Friday, 18 October 2013

Research at North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference

Dr Janet Allen, the Trust's Director of Research, has been  liaising with colleagues from all over the world at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference. Here she tells us what she has been getting up to over in Salt Lake City

This is my second North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference. My first was in Orlando last year just after I had started at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and it was a fantastic introduction to the whole area of research in cystic fibrosis. This year is an opportunity to build on the networks that the Trust is developing internationally across Europe, North America and elsewhere and to hear of any new developments in the field.  

Since arriving on Monday we have been very busy networking with many different people and organisations. Yesterday there were clearly many more people travelling in from across the world to attend what is a truly international meeting. Attendees are easily spotted on the streets of Salt Lake City as we have all received bright blue conference bags. Today (Thursday), the scientific sessions started and I have been trying to juggle the various talks in the scientific programme. This evening the first plenary talk was given and it is only when everyone is sitting (or standing) in the main hall to hear the formal opening speeches and the plenary talk that it really drives home how large the conference has become. 

The plenary was the first of three, all subtitled ‘Roadmap to a Cure’. This one was delivered by Scott Donaldson from University of North Carolina. His first slide was titled ‘The Audacity of Hope’ and this set the tone of his talk. He reviewed how far cystic fibrosis research has come, and highlighted how there is much more to do. His analogy was one of a journey of discovery – and posed the question: how do we know where we are on that journey and how do we know when we have arrived? His talk then led through the extraordinary discoveries that have been made and what we need to do to deliver more. He drew on research from around the world to give examples and it was particularly pleasing to see the work of Professor Mike Gray acknowledged as part of this. Mike is based at the University of Newcastle and is now the chair of the new Research Strategy Implementation Board for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. There was a real sense of people working together and sharing information to find ways to benefit people with cystic fibrosis.  

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