Learning from Experts: Notes from Recent Scientific Workshops

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Cori Bargmann:  Over the last few months, we hosted a series of scientific workshops in San Francisco, convening experts from diverse disciplines to discuss recent advances, critical needs, and key roadblocks to progress. Our most recent workshops have focused on two important areas: neurodegeneration, a major global health problem that affects tens of millions of people worldwide, and biological imaging, an ever-expanding universe of techniques and tools ranging from methods to visualize individual proteins within cells, to ones that can image the entire human body.

In our discussions about neurodegeneration, we talked about the need to understand the genes that have been linked to conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We talked about the value of well-characterized antibodies, more scalable methods for subcellular proteomics, and new stem-cell-based tools. In order to make progress in this area, we discussed the potential of enriching the culture of science by bringing researchers together in new ways and providing better support for young scientists who study neurodegeneration. In our talks about biological imaging, we explored the idea of developing teams of software engineers to work on problems in microscopy and imaging. We considered the benefit from specialized centers that would provide expertise, resources, and tools for more scientists to learn and apply advanced imaging techniques. And as in most scientific work, we saw a need for collaboration, in this case between chemists, engineers, physicists, and biologists, to broadly stimulate work the sharing of knowledge, ideas, and tools between research microscopy and medical imaging.
This is the beginning of our learning process. We’re very fortunate to be able to convene experts to help refine these ideas and point us toward the most impactful projects to pursue. It has been a remarkably educational few months here at CZI, and we are eager to move forward with our team! If you’d like to join our efforts to advance human potential and promote equal opportunity through basic science research, see our openings on the CZI careers page.