Lysosomes and lake swimming in New Hampshire

Posted on: 1 September 2022 by Katy McCarron in September 2022 posts

Lake view

Katy McCarron is a third year PhD student in the Institute of Systems, Molecular and Integrative Biology. She recently attended the 2022 Lysosomes and Endocytosis Gordon research conference 2022 in New Hampshire, USA and tells us about her trip!

My research

In 2019, I joined the lab of Professor Sylvie Urbé and Professor Michael Clague to pursue a PhD researching the molecular cell biology of Parkinson’s disease. My research is focussed on investigating two genes that are mutated in familial forms of Parkinson’s, LRRK2 and VPS35, how they interact with each other, particularly within the endo-lysosomal system, and how this may contribute to Parkinson’s disease pathophysiology. Better understanding of how disruption in certain pathways leads to Parkinson’s will give better insight into the disease and may provide avenues to explore for therapeutic intervention.

My first conference

I recently attended the ‘2022 Lysosomes and Endocytosis Gordon Research Conference’ and associated ‘Gordon Research Seminar’ which took place over one week in New Hampshire, USA. Over the course of the week, I attended many fascinating talks in a range of different research areas. There were around 50 talks from international leaders in their respective fields.  Each day of the conference was divided into a different aspect of the endo-lysosomal system, from how protein cargo enters cells, how they are sorted to how they are degraded by lysosomes and new functions of these pathways. I particularly liked how broad the range of talks were. It really expanded my understanding of system and gave me a great insight into how my own research fits into this pathway.

My favourite session was ‘The Lysosome, Autophagy and Cellular Catabolism’, which included talks on the mechanism cells use to attempt to resolve damage to their lysosomes, non-canonical autophagy, where the LC3 is conjugated directly onto the lysosome membrane instead of via various different adaptors.

I was fortunate to be selected to present a poster while at the conference, which was a fantastic opportunity to discuss my research with other scientists, including some large names in the VPS35 field! It was valuable to receive their insight and feedback on the work I have been doing and it has given me some great ideas for experiments to do when I get back to the lab.

The timetable of GRC conferences is unusual compared to other conferences in that instead of having talks 9am to 5pm, you actually get a couple of hours of free time in the afternoon and then resume talks after tea. During these breaks they offer a number of different activities and excursions you can sign up for. I went hiking and swam in a nearby lake. It was really nice to get out and see the surrounding area, which was really beautiful. It was also a nice opportunity to spend more time with the other attendees socially and I found a group of PhD students and post docs that I got on well with. This was a relief as I was a bit nervous attending my first ever conference alone!

Overall, it was a great experience and I am grateful for being given the opportunity to attend by the ISMIB PGR travel award, who covered my travel and accommodation costs. I hope to attend the next one in 2024!