Old Members’ Trust Travel Grant Report – Sarah Faulkner
I attended the Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) and Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Epigenetics in Holderness, New Hampshire to present a poster on my research. The Gordon conferences are a series of intensive meetings designed for people to share their research at the forefront of their field. The GRS was a smaller, two-day meeting designed for students and postdoctoral researchers to network and engage with each other’s research before the larger GRC, where senior academics joined for the main conference. All of the material presented was confidential, and speakers were encouraged to share their latest data for discussion, even if it hadn’t yet been published. Each day was an intensive programme of scientific discussion, beginning at 9 am and finishing at 9:30 pm or later.
By 2003 the human genome had been almost completely sequenced, allowing us to directly read the instructions used to build the human body; yet one of the most surprising findings form this project was how incomplete a picture they gave us of how we actually function. It has since become apparent that the vital information we need lies in the factors determine how these instructions are read, and when; the study of these factors forms the field of epigenetics. The field is still evolving as we piece together more of these details, and the GRC brought together research leaders from around the globe, including the US, Europe, China and Australia, and in a range of specialisations, from detailed molecular studies, to genome-wide mapping, to mathematical predictions of how genes interact. It was an opportunity to learn where epigenetics research is heading and which areas are currently hotly debated, as well as an invaluable source of feedback on my own work from expert researchers.
I would like to thank the Old Member’s Trust for awarding funding to attend this conference, which has significantly furthered my understanding of the epigenetics field, enabled me to establish contacts with leading groups in other countries, and helped me to focus my own research.
Published: 4 October 2019
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