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Young Scientist Forum 2011 – of winners and inspiration

The Auditorium at Lingotto's venue, Turin, Italy

The third and last day of the Young Scientist Forum meeting at Villa Gualino started with symposium on protein’s structures and development with an excellent talk by Marcella Cesana on the role of microRNA in muscle development and it continued with additional talks on disease such as the talk by Carlos RODRIGUES which discussed the de-differentiation of cancer stem cells in regard to lung cancer. Alexey Morozov finalized the oral talks by showing how DNA vaccination protected mice from HCC tumor progression. After a nice lunch we we’re back at our seats waiting for the announcement of the best talk and best poster.

On screen were a select of the pictures that were taken along the meeting and we saw that one of the pictures was of Amir at the podium, answering questions. We immediately told him that there is a good chance he is the winner but he just shrugged and said that he thinks one of the Italian speakers should receive the prize. So, after some words of compliments from prof. Pousada to the young organizers, the chairman of the meeting, Fransesco Rua, drew bingo-style poster numbers for the possibility to win a congress’s T-Shirt while all in the room were waiting anxiously for the announcement of the best oral and poster presenters. Final, he rose and announced that the winner of the best talk was Amir! Amir was very surprised and got up to receive a Toshiba Laptop to the applause of the auditorium (“just in time, my current laptop is already crawling” he said to me afterwards). We made quite a lot of noise, clapping on his back and celebrating with him his personal and professional success. By the time we all gotten quite the best poster Presenter (a crystallographer with a beautiful work on antibiotics) received also a laptop.
An hour later we we’re already on our way to the congress meeting which was held at the Lingotto’s congress venue (former FIAT factory). The main auditorium, which is an impressive and very large hall, contained a HUGE screen that displayed a slide greeting the coming scientists to the 36th FEBS congress. After the welcoming notes by the FEBS representatives, prof. Pier Pandolfi stepped up to the podium and laid his groundbreaking (and most probably controversial) theory of ceRNA, and its effect on cancer research. I remember we left the auditorium enthusiatic about this concept but with some questions in mind. Can ceRNA be so wide spread? And do prokaryotes have similar regulatory system? Anyways, our thoughts we’re quickly overwhelmed by the mass of people trying to reach the welcome reception which included several round tables of buffet. Due to the mass of people and the difficulty to reach the food, we’ve decided to skip it and go directly to the city center, looking for food there. We have kept this custom each evening after the end of the last lecture and I can’t tell you how much good time (and exhaustion) we’ve had at those city tours.

I will conclude the congress by stating that:
– The main themes which dominated the program were RNA, Cancer and Stem cells.
– While the organization in the YSF meeting was almost flawless, the congress sufferd from lack of organization in the areas of Internet accessibility, no proper organization of posters within defined topics and coffee breaks which were lacking any (free) coffee at the first few days.
– Lecture halls in some cases were hard to find (Istanbul hall, for example) as signs were not appropriate clear.

Or as I told me colleagues, I’ve enjoyed the congress but even much more from the company!

Till the next conference…

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