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  • Aoibhin, Enya and Hannah

Biology of Brain Disorders Conference: Our Interns' Perspectives

"Attending this conference was a fantastic experience to listen to groundbreaking research from international researchers and has confirmed our interests in pursuing a career in biomedical research"

On June 16th and 17th, summer interns; Enya Nordon, Hannah Walsh, Aoibhin Woods and Giulia Guasoni, attended the Biology of Brain Disorders 2022 conference held in the Trinity Institute of Neuroscience in Trinity College Dublin and organized by Dr Daniela Tropea. Enya, Hannah and Aoibhin discuss their experience below.

The conference, was held over three days, and hosted a diverse array of international researchers speaking about their current research and unique perspectives. It was a fantastic opportunity for us to gain insight into the current landscape of neuroscience research and illuminate potential career paths.

The talks delivered provided excellent insight into research timeframes. During these presentations we were surprised that research processes from hypothesising to publishing often can take several years. We found the conference to be a welcoming environment where we could ask questions to speakers directly and in-person, as well as discover new methods and research techniques.

These expert presentations provoked us to consider thinking of research in various ways we hadn't thought of previously, inspiring new research ideas. We believe that continuing to practise formulating new ideas in relation to current knowledge will benefit future hypothesising of our own!

This image was created by Daniela Tropea and Albert Sanfeliu.

In particular, we enjoyed the presentation delivered by Dr Laura Cancedda, from the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), Genoa, Italy, entitled ‘Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Trying to Bridge the Gap from Bed to Bedside’. Dr Cancedda spoke about the potentials of drug repurposing, the stages of drug development, and the complexities of clinical trials. Uniquely, Dr Cancedda provided the perspective of both an academic and entrepreneur, speaking about her journey to launch the start-up Iama Therapeutics.

Professor Louise Gallagher, a collaborator of the Family Genomics Research Group delivered a talk that was of particular interest to us, on the genetics of rare genetic syndromes and autism. She spoke about the need to increase understanding these conditions and the benefits of family-based and twin-studies to investigate the heritability of autism. Professor Gallagher also discussed the importance of clinical genetics and support from genetic counsellors to families following a genetic diagnosis. It was fascinating to hear her point of view and about her work in this area as both a researcher and a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist.

Dr Peter Penzes' presentation from Northwestern University was particularly engaging. His talk was on the synaptic substrates of neurodevelopmental conditions. We were also intrigued by Dr Tobias Engel's talk from FutureNeuro at the Royal College of Surgeons. He discussed the role ATPergic signalling in the brain, and novel avenues for diagnostics and therapeutics in neurological conditions, such as epilepsy.

This conference was the first in-person opportunity for us to attend an academic conference allowing us to improve our knowledge in the field of neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental conditions, network with researchers and students, and to understand the importance of effective science communication. Attending this conference was a fantastic experience as to listen to groundbreaking research from international researchers and has confirmed our interests in pursuing a career in biomedical research.



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