Dept of Medicine Young Scientist Day 2012

The Department of Medicine held its annual Young Scientist Day on 23 April 2012. The event attracted large numbers of research students, postdocs and academic staff who had the unique opportunity to hear and see the range of research being undertaken across the Department.

Over 100 posters were displayed by research students from across the Department. A Departmental panel judged the posters and awarded first, second and third prizes respectively to:

  • 1st Mika Falck-Hansen, Kennedy Institute
  • 2nd M S Cheung, Investigative Medicine
  • 3rd Richard Lawrenson, Infectious Diseases and Immunity
  • 3rd Chris Grice, Microbiology

The event was formally opened at 2pm by Professor Gavin Screaton who welcomed everyone and presented the Department’s annual teaching award to Professor Jackie de Belleroche in recognition of her extensive teaching commitments in both undergraduate and postgraduate Neuroscience.

The floor was then handed to six postdocs, from across the Department, who in turn orally presented their research.

  • Samantha Westrop, Immunology – Immune responses and activation following MVC-intensification in the context of immunisation: a randomised, placebo-controlled study in HIV-1+ patients on suppressive antiretroviral therapy
  • Lucie Baudino, Centre for Complement and Inflammation Research – The role of complement in the immune response to antigens associated with apoptotic cells
  • Loukia Katsouri, Centre for Neuroscience – The effect of an α1-Adrenergic Receptor antagonist in Alzheimer’s disease
  • Waga Khamri, Hepatology – The anti-inflammatory effect of the hepatic microenvironment on monocytes/macrophages in human acute liver failure: implications for the resolution of acute liver injury
  • David Bernardo Ortiz, Immunology – Microbiota/host crosstalk biomarkers: regulatory response of human intestinal dendritic cells exposed to Lactobacillus plantarum extracellular encrypted peptide
  • Susanne Sattler, Centre for Complement and Inflammation Research – IL-10 production by B cells mediates protection from inflammatory bowel disease

Susanne took time after the event to write about her thoughts and experience of the day:

I received the invitation for this year’s young scientist day at a time that could not have been any more inconvenient. I was already struggling to find the time to do all the things that had to be done urgently and really wasn’t in the mindset to add even more tasks. Every early stage scientist knows that there is only one objective in research: creating interesting data in order to publish, publish, publish! If that doesn’t happen for whatever reason, ‘early stage’ is pretty much all there will ever be. Accordingly, any activity outside the lab sometimes seems like a plain waste of time.

I still submitted an abstract though, because no matter how busy I was, I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. Creating data might have the highest priority, but one aspect I personally consider most important in research, is the exchange of ideas. You never really know how novel, interesting or logical your research actually is, before you have presented it to people that haven’t been involved in it themselves. Such an audience can look at your data and interpretations with fresh eyes and an open mind. Researchers coming from different scientific backgrounds might approach your project from an entirely different angle and be able to give valuable input.

This also works the other way round. Listening to other scientists presenting their own research can open your eyes to options and possibilities you might not have considered before. I was certainly amazed by the diversity of research projects going on at Imperial, and genuinely enjoyed my own talk session with what I felt was a truly interested audience.

Therefore, here’s my message to all other Post-docs and students for next year’s YSD: Try hard to find a moment in between experiments to prepare your talk/poster and just enjoy sharing your thoughts and ideas with equal-minded people. If nothing more, where else can you find the chance to talk to a lecture theatre full of clever people, who are genuinely interested in what you’ve got to say!

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Professor Shiranee Sriskandan expertly Chaired the afternoon, introducing the postdocs’ high quality scientific presentations and awarding a book token to each postdoc in recognition of their hard work for the event. Ms Katie Anders, from the Postdoc Development Centre, then drew everyone’s attention to the  Postdoc Development Centre and the ongoing support and development opportunities it offers to postdocs.

At the end of the afternoon, refreshments were served in the breakout space providing an opportunity for networking and poster viewing. Thanks go to everyone who supported this event. Special thanks to the Postdoc Development Centre for financially supporting the event. Plans are now underway to build on its strengths to ensure its continuing success on an annual basis.

The text for this blog entry was kindly provided by Hayley Kendall, Higher Degrees Programme Manager, Department of Medicine, with contribution from Dr Susanne Sattler, Research Associate, Centre for Complement and Inflammation Research, Department of Medicine

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