From June 9-14 I traveled to Tuscany, Italy to present a poster at the Microfluidics GRC. My poster was on the topic of automated identification of GEDI-captured cells from fluorescent microscope images, and I had good discussions with other attendees at the poster session. The rigorous scientific content of the conference, the remoteness of the location, and the informality of the atmosphere promoted frequent opportunities for meaningful interactions with students, post-docs, professors, and industry scientists.
Leaders in the field gave talks on fluidic control, paper microfluidics, microfluidic acoustics, centrifugally-driven microfluidics, diagnostics, commercialization, and next-gen sequencing, and after each talk, ample time was allotted for discussion. I particularly enjoyed learning about paper microfluidics and centrifugally-driven microfluidics: two technologies with which I have had very little experience before this conference.
The idea of open-source science came up in discussion, spawning an ongoing debate for the remainder of the conference. For example, proponents discussed how open source could lower the barrier to entry for scientific discovery and increase the rate of discovery. Opponents questioned how credit would be assigned, whether this compromises students’ developing careers, and whether full disclosure discourages formation of startup companies and collaborations with industry.
I am currently preparing my attendance at the Gordon Research Seminar and Conference on microfluidics June 8-14, in Tuscany, Italy. Things have been quite hectic lately, mostly because I am trying to submitt my latest results for publication, analyze new data and prepare my poster for the conference, all at the same time. Nevertheless, I feel like I have made a breakthrough in the last couple months, as I have been able to move from doing strictly cell line experiments to analyzing patients samples in my new device platform.
I must say I am really looking forward to spending a week in Tuscany, with a powerhouse of microfluidics researchers. I am also looking forward to catching up with some of my previous advisors.
I recently attended the Fourth Annual NCI Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers (PS-OCs) Network Investigators’ Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, as part of my research is supported by the Cornell Center for Microenviroment and Metastasis PS-OC.
During this conference I presented a poster describing some of the recent progress I have made regarding parallelized immunocapture of circulating pancreatic cells. I also presented some of our clinical data on circulating pancreatic cell capture in an at-risk population. The poster received a good amount of attention and I had some meaningful conversations with NCI executives.
As the name implies the PS-OC network was a quite unique mixture of physical scientists, biologists and medical doctors. As a result, the presentations and discussions spanned a very wide range of topics and perspectives. I especially enjoyed the discussions on; whether cancer should be viewed as a neo-darwinian or atavistic process, if cancer is a disease or not, and what the nature of the Warburg effect is, even if these topics are outside the realm of my own research. These discussions brought to attention the difference in language use and research culture between physical scientists and medical doctors, pathologists in particular. This of course highlights both the challenges and the unique potential of the PS-OC network, as it forces these two aspects of cancer research to meet.
As the PS-OC NCI grant is on its final year, a clear focus of the meeting was to consolidate the research efforts within and between the PS-OCs for the last year and to prepare the work towards renewing the grant.
I recently attended the Tumor Microenviroment – NYC (TME-NYC) First Annual Symposium: Mechanisms and Therapeutic Implications at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
The meeting had a interesting line-up of speakers, mainly from WCMC and neighboring hospitals, focusing on different aspects of the tumor microenviroment and metastasis. My attendance at this meeting was supported by the Cornell Center for Microenviroment and Metastasis PS-OC.
After having finished my summer immersion at WCMC, I applied for and won a HHMI med-into-grad scholarship what will allow me to continue the work on microfluidic methods for breast cancer relapse prediction that I started over the summer. This project aims to develop a methodology that allows for the microfluidic capture and identification of circulating progenitor cells and their use as biomarkers for breast cancer relapse. I am very excited to continue this work, as it has a great potential impact and adds functionality to our GEDI device platform. Circulating progenitor constitute an important piece of the puzzle of metastasis, and the potential of interrogating these cells in parallel with circulating tumor cells is very appealing.