Once a year, all research and support staff working within the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (WIMM) in Oxford gather together to explore and discuss the innovative and diverse research ongoing within the Institute. The WIMM houses nearly 500 research staff working on a range of research interests from rare anaemias to prostate cancer, and as a result the annual WIMM Day conference always promises to be a stimulating and inspiring event.
This year’s event, held on Friday 8th April, proved to be no exception, with speakers ranging from PhD students to professors. Attended by Paul Colville-Nash and Mary Derrick from the MRC Head Office, and members of the WIMM’s Scientific Advisory Board, the audience filled the largest lecture theatre at the Said Business School in Oxford where the event was held.
The first session of the conference consisted of talks by four PhD students, competing for the Ita Askonas Medal for best student presentation. This was won by Chris Booth, working with Professor Adam Mead, for his work on a subtype of therapy-resistant leukaemia.
The keynote lecture was given by Irv Weissman, Professor of Pathology and Developmental Biology at Stanford University, who emphasized the importance of isolating pure populations of cells for molecular analyses in biological research. The audience also heard from other postdocs and group leaders from within the WIMM on a variety of topics including genome organisation, blood development, autoimmunity and super-resolution microscopy. The day concluded with the announcement of the prizes for best poster (won by Danuta Jeziorska, working with Professor Doug Higgs, for her work on DNA methylation) and the winners of the MRC WIMM Public Engagement Prize. Now in its third year, the prize was awarded to Erdinc Sezgin, a postdoc in the MRC Human Immunology Unit housed within the WIMM, for developing a workshop that allows primary school children to build their own microscopes.
The Director of the WIMM, Professor Doug Higgs FRS, said: “Our annual WIMM Day meeting is not only a great opportunity to review the most exciting research in the WIMM but also to congratulate others who have made a special contribution to other aspects of the WIMM, such as our communications and engagement programme. WIMM Day is also an opportunity for research groups to interact in a relaxed way with other colleagues from the WIMM and the senior, internationally renowned visitors and members of our Scientific Advisory Board. It is great to see the ever-improving science of the WIMM and genuine progress towards having a major impact on clinical medicine.“