The Mona Symposium: Natural Products & Medicinal Chemistry is a biennial meeting that has been hosted by the Department of Chemistry at UWI, Mona in January of even number years since 1966. Hence, we celebrate over 50 years of bringing the best Organic Chemists in their field to our shores. The timing of the year for the gathering is no accident. Many of the overseas participants are happy to escape cold winters to come to the Caribbean to experience our warm weather and hospitality.
Numerous friendships and collaborations have been forged here – some in the lecture hall and others on the day trip to the beach. The visitors also tell me that the fact that our conference themes are fairly broad means that they often meet chemists who are not exactly in their field. Therefore, they get a different perspective on their research from such persons. They are also appreciative of the social programme that entertains and also educates them on our local culture. Those of us at Mona are able to introduce our students to a small international conference with eminent Plenary Speakers and a good supporting package of short papers and poster presentations.
It would not have been possible to continue running this symposium without the backing of present and past staff and graduate students of Department of Chemistry, not only at Mona, but also Cave Hill and St. Augustine. We are grateful to the leaders of the Mona Campus and larger University for encouragement, particularly in the form of funding from the Board for Graduate Studies & Research. We readily acknowledge support from our many sponsors over the years. I appreciate the vision of former Head of Department, Professor Leonard Haynes, as well as Professor Wilfred Chan, our first Organising Secretary, who brought this conference series to a start fifty years ago.
The planning skills and great networking abilities of those who succeeded him, Drs. Basil Burke and Keith Pascoe, ensured that the meeting weathered the turbulent 1970s. Regardless, the loudest applause is reserved for the hardworking current and former members of the Organising Committee. It takes more than a year to plan such a conference, and these persons give freely of their time and talents to make the symposium a reality. I wish all participants a profitable and productive symposium.