Saturday, April 26, 2014

Meeting of the Minds

One of the very exciting things that happened at this year’s HPS Conference was the Meeting of the Minds. You can read the news story about it here. This, however, is my take on it. 

The Meeting of the Minds was the first ever formally organized meeting for HPS researchers held at the HPS Conference. There is some HPS history behind this. For many years researchers have met amongst themselves on Saturday afternoon while we all enjoy sessions. We’ve provided them with a room and a lunch, but it was informal. 

In the past we’ve offered to organize even an HPS researcher conference in conjunction with the Network conference. If it could be useful, why not? We would benefit from the economies of scale on room rates and meeting room rates. Many of our researchers are already devoting their weekend to the cause because they are coming to speak to us. We’ve already paid for their travel. Until now, they’ve preferred the informal setting. Last year, however, they asked if they could make it a more formalized event. 

So, we stepped it up a notch. We invited Dr. Kotton (you can read about him in the news story) to come and talk to the HPS researchers about the latest developments in stem cell research. They think they may be able to use stem cells taken from HPS blood to make a certain type of lung cell much needed for research. This would be a huge breakthrough for us. Other lung diseases are able to get tissue from lung biopsies for research, but because HPSers bleed so easily, this is not an option for us. Lung tissue can only come from explanted lungs or from the lungs of HPSers who have died. Even if the patient is willing, it can be really hard to get the sample the way the researchers need it. 

The meeting was a success. Techniques were discussed and plans for continued collaboration on some project throughout the year were made. In fact, the researchers have asked us to EXPAND the meeting! Happy to do it! 

It means, however, that this year we’ve got to raise even more money for conference to cover the expanded doctor meeting. What do you think HPS community? Up to the challenge to make headway on the cure? 

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