I am writing to express my thanks to the Biochemical Society for awarding the travel grant which allowed me to attend the Experimental Biology conference in Boston earlier this year. I am a trained microbiologist at heart and carried out my PhD in Sheffield University in the UK. My PhD investigated the effect of novel carbon monoxide-releasing compounds (CORMs) on bacteria. These compounds are transition metal carbonyls and have shown promise in tackling a range of bacterial species. My role specifically was to characterize the bactericidal effects of a manganese-CORM on Escherichia coli.
Before travelling to Boston for the EB conference, my knowledge on immunology and host-pathogen interactions was limited but further understanding would be invaluable in my quest to understand the role of CO and CORMs in killing host pathogens. Although I didn’t present a poster at the conference and the majority of work was not my area of expertise, I found the talks on the host-pathogen interface, microbiome and enteric pathogens very interesting. For me, it highlighted the importance of virulence factors in the pathogenesis of microorganisms and the potential role of signaling molecules in the host in regulating these factors. One such signaling system is the gasotransmitter, CO, which is produced endogenously by the body through the breakdown of haem by haem-oxygenase.
In addition to the plethora of interesting research at the conference, travelling to Boston at such a huge international meeting enabled me to interact with scientists working at a more clinical level, an area which I was very interested in pursuing a post-doctoral career in. I am pleased to inform the Biochemical Society that by travelling to this conference, I was able to network with members of a group at Harvard Medical School, which has ultimately led to them offering me a post-doctoral position. I start at Harvard Medical School later this year!