Norman Bethune Symposium 2020

Thursday, October 08, 2020 Canadian Blood Services trainees

Postponed in April 2020, the Centre for Blood Research’s annual Norman Bethune Symposium moved to an online format and was held on Sept. 9, 2020. We heard from some Canadian Blood Services research trainees about the symposium and their experiences presenting their work in the “new normal” virtual format, which included a research showcase via Twitter.

Olga Mykhailova (postdoctoral fellow, Acker laboratory)

On the Norman Bethune Symposium:

From my perspective, NBS-2020 went under the title “New reality”. This “during-COVID life” makes everyone challenge themselves to be totally open to new technologies and to think outside the box to stay efficient. Personally, it was quite challenging as it was my first experience in presenting data via an online application. So different from what I am used to! There is no interaction with or reflection from an audience, which makes you feel slightly confused and disoriented. However, success comes from experience, which, unfortunately, we still have time to gain with this continuing lockdown.

Nevertheless, these difficult circumstances were easily smoothed out by excellent hosting by Drs. Dana Devine and Edward Conway, who made the atmosphere more friendly.

Olga Mykhailova listens in and colleague Wenhui Li presents during the 2020 Norman Bethune Symposium.
Olga Mykhailova listens in and colleague Wenhui Li presents during the 2020 Norman Bethune Symposium.

Regarding the Symposium program, I was very excited that at least half of the announced talks were highly relevant to the research I presented, as well as to other on-going projects in Dr. Jason Acker’s lab. Our results on the difference in hypothermic storage lesion in subpopulations of recently matured and senescent red blood cells depending on donor sex had many findings in common with those presented by other speakers. The research presented at the Symposium supported the idea that red blood cells are much more than just hemoglobin carriers, and that there is much researchers still need to learn to fully understand successful storage of these cells and efficacy of transfusion.

Wenhui Li (graduate student, Acker laboratory)

On the Norman Bethune Symposium:

As a trainee, I appreciated having the chance to give a short presentation at the Symposium. Actually, I found that it being a virtual meeting reduced some stress and I was more comfortable with this than presenting at a face-to-face meeting.  A drawback is that the internet may be interrupted suddenly... and it happened three minutes before I gave the presentation, which freaked me out!  Fortunately, I fixed it on time and overall my presentation was a good experience. 

I found the Norman Bethune Symposium to be a great symposium for me.  Most of the topics are related to my research. Specifically, the transfusion related immunomodulation information and possible mechanisms. And I had the opportunity to ask questions about the red blood cell deformability study from Dr. Ma’s laboratory and learned new information about red blood cell storage.

Part of Wenhui Li’s Twitter thread for the Twitter Research Showcase
Part of Wenhui Li’s Twitter thread for the Twitter Research Showcase

On the Twitter Research Showcase:

I am interested in showing my research to the public. The Twitter showcase was great practice to take on this mission of explaining my research in a way the public could understand. It is interesting to think through how to present your research in a different way. This was a good experience for me, as I don’t use Twitter frequently, and it was an opportunity to train myself further to present research through social media. 

Mona Khorshidfar (postdoctoral fellow, Devine laboratory)

On the Twitter Research Showcase:

It was the first time I have participated in a virtual showcase competition! I found the idea strange at first, more so when I heard the presentation was via Twitter. I have never had a Twitter account and did not know how to use one. But eventually, I thought It is a great way to discover a new world of science in the times of Covid-19. The result was amazing and fun! Very helpful communication coordination from the CBR taught me how to work with Twitter. I thought the presentations were fabulous! I loved all of them! Some presenters were really creative and artistic. About my own experience, I felt the penny dropped after the competition. I think I misunderstood how to design my showcase and I planned it more like a research poster. However, I learnt a lot, not only about how to work with Twitter but also from other research results that were presented.

The introduction to Mona Khorshidfar’s Twitter thread for the Twitter Research Showcase

Congratulations to all who were involved in the 2020 Norman Bethune Symposium on a successful and informative day. A particular shout-out to the brave trainees who put themselves and their research on Twitter under the hashtags #CBR_TwitterShowcase or #CBR_NBS2020 to take part in the Twitter Research Showcase:

  • Maria-Elizabeth Baeva
  • Rachel Dunn
  • Mona Khorshidfar
  • Erik Lamoureux
  • Jerry Leung
  • Wenhui Li
  • Bronwyn Lyons
  • Marie-Soleil Smith
  • Amy Wong Strilchuk

Congratulations to Twitter Research Showcase winner Maria-Elizabeth Baeva (@Maria_the_Bae) and runner-up Marie-Soleil Smith (@MarieSunSmith).

If you want to read the research presented during the showcase, check out the Twitter Research Showcase Proceedings as collected by the Centre for Blood Research.

Canadian Blood Services and the Centre for Innovation are proud to partner with the Centre for Blood Research to deliver training and education events including the annual Norman Bethune Symposium.

Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.


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