Dr. Christopher Fasano, principal investigator at the Neural Stem Cell Institute and creator and host of THE Stem Cell Podcast founded a unique stem cell meeting in 2013. In this short interview I find out about The Next-Gen Stem Cell Conference (to be held this year on May 6-7) and how it differs from the others.
What is the Next-Gen Stem Cell Conference?
The Next-Gen Stem Cell Conference is a meeting where young stem cell scientist get together in a causal setting to exchange talk science, as questions, and have fun. The meeting takes place over two days, May 6 and 7 in beautiful Saratoga NY (see venue above, Saratoga National Golf Club) and the program consists of 12 speakers from all aspects of stem cell research. 90% of the speakers are younger stage scientists, new PI’s, post-docs, grad students, etc. and there are two poster sessions to allow for further scientific exchange. The program is designed to accommodate many questions and dialogue to facilitate discussion. On the conference website there is a short video describing the conference in more detail
Why did you create this conference?
In any profession, conferences are a great way to learn about the work of your peers, and network with the people in your field. In addition, conferences allow you to travel to new places and have some fun with friends and colleagues. The stem cell field is no different, and there have been some great meetings in fantastic locations where I have learned a lot, and met great friends and collaborators. I have been attending these conferences for over 10 years now, and one thing remains the same…the speakers. Now, grant it, these speakers are the experts in the field, and their work has been critical in setting up the field for young stem cell scientists like myself. However, at some point, we need to make sure we give junior investigators a chance to take the lead, as the future of the field relies heavily on us (them). In addition, while these conferences should be a learning experience, they should be fun, and allow ample time for the attendees to let loose, relax, and speak freely, as in my experience, this is when the real ideas start to manifest themselves. One day a friend Dr. Mark Tomishima, director of the stem cell facility at Memorial Sloan Kettering, called me with an idea. He said, “ Hey Fasano, lets start a new conference, focused on junior investigators that’s really fun.” My response, “Definitely!” So that’s what I did.
What makes this conference unique?
First and foremost the atmosphere. This conference is very casual, and has a limited capacity of 150 people to ensure the participants can converse easily. If you have questions you will ask them, if you want to learn a technique you will sit and talk with someone about it, if you want to collaborate with someone you will leave with a new colleague. This meeting spurs conversation and discussion by eliminating intimidation. Secondly, most of the participants tend to be younger scientists so they can easily relate to each other and share experiences. Last but not least, the FUN! Ahh yes, May in Saratoga is beautiful, and this golf club is fantastic. Included in the affordable registration fee are two lunches, one breakfast, and a great dinner with a 4-hour open bar. That open bar will be outside on a beautiful patio overlooking the 18thhole with a live DJ. We have set up discounts at local hotels with shuttles running back and forth to the club. In addition, we have arranged discounted tee times for those who want to play golf on an award-winning course. We also have planned the event to end early on Thursday to allow attendees the chance to visit downtown, historic Saratoga to go shopping, or visit the world famous racetrack!
Who are the speakers this year?
We have a great line up of speakers including Samantha Morris from George Daley’s lab, Dieter Egli from NYSCF, Filipe Pereira from Ihor Lemischka’s lab, Evangelos Kiskinis from Northwestern and many more. The complete list of speakers can be found at www.nextgenstemcell.com/speakers-2.
Can people apply to be a speaker/submit an abstract for a poster?
Absolutely. We encourage all registrants to submit an abstract for a poster. We have set aside two speaker slots this year to be selected for talks so be sure to submit an abstract.
Are there travel grants available?
While there are no travel grants per se, we have made registration quite affordable to ensure a good attendance. If someone out there really wants to come to Next-Gen but just can’t afford it, please e-mail me and we will see what we can do.
How do I register?
Registration is now open and you can do so at www.nextgenstemcell.com. Please register now as seating is limited, and the early registration price ends April 1st. As an extra bonus, please type in BLOG upon checkout and you will receive 20% off your registration!