Prize winning posters in Dublin

As well as all the networking, debate and new information being shared, the International Symposium on ALS/MND is also a time to celebrate achievements by the giving of awards. The Biomedical and Clinical poster prizes are an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the excellent research and clinical practice being conducted by those early in their career.

Now in its fourth year we hope that the poster prizes will help give the winners career a boost, and give them the encouragement and motivation to continue in MND/ALS research.poster-prize-winners-low-res This year the Panel selected an international group of winners: Dr Albert Lee from Australia and Elsa Tremblay from Canada were jointly awarded the Biomedical poster prize and Ruben van Eijk from The Netherlands won the Clinical poster prize. Each winner received a certificate and a glass engraved paperweight.

The prize winning research ranged from understanding the consequences of a newly discovered gene mutation linked to MND, to why the junction between nerves and muscles is one of the earliest signs of motor neurone damage, to a new statistical analysis to make clinical trials quicker and more efficient. Below I’ve explained more about the research that the winners presented. Continue reading

Brussels sprouts poster prize stars

A few days before Christmas, I hope that you’ll forgive the obvious pun. Rather than the small green vegetable that you either love or hate, here I’m talking sprouts of new shoots of talent shown by the winners of the poster prizes. They were chosen from over 300 poster presentations at the International Symposium on ALS/MND held in Brussels at the beginning of December.

It was the second year that poster prizes were a feature of the conference. The purpose of the prize was three-fold: to increase the profile of the poster sessions of the meeting; to recognise the quality of the work presented there and to reward presenters of outstanding work. Continue reading

Celebrating posters

If you followed the reporting about the symposium last weekend, I’m willing to bet (but I haven’t checked!) that most it will have been about the talks that people attended or liked. When actually, a large proportion of the research presented at the International Symposium on ALS/MND is in the form of a poster.

Milan poster session discussion

Delegates discuss a poster presentation

A poster is a hard copy of a research study, it can be the latest results or developing a new methodology. It’s quite often a PhD student’s introduction into presenting their work face to face to their peers.

Following the day’s talks, on the first and second evening of the symposium, it was time for an opportunity for some informal networking around the posters. At allocated time slots presenters stand by their work and explain it to fellow delegates. (They also have time to visit other posters too).

For twenty of those presenting posters, there was an additional pressure. They were on the shortlist for the International Symposium Clinical and Scientific Poster Prizes respectively.

Continue reading

Abstract statistics

In the heat of August (for once I can actually write that, without my fingers crossed behind my back!), statistics relating to the production of the must-have document for the 24th International Symposium on ALS/MND in Milan in December might seem extremely ‘abstract’!

Abstracts are scientific summaries of the research that will be presented at the largest annual scientific conference on MND, organised by the MND Association. We have had a bumper year for people wishing to present their work, with over 500 summaries received. sympopromo

In the last month, my colleagues Lucy, Sam and Pauline have been busy preparing the text of these summaries, to send to the publisher. We pressed the ‘send’ button on the 15 August, much to the relief of all concerned.

They will be published online for all to access and download at the beginning of November. But if you’re curious to see what they look like, the presentations from last year are still available.

Here’s a countdown of some of the abstract statistics so far:

  • 750, 000 + words read in total by the research team at the MND Association between May and August
  • 189, 618 words were sent to the publishers for the abstract book, in the form of a 357 page document (Font: Times 10 pt in case you were wondering.. !)
  •  3, 515 different researchers have contributed to the abstracts, making an average of 7 authors per summary – showing the truly collaborative nature of MND research
  • 103 talks are scheduled in the programme, now available to view online on our website
  •  320 poster presentations in the abstract book, with over 70 additional posters to be presented on care practice and work in progress

We look forward to sharing with you our progress as we prepare for Milan. You can also follow the story on Twitter using the #alssymp hashtag.

A 'Word Cloud' created with Wordle.net

A ‘Word Cloud’ created with Wordle.net

It almost time for my annual upload of matters MND research!

Whilst I try and keep up to date with what’s going on in the field for the rest of the year, it definitely goes in peaks and troughs. One ‘peak’ occurs in May, when I’m reading through the Symposium abstracts for the first time. Another is at the end of our research funding cycles, when Sadie, Marion and Natasha have done all the hard work of getting the applications out to review and comments back again and final decisions have been made on what we’re able to fund.

At the Symposium I get to hear more about those abstracts that really sparked my interest in May. This year, I feel I’ve been slightly more organised than usual and I already have a list of poster presentations I’d like to visit. (It’s a much harder task to decide which posters to visit compared to which talks to listen to- there are more posters!). Part of this organisation is that as the abstracts have been available and online for almost three weeks now I really don’t have an excuse not to do any work before I get there (you can read them too – here) !

The grants that we are funding give me a chance to personally connect with some of the research underway. I might have the opportunity to catch up with some of the researchers working on these projects. It’s always good to put a face to a name, and occasionally I can point them in the direction of someone that they might be interested in collaborating with. Alternatively, I might see that a presentation being given at the Symposium has links with research we’re funding.

As well as learning about the new insights into the understanding of the various aspects of MND, the lab nerd in me is also on the look-out for novel experimental techniques! How people get the results is almost as interesting as what they found. (If two people can get the same results via two different methods, it gives us extra confidence that the results are right – this confirmation or repetition of results is a fundamental principle of scientific research).

I’m particularly looking forward to hearing what everyone’s talking about at this year’s Symposium, I hope that I can give you a flavour of what’s its like in the final preparations and attending this buzzy and exciting event over the next few weeks.