Great science and amazing mountain views at the Banff Inflammation Workshop 2015

The 9th Banff Inflammation Workshop was organised by the Inflammation Research Network (IRN) to bring together leading scientists of the field. I have recently joined Dr. Constance Finney’s lab, moving from Scotland to Calgary. Therefore, this event gave me the opportunity to meet local researchers, as well as international experts of the inflammation field. The meeting offered a great overview of the most current and some yet unpublished inflammation research of mechanisms, intestinal and neuroinflammation from scientists from Canada and other parts of the world.

On the first evening, Mauro Perretti from London opened the meeting with one of the best and most entertaining keynote talks on “Exploiting endogenous tissue protection”. The talk was followed by an informal session with a chance for networking. The first full day of the meeting started with a buffet breakfast in the spectacular setting of the Canadian Rockies.

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The sessions on the first day focused on the mechanisms and consequences of inflammation. I was particularly interested in a talk on “Mucosal immunology in intestinal inflammation” by Thierry Mallevaey. His talk on NKT cell cytokine production, activation and immune regulatory function was really interesting and relevant to my research. I also found the talk by Scott Magness from North Carolina fascinating on novel in vitro technologies, including powerful microtechnology to develop the “minigut”. As I have been working with epithelial cells in the past and interested in intestinal epithelial cell functions, I was looking forward to hear Bruce Vallance’s talk on intestinal epithelial inflammasomes.

The last session of the day offered advice for interviews and useful tips for composing your CV and cover letter, while trainees also had a chance to get some insight into application processes for a faculty position. I found this session very useful as it helped me become more familiar with career opportunities and development progress in Canada. The poster session, which took place before dinner, was a good opportunity to ask further questions about projects I was interested in, and talk to researchers about their work at the University of Calgary and elsewhere. The day closed with a unique dinner at the local Swiss-Italian restaurant, Ticino, where we had a chance to try the cheese and chocolate fondue beside the delicious main course. I have really enjoyed this dinner and would go back in future if I visited Banff.

The last day of the workshop offered talks specifically on intestinal inflammation, neuroinflammation and pain. Talks included case studies of inflammatory bowel disease by Aleixo Muise, epithelial barrier function by Declan McCole and mucosal inflammatory responses by Sean Colgan. In the afternoon we had a chance for informal meetings and to explore the Banff area before the poster session. If you felt the weight of the last days’s over-indulgence you could hop on the treadmill or enjoy a swim in the pool.

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The meeting closed with another very nice 3-course dinner followed by the poster award ceremony, when I was wishing I had presented one.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank HPI for the funding to attend the Banff Inflammation Workshop this year.

Edina Szabo, PhD

Post-doctoral Fellow (Finney Lab)

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