Participating in a scientific forums is a must for those who work in academia
I decided to write this blog post as I think it would be nice to share. Since a scientific meeting is a gathering of thoughts, actions, and dreams, the story is always good to share. Unfortunately, in the last two years, I participated in only virtual scientific meetings. No business trip for conference; no going abroad or even traveling to neighboring prefecture in Japan. In the first semester this year, I joined some virtual scientific meetings, including the meeting of Japanese Society of Veterinary Anatomists, hosted by the veterinary anatomy research group of Hokkaido University. Finally, couple days ago, I attended a scientific meeting in person for the first time since I started my PhD study. It was the 76th Annual Meeting of Japanese Association of Anatomists (Chugoku-Shikoku Branch) and was organized by the anatomy group of the Faculty of Medicine, Kagawa University. This small meeting was attended by forty-six participants (professors and students) from various backgrounds: human medicine, veterinary medicine, dental medicine, nursing science, biology, etc. Of those participants, three presenters were non-Japanese nationality (including me). Moreover, our lab members were the only presenters from veterinary schools.
All research topics presented by the presenters are very nice. However, personally, I am interested in one topic that discussed about primary cilia. This microtubule-based cellular organelle, is suggested to be associated with some condition, and could be shortened or expanded, based on the results interpretation by the presenter. Then some audiences confirming if the primary cilia was shortened or just detached from the cell body, how did the author interpreting the phenomena, and so on. These kind of discussions are necessary to help improving the research quality.
In the end of the first day, there was a special lecture by Dr. Sei Yoshida, a Professor in genetics and cell biology, from Nankai University (check his research lab's webpage here). He talked about circular dorsal ruffles (CDR), actin-rich structures on the dorsal surface of many mammalian cells in response to growth factor stimulation. It was something that I had never heard, and if I know, I do not think that I would consider it as a functional structure. But, his presentation proved that I was wrong.
Researchers have their own interest regarding the research topics. From some meetings (especially the anatomy groups) I participated in, I could find a few explorative studies related to the anatomical characteristics of animals, and of course they were conducted with more detailed approaches rather than just describing the gross anatomical features. In the case of veterinary anatomy, I believe that these kinds of research are still possible to be conducted as there are so many species that have not been studied yet. In fact, it gives us (veterinary anatomy society) plenty of resources to be explored as well as challenges for us, as researchers. On the other hand, in human anatomy, this option might be limited. Of the research topics presented at the meeting in Kagawa a couple days ago (most of participants were from medical schools), I observed no barrier in terms of basic research (including anatomy). Most of the research topics in anatomy were related to morphology or phenomena that occurred at the cellular and molecular levels, covering its underlying mechanisms. Since anatomy is a part of basic sciences, it is necessary to carry out research in anatomy comprehensively as much as possible. Studying anatomy is not limited to only gross anatomy or superficial appearance, it depends on the purpose of the study that may need some detail at cellular or molecular level, as well as elaborating some physiological factors.
It does not make sense that research in anatomy should be separated from other basic sciences such as physiology, biochemistry, or any other related sciences. Back in the day, I heard even the worse perspective from someone in the field, saying that our research group (in anatomy) must be focus on gross anatomy (just because in our academic society in Indonesia, the laboratory is commonly separated between macro-anatomy and micro-anatomy, and I belong to the laboratory of macro-anatomy). I am telling the truth, but of course this is just a perspective from some one or may be some people, and not representing the academic society in Indonesia. We must let this silly perspective away from academia.