I recently attended the 2013 Gordon Research Conference on the Physics and Chemistry of Microfluidics in Barga, Italy. At this meeting I presented my poster on the early detection and genetic analysis of pancreatic cancer using our microfluidic GEDI devices, for which I was awarded 3rd prize in the poster competition.
Although I had many and high expectations for this meeting, I must say that it exceeded all of them. I had a truly great time at this conference and I learned a lot. I have never before gotten the opportunity to have so many good conversations with prominent researchers and peers.
The GRC was preceded by a Gordon Research Seminar for PhD students, post docs and young investigators. Having this opportunity to get to know peers before the arrival of most of the attending professors I think is a great thing. This way us students are able to establish professional relationships and discuss research related topics without the sometimes intimidating presence of senior researchers. It was also a very valuable opportunity to talk to peers about their experiences in grad school which gives valuable perspective on your own experience.
Overall the atmosphere was very open and centered around discussion of the topic at hand. A very clear focus was put on the translation of laboratory techniques and devices in to real world applications, something I am very interested in as see as a great challenge in my work.
As part of the BME Summer Immersion Program, I have spent my summer at Weill Cornell Medical College shadowing clinicians in the hospital and engaging in clinical research. Through the program I was matched with Dr. Jonathan Weinsaft, a cardiologist who specializes in cardiac MRI, through whom I was able to observe diagnostic imaging procedures (CT, MRI) and subsequent analysis, as well attend cardiac care unit rounds. I also shadowed Dr. Divya Gupta, a gynecologic oncologist with whom the Kirby lab is interested in collaborating, in the clinic to see gynecologic exams and understand how a patient goes from an initial visit to a treatment plan. Additionally, I have attended rounds in the pediatric ICU and emergency department.
What I have most greatly enjoy seeing is the practice of medicine–the interactions between patients and the medical team, the complications of language barriers and insurance issues, the difficulties in establishing courses of treatment with which patients will be compliant. What most surprised me (ironically) is that patients enter the hospital when sick, and that they rarely have only one health concern–a patient complaining of chest pain might also have high blood pressure, diabetes, lupus, etc. and the challenge is in managing all of these conditions simultaneously.
The Immersion Program also includes a small research project. For this, I am working with Dr. Weinsaft on developing a method of automatically detecting thrombus (blood clots) in long-axis, long T1 inversion time MR images.