Collaboration is key: TBMM research conference

How often do you take time from your day to reach outside of your specific field to gain knowledge, which could ultimately benefit what you do every day in your work?

This kind of research collaboration is the goal of Baylor College of Medicine’s Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine Interdisciplinary Graduate Program Research Conference.

The TBMM graduate program strives to bridge the gap between basic and clinical science, and their annual student-organized research conference reflects this goal with a series of valuable, informative presentations from students, faculty members, and a keynote speaker.

“The conference is organized primarily by the students, for the students,” said third-year student Simran Madan, who’s on the organizing committee, “Presentations, which could range from infectious diseases to cancer to neurological disorders, show the diversity of the TBMM program.”

The TBMM program is an interdepartmental graduate program, and Madan said the conference shows how scientists and clinicians from different fields can collaborate to solve a problem that will ultimately benefit research and patients.

This is Madan’s second time on the organizing committee, which is also comprised of second-year student Alyssa Johnston, fourth-year student Triparna Ghosh-Choudhury and fifth-year student Antonina Kurtova.

Outstanding keynote speakers

Madan explained that immediately after one conference ends, the student organizing committee starts planning and reaches out to potential keynote speakers to book them for the next conference, which results in top-notch keynote speakers.

This year, Dr. Marius Wernig, assistant professor, Department of Pathology, Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine from Stanford University School of Medicine will speak on the direct conversion of fibroblasts to the neural lineage. These neuronal cells can then be used for treating neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. In other words, Wernig will present on his exceptional stem cell research and its application to neural regeneration.

“Cell therapy – the next big thing – has far-reaching applications,” said Madan, “Wernig’s work is fascinating; it can change the way we think about therapeutics and stem cell research.”

Wernig’s keynote speech is open to the public and takes place on Friday, Sept. 27, 4 p.m., at Baylor College of Medicine’s Cullen Auditorium.

Career advice

In addition to the keynote speaker, there will be breakout sessions including a panel of experts on potential career paths for biomedical students. Experts on the panel include Dr. Helen Lane, who is the manager of university research and affairs with NASA Johnson Space Center, Dr. Upendra Marathi, senior vice president, PLx Pharma, and other representatives from a variety of fields.

Students will have valuable exposure to options available to them after their Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. degrees, and this event, which takes place from 2:15-3:45 p.m. in Cullen Auditorium, is also open to the public.

Madan said that the conference, which is in its fifth year, has a far-reaching impact.

“This conference has something for everyone, especially since we have students and faculty from many different departments,” she said, “The purpose is that the exchange of information happens with ease and reaches a broader audience.”

Have you attended the TBMM conference in the past? Please share your experiences here.

Questions about the upcoming conference? Contact Holly Wilbanks, Academic Administrator, Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine.

-By Jordan Magaziner

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