The Annual SMA Conference consists of two separate events that run in parallel. The first is focused on families affected by SMA, who gather for workshops, keynote sessions, networking, and fun events such as a dance party, movie night, and more. The second event is the SMA Researcher Meeting, the largest research meeting in the world specifically focused on SMA.
During the SMA Researcher Meeting, researchers from industry and academia meet to create open communication of early, unpublished scientific data, accelerating the pace of research. The meeting also furthers research by building productive collaborations—including cross-disciplinary dialogue, partnerships, integration of new researchers and drug companies, and educational opportunities for junior researchers.
In addition to providing leadership in the SMA research field, holding the SMA Researcher Meeting alongside the family conference allows us to offer unique opportunities for families and researchers to come together to learn from and collaborate with each other.
As one researcher said, “This meeting is the best of its kind. The value of meeting with researchers, physicians, and parents all in one place is immeasurable. Parents see how much we care, physicians see how much work is required for drug development, and researchers see how much their hard work is appreciated.”
Emerging Trends in Research
This year, over 105 presentations will be given at the conference. This includes presentations that are part of a special session, “Emerging Trends in Motor Neuron Pathobiology.”
SMA is one of several diseases that deal with the motor neurons, which are nerve cells in the spinal cord that control muscle movement. In recent years, researchers have made significant progress in understanding the mechanisms underlying these motor neuron diseases. Our special session will explore what these underlying mechanisms may have in common, and how researchers can apply lessons learned from these other disease to SMA research.
In total, 35 talks and over 70 poster presentations, selected by our Scientific Advisory Board from submitted abstracts, will be presented over the course of two days. Over 50 organizations from 10 countries around the world will present new SMA research at the conference. In addition, we expect almost 250 researchers overall to attend the conference to learn about the latest developments in SMA research.