‘I am a final year PhD student at the Institute of Ophthalmology, UCL working on anti-angiogenic therapy for diabetic retinopathy, jointly supervised by Prof. James Bainbridge (UCL) and Prof David Bates (University of Nottingham). In May 2015, my abstract titled “VEGF165b reduces vascular dysfunction in the diabetic retina” was selected for an oral presentation at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology annual meeting in Denver, Colorado. Eminent professors of ophthalmology and specialists in diabetic retinopathy, many of who were at my presentation, attend this meeting. Presenting my data to this audience allowed me to receive fundamental feedback and criticism regarding my data, feedback that I would unlikely receive at any other meeting.
Attendance at this meeting also allowed me to think about my future directions, particularly in terms of helping me shape my own research ideas and hypotheses. As this meeting had a strong focus on VEGF and VEGF – related research, this further helped me to influence my ideas. This, combined with the presence of so many experts in this field, enabled me to engage in lively debate about my research, my ideas about other research in general. It was truly thrilling to discuss such ideas with the very people that shaped the field of ocular vascular biology.
As I am in the final stages of my PhD, I am thinking about my next step. Networking is a vital element to any meeting, whether it was going to posters or directly approaching speakers after their talks, I took the opportunity to speak to as many people as possible. As a result, I have made many contacts that may perhaps shape this next step.
I am extremely thankful to the Biochemical Society for awarding me a generous grant so that I could attend ARVO 2015. It has helped me not only shape my present research, but has also influenced my future.’