Travel Award Student Summaries

2015

Elena Bemelmans

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences at the Boston University School of Medicine for helping to fund a portion of my trip to attend the 67th Annual Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) conference in Orlando, Florida from February 15-24. Each year, the academy hosts this conference to foster an exchange of innovative research and interdisciplinary collaboration within the field of Forensic Sciences. Medical professionals, forensic analysts, lawyers, students and many other professionals share their most interesting casework, findings of the most cutting edge research being conducted and the newest technological advances in the field.

As a student, this conference is not only an opportunity to gain insight into a quickly evolving field, but it is an opportunity to present our own research. I was fortunate enough to be selected to present at this conference of over three-thousand attendants my Master’s thesis entitled “The Effects of the Products of Decomposition on the Recoverability of Biological Fluid Evidence.” To say that it was a humbling experience would be an understatement. At the conclusion of my presentation I was given very helpful feedback about the current research and several great ideas about future directions in which to take my work. 

Finally, it was an opportunity for me to network with prospective employers at the job fair that is held at the beginning of the conference. I met with several labs that were hiring for entry level DNA analysts and was able to meet the third reader of my master’s thesis. It was an amazing opportunity to have the chance to present my work to a room full of other forensic scientists as well as future employers. This opportunity not only enhanced my learning experience here at BU, but I believe it will make me a fierce competitor in the job market. Thank you again to the BU GMS office for helping to fund this amazing experience, I am extremely grateful.

 Jessica Irvine

Thanks to the generous support from the Boston University GMS office, I attended the 2015 American Academy of Forensic Sciences annual meeting where I was fortunate enough to present my current research regarding the identification of human semen using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy in the form of a poster presentation. Poster sessions consisted of providing interested attendees with a summary of research, description of its purpose, and answers to any questions they may have. My research was met with positive feedback and intriguing questions, prompting me to identify a variety of future studies that had not been considered beforehand. I was also an eligible candidate for the FSF Emerging Forensic Scientist Award. Award judges attended the poster session and evaluated all candidates on their research and ability to clearly and efficiently answer questions. Though I was not chosen as an award recipient, the experience was humbling and helped prepare me for my upcoming thesis presentation.

Throughout the conference I was able to meet and interact with current professionals, attend presentations on research being conducted in all of the forensic fields, and learn about new technologies emerging directly from the instrument manufacturers. Such exposure to a constantly changing discipline is extremely important in determining which area of study I may pursue a career in. In addition, I attended an employment fair where I interacted with potential employers, discovering the wide range of opportunities in the field. Specifically, I became aware of a number of private laboratories with current job openings that I would not have otherwise come across. Any questions I had regarding the application process were answered, and I became more comfortable conversing in an interview type setting.

Overall I am extremely grateful for this experience and in attending the conference. I not only learned more about the field, but confirmed my interest in forensic science.

2014

Frederick Li

The American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) sponsors an annual conference to convene members of the scientific community from all over the world to promote and exchange knowledge of mass spectrometry and related topics. Members from academic, industrial and governmental institutions were all in attendance. As a first year student in the Biomedical Forensic Sciences Program, I was able to attend the 2014 62nd ASMS Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics from June 15th to June 19th in Baltimore, Maryland with the generous support from the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences at Boston University.

On the first day of the conference I presented a poster in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) section of the conference entitled “Detection and Characterization of Chemical Attribute Signatures from Smokeless Powders by Dynamic Headspace Concentration and DART-MS”. I presented the work I had done in rapid sampling and rapid analysis of explosives as part of a grant funded by DHS. Many people from academic and industrial institutions, as well as governmental intuitions including DHS, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) visited my poster. It was a great opportunity and honor to meet some of the leaders in the field of mass spectrometry and hear valuable feedback and suggestions from them. I learned a tremendous amount regarding the recent advances in mass spectrometry technology and the many different applications of mass spectrometry from attending many of the oral presentations and visiting other posters.

Thanks to this travel fund I was given the opportunity to meet and network with people, generate new ideas, gain experience in presenting my own research and contribute to others. It was an amazing experience and I now look forward to attending future conferences and presenting my work.

Kruti R. Patel

I would like to thank Boston University Division of Graduate Medical school for their financial support due to which I had the opportunity to attend 2014 American Thoracic society conference (ATS) in San Diego May 16th - 21st. ATS is an international society with more than 15000 members who are dedicated in combining clinical and research expertise to advance the clinical and scientific understanding of pulmonary diseases, critical illnesses and sleep-related breathing disorders.

As a third year graduate student, the bench-side to bedside approach of the conference helped me gain insights to respiratory diseases along with patient diversity. Presenting a poster in the poster discussion session at the conference not only allowed me to share my work with prestigious scientists from around the world but also helped me with great ideas for my project which I will be using in future work. Meeting different scientists allowed me to network and build relations that could potentially lead to collaborations in the near future. These interactions made me feel more comfortable in discussing my research and science with people and help me become more confident about my research ideas.

Attending several mini symposiums and scientific symposiums at the conference aided me in better understanding of the concepts involved in the lung inflammation, host defense, Lung aging and clinical hallmarks of asthma and COPD, all of which form an integral part of my project. The entire experience at the conference was very educational and will greatly facilitate my thesis work.

Overall, This meeting really helped me in expanding my knowledge, interacting with other researchers and sharing my research. This was a great platform for communication, science and education. I would like to thank the Division of Graduate science again for such great opportunity and a memorable experience. I look forward to many such conferences in the future.

