Taking a Symposium by (Tweet)Storm! Day1

I chanced upon attending the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s (ASBMB) Special Symposium on Evolution and Core Processes in Gene Regulation in St. Louis from 25th — 28th June 2015. In the days leading up to the conference, I decided I would make use of this opportunity to put to use a couple skills I’ve been hoping to pick up for a while — brevity and reporting — in the realm of scientific communication.

This gave birth to “pet-project” #2, wherein I would cover the conference on Twitter, with the #GeneReg (for those interested in checking other tweets from the conference). Why Twitter, you ask? Simple. Firstly, it requires you to be concise — with the 140 character limit. Secondly, it has become an increasingly used platform for discussions in the scientific community, one I hope to inspirit through my reportage. And so it began! :)

The annunciation!

The conference began on Thursday afternoon with Dr. David Arnosti welcoming the participants and introducing them to the meeting, in the Anheuser Busch Hall of the Law School at Wash U. At first glance it seemed a small and intimate bunch of 60-odd participants, with a line-up of extremely interesting, close-related yet diverse set of talks.

Session I was centered around “New Technologies in Transcription”, and the talks seemed “future-sque” to say the least.

Dr. Alistair Boettiger, as animated and enthusiastic as always, showed us a glimpse of what the future of spatially-resolved transcriptomics held;

emphasizing on how MERFISH overcame some of the previous limitations of multicolor imaging by barcodes and error accumulation in smFISH.

Enhancer complementation assays were used to study the effect of introducing a different TFBS instead of only mutating a TFBS.

Dr. Alexander Stark then gave us a sneak-peek of the latest observations from currently transpiring experiments at the Stark Lab.

Visualizing human transcription at nucleotide resolution is one of the most exciting fields of study in gene regulation — and Dr. Stirling Churchman showed us exactly why!

We dispersed for a coffee break following Dr. Churchman’s talk. This provided a good platform to network with presenters from the afternoon session and converse about common interests — saving science, obviously ;)

The short break was immediately followed by the evening session with talks themed around “Cis Regulatory Code and Evolution”.

Maria Samsonova on building a mathematical modeling that reproduces the gap gene exp. in wt fly embryos and predicts exp. patterns
I personally appreciated the premise of the talk that we shouldn’t be studying only outliers, but sampling across the distribution to better understand biology.
Emma Farley presented a very interesting story on how sub-optimization, in terms of TFBS flanking sequence & spacing, of developmental enhancers establishes tissue specific expression.
You know a talk is going to be very interesting when it starts with a folktale, and is laced with cartoons. FullDisclosure: Current thesis lab

With Dr. Ting Wang introducing the highly anticipated keynote speaker via the Chinese folktale, the analogy caught up pretty soon and became highly adopted.

Dr.Robert Tjian showed us single-molecule imaging of TFs dancing around in the nucleus, searching for targets & just.. hanging out
That beast of a microscope was their peephole into the nucleus, to quantitate the life and times of TFs, examine assembly models, etc.

Dr. Robert Tjian’s talk concluded the Thursday Session of the conference. One that was filled with some sexy science and lively discussions. One that quenched our thirst for imposing ideas just enough to call it a day and return with elevated expectations come Friday morning.

More to follow in the Day2 edition of this post-symposium digest.

P.S. Tweets by other members (and also subpar tweets by yours truly that couldn’t make it to this digest) can be accessed with #GeneReg