WorldLeish 6, Toledo (Spain), 16-20 May 2017.
Unit of Molecular Parasitology, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium.
WorldLeish is organised every 4 years and brings all the world Leishmania experts (called leishmaniacs) from every disciplines -molecular biologists, immunologists, clinicians, veterinarians, entomologists, experts in public health- to the same place to talk about Leishmania. This year the 6th edition was organised in Toledo, Spain, where 1400 scientists gathered and presented their work during 5 days. I was selected to give an oral presentation untitled “Pre-adaptation to antimonials is general in Leishmania donovani from the Indian subcontinent” in the session on Early drug discovery, animal models and genetic susceptibility, drug resistance mechanisms. This work is the last part of the my PhD and I am now writing the manuscript.
I had presented some of my work to smaller audiences but never to so many internationally respected leading experts. My work raised the interest of Prof. Marc Ouellette who is one of the scientists leading the work on episome formation and copy number variation in Leishmania. The genomic part of my work was noticed by Prof. Tim Downing who worked on Leishmania genome diversity and this led to an interesting conversation about my data and on a different way to interpret them. Noteworthy, a scientist present during my presentation raised a controversy on one of the proteins I have been investigating as potential driver of the resistance since she published different finding. Appreciating the positive feedback I received afterward, I believe I successfully handled the presentation and the questions.
The conference was also a good opportunity for networking. WorldLeish6 gattered about 1400 scientists from 84 countries on 5 different continents. This was a unique occasion to talk to people about present work and potential future collaboration for the unit but also for potential post-doctoral positions to change topic within Leishmania biology. Indeed I would be really interested to study more in detail how the parasite regulates the expression of genes at RNA level. In addition, participation to after-conference events led me to foster the bounds I had created with other scientists from other countries during my PhD.
Based on this experience and on the incredible quantity of knowledge I acquired during this conference, I would like to thank another time Zoetis and the BSPP for giving me this opportunity. I hereby would like to encourage every PhD student, starting or finishing, to apply for every conference they feel comfortable to attend and also to apply to the Zoetis travel award.