Andrea Deranek's Conference Summary


     Andrea Deranek
     Ph.D. Student
     Biomedical Engineering GIDP

     Conference Summary
     Biophysical Society 61st Annual Meeting
     New Orleans, Louisiana


Being awarded the HE Carter Travel grant allowed me to attend the 61st Annual Biophysical Society Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. My abstract was selected for a poster presentation. This provided me the opportunity to present and discuss my work with some of the most notable scientists in my field of study. This opportunity allowed me to prepare in a way so that I could discuss my research with both novice scientists and cardiac experts who have been studying the heart their entire career.  While presenting my work, I could discuss my research with several investigators and graduate students who all work on cardiac muscle. This allowed me to discuss my research in a unique way since they were inquisitive about my work and wanted to learn. Not only did they ask me questions, but they also provided me with ideas and experiments that could benefit my research as I continue. By interacting with these individuals, I could discuss not only my work but also ask them about their work and create a network of contacts for future employee opportunities. Additionally, presenting my work helped me to build confidence in my presentation skills and scientific knowledge but also helped to begin to establish myself as a molecular scientist.

Additionally, not only was there my poster session that I participated in but there was a poster session every day at the conference. This gave me a chance to learn not only about cardiac research in the field, which covered muscle mechanics to signaling, but also different interests in the field of biophysics. These included imaging techniques, computational modeling, membrane interactions and more. This was beneficial because I could see how research in so many areas can be so impacting. Additionally, I enjoyed these poster sessions because not only was I able to learn many new things, but I formed connections and met people from many different backgrounds.

Not only were there poster sessions about different subjects but there were also platform talks. As this was my first major conference, I made it an effort to go to as many as these talks that I could. These talks were extremely useful because it allowed me to get a further in-depth knowledge of certain researchers’ work. One of my favorite talks was by Sonette Steczina, who is a master student in Dr. Michael Regnier’s lab at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California.  Her talk was titled “Recovery of calcium activity and contraction in models of Dilated Cardiomyopathy.” This talk was of interest to me because it focused on a mutation that our lab uses (D230N-Tm), which causes Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), a disease that leads to progressive ventricular dilation and loss of systolic function. However, they used this model to test a recovery mechanism which uses dATP to improve contraction of heart muscle and so it could possibly be used to treat DCM. This work was done by over-expressing ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) via an adeno-associated virus type 6 (AAV6-RNR), which can improve contraction and calcium handling caused by an increase in intracellular dATP. Their experiments were successful since their results showed recovery of both contraction and calcium handling. Overall, I found this talk insightful since it showed the importance of not only understanding the mutations that causes disease but also how they can be studied to create methods to treat the disease.

Finally, this meeting offered several career-oriented panels. These panels were led by professionals from academia and industry, which allowed the participants to understand the differences and similarities between the two work forces. Not only was this insightful for their tasks in daily life but it also gave insight into how one could go about entering either academia or industry. One of my favorite career sessions was how researchers discussed how they found themselves being pulled into non-benchwork type jobs such as an editor and reviewer. This allowed me to see the different possibilities that my degree could lead me to. Even though I am early in my studies, I found these sessions to be useful as it is important to learn as much as I can about future career options so that I can make an informed decision in the future.

As this was my first major meeting, the Annual Biophysical Society meeting was very beneficial to attend. By going to this meeting I was able to gain confidence in presenting my work, improve my basic science knowledge, and meet new people allowing me to work on my networking skills. I am grateful to the HE Carter travel award for providing me with the funds that allowed me the opportunity to attend this meeting. I am already looking forward to the Biophysical Society meeting in 2018 which will take place in San Francisco, California.

Last updated 11 Apr 2017