Whilst I try and keep up to date with what’s going on in the field for the rest of the year, it definitely goes in peaks and troughs. One ‘peak’ occurs in May, when I’m reading through the Symposium abstracts for the first time. Another is at the end of our research funding cycles, when Sadie, Marion and Natasha have done all the hard work of getting the applications out to review and comments back again and final decisions have been made on what we’re able to fund.
At the Symposium I get to hear more about those abstracts that really sparked my interest in May. This year, I feel I’ve been slightly more organised than usual and I already have a list of poster presentations I’d like to visit. (It’s a much harder task to decide which posters to visit compared to which talks to listen to- there are more posters!). Part of this organisation is that as the abstracts have been available and online for almost three weeks now I really don’t have an excuse not to do any work before I get there (you can read them too – here) !
The grants that we are funding give me a chance to personally connect with some of the research underway. I might have the opportunity to catch up with some of the researchers working on these projects. It’s always good to put a face to a name, and occasionally I can point them in the direction of someone that they might be interested in collaborating with. Alternatively, I might see that a presentation being given at the Symposium has links with research we’re funding.
As well as learning about the new insights into the understanding of the various aspects of MND, the lab nerd in me is also on the look-out for novel experimental techniques! How people get the results is almost as interesting as what they found. (If two people can get the same results via two different methods, it gives us extra confidence that the results are right – this confirmation or repetition of results is a fundamental principle of scientific research).
I’m particularly looking forward to hearing what everyone’s talking about at this year’s Symposium, I hope that I can give you a flavour of what’s its like in the final preparations and attending this buzzy and exciting event over the next few weeks.