Travel Story: Natalie Aboustate

Natalie Aboustate from the Robinson Research Institute’s Pregnancy and Development group attended the ESA-SRB Annual General Meeting.

Natalie presented a poster on the topic Cord blood microRNAs that regulate TLR pathways are differentially expressed depending on gestational age.

This is what Natalie had to say about her experience:

What was a highlight of the conference?
The opportunity to meet Prof David deKretser and speak with him about career goals and the student Function (“Meeting of the Minds”) which allowed students to network with research leaders and students from other labs.

Did you meet any researchers or collaborators of significance?
Prof David de Kretser & Dr Kaye Stenvers, with whom I was able to talk briefly about career development. I also discussed my project and the nature of microRNA regulation of TLR signalling with A/Prof Mark Hedger who is an expert on immune interactions within the male reproductive tract.

How has the experience supported you?
It allowed me to present my preliminary findings to other researchers and experts in my field, which gave me the opportunity to discuss experimental design and the wider clinical applications of my project. The networking events gave me an opportunity to gain advice from senior researchers and peers about the direction of my current research and future career pathways.

What was the most exciting thing you experienced at the Conference?
I gained an improved perspective on cell culture techniques and applications, and learned novel findings on placental programming. I also learned about the pathology and associated cellular mechanisms of different diseases during pregnancy which are directly applicable to different patient groups within my study.

What was the most interesting or unexpected moment of your travel?
The contrast between clinical and basic science talks that led to very stimulating discussion on the applications of either sides of research. This included the clinical identification and management of Fetal Growth Restriction, modeling placental complications associated with FGR within mice, identifying novel biomarkers or patterns of RNA expression which characterise different FGR-related pathologies, and the use of targeted therapies such as Sildenafil to combat placental vascular insufficiency.

What was the most uncomfortable moment of your travel?
The student-networking event paired senior researchers with students, which was slightly intimidating but allowed me to present my research in an accessible manner. I found I was able to network with peers and socialise with senior colleagues effectively.

Would you recommend this experience to your friends/colleagues?
I would definitely recommend attending this conference, as it covers a wide range of research which places your own project into perspective and allows you to build in novel ideas and techniques or consider career pathways outside your current research.

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