A Look Back: The Fifteenth Biomedical Postdoctoral Research Symposium

By Natoya Peart, Ph.D, Correspondence: npeart@mail.med.upenn.edu

Photos provided by Dr. Benjamin Cieply, Ph.D.

The 1st of November in 2016 was a cooler than usual fall day, with an overcast sky. It was my first day as a postdoctoral fellow at the university of Pennsylvania and it also happened to be the day of the fifteenth annual Biomedical Postdoctoral Research Symposium. The Symposium was held at the Smilow Center for Translational Research and featured a program comprised of competitive platform and poster sessions. The 2016 symposium featured work done by postdoctoral scientists from the Wistar Institute, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and from schools within the University of Pennsylvania, including the Perelman School of Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Engineering, and the School of Veterinary Medicine. The symposium chairs Dr. Benjamin Cieply and Dr. Glenna Brewster in collaboration with Biomedical Postdoctoral Council (BPC) Symposium Committee and the Biomedical Editors Committee, reviewed eighty-two abstracts of which eight were selected for platform talks, and one for the Sanjeev Kumar Memorial Lecture. The Sanjeev Kumar Memorial Lecture given in memory of Dr. Kumar, a former postdoctoral fellow at University of Pennsylvania by Dr. Reeti Behera on the “role of Klotho in age-related melanoma progression and resistance therapy”.

      Both Dr. Cieply and Dr. Brewster highlighted the crucial role of the committee members and the BPP office in planning the event. Moreover, Dr. Cieply shared that appointing individual members of the committee specific roles ensured that responsibilities in planning the symposium were not overwhelming. In particular he suggested that for future symposiums the practice of appointing specific roles to the members of the BPC Symposium Committee will be continued. Drs. Brewster and Cieply noted that overall goals of the symposium were in line with goals of previous years, showcasing the research of the postdocs, encouraging discourse, and possible collaborations among them, their colleagues, and faculty.

      Overall, the symposium was a success with the keynote address being given by renowned molecular biologist Dr. Richard Morimoto of Northwestern University. The Biomedical Postdoctoral Fellows were invited to submit nominations for the Keynote speaker, and Dr. Morimoto was invited to give the keynote address based his “broadly applicable research interests, great success in both academia and industry, outstanding presentation skills and passion for training and career progression of scientists.” Dr. Cieply noted that Dr. Morimoto was a “great choice”. His passion for science and mentorship was evident during talk. His interaction with the postdoctoral researchers during the lunch session was full of useful advice for junior scientists.

         Following the keynote address, the awards were given for the first and second place in the platform session. Seventy poster sessions were judged and top three posters were picked based on their novelty, talent, and scientific significance. In addition to the awards for the poster and platform session, an award was issued to acknowledge the role of the mentor in the biomedical postdoctoral career.

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       The symposium closed out with a reception allowing the participants to socialize over food and wine, but despite the success of the event there were a few disappointments. In particular, it was noted that there was a drop in attendance at the second platform session post-lunch, which could be planned better in 2017 by rearranging the schedule and promoting the event more.

Correspondence: npeart@mail.med.upenn.edu

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