2013

Katarzyna Kaczmarek

The Sixth International Workshop on HIV Persistence during Therapy was held December 3-6, 2013, in Miami, FL and was attended by over 230 participants. Topics covered in the workshop encompassed basic mechanisms of HIV latency, assays to measure HIV reservoirs, in vivo and in vitro models, clinical virology, anatomic and non-CD4 cell reservoirs, immunology, pharmacology, late breakers, drug discovery and new therapeutic approaches.

Highlights of the meeting included HIV latently infected cells and clinical trials aiming at eradicating the virus from latent reservoirs. Memory CD4+ T cells and myeloid cells are the main source of latent HIV. Gut associated lymphoid tissue and central nervous system are viral reservoirs and different histological sites have various concentrations of antiretroviral drugs. The differential drug availability may be creating protective sites which would explain HIV persistence in patients on antiretroviral treatment. In addition, the number of latent, intact proviruses is 60-fold greater than previously estimated making the eradication of HIV even more challenging. There are different purging strategies being tested in clinic right now with the most common being HDAC inhibitors. Single HDAC inhibitors have no effect on HIV replication, while data looking at combination of HDAC inhibitors are conflicting. The effect of homing endonucleases, didehydro-Cortistatin A, as well as bromodomain and PD1 inhibitors remains to be seen. In addition, despite the successful treatment of the Berlin patient the use of stem cell transplantation in two other patients did not cure HIV. The workshop also looked at host factors that repress HIV transcription, such as CTIP2, HDAC4, PCR-2, ESR1, Nurri1, CoREST and LEDGF/p75:Iws1:Spt6 complex.

The workshop was well organized, although there was not sufficient time for poster presentations. Data presented during the workshop demonstrated that despite the advancement of knowledge about HIV latency, we are still far from curing HIV. I want to thank my Advisor, Dr. Andrew J Henderson, and the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences at Boston University School of Medicine for enabling me to attend this conference.

Joon Ying Boon

I would like to thank you for your support and generosity to the students always. With the GMS Travel Award, I was able to attend the Society for Neuroscience 2013 Conference at San Diego.

I had the opportunity to attend a workshop during the conference, specifically the iPSC – Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, workshop, where I have learned a tremendous amount of knowledge regarding iPSC. I was able to broaden my knowledge in the history and the development of iPSC. And I attended various talks within the workshop regarding cutting edge research and new directions of iPSC as a tool in various field of research. Besides various talks from outstanding scientists in the iPSC field, I was able to attend the smaller group workshops, in particular, “Modeling Neurodegenerative Diseases” and “Modeling Parkinson’s Disease”, where I had the opportunity to have dynamics discussions and interactions with leaders and other colleagues in the field.

SfN is one of the biggest Neuroscience conferences in the country. It gathered an incredible amount of both established and young scientists and it fostered a great science community and network. It generated a tremendous amount of passion and inspirations in science. I was able to present my research on a poster during one of the poster sessions. It not only improved my presentation skills, it also instilled more confidence in myself and my research and most importantly, I had received many interesting and thought-provoking ideas, advice and feedback, and networking for potential collaborations, which I am very excited and cannot wait to continue to develop and progress my project.

Thank you very much again, GMS office. Your generosity and support is a significant help and it is deeply appreciated.

Ana Amaral

I had the opportunity to attend the Neuroscience meeting this year from November 9th thru 13th in San Diego, CA. This is the largest neuroscience conference in the world with over 30,000 attendees and, possibly, the best opportunity to meet people in the field. This was the 4th time I attend this meeting and, as a student, it might have been my last one. Each time I attended this conference I learned a different skill, from designing an experiment, writing up the abstract, preparing the poster, presenting my data, discussing the results to planning future experiments. This time it was more important for me because I am in the process of deciding the career I want after I complete my PhD. I had the opportunity to talk to some people whose work I am interested in and also was exposed to some career opportunities I hadn’t considered until the conference. I also had the opportunity to present my poster titled: “Down-regulation of kcnj3 gene expression in the prefrontal cortex of prenatally malnourished rats does not depend on the H3K4me3 epigenetic mark.” This presentation summarizes a project I have completed investigating the long-term effects of prenatal protein malnutrition on the expression levels of some genes important in synaptic activity. This work is currently being prepared for publication so it was crucial to be able to present it at the conference and get feedback and suggestions from people who are doing related work in this field.

I would like to thank GMS for providing this travel award and helping me attend the Society for Neuroscience meeting this year. I appreciate the repeated support over the past few years.

Sami Hiemer

Thanks to the generous support of the Boston University Graduate Medical Sciences program, I was able to attend the Keystone conference “The Hippo tumor suppressor network: from organ size control to stem cells and cancer” from May19-23, 2013 in Monterey, California. At the conference, I had the opportunity to listen to and interact with leading scientists in the Hippo field. The level of research presented at the meeting was unmatched and I was impressed by both short-talk and poster presenters. This was not only a great scientific learning experience but also an invaluable place to network and establish connections for future collaborations.

This was my first time at a scientific conference and I was privileged to present a poster on the preliminary thesis research I am conducting in Dr. Bob Varelas’ lab. My poster focused on the role of Taz/Yap and TGFbeta signals in controlling tumor-initiation. Although putting my research together was challenging at times, it was an important exercise in interpreting data and synthesizing a cohesive story. I benefited both in the weeks before the conference, when I was preparing the poster, and during the presentation itself, when I was able to interact with colleagues and explain my data. I have no doubt this experience will prepare me for my future endeavors in research.

