Keystone National MD/PhD Conference

Q: Where is the best place to meet future colleagues?

A: 9,280 feet above sea level in Keystone, CO.

There may be less oxygen that high in the mountains, but there was no lack of opportunity at this year’s National MD/PhD conference. Small groups of students from MSTP and MD/PhD programs shore to shore coalesced in Keystone, Colorado with an impressive line-up of established physician-scientists to catch up on research happenings and gain valuable program advice. Students from all levels of the program were present, including 4 students from UAB: Jarrod Meadows (GS4), Jeremie Lever (GS1), Muhan Hu (GS1), and myself, Paige Souder (MS2).

Neuroscience seemed to be the unofficial theme of the conference, with keynote speakers addressing topics such as the genetics of schizophrenia, regulation of the basal ganglia, and sodium channel mutations in epilepsy. Other speakers addressed cancer, stem cells, and (the grand finale) clinical trials from the Deputy Commissioner for Medical Products and Tobacco for the U.S. FDA, Dr. Robert Califf. (side note: that mustache…on point).

The big dogs weren’t the only ones catching attention, though. Two poster sessions and several oral presentations provided students an opportunity to share their work. Photo-op here for our lovely students posing by their even lovelier posters.

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Jeremie Lever, always entertaining others.
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Jarrod Meadows, looking excited about those methylation patterns.
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Paige Souder, with those many, many pie charts.
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Muhan Hu, definitely ready to give breast cancer a piece of her mind.

Even presenting a rotation poster was useful, in my opinion. I gained experience presenting and talking to more experienced scientists, and learned a thing or two from touring the other students’ posters. I imagine the benefit only expands as you become more invested in your project and can discuss your research more thoroughly with passerby. In addition to research talks, several breakout sessions were offered on topics ranging from the GS3/4-MS3 transition and residency to industry and bioinformatics. Sure to please.

And of course, we weren’t about to go to Colorado without taking advantage of that awesome landscape. While the exceptionally motivated students went on a 14er hike (that’s 14000 feet, not 14 miles, I learned) at 5:30am Sunday morning, we decided to make our own adventure, including stand-up paddle boarding on the resort lake, mountain biking, exploring a nearby village, and riding the gondola up to the mountain tops for some breathtaking scenery…and, uh…clouds.

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Wicked view for the bike ride. Tons of fun. Very uphill.
Wicked view for the bike ride. Tons of fun. Very uphill.

At any rate, I speak for myself, Jarrod, Jeremie, and Muhan when I say this year’s Keystone was fantastic. Not a bad perk that each UAB MSTP gets one free ride during their time in the program. It was definitely worth the trip and I would encourage any budding physician-scientist to attend.

Stay in touch with UAB MSTP by clicking the “follow” link above and look forward to a variety of rad posts in your future!

-Paige

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