Postdoc Symposium 2015

| Written by sbraun
robert rickert

On September 2, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) held an inaugural Postdoc Symposium to showcase the critical contributions made by 126 SBP postdoctoral students to advance the Institute’s discovery science and heightened commitment to translational research.

The Symposium was held at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine and included talks that reflected the diversity of research at SBP and provocative training lectures from prominent La Jolla scientists. Dr. Robert Rickert, SBP’s director of Academic Affairs and also director of the Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis Program, talked about the intricate nuances of grant writing, a crucial topic for both new and experienced investigators in today’s increasingly competitive funding environment. Dr. Stephen Howell, a founding member of UC San Diego’s Moores Cancer Center and associate director for the Center’s Research Education and Training program, spoke about development of cancer therapeutics and opportunities to join pharmaceutical research efforts focused on producing new cancer drugs.

The Symposium program included presentations by 12 postdoctoral researchers, each from different laboratories within the Institute’s cancer, neuroscience and aging, inflammation and infectious disease, and childrens’ health research centers. Speakers were selected based on competitive review of abstracts by a panel of postdoc organizers. Topics spanned a broad range of biomedical research areas, including immunology, neurology, metabolism, cancer, epigenetics, and proteostasis.

Dr. Anne Hempel (Guy Salvesen lab) was recognized for giving the “best talk” with her presentation on “Dissection of canonical pyroptotic cell death in murine macrophages.” Dr. Sole Gatto (Lorenzo Puri lab) was awarded “best poster” for her work on “Dynamic transitions among fibro-adipogenic progenitor (FAP) subpopulations during skeletal muscle regeneration.”

A common theme focused on identifying molecular mechanisms responsible for regulating critical cellular functions and using key regulatory molecules as targets for therapeutic intervention in cases where disregulation of function leads to pathological conditions. Another unifying theme among the presentations was the use of sophisticated instrumentation in SBP’s Shared Resource facilities to obtain and analyze complex sets of data. Accessibility to these resources and training on the use of cutting edge technologies are important aspects of the SBP postdoctoral experience.

Sponsorship for the event was provided by Pfizer, Cell Signaling, Inc., and the SBP Science Network. The SBP Science Network is a student-run organization that provides networking forums for SBP postdocs and grad students by promoting scientific, social, and training events. SBP Science Network sponsored the Symposium poster session and a closing happy hour, and presented $300 travel awards for the best talk and the best poster. Organizers are optimistic that Symposium will become an annual, high-impact get-together.

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