Overall, this Keystone conference was a very exciting and inspiring time and I would like to thank the GMS for their help getting me there!

Masami Tabata

With your generous support, I was able to have an amazing experience at the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) 2013 Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado. This was my very first academic conference that I attended as a presenter. I had such a wonderful time talking with medical anthropologists from all over the country; was able to develop my professional network at the conference.

I presented a poster highlighting some portion of my thesis research, which documents the stories of post-kidney transplant minority patients and their doctors at Boston medical Center. My poster addressed the complex conceptual conflicts between patients and doctors in what it means to live with end stage renal disease (ESRD), while delineating some of the patients’ internal interactions between the self and the illness. I was able to have helpful comments and suggestions from other medical anthropologists; these helped to take my research to the next level.

I would like to convey my utmost gratitude to the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences at Boston University. Thank you so much!

Sundharamani Venkitapathi

I would like to thank the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences at Boston University for their support in helping me attend the International Association of Dental Research (IADR) at Seattle, between the 20th and 23rd of March 2013.

This meeting is held annually to convene researchers in the field of dentistry. Biologists, Pathologists, Salivary proteomics, Cariologists and researchers of various other fields convene to present their experimental findings from various parts of the world.

I presented a poster titled “Ciliary localization and interaction of Evc and Evc2 proteins”. The meeting was a good learning experience, an opportunity to meet researches across various fields in person and explore options for any interdisciplinary research. Some of the talks and posters were novel and served as eye openers for many grad students like me.

I was humbled to address my research to such a wide variety of audience. I received valuable inputs to my research from professionals within the field.

I would like to once again thank the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences for their support .

Na Tian

I would like to say “thanks” to GMS office regarding the generous financial support for my attending to International Association for Dental Research (IADR) Meeting in Seattle. It is an amazing annual meeting with clinicians, researchers and companies from different counties attending. I have heard people’s compliment about the important role of IADR in promoting scientist’s communication and improving oral health development. I am so glad that I could attend this conference this year.

The meeting was mainly composed of symposiums, hands-on workshops, oral sessions and poster sessions. I attended some symposium and oral sessions regarding salivary studies, microbiology studies, bioengineering, etc., and learned how the scientists initiated and promoted those pioneering researches. And some interdisciplinary research enhanced diverse development of these fields. In the poster sessions, I learned what current dental studies are focusing on. I presented my research in a poster discussion session. Some researchers showed great interest about my study. They discussed with me about the general ideas, and some gave me very good suggestions.

Generally, I had a pleasant travel during this gorgeous conference, where I learned a lot and built connections with some great researchers. I believe it is a great treasure for me. I want to say “thanks” once again to GMS office for their support!

2012

Justin Buendia

Thanks to the support of the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences at Boston University School of Medicine, I was recently able to attend the Obesity Society in San Antonio, Texas

I was invited to present my poster on differences in body composition that explain the beneficial effects of dietary protein on risk of elevated blood pressure in adolescent girls. The Obesity Society is a well-known society in the nutrition field and this was my first time attending a conference hosted by them. I have just finished my second year in the Nutrition and Metabolism PhD program, my topic was based on the National Growth and Health Study (NGHS), a 10-year prospective study that was aimed to investigate factors associated with the onset of obesity. To my surprise, protein effects on obesity onset and its co-morbidities is a topic that has not received much attention. I was able to discuss my work with other professionals in the field and the feedback I received from them was invaluable. Specifically for this meeting, there were more clinicians and obesity experts that I’ve met and networked.

It was a humbling experience to address an audience of professionals within my field, and one I will never forget. I look forward to presenting at future nutrition meetings and take what I’ve learned from my interaction with well-respected professionals in the field and apply it to my current research. I sincerely thank GMS for their generous support and for allowing me to experience such an opportunity.

Kristie Hilliard

Thanks to the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences travel award I was able to go to the 2012 American Thoracic Society meeting in San Francisco. This meeting was a great experience for me as a graduate student. I attended a class before the conference started, presented my work in poster form and I met some of the highly respected scientists in my field. This annual meeting focuses on various disciplines within the pulmonary field: asthma, lung infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung injury, allergy and airway inflammation, as well as sleep studies. Because of all of the different topics covered, the conference draws many scientists and clinicians from across the country, and even the world, to attend all of the sessions. The multitude of professionals from various disciplines fosters great discussions and allows for meaningful collaborations.

Due to the extra support from the GMS, I could attend a postgraduate course entitled “Host Defense Mechanisms in Pulmonary Infection.” It is a daylong class that is taught by many of the big names in the field. Each lecture discussed a specific faucet of the immune response to lung infection. I learned valuable information that was pertinent to my dissertation research that I am eager to apply to my everyday research!

I was lucky to have my abstract accepted so that I could present a poster on the third day of the conference. My poster was entitled “The Hepatic Acute Phase Response Regulates Pulmonary Inflammation during Pneumonia.” It was great to get feedback from well-known scientists in the field. My poster received a lot of positive comments from the attendees. This was very encouraging to me as a graduate student, as I was a tiny bit nervous to be presenting at such a large conference.

Thanks you, again for enabling me to attend the ATS 2012 conference. I am a better student and scientist because of it and I was able to gain some experience in talking to other scientists and networking.

