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.