Graduate Students Share Research at Symposium

Paola Arlotta, PhD, associate professor at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, addresses the Second Cedars-Sinai Inter-Institution Graduate Student Symposium.

More than 150 students and researchers from throughout California participated Oct. 30 in the Second Cedars-Sinai Inter-Institution Graduate Student Symposium, a forum for students to present their research, share ideas and receive advice on how to succeed in their careers.

Organized by the Graduate Student Association of the Cedars-Sinai Graduate Program in Biomedical Science and Translational Medicine, the event at the Harvey Morse Conference Center brought together participants from several academic institutions. Besides Cedars-Sinai, the institutions included: the University of California, San Francisco; City of Hope in Duarte; the University of Southern California; the University of California, Riverside; and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in La Jolla.

"Building on the success of last year, we were able to bring together graduate students from leading academic biomedical centers for the purpose of talking, writing and showing science," said Leon G. Fine, MD, vice dean of research and graduate research education, professor of medicine and biomedical sciences and chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences.

The all-day symposium included presentations, poster sessions, a meet-the-experts luncheon, career panel, awards ceremony and a networking and social hour.

"The events of the day were designed to help participants achieve a sense of excitement about their work and to leave with new networks and some intriguing research ideas," said Fine.

Paola Arlotta, PhD, associate professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute in Cambridge, delivered the keynote address, "Development and Reprogramming of Neuronal Diversity in the Neocortex." She spoke to an audience of more than 150, sharing her research on regeneration in the cerebral cortex and new findings on plasticity of the brain.

Arlotta also participated in a career panel alongside Linda Marbán, PhD, CEO of Capricor Therapeutics Inc. in Beverly Hills, and Clive Svendsen, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute and professor of biomedical sciences and medicine.

"The career panel served as an informal opportunity for students to ask questions of these experts—each of whom has a unique path, whether via industry or academia," said Aslam Akhtar, a Graduate Student Association committee member and student in the laboratory of Joshua Breunig, PhD, assistant professor of biomedical sciences.

In addition to the career panel, a meet-the-experts luncheon allowed students to casually interact with top experts, including Breunig and Svendsen. The other Cedars-Sinai luncheon participants included:

"It was inspiring to see the graduate students take the initiative to organize and run this symposium. They expressed a desire to spend a day sharing their research with each other and meeting students from other area graduate programs, and they pulled off a wonderful day," said David Underhill, PhD, director of the Graduate Program in Biomedical Science and Translational Medicine and professor of biomedical sciences and medicine.

Next year's symposium is tentatively scheduled for October 2015. Details will become available later on the website of the Cedars-Sinai Graduate Program in Biomedical Science and Translational Medicine.