Abstract submission is now closed for the 2019 SMA Researcher Meeting. We are excited to announce that we received 166 submissions, a record number. Our submissions come from researchers in 20 countries, 11 companies, and close to 65 institutions.
We expect over 500 researchers and clinicians from almost 100 organizations will attend the SMA Researcher Meeting. With registration for both the family and researcher portions of the Annual SMA Conference on track to reach capacity, we anticipate an engaging and productive conference.
Abstract submissions allow scientists from all over the world to submit new and unpublished data for consideration. From the submissions received, our Scientific Advisory Board will select the most captivating and promising to be presented at the conference. While considering abstract submissions, 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, ‘Spinal and Neuromuscular Circuitry: Exploring defects in SMA and Potential Therapeutic Targets’. Understanding how the intricate circuitry connecting nerves and muscles functions and what defects in that circuitry are present in SMA will help researchers better understand the pathology of SMA. Furthermore, identifying defects in the circuitry may identify potential targets for future therapeutics. The goal of this session is to better understand this circuitry in the context of SMA and discuss how this knowledge may impact further therapeutic development. The moderator for the special session is Samuel Pfaff, PhD, Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor at the Gene Expression Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
The SAB also extends invitations to other scientists 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.