Counting Down: The 14th Biomedical Postdoctoral Research Symposium is Almost Upon Us

Brief Report by Uschi Symmons, @usymmons

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Postdocs! This Wednesday, 7th October 2015, drop your pipettes, turn off your computers, microscopes and flow cytometers, and leave your manuscripts at home – it’s time for the annual Biomedical Postdoctoral Research Symposium! It’s a symposium organized by postdocs for postdocs, and with 77 abstracts submitted, Erin O’Shea as keynote lecture, as well as plenty of prizes, awards and networking, this year’s symposium promises to be exciting and fun. In the midst of last-minute preparation we caught up with Sean McClory, Ph.D., the lead organizer of the symposium, to ask him about what we should expect.

BPC: Why should postdocs attend the Biomedical Postdoctoral Research Symposium?

SM: The aim of the symposium is to give a common forum to all the postdocs to present their work, connect with each other and get feedback on their work from people outside of their mentors and their immediate labs. It’s a great opportunity!

BPC: Can you tell us a bit about the program?

SM: This year we received 77 abstracts from all over the School of Medicine, the School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs (BPP) affiliate institutions such as CHOP and the WISTAR Institute. Everyone will be meeting in one place so it’ll be a great mix of interesting science.

This year the program consists of two one-hour sessions with talks and two poster sessions, where postdocs will showcase their science. In addition, thanks to our generous sponsors, there will be multiple prizes for the best speaker, best poster presentations and we’ll also be announcing this year’s mentor award.

BPC: This is the 14th (!) Biomedical Postdoc Symposium at Penn. Is there anything that makes this one special for you?

SM: Actually, for me it’s the first time organizing the symposium: I attended last year and thought it was absolutely great! That’s why I decided to help with this year’s event. And I’ve really ridden the coattails of the previous organizers. But one of the things that stuck out for me was the Sanjeev Kumar Memorial Lecture.

BPC: What is the Kumar Memorial Lecture?

SM: Sanjeev Kumar was a postdoc working in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He was a great scientist, and he was also very engaged in teaching. He passed away suddenly when still working at Penn, and in memory of his dedication to science and communication, his family made a donation for a Memorial Lecture. As we were making preparations for the lecture, I got to talk to some of Sanjeev’s mentors and he seemed to have been a wonderful and inspirational person. So it’s a great honor to have this lecture as part of our symposium – and we have selected an excellent talk by Kristen Long for this year’s Memorial Lecture based on the abstracts and preliminary presentations.

BPC: That really sounds like something to look forward to! If people haven’t registered yet, can they still attend?

SM: Absolutely! There’s a link where you can register (http://bit.ly/1ERgrXh). Last year approximately 300 people attended, and we hope to have similar success this time, too.

BPC: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

SM: Yes, I’d just like to mention all the sponsors and organizers who made this event possible. The sponsors were both corporate and academic, and there have been dozens of postdocs and faculty who volunteered their time to help with various aspects of the symposium, from organizing catering to printing name tags to judging or arranging the keynote lecture!

You can find the website for the symposium (which includes a schedule) here: http://www.med.upenn.edu/bprs/

The link for registering can be found here: http://bit.ly/1ERgrXh

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