Inside Out: New Frontiers in the Comparative Physiology of the Vertebrate Gut

Organisers: Carol Bucking and Chris M. Wood

Date: 25-28 June 2023

Location: Eastwell Manor, Kent, UK

This Workshop will bring together experts from a wide range of disciplines to examine the functioning of the vertebrate gastro-intestinal tract though the lens of integrative physiology. Until recently, the gut was the poor relation to other exchange sites with the environment (lungs, gills, and kidneys) in terms of scientific investigation. Indeed, it received scant attention from most comparative physiologists apart from the routine (but questionable) practice of starving their test animals prior to experimentation “so as to standardize their metabolic physiology”. However, many young researchers entering the field of gastro-intestinal physiology have radically altered the landscape, and many established researchers are now switching their focus to this area. Of particular significance has been the recent explosion of research on the importance of the microbiome for digestive health, not only in humans but in animals in general. The gastro-intestinal field is rapidly expanding, and now is a very appropriate time for the cross-disciplinary fertilization that this workshop will encourage.

Our objective is to break down the silos and glass walls that seem to have isolated the various groups working on the physiology of the gastrointestinal system. The Workshop will allow the microbial specialists to talk with the nutritionists, the nutritionists to the transport physiologists, the transport physiologists to the blood flow specialists, the blood flow specialists to the respiratory physiologists, and all of these to the behaviourists, toxicologists, and ecologists interested in gut function. To this end, participants have been selected for their track records of routinely adopting integrative approaches in their research. We hope to foster both conceptual breakthroughs and spontaneous collaborations that may develop from the post-talk discussion sessions. For our young scientists whom will be sponsored by the Company of Biologists, it will be a valuable opportunity to meet some of the major players across the breadth of gastro-intestinal physiology, and to broaden their horizons. While the focus will be on the digestive tract (“Inside”), it is our hope that the participants will consider the consequences of gut function (“Out”) for the physiology of the whole organism, its behaviour and performance, and its role in the ecosystem.


About Eastwell Manor

Eastwell Manor is a picture-perfect countryside hotel in the heart of the Garden of England. The original Eastwell Manor, built in neo-Elizabethan style in the 18th century, was the home of Prince Alfred from 1874-1893, during which time his mother, Queen Victoria, was a regular visitor. It was devastated by fire in the 1920s but the Manor House was rebuilt in its original style, retaining some original features.

It is an impressive building overlooking beautiful lawns and set in quiet surroundings. There are scenic nature trails and guided walks. Plus, an all-weather tennis court, petanque court, and croquet lawn.

Eastwell Manor is just over an hour from Gatwick Airport, and about an hour and a half from Heathrow. The nearest train station is Ashford, Kent.

Eastwell Manor
Kent TN25 4HR
0343 224 1700

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