliu

@EuSPCR: the new official twitter account for the ESPCR

June 21st, 2015
@EuSPCR: the new official twitter account for the ESPCR

@EuSPCR: the new official twitter account for the ESPCR

The European Society for Pigment Cell Research (ESPCR) has a new official twitter account: @EuSPCR. Please follow us to stay alert about activities, meetings, courses, workshops, awards, conferences promoted, organized, supported and/or sponsored by the ESPCR.

Meeting and Course: From Melanocyte Development to Melanoma Therapies, Reykjavik, Iceland, June 21-26, 2015

February 5th, 2015
Meeting and Course "From Melanocyte Development to Melanoma Therapies", Reykjavik - Iceland, June 21-26, 2015

Meeting and Course "From Melanocyte Development to Melanoma Therapies", Reykjavik - Iceland, June 21-26, 2015

The European Society for Pigment Cell Research (ESPCR) is pleased to co-sponsor the following two consecutive events on melanocyte and melanoma research that will take place in Iceland next June.

At first, the course From Melanocyte Development to Melanoma Therapies – Basic Science and Clinical Applications, which will be held at the University of Iceland, in Reykjavik, Iceland, June 21-24, 2015. Major advances in basic research of melanoma have lead to novel treatment options that are making a difference for melanoma patients. However, multiple challenges lie ahead and further progress is necessary, particularly with respect to resistance to the novel therapies. This course will teach the basic biology and development of the melanocyte how these cells are transformed into melanoma, and how the disease is diagnosed and treated. A particular emphasis will be on novel therapeutic options and the resistance that arises against the new drugs. This course is organized by: Lionel LARUE – Institut Curie, FR; Eirikur STEINGRIMSSON – University of Iceland, IC; Thorunn RAFNAR – deCODE Genetics, IC; and, Colin GODING – Ludwig Institute, UK

Next, the Conference Melanoma: from basic science to clinical applications, will be held in Harpa, the Concert Hall and Conference Center in Reykjavik, Iceland, June 24-26, 2015. The conference will involve lectures from leaders in melanoma and melanocyte research. Speakers and poster presentations will be selected from abstracts. The conference is designed to stimulate discussions between basic scientists and clinicians and has the ultimate aim of improving therapeutic options in this disease. This meeting is organize by Eirikur Steingrimsson, Lionel Larue, Ze’ev Ronai, Thorunn Rafnar, Caroline Robert, Karl Lewis and René Gonzalez.

COURSE APPLICATION DEADLINE: March 23, 2015
Course WEB site: training.curie.fr/course/iceland2015
Meeting WEB site: melanoma2015.is
CONTACT: c.iceland2015@curie.fr

Hans Rorsman

November 26th, 2014
Above (from left to right): Shosuke Ito, Giuseppe Prota and Hans Rorsman. Below (from left to right): James Nordlund, Yutaka Mishima, Richard King, Hans Rorsman, Joseph Bagnara, and Giuseppe Prota. Pictures kindly provided by Alessandra Napolitano.

Above (from left to right): Shosuke Ito, Giuseppe Prota and Hans Rorsman. Below (from left to right): James Nordlund, Yutaka Mishima, Richard King, Hans Rorsman, Joseph Bagnara and Giuseppe Prota. Pictures kindly provided by Alessandra Napolitano.

Sadly, we have to inform the ESPCR of the passing in August this year of Hans Rorsman, one of our Honorary Members. Hans was a clinician and scientist who published almost 200 papers in many areas of pigment cell research across a career spanning six decades, from his first in 1957 to his last in 2004. The last was a memoir of his work in Pigment Cell Research (volume 17 Pp 191-202) in which he tells us that, as a person with red hair, he had a personal as well as scientific interest in UV protection and sunburn! He was one of the first to characterise phaeomelanin and its chemical constituents
He was President of the International Pigment Cell Society (the precursor of the IFPCS) from 1988 to 1990, and indeed helped create the IFPCS in its present state as a Federation of regional Societies. Among his many awards was the Myron Gordon Award from the IFPCS in London in 1993, and was made an Honorary Member of ESPCR in 1997. I did meet Hans on several occasions, including in London in 1993 and at other regional Society meetings and I found him a thoughtful and open scientist. He will be much missed by the pigment cell community.

