Vienna – a meeting place of young minds

Dr Samantha Terry, a post doctoral researcher in the Department of Imaging Chemistry & Biology recounts her experience of attending a conference in Vienna.

Sam Terry
Sam Terry

I was recently invited to submit an abstract to go for an all-expenses paid trip to Vienna as part of the Young Investigator’s Meeting of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine (EANM). I am not one to turn down any offer to travel the world for free, especially not if I get to combine it with meeting other people my age who also work as scientists in the field of nuclear medicine. I was pleased to find my abstract on “Monitoring therapy response with radionuclide imaging” was accepted and was even more pleased to find out that I am still considered young at the age of 30!

So, thanks to the funding provided by the EANM and the British Nuclear Medicine Society, I got to go to Vienna! I had only ever been once before and that was in the wintertime when the weather was so bad all I could manage was to test various hot chocolate establishments and bakeries for Sachertorte. Yum… Sachertorte…

Hill Arches sculpture
Hill Arches sculpture

During this trip however, the weather was glorious with on average a temperature of 35 degree Celsius. I even managed to find the famous Henry Moore sculpture called ‘Hill Arches’ in front of the Karlskirche, which last time took me two hours to find and even then it was covered in a box with an image of the sculpture!

Back to the meeting; what a great meeting this was. The age range of the 17 participants (ignoring the excellent organisers and chairs Marion de Jong from Erasmus University Medical Center and Tony Gee from King’s College London) was 28-32. Here we all are (I have circled myself but it’s not my best picture!)

Group_Sam_blog
17 participants, age range 28-32, 9 countries

The talks were all part of the greater topic “new tracers from bench to bedside” and participants were not only from different disciplines, namely clinicians, physicists, biologists, technologists, and (radio)-chemists, but also from a range of countries, including the UK, Portugal, Belgium, South Korea, Spain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the Netherlands.

The organisers as well as the Young EANM Committee member Nevena Ristevska created a great set of talks; the only downside was the rather sweltering room in which the talks were held. It didn’t help that the air conditioning unit was initially set at full blast to warm the room! The topics ranged from using radionuclides for imaging to therapy, in phantom models, in vitro, in vivo to clinical work. The prize for best presentation went to Ingrid Bakker, currently a PhD student from Erasmus UMC, the Netherlands who showed that gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) analogues, when radiolabeled with an isotope called Gallium-68, could aid the diagnosis of patients with prostate cancer by PET/CT imaging by targeting the GRP receptors.

The meeting was a fabulous opportunity for us all to talk about our work and research interests and get feedback and ideas. Not only that but we were able to talk about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ stuff, such as issues with supply, why this generator is a pain and radiolabeling efficiencies are not always 95% or more.

I would recommend this meeting to every young scientist doing science even remotely related to nuclear medicine. Where else would you be able to create your own network of colleagues and friends who are dotted around the world and yet have similar interests, travelled to places you have/would like to go to and have similar worries and obstacles?

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