Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

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).

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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).


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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:

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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!



  1. #1 JaysonB
    September 18, 2006

    you go to bed too early in france.

    And what the hell IS orangina? Is it like cranapple juice, where half the juice is orange and the other is…………well, I shouldn’t say. That would be improper.

  2. #2 Kim Boone
    September 19, 2006

    How was the hangover?

    Orangina is a kind of fanta-ish drink, but with orange-pulp in it. (That’s why the advertisers say you have to shake it before you drink it.)

  3. #3 somnilista, FCD
    September 19, 2006

    Super-hot Science Blogger is Toast of Europe

  4. #4 JaysonB
    September 19, 2006


    So you’re telling me that it’s not orange and vagina?

    crap, I *went there*.

  5. #5 Shelley Batts
    September 19, 2006

    Super-hot Science Blogger is Toast of Europe

    More like the blonde tease of America! 🙂

    Orangina, which actually has nothing to do with vaginas (sorry Jay), is actually quite good. Its kind like the european lovechild of Perrier and Tang. Now with pulp!

    And the hangover wasn’t so bad. Apparently hangovers induced by red wine are about 1/10 as horrible as the ones induced by jagerbombs and Jack Daniels shots. 😛

  6. #6 somnilista, FCD
    September 19, 2006
  7. #7 Kim Boone
    September 19, 2006

    It be pirate day t’day (well, for me it still is)

    Ye scurvy dog! Ye “went there”, now you be payin the booty! Walk the plank, ye eal-filled bag o’ lard!

    Harrr, butt that’s coz you ain’t tried the rum, me saucy wench!
    Yohoho an’ a bottle of Rum.
    Avast, me hearties, an’ may the flyin’ spaghetti monster touch ye with ‘is noodly appendage. (Well, rather FSM than some horny french delivery guy, right?)

    Cap’n beanbeard.

  8. #8 Kim Boone
    September 19, 2006

    Pirate day is over now in my time-zone, so, in plain english:
    Shelley, don’t let it go to you head. The content is too great to be contaminated by a “woohoo,I’m beautiful”-meme.
    Still hoping for the pepperview,

  9. #9 Shelley Batts
    September 19, 2006

    Hi Kim, thanks for cracking me up. Believe me, the only thing thats going to my head around here is the wine. 🙂 I’m a geeky single and lonely girl in France whose had to eat almost every meal alone! Nothing to brag about there. 🙂

    As for the Pepperview (Irene), when I get back into the states, I’ll set it up. We both been doing our respective traveling. Would be Oct though, and will of course depend on her schedule.

    Now you made me think about a) the fact I am single and geeky and b)that I miss my PepperBird. Thanks a lot! 😛

  10. #10 Kim Boone
    September 19, 2006

    Glad to be of any help to a lonely single american girl in europe, Shelley.
    I’ll be eagerly waiting for the pepperview.
    Btw: I’m actually pretty close to you now. You’re less than a thousand kilometres away, maximum. I live in Belgium, about a half hour drive from Lille.
    Have fun in Eutope …er…I mean Europe.

  11. #11 Kim Boone
    September 19, 2006

    And yes, Belgium is the capital city of Brussels…

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