As the yearly meeting of 6 scientific societies, Experimental Biology is unique because it brings together a wide variety of scientists: anatomists, physiologists, molecular biologists, biochemists, cell biologists, pathologists, nutritionists and pharmacologists.  As attendees, all of us have the opportunity to meet and learn from each other.  I believe scientific discoveries and advances occur when scientists meet and discuss their work with others outside their area of expertise.

As a medical writer, Experimental Biology is an opportunity for me to learn about the latest scientific and medical research which I may write about in the coming year, as well as talk to other educators about teaching science.  This year I also shared my career path with other scientists and trainees, met new clients, and listened to journal editors talk about publishing in scientific journals.  Here are some of the highlights from the sessions I participated in and attended:

  • In the American Physiological Society’s Trainee Session I spoke on Medical Writing as an alternate career option for PhDs, with a focus on skills transferable from the bench to medical writing.
  • In the Physiology PhUn Day poster session, I received an award for participating in Physiology PhUn Day for 5 years and presented the poster “Boston Children’s Museum: A Wonderland for Physiology,” which describes how a museum can be used to teach physiology to kids and their grownups.
  • At the teaching section poster session, I presented my Physiology PhUn day poster and discussed teaching physiology with other physiologists and teachers. I found a few new activities to use for this year’s Physiology PhUn day.
  • I attended two sessions on communicating science: one presented by the American Physiological Society and one from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The American Physiological Society’s session focused on working with local and national news organizations. The speakers shared information on working with the media, differences in word choice and meanings used by scientists and the general public as well as suggestions for preparing to contact the media and for interviewing. The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s session was a hands on session for scientists to learn to communicate their work as a story.
  • A session with journal editors included a discussion of statistics and using the p-value to evaluate statistical results from a scientific paper. The American Statistical Association recently released a statement on p-values

Some Scientific Highlights

  • Exercise protects the heart in cancer patients. People who are in better shape and adhere to the national guidelines for regular exercise respond better to chemotherapy and have a lower risk of cardiovascular problems. This is important because chemotherapy can accelerate the aging process.
  • Dietary influences on physiological control mechanisms show that the time of day you eat and the types of food ingested influence your body weight, making it easier or harder to maintain or lose weight.
  • Sleep is very important in weight regulation. People who don’t sleep a full night have hormone changes which can lead to weight gain.
  • Chronic inflammatory diseases are often associated with behavioral issues. Studies are investigating the effects of peripheral inflammation on immune-brain communication through changes in neuronal and synaptic function.
  • Interesting websites for anyone to learn about physiology are:

I look forward to attending next year’s conference!

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