ISEH 2022 Annual Scientific Meeting – Highlights from the New Investigators Committee

For four days in September, more than 500 ISEH members travelled from 25 countries around the world to beautiful Edinburgh in Scotland for the ISEH Annual Scientific Meeting. Attendees were treated to an amazing program of speakers, and given the opportunity to network and present their work to the community in lively social events and poster sessions.

The meeting also included events targeting the students and postdocs that make up the ISEH new investigator community. In this blog post, members of the ISEH New Investigator Committee summarize some of their meeting highlights:

New Investigator Pre-Meeting Workshop

The ISEH pre-meeting workshop allowed trainees to present their research and network within the community. We first heard five great talks from trainees, then all of the trainees presented posters. ISEH faculty were invited to the event to judge both the oral and poster presentations, so every trainee got to talk to at least three faculty about their work. The afternoon also included an interactive Q&A session focused on Peer-Review Publishing. The trainees got the opportunity to grill three journal editors (Emmanuelle Passegue from JEM, Louise Purton from ExpHem, and David Kent from HemaSphere) on the peer-review publication process and received advice from them on how to succeed in publishing. We would like to extend a special thank you to these editors to joining the session, all the poster judges for joining the event, and Marella de Bruijn, Anna Bigas, and Grant Challen for running the workshop. Congratulations to all workshop awardees:

Best Oral Presentations
- Esther Rodriguez Correa (PhD student, HI-STEM, Germany) 
- Gavin Tjin (Postdoc, St Vincent's Institute, Australia)

Best Poster Presentations
- Chris Nevitt (Postdoc, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, USA)
- Yurim Park (PhD Student, University of Oxford, UK)

New Investigator Technology Session

The technology session highlighted the expertise of students and postdocs that developed and utilized new experimental tools. This year, the focus of the session was on the latest advances in ex vivo HSC expansion systems. Kyomi Igarashi (PhD student, Stanford, USA) discussed the polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) system, Dr Shubhankar Sood (Postdoc, HI-STEM, Germany) described an HSC co-culture system with mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) and Dr Juan Rubio-Lara (Postdoc, York, UK) introduced STEMBOND hydrogels for HSC expansion. They provided other new investigators tips and tricks to design and execute successful experiments using these new techniques.

Meet the Expert Mixer

During this highly interactive networking event, students and postdocs enjoyed a relaxing evening with food and drinks while mingling with some of the most recognizable hematology researchers from around the globe. Each participant had the chance to meet 3 of our experts to ask them about their science, career trajectory and how to overcome some of the challenges associated with an academic career path. A huge thank you to our experts this year including Drs Louise Purton (SVI, Australia), David Kent (York, UK), Christina Halsey (Glasgow, UK), Simon Haas (MDC Berlin, Germany), Julie Lessard (Montréal, Canada), Bertie Göttgens (Cambridge, UK), Mick Milsom (Hi-STEM, Germany), Mihaela Crisan, (Edinburgh, UK), John Crispino (St. Jude, USA), Jennifer Trowbridge (Jackson, USA).

New Investigator Career Session

This session allowed ISEH trainees to learn more about various scientific career paths, and to have an opportunity to ask questions in a more relaxed setting. We heard about the scientific journeys of four incredible scientists who also gave us valuable advice on how to make the most out of our training years. This session was led by Drs Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid (Freiburg, Germany), Robert Signer (Los Angeles, USA), Luca Cassetta (Edinburgh, UK) and Francesco Severi (EHA).

The Science

The scientific sessions at ISEH 2022 covered a wide range of topics from developmental biology to new technological advances in ex vivo culturing systems, molecular characterization of healthy hematopoietic development and how these pathways are disrupted in disease.

Dr. Allison Petit (Perth, Australia) gave a brilliant talk about how macrophage fragmentation confounds ex vivo hematopoietic analysis. She showed us how macrophages seemed to disappear during the preparation of bone marrow single-cell suspensions. An audible intake of breath spread across the auditorium as she clearly showed large fragments of the disrupted macrophage remnants attached to other cell types of interest, and how they can confound results derived from techniques like scRNA-seq. It may become a new standard to add a macrophage exclusion marker in our sorting strategies to minimize contamination. This talk was a real eye opener to all of us.

Dr. Simon Haas (BHI and HI-STEM, Germany), a past member of the New Investigator Committee, presented a captivating story on the antigen presenting properties of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). His findings, derived from elegant analyses of single-cell transcriptomic datasets, showed that HSCs present antigens to CD4+ T cells to eliminate transformed cells that might cause leukemia development. This unexpected mechanism to preserve stem cell integrity, and the functional connection between HSCs and the immune system made it an incredibly exciting talk.

Scottish Ceilidh (Aye!)

A traditional Scottish Ceilidh was the best way to conclude ISEH2022. We were hosted by the National Museum of Scotland (the home of Dolly the sheep), which is just a few minutes away from the historic Edinburgh City Centre. This incredible venue was the perfect place to unwind and have fun after a few days of non-stop science. This was a memorable way to end our first in-person conference since 2019!

Some other experiences of the 2022 ISEH Annual Scientific Meeting from New Investigators:

“The first time I had the opportunity to attend a conference during my PhD was this year in ISEH Edinburgh. Personally, I was extremely excited about the conference and the idea of presenting my work to other researchers in the field. The experience definitely exceeded my expectations.

ISEH has been a learning experience, where I got valuable feedback and where I had constant exposure to the current research in the field, state-of-the-art technologies as well as opinions, advices and perspectives coming from experienced researchers.

One of the most enriching aspects was the social interaction with other trainees. I enjoyed sharing our scientific projects and personal experiences, but what I appreciated the most was the excitement and passion that everyone had for their research topics. ISEH had such an amazing scientific vibe, where you clearly appreciate the enthusiasm for doing science, and for a young researcher that is really encouraging.”

- Esther Rodriguez Correa, PhD student, HI-STEM & DKFZ, Germany

"This was my first in-person ISEH, after the virtual edition of 2021. During my Ph.D., I always thought it would be great to attend, the reputation of this meeting is just incredible. And totally deserved to be fair, I was blown away by the excellent quality of the science presented in Edinburgh! But the most rewarding experience was finally meeting all those brilliant scientists from around the world. Regarding the more senior figures, I was a bit intimidated, essentially because of their excellent academic reputation; ISEH made a wonderful job of creating a relaxed environment, and all the senior scientists were approachable and relatable. And about the more junior scientists, I had more than my fair share of occasions to share a drink and laugh with them! I am quite proud to be part of a community that promotes a friendly and inclusive environment!

Finally, I just want to acknowledge two of the awardees for 2022: Dr. David Kent and Prof Louise Purton delivered some poignant and well-timed talks about inclusivity, the gender gap, representation, and other matters that are close to my heart. We should strive for those causes and put them at the center of our professional activities"

- Alessandro Donada, Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute Curie, Paris, France

Blog post contributed by members of the ISEH New Investigators Committee.

Please note that the statements made by Simply Blood authors are their own views and not necessarily the views of ISEH. ISEH disclaims any or all liability arising from any author's statements or materials.


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