BSMB/BSDB Joint meeting – The Musculoskeletal System: from development to disease
1st -3rd September 2014, University of East Anglia
The first joint meeting of the BSMB and BSDB was, in our opinion, a great success. The meeting was held over three days and was packed with brilliant science from areas of musculoskeletal research from the talks, posters and general discussions. The conference was held in the newly built Julian Study Centre at the University of East Anglia, which boasts well-equipped lecture theatres and small meeting rooms, with inviting break out spaces.
The opening keynote speaker, Tom Rando, provided a brilliant start to the conference with a fascinating account of his group’s work into a primed state of quiescent stem cells, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the conference for me (DB), as it’s closely related to my research. This was followed by an exciting afternoon of presentations within the fields of signalling and development. Standout talks from this session included Gabrielle Kardon on the development of the diaphragm, Malcolm Logan on muscle and tendon formation in the limb and Christine Hartmann on bone development. One great feature of the conference was the opportunities offered to PhD students and post-docs to present their work should they be selected from submitted abstracts. I (GFM) had my abstract selected and was able to present my work during this session along with Anne-Gaelle Borycki, Dylan Sweetman, Susanne Dietrich, Clare Thompson and Sue Kimber. The first day ended with an evening poster session and reception.
The atmosphere at the poster session was exciting and stimulating, fuelled by a couple of glasses of free wine and nibbles, conversations around posters were bustling. This was my (DB) first opportunity to present some of my PhD work in the form of a poster and the sessions allowed for brilliant discussions of my (DB) work with other students working in the field, but also with experienced researchers. It felt great to be able to discuss and get feedback on my work from my peers.
The second day consisted of two sessions, the first focusing on ‘Mechanobiology and Anatomy’. The session started with a fascinating talk from Eli Zelzer, with his group’s novel take on the mechanics of fracture repair. Other great talks included Mario Giorgi on the role of fetal movement in joint morphogenesis and Chrissy Hammond on jaw development in zebrafish. After a quick coffee break, I (GFM) was hugely impressed with talks by Ronen Schweitzer on tendon growth in the mouse limb and Andy Pitsillides on his group’s work on limb growth and joint formation.
The afternoon session was on ‘Human Genetics and Pathology’ with talks by Mike Briggs, Qing-Jun Meng, Madelaine Durbeej, Linda Troeberg and Veronique Lefebvre. The talks offered a great insight into the current research into various dystrophies and we think this was another ‘plus point’ for the meeting as it allowed the combination of developmental biologists and matrix biologists to share ideas with each other, thus initiating stimulating discussions and possible collaborations.
The conference dinner was held at St. Andrews Hall in the centre of Norwich, a grade 1 listed building dating back to the 14th Century. This provided a great venue and atmosphere for more relaxed discussions of the days events. The three-course meal included salmon, pan-fried lamb and lemon tart (plus unlimited wine!).
The final day played host to the final session on ‘Transcriptional and Epigenetic Regulation’ with great talks by Cay Kielty on genotypes of fibrillinopathies and Simon Tew on gene regulation in chondrocytes. The BSMB also awarded the Young Investigator Award to Blandine Poulet and she gave a lovely talk on her work on modelling osteoarthritis. The final keynote speaker, David Glass, in my opinion (GFM) gave the most fascinating and entertaining talk on his group’s work in developing an antibody treatment for patients with muscular atrophies. It was a great talk to end a fantastic conference. The final session of the day concluded with prizes awarded for PhD students and post-docs for best talk and best posters judged by the invited keynote speakers – this was a great incentive for those who presented their posters and a great way to network.
We would like to give our thanks and congratulations to everyone involved in organising the conference (Ulrike Mayer, Andrea Munsterberg, Graham Riley, Ian Clarke and Tonia Vincent. It was a privilege to be involved in the first joint meeting of the BSMB and BSDB, which we thought was a great success between the two societies and their members, and hope that there will be future joint meetings again. We would also like to thank the BSDB/Company of Biologists for providing travel awards for us to attend.
Danielle Blackwell (PhD student) and Gi Fay Mok (Post Doc), Münsterberg lab, UEA