This month’s science blog is written by Cancer Research Wales PhD student, Rachel Lawrence, who over the summer received an award at an International Conference for her pioneering research which seeks to develop much needed blood based diagnostic tests for early cancer diagnosis.
To present my research as a platform presentation for the first time at the joint Belgian, Dutch and British Environmental Mutagenesis meeting in Leuven, Belgium was nerve racking, although extremely exciting. With many experts in the field of genetic toxicology in attendance, I was keen to not only gain useful feedback on my research but also to present the work we carry out here in Wales on an international stage.
This conference focused on DNA damage and mutation and how these can cause diseases such as cancer. Although I was well prepared, prior to my presentation, I was extremely anxious. When I started speaking I relaxed, knowing that I had prepared well and had good data to show. The blood based mutation assay that we have developed at Swansea for detecting oesophageal adenocarcinoma was well received with many delegates asking questions and approaching me to discuss the work afterwards.
After my talk, I still had over 2 days left of the conference where I could relax and enjoy the other research on show. There were many interesting talks including research on lifestyle factors influencing epithelial cancer development as well as work on 3D in vitro models and their usefulness in toxicology screening.
The conference dinner was held in the original Stella Artois brewery which had been transformed into a beautiful events space. During this dinner, I was awarded a prize for the best young scientist oral presentation at the meeting. I was delighted and celebrated that evening with colleagues from the lab that were also in attendance.
The overall experience of the conference was one I will never forget. Not only did I learn a great deal about other research in my field but I feel I have much more confidence in my ability to present my research and I hope to do this again soon. I would like to thank my supervisor, Prof Gareth Jenkins as well as Cancer Research Wales for funding this research and providing the opportunity for me to attend this conference, from which I obtained invaluable experience.