ISTD Conference Report

On Friday 4th May 2018, more than thirty   TRAIN team PIs, ESRs  and allied researchers begain their long journeys from Europe to China to showcase  the nucleus of Tribbles research that is the TRAIN programme  at the 2nd International Symposium on Tribbles and Diseases (ISTD 2018) that was being held in Beijing between 7th and 9th May 2018. It was the realisation of an idea that was first discussed over twelve months previously and only started planning in December 2017. For most of the TRAIN ESRs it was to be their first exposure to an international research conference and the anticipation was high.

The excitement started as the different TRAIN teams from across Europe began to meet up at Amsterdam and Frankfurt airports ahead of the long haul to Beijing. This was the first time we had got together since Madrid in October 2017 so there was plenty to catch up about.


The Sheffield, Utrecht and Barcelona teams meet at Schipol Airport

6th May, TRAIN Workshop

After arriving in Beijing at various (early) times on 5th May there was a day to recover before TRAIN proceedings began. Some took the opportunity to go sightseeing, others crashed out in their hotel room to adjust to the seven hour time difference. A relatively relaxed 10.00 a.m. start had been scheduled the following day so that everyone was ready to launch into the presentations as recovered as possible. The day and a half before the conference started had been planned as a mini-TRAIN workshop where we could catch up on the scientific progress of the ESR projects and discuss strategy. First though we launched into a “speed dating” session that had proved so popular in Madrid and which again kick started new interactions between PIs and ESRs .


Starting off the Workshop with a frantic “Speed Dating” session

The rest of the day was filled with updates from the ESRs on their individual projects, with plenty of questions and discussions triggered  by them. It was great to see the ESRs leading with the questions, a sure sign of increasing confidence and knowledge.


Miriam updating the other ESRs on her project.

7th May, Conference Time

After a morning finishing off the ESR presentations then a short break over lunch it was time to register for the conference and join the international  Tribbles community for the first time. The keynote address on ” The Interface Between Signalling and Metabolism in Cancer” was given by TRAIN PI Dr Arkaitz Carrecedo, then it was over to the ESRs presenting their posters at the Poster Session. For most this was the first opportunity to describe their work and results with scientists outside of the TRAIN consortium, and indeed the first exposure of the work of the  TRAIN programme to the wider world. It was very heartening to see the ESRs confidently discussing the implications of their work and taking on board advice from  some of the leaders in the field.


A crowded poster session



ESRs Taewoo and Paris with TRAIN Advisory Board member Warren Pear


Laura explaining her poster to Arkaitz Carrecedo

8th/9th May, Conference Days 2 + 3

An early start to the first full day of conference proceedings was required to fit in all the scheduled speakers covering the first two thematic sessions; Tribbles, Immunity and Metabolism, and Tribbles and Fundamental Cell Biology. This format was similar to the thematic splits in the TRAIN workshop sessions so the subject matter was generally familiar to the ESRs specialising in these areas, but hearing about the wider context and other work being carried out across the world was eye opening and highly informative. TRAIN team ESRs Yodit, Juan and Dominika had been selected to present short talks during these sessions, which were  a great advert for the TRAIN programme and an honour for all  of them. At the end of the sessions it was away to the Conference Dinner and more informal networking.

The final session of the conference, on the morning of 9th May, was dedicated to Tribbles and Cancer, the mainstay of the TRAIN programme so it was fantastic to see the work going on around the world  researching different aspects of this theme. Again, the TRAIN ESRs were prominant in the discussions, showing how well immersed in the global narrative they have become. The conference concluded with prizes for the top three short oral and poster presentations, which likewise featured recipients from the TRAIN group; Jessica Johnston and Dominika Grzesik receiving second and third  prizes respectively for their  oral presentations and Taewoo Kim a third prize for his poster presentation. Well done to all of them.

Before everyone split up to go sightseeing around Beijing and beyond there was time to wind up proceedings with a good debrief for  the whole TRAIN group, reflecting what they had learned and what they might usefully use to advance their work. There was no doubt that it had been an extremely  valuable experience for everyone and had shown to the world what a major impact that the TRAIN programme was having on the field. The next generation of researchers have arrived.


Debrief in progress. Time to reflect on a great success for everyone  personally and for the TRAIN Consortium.


Tribbles on tour: ESRs in China: Chiara Niespolo University of Sheffield

My excitement for this meeting started long time ago, specifically in December 2017, when Graham got our flight tickets for Beijing. I couldn’t believe it was real until the day before the departure, when, preparing my luggage, I realised I was going to China to my first international conference EVER.

After a very long journey and a full-day of rest, we started with our TRAIN workshop, the third one. I can tell that compared  to Sheffield and Madrid, we were definitely more relaxed and comfortable  speaking  in public, as well as more confident with our projects. I believe we all had good  progress to present. As usual, our PIs gave us a very good feedback and new ideas to further develop our research and collaborate more closely.

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After finishing the workshop, we were asked to prepare our posters and few hours later the ISTD conference finally started! Lots of great talks and hot topics.

I had the occasion to meet many people, including the Tribbles “pioneers” and to share our progress with them, through the poster session. It was my first poster presentation and I was very honoured to have done it during the ISTD in Beijing. Again, we all had a very good feedback and precious suggestions for future work.

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IMG_4942After the conference, we had a few free days to go around and enjoy the beautiful Beijing. We climbed the Great Wall, visited the Forbidden City and the Imperial Summer Palaces and we also met the “Giant Panda”. Besides, we ate almost everything we could, from the (a)typical Chinese street food to the prestigious duck. It was such an amazing experience, especially because we were all together, ESRs and PIs, this time not talking about our Tribbles.

I am forever grateful to be part of this Consortium! Looking forward to the next meeting!

….and a footote from Paris

China is not only a marvelous country with an ancient culture and breathtaking
landscapes, but also a great host for a prestigious scientific event like an international
symposium on Tribbles proteins. Honestly, I feel so delightful and proud that I was able
to be part of a great scientific gathering and had the chance to meet scientists from all
over the world with outstanding findings regarding to our beloved Tribbles! It is
worth mentioning that for me the best part of the symposium was to get to know new
PIs and have fruitful conversations that may lead to future collaborations and