Ian Jackson, ESPCR President

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Additional messages from IFPCS colleagues in memoriam of Hans Rorsman:

I am very saddened to hear about Dr. Rorsman’s passing away. I had the honor and pleasure to meet him on many occasions during various IPCC at ESPCR meetings. He was always positive, encouraging, and very collegial. His contributions to our understanding of the properties of pheomelanin and the identification of pheomelanin metabolites as markers of metastasis in melanoma patients are among his numerous contributions to the clinical and basic science aspects of melanin. I last met him in 2009 in Stockholm, and as usual, he was very friendly and welcoming. We owe our progress in the field of pigmentation to giants like Hans who paved the way and left us landmarks so we can walk in their footsteps.

My deepest condolences to his family and particularly to my friends and colleagues in ESPCR and in the IPCS who knew him.

Sincerely,

Zalfa Abdel-Malek

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Indeed very hard to improve on Zalfa’s heartfelt testimonial

Hans was one of the people who encouraged me greatly in the early days and had many wry things to say about science and life.

He will be missed

Frank L. Meyskens

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Thanks for sharing

Liz Grimm

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I would like to join Zalfa and Frank in acknowledging the contribution of Hans Rorsman to the study of human pigmentation.

I also had the pleasure to meet him on several occasions and everytime I was impressed by the interest he showed for the results communicated in our meetings, particularly pheomelanins even if the work was presented by a much younger colleague as I was. He helped and supported me a lot at the beginning of my carrier. Also, I would like to highlight that his studies pioneered identification of biological markers for the follow up of melanoma, and opened the door to the investigation of the role and structure of red hair pigments.

We all received much from him

sincerely

Alessandra Napolitano

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Hello all,

I am breaking my own rule of not repeating what has been already said by others. I never personally met Hans Rorsman,   but his work has been an inspiration to me in many ways. I am very sorry for his loss and that of PASPCR.

Sincerely,

Julian Menter

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We lost a giant in the field.

Caroline Le Poole

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I’m very sorry to hear about Hans. I had the opportunity to meet him and enjoyed some pleasant discussions with him which not only included science but his love for Italy. He was a clever and pleasant person and will also be remembered for his elegant style during his talks. All of us had something to learn from him and he will be missed.

Mauro Picardo

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2015 ESPCR JOINING/RENEWAL CAMPAIGN: Welcome letter from ESPCR President: Prof. Ian Jackson

November 21st, 2014
2015 JOINING/RENEWAL CAMPAIGN: Welcome letter from ESPCR President: Prof. Ian Jackson

2015 JOINING/RENEWAL CAMPAIGN: Welcome letter from ESPCR President: Prof. Ian Jackson

Dear ESPCR members, dear colleagues interested in Pigment Cells, Pigment Cell Biology, Pigment Chemistry, Pigment Biophysics and Pigment Cell-related genetics, Pigment Cell-related pathology. The 2015 Joining/Renewal Campaign has just been launched. We expect that all of you, already ESPCR members, will renew in 2015 and those that are not yet members of the ESPCR Society will consider joining in 2015. In order to trigger the registration/renewal please visit the JOIN web page. You can also download a welcome letter prepared by our ESPCR President, Prof. Ian Jackson. Looking forward to receiving your membership application & renewal requests!.

Meeting Report: 2nd European Days of Albinism, Valencia, Spain, 5-6 April 2014

April 8th, 2014
Meeting Report: 2nd European Days of Albinism, Valencia, 5-6 April 2014

Meeting Report: 2nd European Days of Albinism, Valencia, 5-6 April 2014

During the past weekend, April 5-6, 2014, Valencia (Spain), could be considered the World Capital of Albinism, due to the 2nd European Days of Albinism (2EDA) that took place at the ONCE Foundation in Valencia, with great success, organized by ALBA, the Spanish association in support of people with albinism, and with the participation of several additional European associations and many specialists in the field, from Europe, USA and Japan. This meeting was co-sponsored by the European Society for Pigment Cell Research (ESPCR), and also received the support from the EU Commission, the Spanish Rare Disease Initiative (CIBERER-ISCIII) and a number of additional entities and firms.

The 2EDA meeting, devoted to all aspects of ALBINISM, from research to social, from the latest investigations to educative programs, was built following a successful pioneer 1EDA meeting held in Paris, in October 2012, and organized by Genespoir, the French association in support of people with albinism. Three concurrent sessions took place over the entire weekend, focused in three aspects of albinism: research, associations and young people with albinism. Anyone interested could grasp the intensity, committment and success of this 2EDA meeting by simply browsing these beautiful pictures taken by Ana Yturralde and Merce Montoliu.

