Center News Magazine: Work of Postdoctoral Researchers Spotlighted at Third Annual Symposium

Monday, February 1, 2010
Postdoctoral researchers discuss a poster presentation Postdoctoral researchers discuss a poster presentation

Each year since 2007, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s postdoctoral researchers have had the opportunity to showcase their research accomplishments at the annual Postdoctoral Research Symposium. The symposium helps foster scientific and social interaction among postdoctoral researchers and other members of the research community.

This year, 83 poster presentations were displayed during the course of the October 29 daylong event. “It’s been a great day of science,” said Sloan Kettering Institute Director Thomas J. Kelly. “This symposium illustrates yet again how important our postdoctoral researchers are to the progress of science here at the Sloan Kettering Institute and also around the country. It has also been wonderful to see the high level of participation by both postdocs and faculty.

First and foremost, the symposium provides an important forum for postdocs to disseminate their findings and receive feedback from people in diverse areas of research,” added Daniel Ciznadija, a poster presenter, a member of the symposium planning committee, and a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Andrew Koff. “It’s an especially useful mechanism for encouraging cross-pollination of ideas between not only postdocs but also the broader scientific community at Memorial Sloan Kettering and our neighboring institutions.

Eric Kandel Keynote speaker Eric Kandel

Dr. Kandel, an eminent researcher in the area of learning and memory, delivered a lecture titled On the Perpetuation of Long-Term Memory in which he described his work in the molecular mechanisms involved in the development of short-term and long-term memories.

After Dr. Kandel’s address, three postdoctoral researchers each received awards of $500 for presenting the best posters. The posters were judged by a committee of postdoctoral researchers and a panel of faculty members. Prizes were awarded based on visual and oral presentation, content, and scientific merit. Louisa Bokacheva from Jason Koutcher’s laboratory won for her poster describing her work with quantitative diffusion-weighted MRI in prostate cancer. Diffusion-weighted MRI measures the rate of random motion of water molecules, which is usually lower in cancer than in normal tissues. Accurate measurements of the diffusion rate are useful for the detection and characterization of cancer. David Schaer from the laboratory of Jedd Wolchok and Alan Houghton received an award for his poster elucidating the mechanism of antibody-based immunotherapy of melanoma, a necessary step to move this therapy into clinical trials. Kai Xu from Dimitar Nikolov’s laboratory won for his poster describing a structural study of the interaction between a viral protein and its receptors on the host cell membrane, the first step in understanding the infection process of several emerging viruses that are transmitted from animals to humans and for which there are no available antiviral therapies.