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The Cell and Systems Biology of Disease

18th Annual Bellairs Meeting, February 23rd - March 1st, 2024



2024 marks the 18th annual meeting of a series that has historically focused on proteomics/systems biology and cell biology, and has explored related but different biological processes and topics each year. The focus of this year’s meeting is to discuss the “The Cell and Systems Biology of Disease,” with an emphasis on the power of emerging technologies in answering fundamental questions in cell biology and disease.


We have assembled a mix of experts from different fields; with a primary goal to help each other see our questions in a different light, and encourage new collaborations. With both junior and senior scientists in attendance and a history of unexpected collaborations leading to new discoveries, investigators will be given opportunities to interact and establish mentorship relationships, notably on how to write successful research proposals.


This year's meeting will cover several interrelated topics:

- Cellular biology and disease

- Neurobiology 

- Immunology and disease

- The many systems of cancer

- Metabolism

- Big science

The tentative meeting program can be found here.  

Format & Schedule


The meeting program is designed to leave significant time for discussion and collaboration. Each participant will be assigned a 40-minute time slot, which typically includes a 25-minute talk followed by 15 minutes of discussion. Talks and discussions will take place in the mornings and evenings, leaving the afternoons free for small workgroups, touring the island, or just enjoying the beach and the ocean. Although the workshop will start the evening of Saturday, February 24th, we recommend that you arrive on the 23rd. The workshop will end on Thursday February 29th.



The ultimate goal of the meeting is of course to get collaborative research done; however, there is also ample time for leisure. The usual schedule is to have presentations and discussions in the morning (9:00am-12:00pm) and evening (7:00pm-10:00pm), but to leave the afternoons free for other activities. The McGill Bellairs Research Institute is located right on a quiet beach, excellent for sun bathing, snorkeling and scuba diving, wind surfing, etc., or just to work on projects with good friends and a glass of Bajan Rum Punch. The island also has nice hiking trails, golf courses and surfing areas, all within one hour of taxi or thrilling but convenient public transportation.

On Thursday February 29th, we will make a boat excursion on a catamaran (optional activity; cost should be ~80 USD). The boat sails up the coast and stops a few times to snorkel and swim with the turtles; lunch and beverages are included. This is always really fun, and a great occasion to hash out the final details of your new collaborations!

Location & Accommodation


The Bellairs Research Institute is owned by McGill University and used during the summer by marine biologists. The Institute has space for about 40 guests and offers relatively basic amenities. This is not a 5-star hotel! Most people will share a room with one other person. Your rooms will be assigned and you will pick up your keys upon arrival.

The rooms are clean and safe but have no phone or TV. The Institute is equipped with fairly fast and reliable wireless connection, as well as with a few desktop computers. Presentations and discussions usually take place either outdoors or in a air-conditioned conference room.


Breakfast and dinner is prepared by an excellent local chef. Lunches are on your own, and several options are available nearby, from local food trucks serving tasty (and cheap) local food to fancier restaurants located directly on the beach. While sheets and a few towels are provided in the room, you may want to bring extra towels, as well as toiletries (basic soap is provided, but nothing else).


See this additional information about the accommodations, including room and meal rates.




There are no registration fees. The cost of a room for the entire week is approximately 42-50 USD/day (depending on the type of room). Our cook prepares breakfast and dinners (approx. 30 USD daily); we typically have lunch at restaurants on the beach (approx. 20 USD daily). Fees will be charged to your credit card upon departure.

Travelling to Barbados 

The Island

Barbados is quite safe (and fortunately English speaking) and its habitants very friendly. It is one of the richest of the Caribbean Island and infrastructure is decent (for example, tap water is potable throughout the Island). If you plan to do any shopping, keep in mind that things tend to be closed on Sunday.

The currency on the Island is the Barbadian (or Bajan) dollar, which is worth $0.5 USD, but US dollars are generally accepted on the Island as well. Your debit and credit cards will work on the Island: in fact, many of the banks are Canadian. You will find one ATM at the airport, but there are also ATMs conveniently located in Holetown, just a few minutes away by foot from Bellairs.

Flights & Transportation

There is a single airport on the Island (code BGI) into which you should fly: Canadian and American citizens do not require a visa. There are direct and affordable flights to Barbados from many Canadian, American, and European cities. 


The organizers will coordinate taxis for arrivals and departures ahead of the start of the meeting. The very friendly taxi operators will meet participants just outside of the terminal. Each person should cover their taxi fare, which should be ~20 USD or 40 Barbadian dollars (BBD) or less. Note, they do not accept Canadian dollars. 

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Complete the Online Immigration and Customs Form 

Travellers are required to complete the online Immigration and Customs Form which will be available 72 hours prior to your arrival in Barbados. The form should be completed 24 hours prior to arrival. Once the form is completed, the Immigration and Customs receipts are to be saved to your mobile device or printed and presented to Immigration and Customs upon arrival.

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