The endMS conference is not only a place for sharing scientific knowledge, but is also a celebration of the dedication and effort that has been demonstrated by MS research trainees across the country. The term ‘trainee’ refers to a junior investigator or young researcher, and can include the following:
• Graduate students who are pursuing masters or doctoral work in MS research and are under the supervision of a senior researcher
• Postdoctoral research fellows who conduct research to address very advanced, specific questions about MS
• Researchers who have recently become faculty members at academic institutions
The endMS research and trainee network, which is implemented by the MS Society and involves activities such as the conference, is truly a multi-faceted program through which trainees in any of the above capacities are given invaluable opportunities for research training, career development, collaboration and mentorship.
Throughout the last couple of days, I have been inspired by the level of talent, passion, and innovation that has been displayed by trainees in the MS field. Not only were they presenting their research alongside some of the most renowned MS experts in the world, but were actively engaged in the question and answer periods and got together during coffee breaks to exchange ideas and ask questions about each others’ research.
When the endMS Network was created in 2006, the vision was that it would give rise to a new generation of MS researchers, and at the end of today I felt confident that that goal was achieved.
I wish I could write out all the wonderful studies that were presented by trainees throughout the conference, but that would require a few additional blog posts. Instead, I’ll briefly introduce one trainee who I met during lunch yesterday. His name is Brian Cheng.
During the last session just before lunch, Brian had approached the microphone to ask a question to a panel of MS researchers. Brian wondered about how viruses play a role in MS, and brought forward some interesting ideas that were discussed by the panel. I found myself sitting next to Brian at lunch and wanted to learn more about his research background and interests. As it turns out, he graduated from the University of Ottawa and went on to study microbiology at the University of Chicago, where he is currently funded by the MS Society as a PhD student. In addition to doing MS research, Brian enjoys writing, and recently launched a science blog called Symposcium
Brian mentioned that he was grateful for funding from the Ms Society as it is absolutely critical in supporting him and his research. He also told me that he found the endMS Network to be a unique program, and was happy to see that opportunities to build relationships with other young researchers were offered right here in Canada. Brian hopes to meet people affected by MS in the near future to hear more about their personal journeys and witness the real impacts of his research in MS.