Jean-Paul Wiegand's Conference Summary

     Jean-Paul Wiegand
     Ph.D. Candidate

     Conference Summary
     Society for Neuroscience
     San Diego, CA




My conference experience was very different this time. I’ve been to the annual Society of Neuroscience meeting twice before – in previous years the field of electrophysiology swelled with recent Gerard award and Nobel prize announcements. However, I found that while the enthusiasm in the convention center hadn’t dimmed, the inspiration certainly had and I wondered what was left to discover in my field.

This feeling loomed over me as I overheard snippets of conversation revolving around the recent election and the sad state of science to be. I saw proud poster presenters that hadn’t performed proper background literature reviews. I saw crowds swarming claims that electrodes had simply never explored this coordinate of the brain. I heard talks reiterating 50 years of textbook facts and conclusions.

When I spoke to representatives from IARPA, an advanced research division of the government, I was struck by almost how inconsequential and useless my animal research. In describing a potential grant I was hoping to send their way, they rather strictly stated that if it only involved animals and didn’t consider translational applications, it was surely a no-go. I had gone into neuroscience to help people and I couldn’t believe how far away from that original goal I was.

I had come to this conference in the hopes of determining whether I wanted to stay in research or move into industry. In this matter, this conference experience certainly helped. While I admit that this may appear all doom and gloom, I was inspired in a different way – thanks to this experience I now know that I need to bring my knowledge to translation and commercialization and to those that need help and it is with an almost painful passion that I feel driven now. At a previous conference, the World Parkinson’s conference, I heard from a one patient: “It’s been 50 years…hurry up.” I intend to.

Last updated 11 Apr 2017