Chromosomes in Kerala, India: 3rd Chromosome Stability Meeting (Thiruvananthapuram, December 15-18, 2016)
Authors: Michael Lichten, National Cancer Institute; K.T. Nishant, IISER Thiruvananthapuram; Kaustuv Sanyal, JNCASR Bangalore; Joseph Heitman, Duke University Medical Center
Competing Interests: K.T. Nishant and Kaustuv Sanyal are organizers of the Chromosome Stability Meeting.
As part of its mission to encourage engagement within the genetics community, PLOS Genetics sponsors a number of conferences and meetings every year. We are featuring a number of these conferences on Biologue, with posts written by the organizers or PLOS Genetics editors who were involved.
The 3rd Chromosome Stability Meeting, held this past December in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala (India), was the third in a series of biennial conferences jointly organized by the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Thiruvananthapuram (IISER-TVM) and the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore (India). Its impetus came from the need to provide a platform for interaction between the fast-growing Indian chromosome stability community and leading scientists from North America, Europe and Asia. India has one of the largest pools of talented graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in this area. As such, an important goal of the meeting was to provide these young scientists with exposure to an international meeting along with opportunities for interactions, collaborations, and further training.
After an initial, much smaller meeting in 2012 in Kerala, the decision was made to expand and increase its scope and participation. The second meeting in this series was held at JNCASR in Bangalore in 2014, and the most recent (2016) at the KTDC Samudra Conference Center in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The program covered a wide range of themes related to chromosome structure and organization, DNA replication and chromosome segregation, and DNA repair and recombination. Speakers comprised 39 young investigators and senior scientists, including members of the Indian science academies and the US National Academy of Sciences, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, European Molecular Biology Organization, university department chairs, and editors of international scientific journals. Speakers came from around the world, with 17 from India and the remaining 22 from other countries in Asia, Europe and North America. In keeping with its mission the meeting also hosted about 100 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and other scientists, many of whom presented at poster sessions.
In addition to providing attendees the opportunity to hear about and discuss science, the 2016 meeting included a unique panel discussion at the close. This session featured a panel of journal editors, including five members of the PLOS Genetics Editorial Board (Harmit Malik, Joseph Heitman, James Haber, Michael Lichten, Paula Cohen), in an audience-prompted discussion that covered a wide range of topics related to scientific publishing, such as how to pick a journal for submission, strategies for writing an effective cover letter, strategies for responding to reviewers’ and editors’ comments, open access publishing, and the use of preprint servers (e.g. bioRxiv) to increase access to and visibility for their manuscripts. Those of us who are closely involved with scientific publishing sometimes lose sight of how opaque the process can seem to other members of our community, especially young investigators, and the information transmitted during the session was widely appreciated.
Many of the international scientists who attended the 2016 meeting also visited other institutes in India and presented research seminars, providing Indian students with further exposure to leading investigators in the broad area of chromosome stability. The meeting also provided a forum to explore academic exchanges and collaborations between the Indian institutes and other leading institutes around the world. In all of these ways, the 3rd Chromosome Stability conference, like the two meetings that preceded it, has been successful in increasing the visibility of research conducted in India in the area of chromosome stability. Here’s thanks to the participants, organizers and sponsors for an exciting meeting—we’re looking forward to the 2018 Chromosome Stability meeting in Bangalore!
Featured Image: 3D model of a chromosome. Image credit: 3d_molier, TurboSquid