Saturday, June 15, 2013

HHMI Med Into Grad Research Symposium 2013

As part of my PhD training, I am also earning a certificate in medical science through our University of Pennsylvania Med into Grad (MIG) Program, which is funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).  This program is all about promoting a greater understanding of medicine in graduate education through additional classes, clinic shadowing experiences, and other opportunities.

The HHMI has funded multiple MIG programs at Universities across the country, and each year we get together with other nearby MIG program schools for a two-day symposium.  The symposium is a time for us to meet other graduate students with similar interests, learn about how other MIG programs are working, discuss our science with each other, and have some fun.  This year we met at Yale, along with students from Harvard, Columbia, and the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  The theme for this year’s meeting was ‘Personal Genomics & Personalized Medicine’, which allowed for some really cool presentations about topics that are an important future direction in medicine.

Dr. Jonathan Rothberg, the founder of the 454 Life Sciences company, and current founder and CEO of Ion Torrent, gave one of the faculty talks on the first day.  Dr. Rothberg really led the way toward next generation sequencing, and has opened many avenues for the medical DNA and RNA sequencing applications that we are all excited about today.  His talk highlighted the history of the development of sequencing technologies, how he was inspired to influence the field, and how sequencing technology has been used toward amazing medical advances.  We also heard talks from Dr. Richard Lifton, Dr. Lajos Pusztai, Dr. Murat Gunel, and Dr. Judy Cho.

In addition to the faculty talks, poster session, and fun evening events, we concluded the symposium on the second day with student research talks, which I participated in.  I talked about the “The dynamic microbiomes associated with traumatic wound healing”, presenting some exciting new data we have collected regarding microbiome colonization and persistence in traumatic wounds (picture to the left).  The presentation, along with the following Q&A, was a great opportunity to tell others about my research, and to discuss different scientific aspects with my peers from other institutes.

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