Travel Story: Daniel Pederick

Daniel PederickDaniel Pederick from the Robinson Research Institute’s Neural Development Research Group attended the Gordon Research Conference – Neural Development in Rhode Island, USA in August 2016.

Daniel was invited to present his research Mosaic Expression of Pcdh19 Causes Segregation of Pcdh19-wild type and Pcdh19-null Neurons in the Developing Mouse Cortex Leading to an Epileptic Phenotype.

This is what Daniel had to say about his experience:

 What was a highlight of the conference?

The highlight of the conference for me was the keynote lecture by Marc Tessier-Lavigne. Marc Tessier-Lavigne is a pioneer in the field of neuroscience research and presented a talk titled “Molecular Pathways Regulating Axonal Degeneration” where he provided information regarding new research focussing on multiple pathways that are implicated in axon regeneration, axon degeneration, axonal pruning and their roles in normal wiring of the brain and human disease. He also presented new data on emerging techniques to image protein localisation in the brain (iDISCO) and the use of CRISPR-CAS9 in human IPS cells.

Did you meet any researchers or collaborators of significance? Why are they important to your work?

Gord Fishell from New York University – his lab specialises in the development of interneurons in the mammalian brain. It was great to present my work to him and discuss how interneurons could possibly be implicated in PCDH19 epilepsy as these inhibitory interneurons are often affected in epilepsy. He provided new insights into my project and we discussed possible experiments that would be effective in answering key questions related to PCDH19 epilepsy.

Did you visit any other labs or research facilities? How these visits will be useful to your work and/or career development?

I visited Tom Maniatis’ lab at the Columbia University. His lab has pioneered research into PCDH molecules and has gained great insight into their molecular function in the brain. They have performed many structural studies allowing them to identify specific regions of the PCDH proteins that are important for their function. This visit opened up the possibility for future collaborations with the Maniatis lab.

How will the experience support you and your research going forward?

It was great to be exposed to high quality research and be able to offer opinions and thoughts on other researchers’ work, which resulted in a rich networking environment and could lead to quality collaborations in the future. Providing an environment of experienced developmental neuroscientists to discuss my research with, the conference led to suggestions of exciting experiments and also potential collaborations.

What was the most exciting thing you learned/experienced at the Conference?

The most exciting things were technological advances in the field of neuroscience, which included applications of single cell RNA-seq, brain clearing techniques (allowing the visualisation of proteins in a whole brain) and MADM (Mosaic Analysis with Double markers). Learning about these techniques provoked me to think how they could be utilised within my project and how this could advance our understanding of PCDH19 epilepsy.

What was the most interesting or unexpected moment of your travel?

The most unexpected moment of my travel was how welcome everyone was at the conference. Being the only person to have travelled from Australia, the other attendees made it very easy to feel comfortable. I was also able to make great friendships with multiple people in such a short time, which will hopefully lead to lifelong friendships.

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