Abstract submission is now closed for the 2016 SMA Researcher Meeting. We are excited to announce that we received 118 submissions, a record number. Our submissions come from researchers in 14 countries, six companies, and over 50 institutions.
We expect over 300 researchers and clinicians from almost 100 organizations to attend the SMA Researcher Meeting. And with registration for both the family and researcher portions of the Annual SMA Conference on track to break records, we anticipate an exciting and productive Annual SMA Conference.
Abstract submission allows scientists from all over the world to submit their best new and unpublished data for consideration. From the submissions received, our Scientific Advisory Board will select the most intriguing and most promising to be presented at the conference. During this process, the SAB will also look for areas of overlap or commonality. Often, different scientists working on similar questions can be gathered into a single session, to stimulate new discussions and collaborations that can further SMA research.
One of the most important themed sessions each year is our special session. This year’s special session is called, “The Changing Landscape of SMA: Consideration of Future Needs.” The goal of this session is to discuss the changing landscape in SMA as possible drug approvals could near. The invited talks will focus on the implications for research, drug development, and clinical care.
There will be an emphasis on how to move towards effective drug treatments and improved quality of life for all types of SMA and at all stages of disease progression. The session will include discussion of approval of second in class drugs, the use of combination therapies, and the importance of registries and standards of care. The session moderator is Cure SMA SAB member Stephen J. Kolb, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurology Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry.
The SAB will also extend invitations to other scientists who are working on experiments that might be helpful to the SMA research community. In the past, this has included researchers working on related diseases like ALS, in order to see what we can learn from advancements in other neuromuscular disorders.
How We Are Engaging the SMA Community
Along with our open requests for funding proposals, open abstract submission allows us to engage the SMA researcher community and accelerate the pace of research. In addition, many of the scientists who submit abstracts or who are invited to give talks will also be invited to prepare posters for our family-friendly poster session, during which families can interact directly with researchers and ask them questions about their work.
Representatives from the major drug programs in development will also be invited for a panel discussion and Q&A session that will be open to families attending the conference.