Today and yesterday I haven’t been able to do a whole lot other than attend the Inner Ear Biology Conference, which is taking place at a small but very comfortable conference center called the Corum (below).
This conference center blows all the ones in America away in style and convienence. The seats in the auditorium were like overstuffed first-class airline seats (hard not to doze off in them), and the center itself is situated in a lovely old park right off the center of town (park pictures, fountain and small bistro, below).
I presented my poster today. Actually, while I was standing by my poster, someone actually recognized me from my blog! I was SO surprised/embarrassed/pleased. Really unexpected, but humorous. I got a lot of good feedback about my research though, and made some good science contacts. For graduate students/post-docs, going to these meetings is 50% presenting research and 50% smchoozing and making contacts.
(More of this post plus pictures, below the fold!)
During the conference, I heard some really fascinating talks by the premier scientists in the field. And not just American ones, but from all over the world, from New Zealand to Singapore to Europe to the USA. A few highlights:
– Of course the best was a talk by my mentor about hair cell regeneration!
– A pioneer in the characterization of hair cells (much of my current research is due to the work this guy has done 20+ years ago) Dr. EW Rubel summarized the state of “hearing habiltation” in humans
– A lot on tinnitus! I learned that derivitives of nitrile and nylon by-products are highly toxic to hair cells in both the cochlea and the vestibular system
– Vitamin A is a power antioxident, but really only helps prevent or mediate hair cell loss. Can’t do must for old injuries/old hair cell loss
– Some new innovations in hearing aids. For example, an aestheically-pleasing new model which transmits amplified sounds via a tiny transparent tube. Its invisible to the eye and is actually a vast improvement over old models.
– Stem cell therapy for hair cell replacement is still in a dismal state of affairs: still no progress on getting the cells to integrate into the auditory epithelium. So far, vestibular hair cell replacement has had a bit more success.
– The cancer drug cisplatnin is VERY toxic to hair cells, although one of the only good cancer drugs for many patients. A lot of reseach is trying to find out ways to prevent this damage to hearing.
After the last conference session, I headed over to a beautiful cathedral in town (where a stern looking monk perhaps tried to convert me in French). There are quite a few beautiful old churches in town, but nobody really seems to attend them.
And around the corner was the Montpellier Chamber of Commerce:
Finally, I parked myself in a cafe in the shadow of the cathedral, and ordered an extremely tasty meal of “taboule” which is more like couscous, “canard” which is duck (scrumptious!!!), and creme brulee. Oh, and vierre du vin rouge, of course!
And, to wrap up the night, I steered into a little shop called Kookai which was a recommend from my friend Kendra (sup girl!). Well I must remember to chastise her because I spent far too many Euros and will probably spend more there before its all said and done. And, in case you’re interested, me vamping for no reason other than none of the pictures i’ve taken have me in them!
And I do wonder whats in that Orangina!