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: Wiston House, West Sussex, 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 Wiston House

Wiston House

The Workshop will be held at the beautiful Wiston House, which is a 16th century Grade I listed building located at the foot of the South Downs in West Sussex. The house is surrounded by over 6,000 acres of parkland with magnificent views from the mile-long drive.

Wiston House is the home of Wilton Park, one of the world’s leading centres for the discussion of key international policy issues. Wilton Park was created in 1946 to help re-establish peace and democracy in Europe as part of an initiative inspired by Winston Churchill. Wiston House has an amazing history and appears in the Domesday Book, the register of English possessions made by William the Conqueror in 1086, 20 years after he won the Battle of Hastings.

Wiston House is 32 miles from Gatwick Airport and 60 miles from Heathrow Airport. The nearest train station is Shoreham-by-Sea, which is a 20 minute taxi ride from Wiston House and takes 1 hour 10 minutes from London Victoria.

Wiston House
Steyning Road
West Sussex
BN44 3DZ
Tel: +44 (0) 1903 815020

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The Company of Biologists is widely known for its excellence in scientific publishing and it now runs a successful high level series of Workshops. The Workshops provide leading experts and early career scientists from a diverse range of scientific backgrounds with a stimulating environment for the cross fertilisation of interdisciplinary ideas. The programmes are carefully developed and are intended to champion the novel techniques and innovations that will underpin important scientific advances.


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