The 11th annual nPOD conference was an inspiring and action packed 4 days. This was my first professional conference, and one which has set the bar pretty high.
Held in Florida, America’s sunshine state, meant the weather was phenomenal- pushing 29 degrees in February, whilst UK remained in perpetual winter. However, only fleeting moments were spent on the beach, the real highlights of the conference were found indoors. The main objective of nPOD is to bring together experts to address key immunological, histological, viral, and metabolic questions related to how type 1 diabetes develops. This conference was hence the “Diabetes Oscars” for an early career researcher like me, and I got the chance to hear and meet world-leading experts in a variety of these areas. Key highlights for me was a talk from Peter Arvan on Proinsulin misfolding and its implications in type 1 diabetes and the keynote address by Emil Unanue who discussed crinosomes and their role in insulin granule degradation in diabetic-prone mice, which could promote autoimmunity.
The whole conference was full of opportunities to network, especially in the poster session. I had the chance to present a poster on my current work titled: “A Type 1 Diabetes Genetic Risk Score Can Aid Classification of nPOD Cases”. This session was a fantastic inlet to discuss my work with other researchers and find out about emerging work in the field. Although daunting to start with, the session was an enjoyable experience and my poster was well received.
This conference was something special to be part of and showcased the people all driven by the same goal: to improve the lives and find a cure for people with type 1 diabetes, a disease which I was diagnosed with 6 years ago. Reaching this goal hasn’t been easy, but I think we are on the crest of a wave and we’ve got some brilliant brain power behind us.