A Science Fair, All Grown Up

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

For the junior scientist, the poster session is a rite of passage, an opportunity to think about the big picture, and an exercise in communicating your work to a broad audience. While the NIH Research Festival plenary session and concurrent symposia include talks from mostly senior investigators, the poster sessions provide fellows and early career professionals a platform to share their work with the scientific community. I spoke with a few of the presenters, whose stories demonstrate shared themes in scientific research: collaboration, detailed investigation, and never-ending questions.

Subhashini Jagu from the Office of Cancer Genomics (OCG) was excited to discuss the generation of a database of adult and pediatric cancer genomes through collaborations with research centers across the country. The Cancer Target Discovery and Development (CTD2) database is open to the cancer research community and contains sequence information from millions of individual tumors that can be analyzed and compared to find diagnostic and prognostic markers. Subhashini and the OCG coordinated the efforts of several groups to gather data and launch the massive database. The OCG is now focused on utilizing the database to create in vitro cancer model systems.

Dr. Subhashini Jagu presents details on the programs of the Office of Cancer Genomics.

Kuppusamy Balamurugan, a postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Cell and Developmental Signaling at NCI-Fredrick, has participated in the Research Festival poster session a few years in a row. His work studying C/EBP alpha led to a better understanding of the transcription factor’s function, in particular its role in inflammation and cancer. Through participation in the poster session, Kuppusamy promotes his research and gains exposure as a scientist.

Dr. Kuppusamy Balamurugan shares his research on the role of C/EBP alpha in cancer stem cells.

Erica Bresciani, a researcher in the Oncogenesis and Development Section in NHGRI, presented her Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE) winning research at the poster session, as well as at the Stem Cells in Development and Disease concurrent symposia. She says that she usually gets more in-depth feedback at the oral presentations, but likes the poster session because she can engage people from diverse scientific backgrounds. In her work, she answers important questions about hematopoiesis in zebrafish. However, like with most good research projects, she is left with almost as many questions as answers.

Dr. Erica Bresciani presents her research on factors affecting the development of hematopoietic stem cells.

Overall, more than 300 people presented posters at the 2014 Research Festival, with topics covering the whole gamut of areas investigated at our Institutes and Centers. The energy of each poster session was vibrant. If you ever begin to feel jaded by bench research, attend the poster sessions to recapture your enthusiasm for science. The passion of these young, eager presenters is contagious!

Category: Science