The scientific sessions of the 2EDA meeting gathered different professionals working directly on albinism: molecular biologists, cellular biologists, biochemists, human geneticists, ophthalmologists, neurobiologists, dermatologists, experts in rehabilitation medicine, clinicians and researchers in general, rarely coinciding at the same meeting but discussing in Valencia on albinism, with a multidisciplinary view, and across fields, a real privilege and a wonderful and most rewarding experience for those attending this focused meeting. The 26 invited speakers present at 2EDA in Valencia included ESPCR members as Alain Taïeb (Bordeaux, France), Vittoria Schiaffino (Milan, Italy), Robert Aquaron (Marseille, France), José Carlos García-Borrón (Murcia, Spain), Mónica Martínez-García (Madrid, Spain) and Lluís Montoliu (Madrid, Spain), as well as PASPCR members as Murray Brilliant (Marshfield, WI, USA) and Esteban Dell’Angelica (Los Angeles, CA, USA) and a JSPCR member, Tamio Suzuki (Yamagata, Japan). Shari Parker, from Sydney (Australia), representing the Albinism Fellowship of Australia also generously attended this meeting and share with the participants her experience and knowledge on rehabilitation

The number of genes whose mutations are associated with albinism has recently increased, hence the complexity of this group of genetic conditions and the definition of the albino phenotype, the common traits present in all people with albinism, need to be reviewed and discussed. Additional syndromes have been descrined, such as FHONDA, closely related to albinism, challenging our view on this rare disease. All these aspects, as well as biochemical, cellular, ophthalmological, dermatological, and, overall, clinical, aspects were discussed in depth during this fruitful 2EDA meeting in Valencia.

The Organizers from ALBA and the Scientific Committee need to be praised for their great work done and the success accomplished. The next 3EDA meeting will be taking place in Italy, in 1-2 years. Details will be announced in due time. Anyone interested on the EDA-meeting series initiative can contact Lluis Montoliu or ALBA, at: contactar@albinismo.es

ESPCR Travel Awards for attending the IPCC-2014 in Singapore

March 21st, 2014
ESPCR Travel Awards for attending the IPCC-2014 in Singapore

ESPCR Travel Awards for attending the IPCC-2014 in Singapore

NEW DEADLINE: APRIL 25th, 2014

The selected candidates would receive from ESPCR economic support to defray their registration costs, their attendance at the IPCC Gala Dinner and up to 4 nights’ accommodation (single room/single use) at the RELC International hotel indicated in the IPCC-2014 web site (www.ipcc2014.org).
All these costs will be paid directly from ESPCR to the IPCC-2014 Organizers on behalf of the selected candidate. There will be no direct payment made from ESPCR to selected candidates or their institutions. The selected candidates will have to organize and cover the corresponding flights to attend the IPCC-2014 meeting from their place of origin.
NEW DEADLINE: APRIL 25th, 2014

Travel Award applicants must fulfill the following conditions:
Interested ESPCR members are kindly requested to submit the following documents by April 25. Applications received will be evaluated by the ESPCR Travel Awards Committee: http://www.espcr.org/index38.php
Applicants should sent to:  awards@espcr.org
  • Brief CV of the candidate
  • PDF copy of the submitted abstract, already registered in the IPCC-2014 abstract system
  • Personal statement indicating why ESPCR should be supporting his/her attendance at the IPCC-2014 meeting in Singapore.
Candidates will be evaluated according to their scientific merit and that of the work presented in the abstract. Applications from both regular and student members are welcome. Applications from young members of the laboratories are encouraged, particularly senior PhD students and junior postdocs. Several applications can be presented from the same lab, but additional investigators from the same lab will be considered with lower priority score.

NEW DEADLINE: APRIL 25th, 2014

The 2nd European Days of Albinism (2EDA) will be held in Valencia (Spain) on 5-6 April 2014

January 16th, 2014
The 2nd European Days of Albinism (2EDA) will be held in Valencia (Spain) on 5-6 April 2014

The 2nd European Days of Albinism (2EDA) will be held in Valencia (Spain) on 5-6 April 2014

The European Society for Pigment Cell Research (ESPCR) is pleased to announce the co-sponsorship of the 2nd European Days of Albinism (2EDA), a conference organized by, ALBA, the Spanish Association in support of people with albinism, together with a scientific committee of researchers and physicians interested in albinism: Benoît Arveiler (Bordeaux, France), Karen Grønskov (Coppenhagen, Denmark), Barbara Käsmann-Kellner (Homburg, Germany), Vittoria Schiaffino (Milan, Italy) and Lluís Montoliu (Madrid, Spain).