Sarah Rozelle

I attended the Hemoglobin Switching Conference this June at the Asilomar Conference Center in California. This is an international conference that alternates locations between the UK and the US giving the attendees a chance to interact with people from across the globe. The schedule was packed, starting at 8:30 AM with a small break for lunch and going sometimes until 11:30 PM. Talks are given by professors regarding their research in the hemoglobin field and a lot of emphasis is put on early hematopoiesis and the process of switching from the hemoglobin expressed in utero to the hemoglobin expressed in adults. My research is in disease modeling for sickle cell anemia so I am able to learn a lot from those doing transcriptional and developmental studies as well as the clinicians studying the disease. There are two days of posters from which 8 individuals are selected to give a 7-minute talk, which they call a quick-fire session. I have not decided if it is called quick-fire because of how short the talk is or how fast most people have to put the talk together. As a student I was not prepared to give a talk, having brought a poster, and wound up being told I was giving a quick-fire at 8:30 AM at 9 PM the previous evening! It was quite an honor to be one of the 4 students who spoke at the entire 3-day event and I was able to get quite a lot of feedback regarding my work and suggestions for how to address the research in the future. The next conference is in 2014 and I hope to be able to present a finished story of how we use induced pluripotent stem cells from patients in our BMC community to model sickle cell anemia and search for possible therapeutics.

Chadene Tremaglio

Thanks to generous support from the Boston University Division of Graduate Medical Sciences I was able to attend the 2012 annual meeting of the American Society for Virology (ASV) from July 21st through July 25th, in Madison, Wisconsin.

I presented a poster entitled, “Evidence for an alternative initiation site in the respiratory syncytial virus Le promoter that directs synthesis of a small RNA” during a 2-hour poster session. The session was very well attended and I spoke almost continuously for the entire time slot. I really enjoyed the opportunity to have one-on-one discussions with other researchers about the details of my work; many were able to provide helpful feedback on experimental conditions that may improve my results. It was also reassuring to hear the largely favorable opinion on the model we are proposing based on my data, as we will be submitting my work for publication in the coming weeks.

In addition to the huge benefit I received in feedback and discussion of my own data, I also attended several talks given by pioneers in my field and had the opportunity to discuss their data with them and members of their labs during mealtimes and social events. The ASV meeting builds in many great opportunities for networking and I was able to introduce myself to several individuals that I would be interested in doing a postdoctoral fellowship with. I was also able to attend several lunchtime panel discussions on topics ranging from “Creative ideas for teaching virology” to “Balancing science and national security: Biosecurity and the H5N1 studies”. The H5N1 transmissibility studies have been the subject of many panel debates since they were flagged as dual-use research of concern and came before the NSABB more than 6 months ago. It was really exciting to have a chance to watch two of the major players involved in the controversy present their contrasting viewpoints live.

Attending the meeting afforded me a fantastic opportunity to network with other researchers in my field and to start thinking and planning for my future in science, and I am very appreciative for the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences’ contribution to that effort.

Debora Heller

Thank you to the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS) for giving me a travel award and helping me to attend the International Association of Dental Research (IADR) General Session & Exhibition this year. The 90th IADR General Session was held in Iguacu Falls, Brazil, and had over six thousand participants from around the globe. Key researchers in the Dental field were there, and presented their work as posters and oral presentations.

I am a first year Oral Biology PhD student, and I presented my research entitled: “ Microarray based characterization of early acquired enamel pellicle colonizers” at the Salivary Research Oral Session.

The IADR session was an amazing learning experience, and I have to thank GMS for this important support. Thank you GMS for encouraging us students to participate at this kind of international meetings since the very beginning of our postgraduate program! I was able to learn from all the other participants at the conference, and this opportunity is certainly very important for my professional career. Thank you very much!

Corinna Bauer

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences for the travel award I received. With their funding support I was able to attend and present my research at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in New Orleans, April 22-25. This year the conference focused on a number of prominent neurological disorders including Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s Disease.

I was able to present my research on predicting future decline in measures of memory and executive function in normal aging and mild cognitive impairment using MRI and FDG PET in a poster discussion session. There were ten posters in this discussion session and a group of fellow researchers and clinicians went from poster to poster listening to the presenters give a synopsis of their research and ask questions. During this discussion time and the remainder of the poster time I had a number of great conversations with clinicians, which provided insight into some of my results and also into the benefits that my research can have in a more clinical setting.

In addition to presenting my research, I was also able to take part in a number of additional meetings and social events for Alzheimer’s researchers. It was humbling to be able to meet some of the top researchers in my field.

Overall, this conference provided a fantastic opportunity to present my research and network within the Alzheimer’s and imaging communities.

Munir Mosaheb

I am very grateful for the generous support of Boston University Division of Graduate Medical Sciences, I had the great opportunity to attend the American Association of Immunologist’s 99th annual meeting and present my research work on May 4th to May 8th in Boston, MA. I did a poster presentation titled “Loss of nuclear Pro-IL-16 imparts resistance to apoptosis in CTCL T cells”; this work was based on my experiments done during my first rotation in Professor Cruikshank’s lab. I also got to listen to many apoptosis, vaccine, cell signaling and trafficking related talk from good scientist further fueling my interest in these areas.

As a first year graduate student, this was a very fruitful experience for me. It helped me learned about the different areas of immunology that I had been exposed to during my lab rotations and reinforced my interest in vaccine development and cell signaling. There was a symposium on “How to choose the right mentor for graduate students” that was very informational for a new graduate student like myself. My experiences at this conference helped me choose the lab that I would join to start working on my thesis. It also gave me many ideas about the new directions that I want to explore in my lab work. It was nice to meet up with old friends as well as making new friends.

This conference was a great experience for me. It gave me the practice to talk about my work with other scientist and also make new contacts. I look forward to attend more meetings in the future.

