• San Diego, California; USA
• Miami, Florida; USA
This year, I was a lucky recipient of the School of Medical Sciences HDR Travel Scholarship. This funding facilitated travel to the USA where I attended the 2014 MASCC/ISOO (Multinational Association for Supportive Care in Cancer/International Society for Oral Oncology) International Symposium for Supportive Care in Cancer held in Miami, Florida. This symposium is the largest of its kind and represents a very diverse group of clinicians, nurses, research scientists and care providers all with a common goal to provide optimal care for those undergoing cancer treatment.
I attended the Mucositis Workshop, and presented my PhD research to an audience of international experts within the field, providing invaluable experience and feedback regarding my results, methodology and future directions. Not only did this allow me to build on my personal reputation within the field of mucositis, but it also initiated potential collaborations and opportunity for post-doctoral relationships. The main meeting focused on other areas of supportive care in cancer and unforeseen toxicities of cancer treatment such as pain, neuropathy and infection. I was therefore able to gain knowledge in many other areas of supportive care, some of which have direct implications for my own research.
Whilst in the USA, I also visited the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), where I visited the laboratory of Professor Kim Barrett at the Biomedical Research Facility. Professor Barrett’s research is centred around the normal and abnormal function of the gastrointestinal epithelium and how it relates to specific pathologies. During my week’s visit, I worked very closely with Dr. Melanie Gareau – a research scientist of Professor Barrett’s laboratory – gaining experience and technical training in the Ussing Chamber. Our laboratory at the University of Adelaide recently acquired an Ussing Chamber and this training has therefore equipped me with the skills and knowledge to implement efficient and effective use of the Ussing Chamber in Adelaide. I also gave an invited presentation to the GI/Liver groups of the Biomedical Research Facility highlighting the updated pathobiology of mucositis. This presentation gave me the opportunity to introduce mucositis to a group of gastrointestinal experts and present my most recent research implicating tight junctions and the innate immune system in the development of gut toxicity following chemotherapy. It was a great opportunity to present this work to a group unfamiliar with this pathology, as they provided new perspectives on aspects of our animal model and research techniques.
Overall, this trip provided me with excellent opportunities to present myself on an international scale and initiate collaborations that may prove useful in my post-doctoral career. I would like to thank the School of Medical Sciences for their generous support for which this trip was so heavily reliant upon.