It is a Small World: Networking at PRIM&R’s IACUC Conference

by Derek Fong, VMD, DACLAM, Clinical Veterinarian at the University of Colorado Denver

As we gear up for the 2015 IACUC Conference, which will be held in Boston, MA, from March 17-20, we are pleased to have an opportunity to share a post from Derek Fong, who served as a member of the PRIM&R Blog Squad at the 2014 IACUC Conference

It has been nearly a year since I participated as a member of the PRIM&R Blog Squad at the 2014 IACUC Conference, and yet, I still find myself thinking about the powerful connections—old and new—that I made at the conference. Reflecting back, one story, in particular, comes to mind. With so many concurrent breakout sessions to choose from, selecting what I wanted to attend at the 2014 IACUC Conference was challenging. As I reviewed my options, I skipped over a special lunch session titled, “Research Ethics Book Group Lunch and Book Signing with Author Emily Anthes,” figuring I would be busy eating, conversing, catching up via my ever-present Blackberry, or taking a needed mental break during that time. However, on the day of the session, I ran into a colleague, who asked if I was planning on attending. She couldn’t make it, but had purchased Anthe’s book, Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts, and was hoping that I might be able to help get her book signed. Happy to lend a hand, I quickly ate my lunch and went to the lobby to find the book signing. As I waited in line, I saw Emily from a distance, and immediately realized that she looked just like a former classmate, who I had not seen in a number of years. I flipped to the back of the book to find her biographical information and quickly deduced that she was indeed my former classmate. As I approached the table, she probably thought I was crazy because of the giant smirk on my face. However, after confirming with her the year she graduated, I reminded her that we were in the same organic chemistry laboratory group at Yale many years ago. She commented that I looked familiar, and we chatted briefly. It struck me as we were talking that I likely would not have run into Emily again had it not been for our mutual attendance at the conference. One of the things I love about this field is that it is a small, tight community. I’m still a relatively new member, but I hope to get to know many more people in time. This highly unlikely encounter was just another reminder that it’s a small world and that you never know whose path you will cross again. After the conference was over, I went home and immediately purchased and read Emily’s book, which examines “how biotechnology provides us new tools to reshape animal bodies and brains.” It was entertaining, informative, and witty, which is not an easy task, especially for a science writer. The praiseworthy reviews from noted sources such as Publisher’s Weekly and The New York Times were well-deserved. It was accessible to a lay reader, and, as a member of the field, I still learned many interesting and amusing anecdotes, and all because of a chance encounter at the 2014 IACUC Conference.

Interested in giving Ampersand readers an inside peek of what goes on at the 2015 IACUC Conference? Apply to join the PRIM&R Blog Squad at the 2015 IACUC Conference by January 30