My name is Sveva Bottini, I live in Turin, Italy, where I’m doing my PhD with the Bertero Lab on iPSC-derived cultivated meat. This year I had the chance to participate in ISCCR 2023 presenting a poster in collaboration with Qkine, and this is my experience.
I want to start with one specific moment, which I will remember forever. It was the first day, and after attending some concurrent track sessions that were held all at the same time in different rooms divided by topics, I finally entered the ballroom to attend the first Plenary session. It was an impressive room, huge just like the rest of the building, and very elegantly assessed. I just met some new friends during the day, so I took a seat next to them. The lights went down and as the ISSCR president started his welcome speech, I was experiencing so many different emotions. I believe that life is made by a series of small, instantaneous moments where awareness swamps you with all its intensity, and this was one of those moments. I finally realised that I was in Boston, that I was attending the ISSCR, and that I was there because I’m part of this amazing community of scientists, because I’m pursuing my dream of contributing to human knowledge. I am a stem cell scientist. I made it!
The speech was beautiful, and I want to report one of the conclusive lines: “Together, we have the power to transform science and improve lives”. This is for sure true, and well demonstrated by the conference itself. It was mesmerising to observe (and in some cases, live) how many connections can be made when two or more passionate people start to talk about what they like to do in life. One of the best take-home messages of this congress was, “Sharing is power”. When I think about this power, I always like to remember how Boyer and Cohen met at a conference, in 1972, one working on restriction enzymes and the other on plasmids. After hearing each others speeches, they decided to meet after the conference to share ideas, and the rest is history.
5 days went so fast but slowly at the same time. It was a very crowded program, with countless outstanding talks and presenters. I started my day, every day, making a full detailed plan for all the sessions that I wanted to follow, and sometimes I had to make hard choices because of the concurrency. On the other hand, there was no chance to feel bored. It felt amazing to hear all these different talks, spanning from neuroscience to drug discovery, from stem cells in space to clinical trials. Stem cells are the most fascinating thing in the world to me – and at ISSCR I didn’t feel alone for even a second. It is amazing to see how many contexts, ideas, and projects can be employed, and it is also very inspiring to see how we as scientists can help humankind to face a variety of different problems through the use of these special cells.
Friday came and it was time for my poster session. I was nervous, but more than anything else, thrilled. I had the chance to illustrate my work and discuss its strengths and weaknesses with brilliant scientists, and this gave me many ideas on how to further develop the project. Besides being a great training for future presentations, you can repeat your speech in your head over and over, however the real challenge (and also the most useful part) is to hear what others think of your work.
I finally had the chance to meet so many amazing people: PhD students, PIs, and expositors, all of them gave me a unique insight to the environment around me. One of the best things was finally being able to meet the Qkine team that co-sponsored my poster presentation. We had only through a screen up until that moment and we all left grateful for the finally getting to know each other face to face. We spent our time together talking about science, our work history and simply experiencing the joy of being together.
What do I treasure about this conference? This question is a very difficult one because the experience for me was so intense, that I will struggle to find the perfect words to explain it. For sure it gave me extreme inspiration, and a desire working even harder than before on my project, it also taught me the importance of sharing, communicating and listening carefully to every connection. Finally it gave me just the right dose of determination to start dreaming of being one of the next speakers. Thank you, Qkine, for giving me this amazing opportunity, I would have not been possible without you.
See you at the next ISSCR!