by Dr. Youssra Kareem Al-Hilaly, Mustansiriyah University, Iraq.
On 31st August 2018, I attended the protein disulphide bonds- biochemistry, biotechnology and biomedical impact conference organised by the Biochemical society at the university of Kent. I am a research fellow working on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and more specifically on tau protein, which is associated with the pathogenesis of the disease. I am interested in understanding how disulphide bonds affect tau aggregation and assembly, which is what happen in a group of neurodegenerative diseases collectively called tauopathies, which include AD. At this exciting conference, I got to present my work to an enthusiastic scientific audience comprised of graduate students to Professors all interested in biomedical research. I also learned a great deal about the native and non-native disulphide bonds, which are involved in many biochemical processes. Thus, I was very happy I attended the conference.
However, for me, it is important to highlight one of the key things that attracted my attention at the conference. In recent years, I have seen a great attention given to the role of women in science, especially in the UK. As a female scientist that came from a male dominated society. Seeing and knowing many great examples of female scientists at the conference was extremely motivating and inspiring. Indeed, at the conference, there were many posters showing talented female scientists that made a significant contribution to science and had their fingerprint in many fields that currently impacts on education, economy and policy.
Robert Freedman, the Biochemical society chair from 1996-1998, designed these posters originally as part of his research on the role of women in the biochemical society’s early history. He also proposed this scientific meeting, which aims to bring scientists and specialists together to address a big unresolved question on the role of disulphide bond in protein folding processes. Unfortunately, he passed away before finishing all the preparation. Though not alive to hear me, what a great initiative this has been, for which I have now learned lots more and received further inspiration about science as a female scientist.
The conference enabled me to interact with many scientists and gave me new ideas. For instance, I met Professor Mick Tuite, with whom we discussed extensively about my project, which has further given me new ideas. The conference was well organised and covered a wide range of subjects that mainly focused on the role of disulphide in many biochemical process and biotechnological application. I met many people who are working on protein folding and misfolding and it was a great opportunity to exchange knowledge and share our experiences. I believe we need these types of event to establish a new collaboration and learn from each other. The conference met my expectation and I wouldn’t mind having them multiple times a year.