Jessica Shea

Thank you for the support to attend the American Academy of Forensic Sciences meeting in Atlanta. This meeting is the annual national meeting of a wide variety of forensic specialties. While attending the meeting, I was able to hear presentations on a great number of emerging techniques and products as well as some interesting research being done by others in various forensic fields. I was also able to attend a special session for young and emerging forensic scientists.

This session was geared toward students and others just starting their careers. This session gave me a lot of insight into what directions my career can go. It also gave me a variety of information regarding job searches through speakers and a panel of members who answered questions and reviewed our resumes.

I also presented a poster for the criminalistics section. This presentation was based on my thesis research. I was able to talk to professionals in the field about my research and hear feedback. It was an extremely beneficial experience and I am extremely grateful to have had the support of the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences to help me be able to make this presentation.

2011

Corissa L. Rodgers

Thanks to the support of the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences at Boston University, I was recently able to attend the Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists (NEAFS) Meeting between November 3rd and 5th, in Newport, Rhode Island. This meeting is held annually to convene members of the forensic sciences community to exchange information and facilitate collaboration. DNA analysts, chemists, ballisticians, biologists, pathologists and other scientists from jurisdictions across the northeastern United States were in attendance.

I presented a talk in the Criminalistics section of the conference, entitled “Further Studies Investigating Zeolites for the Recovery of Oxygenated Compounds from Fire Debris Analysis”. As a second year MS student, my presentation was based upon findings gathered throughout my Master’s thesis research in the Biomedical Forensic Sciences Program within BU’s Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. The NEAFS community was very welcoming in receiving student research and I had the great opportunity to hear constructive feedback and suggestions for future project directions. Additionally, I was honored with the Peter R. De Forest Forensic Science Graduate Student Research Award.

It was a humbling experience to address an audience of professionals within my future field, and one I will not soon forget. I now look forward to presenting at future forensic science meetings. I thank GMS sincerely for their generous support and for allowing me such a wonderful opportunity.

Andrew Ferree, MD/PhD candidate

Dear Boston University GMS office,

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!   With your travel funding assistance I was able to attend an exciting and truly illuminating meeting on the beautiful island of Sardinia.   The 2011 conference entitled Mitochondrial Dynamics: from Mechanism to Disease featured 5 packed days of talks by experts from around the world.  I learned a tremendous amount regarding the basic mechanisms that underlie mitochondrial transport, fusion, division and turnover.   In addition to general features of mitochondrial dynamics, I also gained insight into tissue specific regulation and pathologies from diverse fields including cancer, cardiac tissue, pancreatic beta cells, skeletal muscle, and neurons.   It was a great honor to meet so many of the leaders in this field in such a small, intimate meeting of only 200 people.  The talks ran literally all day everyday but due to the diversity and quality (and a bounty of espresso) they never lost interest.

On the second day of the conference I presented my poster describing data I have collected on mitochondrial motility and respiration in primary hippocampal neurons treated with low-dose farnsyltransferase inhibitors.  These compounds were originally designed for treatment of RAS-related cancer but are now under investigation for neurodegeneration applications.   I had several people visit my poster and give positive comments and constructive criticisms.  Finally and perhaps most importantly, through attending this meeting I now have established a new connection with a lab in Harvard Medical School that also works on intraneuronal mitochondrial transport and we will be collaborating on my project in the future!   Again, thank you so much for enabling this amazing experience.

Sincerely, Andrew Ferree, MD/PhD candidate

Chen Yuan Charlie Yang

Thanks to the generous support of the Boston University Division of Graduate Medical Sciences I was able to attend the 2011 Global Enterprise for Micro-Mechanics and Molecular Medicine (GEM4) Summer School from June 20th to June 30th at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia.

The small class size (about 50 people) and many prominent faculties from various institutions presented enormous networking opportunities and discussion on research across all field of biology, engineering, and medicine.

The classes are intense and went from morning till noon, and sometimes they runs through the afternoon when labs were not offered. Large amount of information were delivered to us (the students) uninterrupted often with just a break in between session. This gave me the opportunities to “see” all the exciting researches done cross-country, generate new ideas for research proposal, and even initiate potential collaborations with other labs.

The poster session was held during the lunch break. This gave all of the students the time to look at each other’s poster as well as discuss with each other on research and even life as graduate student. More importantly, the small class size gave us the opportunity to bond together, become friends and even collaborates on future projects.

The lab offers something else. It was presented in a informative way rather than actual whole experiment due to time constraint. For some of us who have never done certain experiments (Microfabrication, Stem cells…), the lab portion gave us the glimpse the basics of how the experiments were conducted without offered much detail.

Overall, this was a great summer school/meeting which offers plenty for networking opportunities, generate new ideas, and initiate research collaboration, and along a way make some friends. Thanks once again to the Boston University GMS for funding a portion of my travel expenses to this event.

Evan Rossignol

Thanks to the financial support of the Boston University GMS office I was able to attend the 2011 Gordon Research Conference in the field of Three Dimensional Electron Microscopy from June 26th-July 1st.  It was a fantastic meeting with a great deal of information on many of the new ideas and developing technologies in the field.  The small group size (approximately 180 people) facilitated networking and discussion with many people of related interests, and this focused group allowed discussion of technical aspects involved in structural electron microscopy at a very advanced level.

At the poster sessions I presented a poster entitled “Poliovirus polymerase interactions investigated by cryo-electron tomography and volume averaging” and received a great deal of helpful feedback that I will pursue in the future.  These ideas will probably advance my project, and if not at least give some perspective to some of the problems I currently face.  Discussion with other poster presenters was very helpful and allowed me to advance my understanding of the biology and specific methods in the field.

