The TiMe Cohort hosted the second-annual Tissue Microenvironment (TiMe) Day Symposium and Poster Session on April 13, 2018 at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. There were over seventy attendees from 14 departments across campus including guests from industry. The symposium explored different aspects of the tissue microenvironment through six faculty research talks: two by keynote speakers Drs. Steven Altschuler and Lani Wu from UCSF; three plenary talks by Illinois faculty: Drs. Erik Nelson, Stephen Boppart, and Jefferson Chan; and one by External Advisory Board Member Dr. Chandrajit Bajaj from UT Austin. Hailey Knox, Sisi He, Sushant Bangru, and Whitney Sinclair gave graduate student rapid talks to conclude the research portion of the symposium. The poster session and competition had an impressive twenty-four participants and Drs. Thomas Gaj and Shannon Sirk were tasked with selecting the top posters. The competition was so fierce that they were unable to choose only three winners, and so the day closed with four: Hailey Knox, Liqian Ma, Phuong Le, and Whitney Sinclair.
Deepest gratitude goes to the faculty speakers from across the country who came to support the TiMe Symposium and program. The Keynote guest faculty speakers from the University of California, San Francisco Drs. Lani Wu and Steven Altschuler. Dr. Altschuler and Dr. Wu spoke about tissue patterning and dysregulation in gut epithelium and the proliferation-senescence cell fate decision. Illinois faculty provided additional discussions about the tissue microenvironment with plenary talks by Dr. Erik Nelson –“Cholesterol, its Metabolites and the Tumor Microenvironment”, Dr. Stephen Boppart –“Shedding Light on the Dynamic Tumor Microenvironment”, and Dr. Jefferson Chan –“Development of Photoacoustic Probes for Non-invasive Imaging of Tissue Environments.” Dr. Chandrajit Bajaj from the University of Texas at Austin and an External Advisory Board member spoke about his research on infrared imaging “The Promise of Machine Learning for Infrared Spectroscopy”. Dr. Peter So from MIT and Dr. Bruce Wheeler from University of California, San Diego – both External Advisory Board members – provided additional support, questions, and comments throughout the event. Dr. Thomas Gaj and Dr. Shannon Sirk had the nearly impossible challenge of listening to, ranking, and deliberating on 24 posters from graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from across campus.
The event would not have been possible without the time and dedication of the TiMe cohort and administrative team. Emily Chen and Jan Lumibao were the masterminds behind organizing the symposium and made the day seamless. Sisi He, Jamila Hedhli, Clare Ko, Seth Kenkel, Joanne Li, Phuong Le, and Ruibo Wang sent out symposium communications across campus, encouraged colleagues to present and attend, and are now tasked with selecting the next cohort of Tissue Microenvironment trainees. Drs. Rohit Bhargava and Rex Gaskins are ever the guiding hands for the program and Krista Smith and Paloma Pearson keep the program advancing daily.
The event was sponsored by NIH T32 Award T32EB019944, the Cancer Center at Illinois, and the Beckman Institute with additional support from the College of Engineering, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, and the Department of Materials Science. An additional thanks to the Cancer Center at Illinois for providing the award money for the poster session.