Top researchers and graduate students come together during first Life Sciences Symposium

Author: Deanna Csomo McCool

Biology Symposium

Notre Dame’s first Life Sciences Symposium brought together leading biomedical researchers for a day of lectures and poster presentations, drawing about 200 students and scientists from across the area.

The event, “Bridging the Gap from Bench to Bedside,” was held Oct. 11, 2017, at the Morris Inn and was organized and hosted by students in the Department of Biological Sciences graduate program. Attendees came from Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio to hear researchers present topics from stem cells in cancer to neurobiology and regeneration.

“This was a unique opportunity to learn and discuss emerging findings and ongoing challenges in biomedical research,” said Mark Hawk, a fourth-year doctoral student in the Biological Sciences Graduate Program and chair of the symposium’s organizing committee.

Biology Symposium

Invited experts included Joan Brugge, professor of cell biology at Harvard University; Marc Freeman, professor of neurobiology at the Oregon Health and Science University; John Dick, professor of stem cell biology at the University of Toronto; Linda Van Aelst, professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; Deborah Yelon, professor of biology at the University of California, San Diego; and Jing Yang, professor of pharmacology and pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego. This select group of internationally recognized scientists delivered presentations on innovative research in their respective fields.

In addition to presentations from external speakers, the symposium included talks from current graduate students and faculty from departments at Notre Dame and surrounding schools. More than 50 students also presented posters during the event, which opened up opportunities for collaboration.

4Mark Hawk

“The greatest achievement of the symposium was raising the profile of Notre Dame’s graduate program in the College of Science,” Hawk said. “One invited expert put it something along these lines: ‘I was aware of Notre Dame’s stellar undergraduate program, but today I learned you also have a distinguished and well-established graduate and research program."

The symposium was supported by the Ar-Hale Family Foundation to promote biological inquiry and student professional development. The graduate students intend to host the symposium annually, with plans for rotating themes among all key sub-disciplines in the interdisciplinary biological science graduate program. These include biomedical sciences, global health, and ecology, evolution and the environment.