Thanks to this travel award I was able to further my understanding of the newest techniques and technologies in the field of three-dimensional electron microscopy, network with people with a similar focus, and gain feedback on my project as well as contribute to others.  Thanks for the support GMS office!

Fadie Coleman

Thanks to the generous support of the Boston University Division of Graduate Medical Sciences, I was afforded the opportunity to attend the 2011 American Thoracic Society (ATS) International Conference in Denver Colorado from May 13-18th.  As a second year graduate student, I was able to attend one of the premiere conferences in the field of respiratory research, which focuses on improving health worldwide by advancing research, clinical care and public health in respiratory disease, critical illness and sleep disorders.  With over 10,000 scientists and clinicians in attendance, I was truly in one the most unique and intellectually stimulating environments in this field.

The benefits of attending ATS this spring far exceeded my expectations. Presenting my work at ATS not only allowed me to share my research findings with scientists that specialized in lung immunity, but I also gained insight into other lung related research areas and their approaches to answering similar questions.  The flow of information was always bidirectional, which made discussions exceptionally informative. I was also able to network with a very resourceful group of scientists and clinicians in lung immunity and connected with individuals that could potentially lead to new opportunities for collaborative efforts in the near future.

As a trainee, I was also given the opportunity to attend a postgraduate course titled—“Lung Innate Immunity: At the Frontlines of Host Defense.”  This course was an excellent series of presentations that provided current knowledge and cutting-edge research in the field of lung innate immunity and host defense.  Much of what was presented was unpublished, preliminary data.   As I am just starting to put together a thesis project, the chance to observe and openly discuss how different scientists developed their experimental approaches was extremely advantageous and educational.

Some of my personal goals for this meeting were to gain experience in presenting my own work, obtain valuable feedback on my research, as well as start to gain visibility in the field of lung immunity. Overall, my experience was most fulfilling and I look forward to presenting at future meetings.

Srimathi Srinivasan

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Boston University GMS office for finical support, which allowed me to attend the 2011 Gordon Research Conference on Proteins held in New Hampshire on June, 2011. Here’s a brief report.

Participation in sessions and networking opportunities:  This conference focused on Protein biogenesis, folding and aggregation and their importance in diseases. It was well-attended by leading scientists in the field of “Proteins” from around the world. The conference had morning and evening sessions consisting of talks from the senior scientists, lunch sessions and the poster sessions in the afternoon where posters were presented by Post-doctoral candidates and graduate students.

During the morning and evening talk sessions, I was exposed to recent advances in the field of “Proteins” such as protein folding, protein aggregation, protein biogenesis, and large protein assemblies. Although my research area is focused on protein stabilization, I found protein aggregation was fascinating as well. I have learnt environmental factors can influence proteins to become an inheritable trait.  Listening to thought provoking lectures, it gave me new ideas for my own research. It was very valuable to interact with top-notch scientists one on one discussing their own research.

Lunch sessions were interesting as well. I was able to discuss a topic every lunch session related to career development such as choosing a post-doctoral position, academic versus industrial opportunities, and general networking with experienced researchers as well as graduate students like myself. These discussions helped me to broaden my knowledge about post-doctoral positions in academia and industry.

Poster Session:  The highlight of this conference was presenting my poster entitled “The PDCL3/CCT chaperonin complex regulates angiogenesis through the generation of functional VEGFR-2” to the attendees. It was a very valuable experience for me. I got a number of suggestions and experimental advices for next steps for my own research. Prof. David Agard from University of California, San Francisco who is working on Chaperones suggested me to perform number of experiments to explore CCT (the chaperone which I am working with) and its importance in VEGFR-2 signaling.  Prof. Sheena Radford from University of Leeds advice me to perform co-localization experiments to investigated the role of PDCL3 and VEGFR-2 in ER. Not only these poster sessions help me to improve my own research, but it also gave an opportunity to know other people’s work in the same field using many advanced techniques of protein folding such as NMR, CD, Mass spectrometry etc.

Overall, this conference was not only an excellent opportunity to learn current research, but also to broaden my exposure & network with eminent researchers in the same field. Thanks once again to the Boston University GMS office for funding a portion of my travel expenses to this event.

Ariana Darcy

With the help of the Division of Graduate Medical Science at Boston University, I was able to attend the Keystone Symposium joint meeting for HIV Evolution, Genomics and Pathogenesis and Protection from HIV: Targeted Intervention Strategies in Whistler, British Columbia in Canada from March 20-25.  This was the first year these two meetings were combined and it allowed clinicians and basic research scientists to come together and learn about each other’s work from differing perspectives.  In order to develop better therapeutics for HIV infection and prevention, we must learn where HIV evolved from and how it functions.  This meeting unified these topics nicely.

I learned more than I ever planned to at this meeting and I have found that it has already been useful in my research.  Every day consisted of talks that were separated into categories.  For example, one session was called “Innate Immune Sensing of Lentiviruses.”  There were about three 2-hour sessions a day and a break in the afternoon to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Whistler.  At night, there was a three-hour poster session that was a great time to meet new people and hear about the new research ongoing in the field.  I presented a poster with my lab mate Camellia Banerjee, called “Evaluation of Muscle Signatures for Aging and HIV Infection” on the third night.

Presenting a poster at such a well-known conference was intimidating but a good experience at the same time.  As a second year PhD student, I was able to learn the ins and outs of a conference and became more comfortable with meeting people and discussing my research.  This conference will help me in future conferences and I look forward to presenting more of my research as it continues to develop.

