Scientists from across Southern California gathered at the USC Leonard Davis School for the inaugural Geroscience Los Angeles Meeting (GLAM), a daylong conference showcasing the work of students and trainee aging researchers, on September 22, 2023.
Inspired by the Bay Area Aging Meeting (BAAM), which started in 2009, GLAM featured research talks by trainees, a student and trainee poster session, and 2-minute flash talks by undergraduate researchers, as well as networking sessions. Laboratories from institutions across Southern California were represented, including USC, UCLA, Cedars-Sinai, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, UC San Diego, and Loyola Marymount University. The event’s sole faculty presentation was a keynote address on aging and stem cell biology delivered by UCLA Professor Thomas Rando, Director of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center.
Giving students and trainees opportunities to present research and network was a key focus for the event, as non-faculty have limited opportunities to do so at many other scientific meetings, according to USC Leonard Davis Vice Dean and Professor Sean Curran and Assistant Professors Bérénice Benayoun and Ryo Sanabria, the event’s organizers.
“The first iteration of our event was a tremendous success with over 250 registrants, 16 trainee talks, 12 undergraduate flash talks, and over 50 posters,” Sanabria said. “These numbers highlight the need for such a conference in the greater Southern California area, and we are excited to announce that planning for GLAM 2024 will be starting shortly with enthusiastic participation from many Southern California institutions.”
Benayoun said she and Sanabria were motivated to create GLAM following their own positive experiences with BAAM as trainees.
“This sort of trainee-focused meeting showed its strength with the original versions that inspired us in the Bay Area. As trainees in the Bay, Dr. Sanabria and I benefited from these meetings in several key ways: it gave us opportunities to present our research and get feedback, network with other trainees and faculty working in aging research in the area, and thus start new collaborations,” she said. “We believe that GLAM can be this for the Los Angeles area and help all the fantastic researchers here synergize and collaborate to help advance human health span. We hope this is the first of many GLAMs to come!”
Several student and trainee presenters expressed their appreciation for the experiences made possible by the event.
“It was an honor and pleasure to present my research at GLAM. The engagement with the audience both during and post-presentation was wonderful,” said Shanshan Yin, a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Professor Peter Adams at Sanford Burnham Prebys. “All the sessions provided comprehensive coverage of key aging topics, offering valuable insights for attendees. Kudos to the dedicated organizers for ensuring everything ran smoothly. I truly appreciated the experience and look forward to next year’s symposium!”
Joshua Senior, an undergraduate researcher in the laboratory of Professor Mara Mather and GEMSTEM scholar majoring in biological sciences and human development and aging at USC, said the opportunity to connect with other researchers was a great experience.
“Attending GLAM as an undergraduate, it was inspiring to see other scientists of all domains and levels of expertise,” said Senior. “Being able to connect with individuals and have great conversations throughout the day truly showed the importance of community in science.”
The event was organized by the Los Angeles Aging Research Alliance, a partnership between USC, UCLA, Cedars-Sinai and other area organizations involved in aging research to promote age-related advances and improve health and well-being across the lifespan. The GLAM organizers expressed their gratitude for the financial support from the Hevolution Foundation that played a major role in bringing the event to life, and also thanked sponsors VWR, Oxford Nanopore, Eppendorf, ThermoFisher Scientific, ECHO, Agilent Technologies, ActiveMotif, and Beckman Coulter.
Best Poster (Undergraduate):
Ayaka Sato, USC
Shin Hyung Lee, USC
Vandita Gorla, USC
Best Poster (Graduate):
Emily Tom, UC Irvine
Tatiana Moreno, Sanford Burnham Prebys
Adam Hruby, USC
Best Poster (Postdoctoral):
Min Hoo Kim, USC
Jake Inzalaco, Cedars-Sinai
Steve Pilley, USC
Best Flash Talk (Undergraduate):
Joshua Senior, USC
Nicholas Kim, USC
Carly Arends, UCLA
Best Research Talk (Graduate):
Ivan Salladay, UCLA
Jon Levi, USC
Ana Silverstein, USC
Best Research Talk (Postdoctoral):
Edward T. Schmid, UCLA
Shanshan Yin, Sanford Burnham Prebys
Seokjo Kang, Cedars Sinai