Let me first say—to whoever is controlling the temperature in the convention centre: I am freezing my buns off, could you please turn down the air conditioning? Trust me, I am Canadian so I am pretty familiar with the cold—and the convention centre felt borderline Arctic yesterday.
Now—on to the important stuff!
Yesterday was the first full day of first time ever at the Biophysics Annual Meeting. What an exciting day! I was pleasantly surprised with the diverse range of platform talks and posters, and how many of them fit in so well with my own interests (primarily in cardiac ion channels). There was no shortage of things to see and do—but I will highlight for you my favourite platform session of the day, entitled, “Cardiac, Smooth, and Skeletal Muscle Electrophysiology”.
This session started out with Christian Rickert running us through the mathematical model he created to quantify action potentials in sinoatrial node myocytes. This was the first talk up to the platform, and in my opinion it really stood out as one of the best from this session. Not only was his research interesting and innovative, but it was also evident during the question period that he was confident in his model and had spent considerable time to polish this work prior to bringing it to the BPS stage. I am not a computational wiz kid by any means, but Rickert’s talk was uniquely exceptional because it was accessible and informative for attendees from a variety of research backgrounds.
Another highlight from this session was Guiling Zhao’s talk on dynamic blood flow control in the heart. She started by citing previous studies that have shown blood flow and oxygen consumption are exquisitely matched in the heart. She argued that the tight control of this relationship might in part be related to the contribution of electrical activity via K+ -induced membrane hyperpolarization in the vasculature. Zhao’s results from her work in cultured human microvascular endothelial cells from the heart indicated that an increase in extracellular K+ causes membrane hyperpolarization. Her talk provided new and interesting insight into the potential contribution of endothelial cell hyperpolarization to activity-dependent blood flow control. This talk also stimulated some very fruitful discussion amongst the speaker and audience members! During this session there were unfortunately many technological glitches, and discussion of Zhao’s data got us through several potentially awkward silences.
The platform session on Cardiac, Smooth, and Skeletal Muscle Electrophysiology was a wonderful way to start out my first day at the BPS annual meeting. Although the more I think back on these talks, I have loads of questions I wish I‘d asked! If any other attendees of this session are roaming around today, please come up and chat. We can talk about this session, about your research, or about my favourite coffee shops in New Orleans (I have been here for one full day and I already have a sizable list). As of right now, I am off to the new member welcome coffee in the Rivergate room. Thank you to the BPS for enabling my coffee addiction.