This week, we hosted the third CSHL meeting on Mechanisms of Metabolic Signaling. We checked in with all three meeting organizers – Jared Rutter, Mitch Lazar, and Susanne Mandrup – for a casual chat about the meeting and its role in bringing together the different metabolism disciplines.
Jared: I view the Mechanisms of Metabolic Signaling meeting as being unique in the sense that it’s the one meeting, I know about, that brings together people who work on metabolism involved in different diseases and different physiological states. There are a lot of cancer metabolism meetings, diabetes meetings, and obesity meetings. This meeting brings together metabolic aspects of all of those and allows cross-fertilization across those different disciplines.
Susanne: The different metabolic disciplines is a common denominator in the positive feedback we’ve received from the participants.
Mitch: I’m occasionally at cancer metabolism meetings and I was thrilled that several of the leaders of the cancer metabolism field, first of all, came to this meeting because they thought it was important and second of all, were asking the difference between what happens in the organism versus in cells. This has historically been one of the big differences between organismal metabolism and cancer metabolism.
Susanne: Also there are many great technologies now being applied across the disciplines, from in-vitro technologies to whole-organism technologies.
This meeting is still fairly new but it plays a unique role in bridging the gap between the different disciplines in the field of metabolism. It consistently attracts a great number of meeting participants who are junior scientists; with graduate students and postdocs continuing to make up 42% of the meeting. We brought up this fact during the interview and Jared shared an insightful response:
I think it’s a reflection of the fact that young people are realizing that metabolism is cool again. That it’s important again. This wasn’t always the case. I would guess that 15 years ago, metabolism meetings had a bunch of old people and no one under 60. But, I feel like now, there’s a rebirth of metabolism research and people are interested again, and that provides an opportunity to bring these people together – young and old.
As for those curious or who were on the fence about attending this meeting, Jared shares some advice:
Think a little bit more broadly than just in your narrow field, and realize that if you study cancer metabolism, you can learn a lot by talking with people who study metabolic physiology in diabetes or the brain or whatever. I think we often, as scientists, tend to have our own tribes of people that hang out with each other and think about things the same way. It enables innovation when we can go between tribes and learn how someone else thinks about the world.
Lastly, we inquired about the presentation awards they are handing out this year. Though they kept the award categories close to the vest during our interview, the winners were announced at last night’s banquet and we love the idea of the presentation awards.
Check out all the chats we had with other meeting organizers and course instructor.