A Postdoc’s Perspective on ASCB 2014

Vinay Ramabhadran, PhD – January 12, 2015

The City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, hosted the 2014 annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology. There were over 5000 participants – students, postdocs, faculty (including a few nobel laureates) and exhibitors, spanning the breadth of basic biology. This was my 6th ASCB meeting and I have always loved the meeting for both the scientific and nonscientific aspects. On the science side, ASCB has had some of best talks I have heard on multidisciplinary, innovative approaches to solving fundamental questions in cell biology.

One of my favorite sessions this year was the mini-symposium of cutting edge imaging techniques. Personally, I felt that the timing for this session was apt considering that the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Eric Betzig, Stephan Hell and William Moerner “for development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy”. Modern imaging techniques are allowing us to study fundamental biological processes with unprecedented detail and imaging tools developed by the aforementioned individuals (and others) are helping us tease apart some of the greatest mysteries in modern biology.

Of interest was also the Future of Research subgroup which followed up on the Future of Research symposium held in Boston earlier this year. This symposium reminded us about the current funding situation for biomedical research, the need to educate students and postdocs about non-academic jobs and gave researchers career related advice. At a time when funding for basic research is hard to come by from the NIH, ASCB is doing its part by educating scientists on how to be better at grant writing and the importance of looking for funding from other sources apart from the just the NIH.

By the time the meeting was over, I had learned a ton about the cutting edge research being done around the world, caught up with old colleagues, made new friends and eaten about hmm … 5 Philly cheesesteaks. I am looking forward to the next meeting in (warm and sunny) San Diego!

Vinay Ramabhadran, PhD is an American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellow at the Isberg Lab, Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Tufts University School of Medicine.