On the Road – ASMB Meeting in Nashville

Meei-Hua Lin, Steven Funk, Jeff Miner and Raymond Bayer (left to right)

Professor of Medicine Jeffrey Miner and members of his laboratory just spent some quality time together. The group took a road trip to the 2017 American Society for Matrix Biology (ASMB) Workshop on Basement Membranes, held July 12-14 at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.

Dr. Miner, Division of Nephrology at Washington University, and Dr. Roy Zent, Division of Nephrology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, co-organized the workshop as an international forum presenting the latest updates on the structure and biological functions of basement membranes. There were approximately 75 attendees.

“The meeting was organized so that the great majority of the presenters were young investigators and junior faculty,” says Dr. Miner. “The organisms covered ranged from tunicates to nematodes to fruit flies to mice and to humans. Drs. Steven Funk and Meei-Hua Lin gave outstanding, well-received talks about their research on Alport syndrome and Pierson syndrome in mouse models.”

“This was my first time to attend a basement membranes meeting,” says Dr. Lin, a Senior Scientist in the Miner laboratory. “I had a chance to meet many experts in this field, learn about their latest research, and get insightful comments on my research.” Dr. Lin’s presentation was Laminin-521 protein therapy for glomerular basement membrane and podocyte abnormalities in a mouse model of Pierson syndrome.

“This was the ideal conference setting for trainees,” says Dr. Steven Funk, a Post-Doc in the Miner lab. “The size of the meeting really allowed us to meet the experts in this welcoming field and discuss potential intersections between their work and ours. This kind of opportunity is uncommon, but incredibly beneficial to a young investigator. The Basement Membrane Workshop is one of the few conferences I genuinely felt was fun in addition to receiving rich academic content, so I’m looking forward to attending future basement membrane workshops!” Dr. Funk’s presentation was Pathogenicity of the human laminin β2 S80R mutation revealed by its impact on Alport syndrome.

Dr. Funk talking with a collaborator.

Dr. Yamato Kikkawa, a previous member of Dr. Miner’s laboratory, arrived in St. Louis a few days before the workshop and rode with the Miner group to the meeting. Dr. Kikkawa, now at the Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, presented The role of Lu/B-CAM spectrin binding motif in cell migration on LM-511.

The trip was also special for Raymond Bayer, a Research Technician in Dr. Miner’s lab. “This was the first academic conference I have ever attended, and it was a fantastic educational experience. The conference sparked some great conversations that led to new ideas for our investigations.”

While the conference was a success, even the best road trips are not without mishaps. It was pouring rain when the co-workers headed back to St. Louis from Nashville. “It rained so heavily that we didn’t even realize we were driving on the wrong highway for almost an hour,” says Dr. Lin. “Fortunately, our navigator Steven figured it out so we took an alternate route and got back to the right direction. Thanks to Jeff and Steven for driving us to the workshop and getting us back to St. Louis safely!”

Follow Dr. Miner on Twitter: @JeffMinerPhD