A Taste of Clinical Research at the Canadian Digestive Diseases Week 2015

From February 25th to March 1st, I attended the Research Topics in Gastrointestinal Diseases Program XIV and the Canadian Digestive Diseases Week (CDDW) held at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and Conference Centre.  CDDW is an annual conference of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG).  In addition to the Research Topics in GI Diseases Program, there was also the Gastroenterology Residents in Training Program and the Scholar’s Program preceding the core CDDW Program.  The first two days was the Research Topics Program and I got the opportunity to give a 10 minute talk to a diverse audience from basic scientists to clinician scientists.  Much of the clinical research was new to me so it was a good learning experience and it made me realize the importance of basic science research being translatable.  The Research Topics Program was tightly scheduled, though well organized and there were many opportunities for interaction.  We were all given two abstracts to review and to prepare questions beforehand.  Dr. Dan Powell gave an excellent talk about mentoring and the impact that it has made on many students that he has seen in his career.  After listening to his talk, I realize how powerful mentoring can be and that a mentor is willing to provide their time to listen to you, provide career guidance, identify and support the development of a mentee’s strengths and weaknesses.  It was my first time staying at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and I really enjoyed the view from my room as I could see the silhouette of the mountains at night as the sun started to set.  For all the conferences that I attend, I like to end the day with a swim at the pool.  The indoor pool at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel was elegantly designed and there were stairs leading to the outdoor pool as you opened the doors.  The combination of darkness, cold air, and warm water at the outdoor pool made it a relaxing and calm atmosphere.

During the core program at CDDW, I went to several talks on basic science as well as on clinical research.  The clinical talks focused mainly on current therapeutic strategies to treat both Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.  It was nice to see familiar faces from the University of Calgary including Dr. Dan Muruve who gave a talk about inflammasomes in chronic kidney disease and Dr. Paul Beck who gave a talk about his journey as a clinician scientist.  The work done by the many graduate students from across the country that I have seen were quite impressive.  The big theme that seemed to dominate the talks involved the microbiota (microbiota and nutrition, microbiota and inflammation) and I have to agree that it is a fascinating area of research.  The Trainee Career Development Session shed some light on where one should go when pursuing post-doctorate positions and the type of supervisors to choose.  I also attended the CAG and the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada Student Prize Presentations and two students from the University of Calgary won a student prize so I was really happy for their achievements.  The Poster Sessions in the evening were quite busy and the noise level was so high that it seemed like I used a lot of my energy to talk loudly so people could hear what I was saying.  Overall, I thought it was a good conference and I highly recommend anyone who is interested in clinical aspects of GI to attend this conference.  Finally, I would like to give many thanks to HPI NSERC CREATE for the funding to attend this conference.

Jeanie Quach, BHSc

PhD student in Dr. Kris Chadee’s Lab

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