Tuesday, September 28, 2021

A symposium to help Early-Career Investigators (ECIs) working on GPCRs

On July 8, 2021, 500 attendees convened from across North America and Europe for the first Transatlantic ECI GPCR Symposium.

For early-career investigators (ECIs), scientific events are very important to build solid foundations for their career and lab.

The pandemic prevented many of these events from happening over the past 18 months. Recently, a viewpoint was published in ACS Publications on a symposium held using Fourwaves for ECIs working on GPCRs.

The current blog article gives an overview of the symposium which is a good proof of concept on how Fourwaves can be used to organize events that foster collaboration among young PIs.

Event statistics

The event was organized by Nicole Perry-Hauser (Columbia University), Brian Bender (University of California San Francisco), Andreas Bock (Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine, Berlin), and Desislava Nesheva (University of Nottingham).

It was held on July 8th 2021 and the event website can be found here: event.fourwaves.com/ecisymposium/

There was a total of 537 participants from around the world. You can see the world distribution of participants from the image below.

World-distribution

Objectives

The goal of the first Transatlantic ECI GPCR Symposium was to hold a networking event to help ECIs that work on GPCRs. More precisely to help postdoctoral scientists/graduate students:

  • Disseminate their research findings.
  • Network with colleagues.
  • Get feedback from GPCR leaders about science, career trajectory, etc.
  • Provide an opportunity to present their work during a virtual poster session.

Despite the focus on ECIs, many leaders in the field attended the symposium both for the formal talks and also for the networking part and the poster session.

The program

Here's how the event was divided.

Session 1: GPCR Signaling Partners

Talks about the interactions of GPCRs with signaling effectors.

Session 2: Structural Biology

Highlight cutting-edge work at the forefront of GPCR structural biology covering Class A, Class B, and Class D GPCRs.

Keynote 1: Masha Niv (Hebrew Institute of Jerusalem)

The talk was split into 2 parts, either on bitter or sweet taste receptors. She highlighted key challenges in working on these receptors.

Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner Session

26 established investigators were paired with 120 ECIs. Participants were encouraged to ask questions to seek advice on different topics such as: funding, prioritizing lab projects, obtaining first author publications or recommendation letters from supervisors or the difference between academic and industrial research setups.

The importance of strong mentorship was a common theme as management skills and task delegation become increasingly present as one climbs the academic ladder.

Dr. Lefkowitz (2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Brian Kobilka (MD, PhD) discussed the failures associated with scientific research that are inevitable and that is is important to overcome the feelings of discouragement to become a successful scientist.

Session 3: Translational Applications, Drug Discovery, and Advanced Methodology

The last session featured various topics that ranged from methodologies to translational applications of GPCR Research.

Breakout Sessions

The goal was to have a more informal or relaxed ambiance and allow open discussion with attendees.

Virtual Poster session

There were a total of 80 posters. The first 40 even-numbered posters presented in the first 40 minutes, followed by the other half. Attendees were able to browse through the content and engage in video conversations in front of the posters.

Keynote 2: Laura Wingler (Duke University)

Laura Wingler's talk was about biased signaling, where different ligands achieve specific signaling profiles at GPCRs.

Successful results

The success of the event inspired to continuation of the event in Summer 2022. The post event feedback received showed that it was on par with the Gordon or Keystone conferences in the field which is very encouraging for an ECI focused event as noted in the Viewpoint published.

How Fourwaves helped

The Fourwaves platform helped organizers with:

  • The event website.
  • Event registrations.
  • Abstract submission and selection.
  • Guiding participants through the event schedule.
  • Virtual poster sessions.
  • Access to post-event to recordings.
  • Email communication with participants and authors.