Racquel Wells

The travel award I received from Boston University allowed me to particpate in the 10th Annual New England Science Symposium at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA on April 1, 2011.  This conference was sponsored by the Harvard Medical School Minority Faculty Development Program of the Office for Diversity and Community Partnership and the Biomedical Science Careers Program (BSCP). The focus of the conference "is to provide a forum for postdoctoral fellows; medical, dental and graduate students; post-baccalaureates; college and community college studnts (particularly African-American, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska native individuals) to share their biomedical and health-related research activities through oral and poster presentations, to engage in discussions related to career development in the sciences, to exchange ideas and to expand their professional networks".

The highlight of the day was the poster session in which judges came around to hear about the research. I presented a summary of my thesis work regarding travelers who visit friends and relatives and their associations with increased infectious disese. Patients seen for pre-travel visits in Boston travel clinics were analyzed in numerous categories and surveyed for knowledge, attitude and practices regarding travel. It was very helpful to get comments and feedback in this setting as it was my first time presenting any research. My peers were very interested in the work and I was excited to receive so many questions about what future studies should be done in this area.

During the course of the day, I was able to meet students of a variety of backgrounds and interests. There was a panel discussion of professional researchers in different fields of science and at different levels in their careers. We asked questions about understanding our career paths and what a career in scientific research means for an individual and for society. The most important message to me was from the keynote speaker, Dr Lee Nadler of Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He discussed the invention of the polio vaccine and how two students had an idea that was criticized by their principle investigator. Their belief in themselves led to an amazing contribution to medicine that we cannot take for granted.  We cannot let others discourage us from doing things that seem impossible- that is research.

I want to thank the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences for assisting me with this memorable experience. I am looking forward to presenting more research as I move further in my career.

Eileen Rojas

With generous support from the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences at Boston University, I was able to attend the 55th Annual Biophysical Society Meeting in Baltimore, MD from March 4 -9, 2011. This is the premier conference for national and international biophysicists, with approximately 6,500 attendees from over 20 countries. The goal of this conference is to report and disseminate cutting edge biophysical research.

At the meeting I was able to attend talks, learning about a wide variety of topics including lipidmodified peptides, lipid effects on bilayers, membrane protein folding, and membrane protein insertion. I attended several symposia, including the New and Notable Symposium, learning about emerging topics in the field- including a novel hydrophobicity scale for membrane protein folding and the structural basis for rotational switching of bacterial flagellar motors. Monday evening I was pleased to attend the National Lecture by Arthur Horwich of Yale University, were he described his part in the research of chaperonin mediated protein folding of GroEL. The highlight symposium was without a doubt the Awards Symposium on Tuesday morning. Here, emerging and accomplished scientists gave talks summarizing their research. Of particular note were the talks by Toshio Yanagida of Osaka University of Japan, who discussed his research on single molecule nano-biology, and the talk by Eric Oldfield of the University of Illinois, who presented his research on lipids and membranes in drug discovery.

An important component of every meeting is the ability to present one’s own work. On Wednesday morning I presented my poster entitled, “Relative Affinities of Fatty Acid Binding Sites on Human Serum Albumin Probed by 2D-NMR.” This poster session was well attended, and I received feedback from numerous colleagues, both old and new. I attended other poster sessions as well, in particular learning about caveolin-1 from students at Lehigh University, and a patch method for protein-ligand interaction predictions from faculty of Purdue University.

Su Xu

The 55th Annual Biophysical Society Meeting covered a very broad range of research areas from membrane dynamics and transport, protein structure to protein folding, protein-ligand interaction and single molecule nano-biology. Single molecule nano-biology has attracted special attentions this year because of its successful applications in various types of studies such as viral infection, protein function and cell signaling.

As a member of the Biophysical Society, I presented a poster in the Membrane Protein Function session, based on my studies about the role of the membrane protein CD36 in fatty acid transport and metabolism. I really enjoyed presenting my work to other researchers and have received very good comments and suggestions from them.

Most excitingly, I met a researcher in Harvard Medical School that also study CD36, but in its particular role as a receptor for collagen in macrophage cells. She used single molecule imaging technique to monitor the dynamic movement of CD36 upon ligand stimulation. Her works have demonstrated the successful uses of the single molecule imaging in studying CD36. I am looking forward to the potential uses of this technique in my study on its role in fatty acid uptake, in relations to diabetes and obesity.

Overall, I feel that this meeting really served as a great platform for communication between researchers in different areas. Moreover, I want to thank Boston University Division of Graduate Medical Sciences for providing me the travel awards, which really encouraged me to share my research interests and achievements with other scientists.

Elyse Cooper

With the financial support I received from Boston University, I was able to attend the 2011 Annual Meeting for the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Chicago, Illinois, which was held from February 21-26. It was such a privilege to be among many prominent figures in the forensic community, and to present my thesis project at a major conference where so much quality research was presented. The forensic sciences encompass so many diverse disciplines. Although my own forensic concentration is DNA analysis and I tend to gravitate to that realm of study, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the many fascinating lectures encompassing all forensic areas. I attended lectures on topics ranging from social network stalking to emerging developments in forensic identification methods using an individual’s own unique set of antibodies. I found it extremely interesting and beneficial to learn about emerging forensic research in many areas.

