Alzheimer’s Disease Congress – Quality rather than quantity….

It was 4:00 in the morning and my alarm started to ring. I quickly woke up and looked at the watch, “Is it really 4 o’clock?” But no, my mobile hadn’t gone haywire… Alas! I stood up and got ready; I had to catch a flight at 7:15. I made it to the airport in time, where I met my colleague Stella. That’s how our journey began – our journey to the Alzheimer’s Disease Congress in London, UK, hosted by the organization EuroScience Events.

A typical view on london oxford street (by S. Faiz)

We landed in London at 7:15, local time, so we could make it to the venue by 9:00, just on time for the meeting. When we arrived to Peninsula Square, we were actually pretty tired, but also surprised to realize that the meeting was being held in a cinema at the O2 arena. Since it was our first time attending a Life Science Event we were not sure of what to expect, but our initial thought was like “Really? A cinema?” Professor Louise Serpell from the University of Sussex gave the welcoming speech and introduced the first presenter Dr, Jay Amin from the University of Southampton talking about ‘Inflammation in dementia with Lewy bodies and Alzheimer’s disease’.
We were hardly 50-100 people in the room. Actually, truth be told, we were wondering whether we had made a mistake by attending this congress. But we had chosen this meeting because of the very interesting topics in the program, and so we thought “let’s sit back, relax and see how it goes!” By the end of the conference day, it was 5 pm and we hadn’t realized how fast the time went as the day had been full of excellent talks and loads of information.

When we were presenting our posters, we were assailed with questions, and felt very encouraged by all the suggestions and discussions about our work. I presented my PhD project on the role of long-term sepsis in an Alzheimer’s disease (AD) model. My colleague, Stella, presented her work on the discovery of synaptosomal markers of neuro-inflammation, also in AD. It was a wonderful experience to have the opportunity to discuss my work with people from different fields of AD; being a PhD student, sometimes you are afraid you will look stupid if you don’t know the answer to questions on your project but, luckily, I knew the answer to most of the questions which was encouraging and so I enjoyed the exchange of ideas. The interaction with students from all around the globe was very encouraging for me. It was really interesting to see how people work in different areas, trying to answer the same question: How could we find a therapy to effectively deal with this devastating disease (AD)?

The organizers had to be very strict with sticking to the schedule because X-Men Apocalypse ( 🙂 ) was on screen starting at 5:15 pm, thus all attendees to the meeting had to leave the place by 5 o’clock.

The conference took place in a cinema (S. Faiz)

We made it to the hotel by 7:00 pm. Really tired from the long day, we had a quick dinner but decided to go to a shopping mall for a change. We enjoyed being able to stroll around the shops until 10, an activity for which there is usually little time after work with shops closing by 8 the latest…My highlights of the second day were a talk on the association of SORL1 and AD (SORL1 codes for  a sorting receptor that controls the processing and trafficking of amyloid precursor protein and that has been associated with early and late stages of AD in GWAS)  and another talk suggesting the use of an EEG (electroencephalogram) approach able to identify very early small changes in different brain regions that could predict AD in a non-invasive manner.
Coming from a lab where the effects of beta-amyloid (Aβ) are extensively studied, however, a talk explaining how oligomeric Aβ is a cause of neurite dystrophy and exacerbates amyloid pathology in a feedforward loop was most interesting to me.
I wish I could tell you about all the lectures, but then I might probably end up writing a book about that! 🙂 So, I will just conclude by telling you how fascinating it was seeing the way everyone is involved in their field of choice, and the tremendously hard work people put on finding a therapy for AD.

So, to sum up our experience as the title of my blog says: don’t think about the quantity but quality. Like they say don’t judge a book by its cover. It was a small meeting when compared to other big name meetings but like I mentioned earlier: it was full of information and we could focus better on our area of interests.
Finally, we would like to thank especially our sponsor IITB and the Immunosensation cluster of excellence Bonn for giving us an opportunity to attend this congress.


Author: Saqib Faiz


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