Wen Yu Wong
Cancer Biology GIDP
Salivary Gland and Exocrine Biology Gordon Research Conference
Thanks to the support of the Herbert E. Carter Travel Award, I was able to attend the 11th Salivary Gland and Exocrine Biology Gordon Research Conference (GRC) held in Galveston, Texas from February 18-24, 2017. This is one of the biggest conferences held in my field which focuses on exocrine tissue development, the pathophysiology of autoimmune-induced diseases, and regenerative approaches to restore tissue function following damage. This was my first time at this particular conference and I was impressed by the emerging research presented by staff and student scientists, the stimulating discussions, and the poster sessions. Some of the topics covered in this conference included: tissue engineering, exocrine gland development, targeting inflammation to regress disease pathogenesis, mechanisms of exocrine gland repair and regeneration, and clinical trials currently available for Sjögren’s Syndrome.
During my time at the conference, I attended all the talks and learned about the seminal works from respected leaders in the field. I am a mechanistic biologist by training and some of the talks only tangentially related to my thesis work. But exposure from this conference taught me a great deal about creating safe and biodegradable scaffolds to transplant stem cells into humans. I learned pathways that were specific to the immunological field, and current challenges that face clinicians every day. These were some of the topics I would not have had exposure to elsewhere.
In this invigorating environment, I had the opportunity to present my research, receive feedbacks, and reassess the direction of my project. I received several thought-provoking questions and it challenged me to think on my feet. I have read many papers specific for my project and within my field. But, one of the greatest experience from this conference was meeting the authors from these papers and interacting with them one-on-one. These interactions provided helpful advice about career development, technical support for experimental designs, and a diversified viewpoint about current issues in the field. These are the friends that I can imagine myself collaborating with in the future and a network of people I can rely on.
Overall, I had a great experience at the GRC and I cannot wait to bring what I have learned at this meeting back to the lab and share this information with other students. It has really enhanced my understanding to be a scientific researcher and I am thankful for the generous donation by the Herbert E. Carter Travel Award to make this trip possible.