I recently attended one of the largest scientific meetings in the country, the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. It was held at “Gran Hotel Termas de Chillán”, a 5-star hotel right in the middle of the mountain. We had access to hot springs and pools and we were surrounded by the most beautiful scenery.
|With two friends, outside the hotel|
The meeting was fascinating, although a little too “biochem-oriented” for my taste (rather than molbio-oriented). I got to meet Rob Martienssen, a Professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory working on plant epigenetics, with whom I shared a good number of wine bottles over dinner on various nights and many of what he referred to as “Chile Libre” (you know Cuba Libre right? Rum + Coke. Rob defined Chile Libre as Pisco + Coke). Meeting Rob (who invited me to visit his lab when I fly to the US, see below) was definitely one of the meeting highlights for me.
The meeting was divided in a number of different Symposiums, with topics ranging from Virology, Plant Biochemistry and Biomedicine, to Cell Signalling and Bioinformatics, just to name a few.
A particularly interesting Symposium was the one on Plant Small RNAs, in which Rob, along with Scott Poethig and our very own Rodrigo Gutierrez, discussed a variety of small RNA-regulated processes in plants.
Also, we got to listen to David Holmes talk about the “challenges and opportunities for life at pH:1”, which focused on comparative genomics, and to Richard Garrat discuss the classification of protein domain folds (there's actually a protein chart with a number of different folds, resembling a periodic table).
Giancarlo de Ferrari, presently at Univ. Andrés Bello, also gave a very interesting talk on the role of Wnt signalling pathway in neurological diseases and how his group is using data derived from GWAS to address this.
|With my PI, outside the hotel|
All in all, I had a great time, I got to show my work to others (and almost got the prize for Best Poster - I was among the 3 finalists-) and bonded with my labmates, which is always important. My idea is to now attend two other meetings in the near future: one in Europe, from which I’m still waiting to hear back, and the very popular Fungal Genetics meeting, which will take place in Asilomar, California on March 2011. I have to somehow raise money to attend these meetings, so maybe I should get a paper route (or 10,000 of them!).
On another note and to wrap this up, here’s a small rant: it doesn’t matter where you are, you’ll always run into people that will try to cram 40 slides into 10-min talks. Obviously, they are not able to finish in time and so, when the session chair tells them they are out of time, they’ll keep on talking and fly through ten slides filled with data. What’s wrong with those guys? Session chairs should have the power to smack them in the head and send them outside to “think of what they’ve done”.