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A Successful Meeting of Minds

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Author: Co-authored by Bridget Ford, PhD and Rheaclare Fraser, PhD | Category: Around Campus | September 29, 2014

After months of planning, our vision for the first collaborative event showcasing postdocs from around San Antonio came to life on September 16, 2014 at the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute. The 2nd Annual San Antonio Postdoctoral Research Forum (SAPRF) & Distinguished Lecture, took place in recognition of National Postdoc Appreciation Week (Yes, this exists); and involved participation from 4 San Antonio institutions: Texas Biomedical Research Institute (TBRI), US Army Institute for Surgical Research (USAISR), University of Texas Health Science at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), and University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).

Many participants, judges, and attendees were impressed by the variety of ongoing research. The poster presentations covered a wide range of topics: iron nanoparticle approaches to kill cancer cells, multidisciplinary treatments of traumatic brain injury, novel targets for multiple sclerosis treatment, and use of non-human primate macrophages to probe ebola virus infectivity. These areas capture a glimpse of the close to 90 presentations, and host of studies across many laboratories aimed at understanding and treating medical- & science-related issues.

The top 3 poster prizes at each institution were awarded to: (TBRI) Manu Anantpadma, Gabriella Worwa, & August Blackburn; (USAISR) Brady Hurtgen, Jud Janak, & Whitney Greene; (UTHSCSA) Jesus Segovia, Chun-Lin Lin, & Amit Bera; and (UTSA) Niannian Ji, Emily Boice, & Sandra Cardona. In addition, the San Antonio Life Sciences Institute’s top prizes were awarded to Stacey Hussong (UTHSCSA) and Rishein Gupta (UTSA).

The SAPRF keynote address was given by Frances A. Colón, PhD, Acting Science & Technology Advisor to the Secretary of State. Dr. Colón’s energetic and inspirational lecture on How Scientists Can Change the World, reminded us to apply our talents and knowledge to build strong relationships among nations. She encouraged postdocs and faculty to think outside of our normal laboratory environments if we want to make a greater impact in our communities and worldwide. Dr. Colón underscored, “scientists are responsible for communicating their science!” Not only in the arenas we most often think of, such as a scientific meeting, but she also encouraged trainees to speak with local grade schools or even just their families about their research. The key is, “you should be able to explain the topic of your work to any audience.”

We are all aware that the current science climate faces great challenges. During the SAPRF, Dr. Colón and UTHSCSA President William Henrich, MD, addressed these issues in an interview with Texas Public Radio, San Antonio Researchers Discuss the Future of Science Education. To combat these issues, we must make critical changes and promote new opportunities for the research we love to continue to grow & thrive!

The 2014 Organizing Committee would like to thank everyone who was involved in making the SAPRF a success. We hope to see you again next year at the 3rd annual SAPRF on Sept 15th 2015. And, finally, you can show your appreciation for postdocs all year long by getting involved with the postdoc group at your institution. To learn more about the UTHSCSA Postdoctoral (UP) Association, Email, and Join our FB page & UP LinkedIn group.

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