Experimental Biology 2017 – a showcase for interdisciplinary collaboration

By James Brown, Education and Public Engagement Officer, Biochemical Society

In April, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Experimental Biology (EB) conference in Chicago. The conference is the annual meeting of six societies comprised of more than 14,000 scientists and 50 guest societies. The primary focus areas include anatomy, biochemistry and molecular biology, investigative pathology, nutrition, pharmacology, and physiology. Attendees represent scientists from academic institutions, government agencies, non-profit organizations and industry.

Such a diverse and broad audience seemed like the perfect opportunity to launch the Biochemical Society’s newest journal, Emerging Topics in Life Sciences (ETLS). Co-owned with the Royal Society of Biology, the journal reflects the interdisciplinary nature of life science research. Each issue focusses on a new, or growing, key topic and is guest edited by an expert in that field. The first issue, Antibiotics of the Future, was released the day before the conference began, so EB 2017 seemed like a good opportunity to celebrate. Visitors to our stand were treated to cake and ETLS pens as well as the opportunity to meet Director of Publishing, Niamh O’Connor, and Executive Editor, Clare Curtis.

JB1Figure 1 Executive Editor Clare Curtis cuts the cake to launch Emerging Topics in Life Sciences

Timing was very much on our side, as we managed to act as dessert to all those who had been enjoying The Physiological Society’s Pizza and Beer hour.

The theme of interdisciplinary collaboration continued throughout the conference, none more so than at the mixer organized jointly by the Biochemical Society, the British Pharmacological Society, The Physiological Society and The Nutrition Society. This was an opportunity to network and mingle with members of sister societies and discuss the conference so far.

JB2Figure 2 The cross society mixer at EB 2107

The collaboration didn’t end there; the American Physiological Society (APS) Cardiovascular Section Clinical Science Young Investigator Award was sponsored by Clinical Science, which is published by Portland Press. The award was presented to Aaron A. Phillips from the University of British Columbia at the section banquet held in the Chicago Sports Museum. Attendees were able to practise their baseball pitching and football throwing skills while celebrating the achievements of APS members.

JB3Figure 3 Clinical Science Young Investigator awardee Aaron Phillips with (l-r) Niamh O’Connor, Clare Curtis and Clinton Webb

A new collaboration at the meeting this year was Portland Press sponsoring a Pre-Doctoral Research Recognition award for the American Physiological Society Water and Electrolyte Homeostasis (WEH) section. This was awarded to Jeremy Sandgren by Professor Stefan Roberts, Honorary Meetings Secretary, at the APS WEH Section luncheon.

Whilst all this scientific collaboration and communication was taking place inside the McCormick Place convention centre, the rest of Chicago was also coming together to celebrate science. The March for Science took place just a short walk from the convention centre and an estimated 40,000 people joined in to stand up for the importance of scientific research. A timely reminder that the work we do as scientists and researchers is valued by society and has a demonstrable and measurable impact on the world around us.

JB4Figure 4 The Chicago March for Science April 2017

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