At the 2EDA conference researchers, interested in albinism, will gather with patients and their associations, in order to discuss, in parallel, both scientific and social aspects of albinism, exchanging ideas, projects and initiatives, at the European level, with the collaboration of a number of international experts in the field. This 2EDA meeting, organized by ALBA, the Spanish Association in support of people with albinism, follows a previous successful edition, 1EDA, organized by Genespoir, the French Association in support of people with albinism, in Paris in October 2012, also co-sponsored by the ESPCR. The 2EDA meeting is planned over a weekend, 5-6 April 2014, to allow the participation of patients and their families. On the first day (Saturday, 5 April) scientists and members of the associations will meet separately and discuss their own topics and agendas. On the second day (Sunday, 6 April), first half of the morning is devoted to continue the concurrent sessions and, eventually, both scientists and members of the associations will gather together and summarize the topics discussed and the conclusions/recommendations achieved before all delegates. The aim of this conference series is to promote awareness of albinism, to trigger collaborative research projects on albinism, and to facilitate collaborative efforts between the different associations in support of people with albinism existing in Europe and represented at this meeting.

At the 2EDA conference, the invited speakers that have kindly confirmed their attendance, a number of them also members of the IFPCS,  include:

  • Robert Aquaron (Marseille, France)
  • Esteban Dell’Angelica (Los Angeles, CA, USA)
  • Benoît Arveiler (Bordeaux, France)
  • Murray Brilliant (Marshfield, WI, USA)
  • José Carlos García-Borrón (Murcia, Spain)
  • Maria van Genderen (Zeist, The Netherlands)
  • Karen Grønskov (Coppenhagen, Denmark)
  • Michael Hoffmann (Magdeburg, Germany)
  • Barbara Käsmann-Kellner (Homburg, Germany)
  • Herbert Kirchesch (Pulheim, Germany)
  • Valeria Marigo (Modena, Italy)
  • Lucia Mauri (Milan, Italy)
  • Lluís Montoliu (Madrid, Spain)
  • Fanny Morice-Picard (Bordeaux, France)
  • Frank Proudlock (Leicester, UK)
  • Alexandra Rebsam (Paris, France)
  • Vittoria Schiaffino (Milan, Italy)
  • Alain Taïeb (Bordeaux, France)
  • Pedro de la Villa (Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain)

Registration at reduced fees will be possible until 15 February, and thereafter, standard registration fees will apply, until 15 March: registration deadline.

For those of you with interest in any aspect related to albinism, thanks for registering and looking forward to meeting you all in the beautiful city of Valencia!

Lluis Montoliu

2014 JOINING/RENEWAL CAMPAIGN: Welcome letter from ESPCR President: Prof. Ian Jackson

September 24th, 2013
Welcome letter from ESPCR President: Prof. Ian Jackon. Please apply for or renew your ESPCR membership

Welcome letter from ESPCR President: Prof. Ian Jackon. Please apply for or renew your ESPCR membership

The 2014 Joining/Renewal campaign has been launched. At the ESPCR we are already accepting renewals of your ESPCR membership or applications from new members. All are welcome! Please download here a welcome letter from our ESPCR President: Prof. Ian Jackson.  The ESPCR annual membership fees remain the same in 2014 as in 2013 or previous years. Likewise, the many benefits of becoming ESPCR member remain the same. Please use the JOIN web page and follow the instructions therein. Thanks for joining or renewing your ESPCR membership in 2014!

ESPCR Registration Awards for the ESPCR-2013 meeting in Lisbon (Portugal) 9-12 Sep 2013

June 12th, 2013
ESPCR-2013 meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, 9-12 September 2013

ESPCR-2013 meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, 9-12 September 2013

The European Society for Pigment Cell Research (ESPCR) is most happy to announce the sponsorship of up to eight ESPCR Travel/Registration Awards for student/junior scientists ESPCR members willing to attend the 18th ESPCR-2013 meeting, to be held in Lisbon (Portugal) on 9-12 September 2013.

Deadline for submitting applications for these travel/registration awards and abstracts is: 30 June 2013.

This web page contains all information and instructions regarding the ESPCR Travel/Registration Awards.

These ESPCR travel/registration awards will cover registration fee (175 euros, Student fee, paid directly from ESPCR to Meeting Organizer) and up to 250 Euros accommodation costs (reimbursed to the selected applicants upon presenting the corresponding invoice), usually sufficient for 4-nights standard accommodation in Lisbon, following suggested hotels provided by the Organizers.