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Conference highlights latest developmental biology research

May. 23, 2013, 8:37 AM

Developmental biologists from all over the southern United States — and even a researcher from Canada — congregated in Nashville last week to learn about the latest findings in research areas including organogenesis, stem cells, tissue regeneration and gene regulation.

The annual Southeast Regional meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology, hosted by Vanderbilt for the first time since 2006, broke participant records with 163 investigators registered and 81 posters presented.

The Society for Developmental Biology sponsors regional meetings all over the country in addition to its annual national meeting. A potential host institution must submit a meeting proposal and budget prior to securing sponsorship from the Society.

“It’s an honor to host the regional meeting. It gives Vanderbilt the opportunity to showcase its Program in Developmental Biology and to introduce investigators from around the region to Vanderbilt’s culture and scientific excellence,” said Maureen Gannon, Ph.D., vice chair for Faculty Development and associate professor of Medicine.

Maureen Gannon, Ph.D.

Gannon submitted the proposal for hosting the meeting and served as the main organizer. Joining her on the organizing committee were David Bader, Ph.D., Joshua Gamse, Ph.D., Jason Jessen, Ph.D., Mark Magnuson, M.D., and Christopher Wright, D.Phil.

The program included educational sessions, two keynote lectures, poster sessions and research sessions featuring presentations by invited speakers and by selected graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

A key feature of the regional meeting agenda is balancing the model organisms discussed, speaker gender, and large and small research institutions, Gannon said. At this year’s meeting, students from Rhodes College (Memphis), Lipscomb University, Fisk University and Austin Peay State University presented posters or talks. Frank Costantini, Ph.D., professor of Genetics and Development at Columbia University, and Lynn Riddiford, Ph.D., professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus, presented the keynote lectures.

The best postdoctoral and graduate student poster presenters at regional meetings receive a travel fellowship to attend the national meeting, which will be held this year in Cancun, Mexico. Winners for the Southeast Region were Deirdre Lyons, Ph.D., from Duke University and Katherine O’Shaughnessy from the University of Florida. Two Vanderbilt graduate students, Daniel Levic and Spencer Willet, received honorable mention for their posters.

The meeting was an enormous success, Gannon said. “Many attendees mentioned that this was one of the best regional meetings they had ever attended.”

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