MDI Biological Laboratory
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As Popular As Ever: MBMSS 2022

  • May 13, 2022

Researchers from across the state of Maine descended on MDI Biological Laboratory the last weekend in April for the 49th annual Maine Biological and Medical Sciences Symposium (MBMSS).

After two years of virtual events, people were thrilled at this year’s hybrid model, with comments such as: “It felt so good to be back in person and networking with so many engaging and intelligent people” common. Many also remarked that keeping an online component made the symposium more inclusive, enabling attendance from those who couldn’t be there in person.

MBMSS is the first true conference experience for many undergraduate students in the Maine IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE). One of the primary goals of the Maine INBRE is providing training and mentoring programs for students in a wide variety of fields, from molecular toxicology, bioinformatics, and genetics to neuroscience, and MBMSS is an excellent forum for young scientists or junior faculty to present and discuss their research. Attendees from all fourteen Maine INBRE institutions were represented: The Jackson Laboratory, The University of Maine, and University of New England, and ten undergraduate institutions: Bates, Bowdoin, and Colby Colleges, Southern Maine Community College, College of the Atlantic, the University of Maine Honors College, and UMaine campuses at Farmington, Machias, Presque Isle, and Fort Kent. The MDI Biological Laboratory is the lead institution.

Talk sessions and poster presentations provided ample opportunity for students to present their research to peers and mentors alike. One student commented on the value of the poster session: “I received amazing feedback from people I presented my research to, as well as many different directions to try in the future.” Attendees tuned into a virtual career panel to hear nine professionals from a diversity of fields talk about their jobs, career paths, education, and skillsets, as well as a CRISPR panel, where scientists discussed teaching CRISPR to undergraduates, using it to model disease, and ethical considerations associated with it.

Connie Cepko, Ph.D., Bullard Professor of Genetics and Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, delivered the keynote, “Gene Therapy to Prolong Vision”. She spoke about the 200+ human disease genes leading to blindness and her lab’s research into analyzing mouse models of blindness, looking for common problems across genotypes with the goal of developing gene therapies that treat multiple diseases at once.

Not only did scientists and students learn about other biomedical research happening in the state of Maine, they also came away energized and inspired to do more.