Guest Blog: Emily Telford

This month the guest blog is written by Emily Telford a CRW Sponsored PhD student at Cardiff University who recently travelled to China to share her research with the rest of the world.

One of the many positives to choosing a career in scientific research is the opportunity to attend conferences around the world, enabling you to meet fellow scientists, explore new places and get a greater understanding of the research that goes on there, your own research and the surrounding culture. I was therefore thrilled when Cancer Research Wales awarded me a grant to attend the 12th International Gastric Cancer Conference (IGCC) and the China-United Kingdom Cancer Conference (CUKC) in Beijing, China in April this year.

Fortunately, multiple members of my lab, the Cardiff China Medical Research Collaborative (CCMRC) also attended these conferences and we were joined by members of the Royal Society of Medicine, Surgery Section, making the trip less stressful than going alone and adding a new dynamic. I always find it fascinating talking to clinicians; it adds an appreciation to the importance of research that I find is easily forgotten working in a field with little or no interactions with patients. The CCMRC works in partnership with three universities in China, thus with so many of us going they had arranged hospital tours. The one that really fascinated me was the Traditional Chinese Medicine hospital; witnessing techniques that have withstood time was extraordinary.

The conferences themselves were filled with interesting talks and poster presentations. However, it was the CUKC conference that I favoured. This was the conference where I was able to present my research and with it being the longest presentation I have given and to the largest audience, it was definitely nerve wrecking. The research that I presented relates to a molecule that I have been studying called HAVcR-1, and how it promotes the spread of prostate cancers to the bone. It is hoped this work will eventually lead to the development of better tests that are capable of detecting aggressive prostate cancers at an earlier stage when they are easier to treat, and avoid the over treatment of men with less aggressive cancers, when the risk of treatment outweighs potential benefits. My presentation went well in the end, and I received valuable feedback and suggestions on my research which made the whole experience thoroughly worthwhile.

We also experienced Chinese hospitality in all its grandeur with us being taken out to two extravagant meals. This provided the opportunity to network in a more relaxed atmosphere and for me to try many different Chinese dishes; although I feel I am unable to recommend trying sea cucumber to anyone! I also greatly enjoyed catching up with our Chinese partners, many of which have undertaken exchanges to our lab in Cardiff. I also had some free time to re-visit my favourite places in Beijing as well as new places I was unable to on my last visit.

Overall, attending the IGCC and CUKC conferences in Beijing this year was amazing. I would like to thank Cancer Research Wales for supplying the funds to allow me to do so and I would recommend attending a conference in Beijing or just visiting China to everyone, it is a great place filled with lovely people.