On Friday morning, I presented my thesis research poster, which is entitled “Differential Extraction Conditions: Effect of Aging and Dehydration on DNA Mixture Quantification and Amplification.” People seemed interested in the work we have been performing, and I received much positive feedback and suggestions for further experimentation. It was a great opportunity for me to not only represent the Biomedical Forensic Sciences graduate program, but Boston University as a whole. I am most grateful to the Division of Medical Sciences for their support. It was an experience that further enhanced the excellent education I have received here.
Overall, it was a unique and growing experience, and I was proud to represent the university and our research programs. Thank you for allowing me this most memorable opportunity.

2010

Conor Smith

This year the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting was held at the San Diego Convention Center San Diego, CA from November 13 – 17. Over 30,000 people converged at the meeting to present their recent scientific results, attend talks from leaders in many different neuroscience fields, and network with the scientific community as a whole.

I arrived at the conference on Saturday and sampled many different poster topics during the day, including a presentation by Xue Han of the BU dept. of Biomedical Engineering on her application of optogenetics to the control of ion channel conductance. The poster sessions were a substantial part of my conference experience, as they were excellent opportunities to learn about new areas of neuroscience research, catch up on research topics related to my work, and network with people in my field both on a national and an international level.

As I am currently researching calcium signaling, one of the highlights to the meeting for me was getting the opportunity to go to a symposium entitled ‘New advances in calcium signaling in neuronal function and disease’. One of the speakers was Solomon Snyder (who was involved in the discovery of the opiate receptors and also works on nitric oxide signaling), who discussed his recent work in calcium signaling. I also attended a nanosymposium focused on autism research that was very interesting.

On Tuesday morning I presented my poster entitled ‘Mechanisms of pregnenolone sulfate-induced increases in plasma membrane NMDA receptor expression in rat cortical neurons’. Throughout the morning I fielded questions on the poster and received helpful input from other interested scientists.

Finally, after all the posters, symposiums, science discussion over dinner, and with lots of free pens, I returned to Boston exhausted but looking forward to next year.

Kathryne St. Pierre

The travel award I received from BU provided me with the opportunity to attend the Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists (NEAFS) conference in Manchester, VT November 9-12, 2010. The conference was very beneficial and I learned a lot from attending. I had the opportunity to hear and learn about new research ideas and experiments. I also had the opportunity to listen to lectures from very notable personnel within the field of forensic science. They spoke about where the field in heading and what we can do today to improve the practices of forensic scientists. They had some great thoughts which will help me as I am just beginning my career within the field.

I was also privileged enough to present my own research during the conference. I conducted some very promising research towards the completion of my thesis and had the opportunity to present my work to the attendants at the NEAFS conference. Speaking publicly is always a great opportunity and a great addition to a resume. A typical responsibility of forensic scientists is to testify within a court of law; having the opportunity to practice my public speaking at a regional conference was beneficial in preparing for future testimonies. The presentation went very well. I received some great feedback from fellow students and others in the field who were very interested in my research. I was very excited to have the opportunity to represent the Biomedical Forensic Sciences Program at BU as well as introducing myself to the forensic science community, and to share with other researchers what I have been working very hard on the past year at BU.

Crystal Oechsle

Due to the financial support that I received from the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences, I was able to attend the 2010 Annual Meeting for the Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientist (NEAFS) held in Manchester, Vermont. This meeting serves as an annual gathering and training opportunity for professionals in the field of forensic science. While at the conference, I was able to attend workshops on interesting cases from the various member labs and a lecture on the National Academy of Sciences’ report on the state of forensic science. I found these sessions extremely interesting because they gave me a feeling for the experiences of different labs in the region.

The main reason that I wanted to attend this meeting was that it gave me the opportunity to present my research for my thesis in the form of a poster, which was titled “A Comparative Study of Biological Fluid Identification Methods: Lateral Flow Immunochromatographic Test Strips and Real-Time PCR Quantitation using Quantifiler® Duo”. Putting together the poster was a good learning experience, in general, and I now have an outline for my thesis writing. But, beyond that, presenting my research to other professionals in the field gave me a new appreciation for the peer review process. I found that people seemed to be receptive to my research and asked several questions, some which I had anticipated and some which I hadn’t. I have a renewed sense of purpose, and am returning to Boston University ready to undertake the thesis writing process.

Chen Yuan Charlie Yang

Thanks to the generous support of the Boston University Division of Graduate Medical Sciences I was able to attend the 2011 Global Enterprise for Micro-Mechanics and Molecular Medicine (GEM4) Summer School from June 20th to June 30th at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia.

The small class size (about 50 people) and many prominent faculties from various institutions presented enormous networking opportunities and discussion on research across all field of biology, engineering, and medicine.

The classes are intense and went from morning till noon, and sometimes they runs through the afternoon when labs were not offered. Large amount of information were delivered to us (the students) uninterrupted often with just a break in between session. This gave me the opportunities to “see” all the exciting researches done cross-country, generate new ideas for research proposal, and even initiate potential collaborations with other labs.

The poster session was held during the lunch break. This gave all of the students the time to look at each other’s poster as well as discuss with each other on research and even life as graduate student. More importantly, the small class size gave us the opportunity to bond together, become friends and even collaborates on future projects.

The lab offers something else. It was presented in a informative way rather than actual whole experiment due to time constraint. For some of us who have never done certain experiments (Microfabrication, Stem cells…), the lab portion gave us the glimpse the basics of how the experiments were conducted without offered much detail.

Overall, this was a great summer school/meeting which offers plenty for networking opportunities, generate new ideas, and initiate research collaboration, and along a way make some friends. Thanks once again to the Boston University GMS for funding a portion of my travel expenses to this event.