The Peripheral Nerve Society (PNS) is an international non-profit organization of scientists, physicians, and other healthcare providers working together to investigate and treat diseases of the peripheral nervous system. They seek to improve the lives of people with peripheral neuropathies by supporting basic and clinical research, education, and standards of care in cooperation with patients and those developing treatments.
Each summer their Annual Meeting is the largest international conference focused solely on peripheral nerves (nerves beyond the brain and spinal cord). This year, PNS was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, and a large contingent from the NeuroNetwork for Emerging Therapies traveled to exchange research and knowledge with peers from across the world. The team, led by Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., also found some time to enjoy Copenhagen's culture.
A few of the NeuroNetwork contingent shared their experiences:
Evan Reynolds, Ph.D., Lead Statistician
Presentation: Emerging results on how longitudinal (over time) trajectories of metabolic risk factors may be predictive of future neuropathy for people with diabetes.
Favorite experience: "Getting to meet leaders in neuropathy research from around the world. It was also amazing to explore the beautiful city of Copenhagen."
Favorite presentation (besides your own): "I was especially interested in results from large clinical cohort studies, which is very much in line with my own work. In particular, the Rotterdam Study, which is assessing risk factors amongst persons with diabetic neuropathy."
Interesting questions or feedback on your presentation: "One interesting point of feedback was that perhaps 'metabolic memory' for persons with type 2 diabetes might be important for the onset of peripheral neuropathy. Although our data only included adults, one audience member wondered if metabolic risk factor measurements during childhood might also be associated with adult neuropathy status."
Fallon Koenig, Clinical Research Coordinator
Presentation: Corneal Confocal Microscopy as a potential alternative to skin biopsies in diagnosing small fiber neuropathies. "While we found that it is not a suitable substitute, anything that could make the experience for the patient better is worth looking into."
Favorite experience: "My favorite part of the conference was the education courses on the first day. For newer researchers such as myself, it really helped put the rest of the conference into perspective and made my time there that much more valuable."
Favorite presentation: The most interesting presentation that I saw was "Human-derived Co-culture System to Study Factors Affecting the Sensory Axon-Skin Interaction in Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy" presented by Madison James from Johns Hopkins. I am particularly interested in this topic given the group that I work with, and I think Madison did a fantastic job presenting the topic in an engaging and absorbable manner."
Interesting questions or feedback on your presentation: The most common question asked was what Corneal Confocal Microscopy was. We are all so familiar with skin biopsies as the standard of care, but much less with potential alternatives that aren't widely used. Hopefully, this ongoing discussion will lead Corneal Confocal Microscopy to be utilized in other areas where it may be beneficial."
Stephanie Eid, Ph.D., Rose C. and Nathan L. Milstein Family Emerging Scholar
Presentation: "'Schwann Cell-Derived Extracellular Vesicles Drive Nerve Insulin Resistance in Peripheral Neuropathy.' Basically, I presented our work that investigates a new role of Schwann cells as supporting cells for neurons--metabolic support that helps neurons meet their energy needs." (This research won the prestigious Peter J. Dyck Prize at the meeting)
Favorite experience: "The opportunity to network with so many incredible experts in the field. The exchange of ideas and meaningful scientific conversations opened the door to some really exciting potential collaborations. Winning the award wasn't so bad either."
Favorite presentation (besides your own): "There was so much really great science. Our longtime collaborator Doug Wright from the University of Kansas gave a really interested talk about the Keto diet and neuropathy. Elisabetta Babetto, from Ohio State, shared how Schwann Cells respond to nerve injury. I also went to a few really great presentations on neuropathic pain and pain mechanisms. It's hard to choose."