Written by Elizabeth Litkowski, PhD, Research Fellow, Department of Neurology, University of Michigan and Michigan ADRC REC Mentee
Unlike many other post-doc poster presenters, I came to [the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC)] this year as a seasoned veteran of Amsterdam. More than 20 years ago, I was a businessperson in an international company leading a basic statistics workshop offered in Amsterdam. Over a cold European winter, I witnessed firsthand the value of bringing together a group of diverse minds to address tough business process problems. I saw a similar pattern at play this week at AAIC but diversity showed up in different ways. Given my own research interests of establishing the role glucose metabolism plays in the progression to dementia, I found myself pulled into other hypotheses of mechanism: T Cells in brain aging, APOE and glial cells, the influence of APOE, the neuroimmune system, the complement cascade. My labmates, on the other hand, followed the research around tau, tau PET, tau therapies, TDP-43. Diversity was exhibited in the proliferation of accents during the plenary and panel sessions as you could see in contributions from various parts of the world. I personally observed the diversity of backgrounds as I presented my poster to clinicians, bioinformaticians, epidemiologists, and neuroscientists. Certainly, the theme of diversity (and emotion) ran high in Dr. Xiaoying Chen’s acceptance of the Blas Frangione Early Career Award as she related her story of growing up as a woman in China with scientific ambitions. Amsterdam is as I remember it – a place and a mindset welcoming of the diversity of thought we need to cure this devasting disease.