I’ve got two confessions. First, I just read Vance’s kick-off blog post ("Vegas Baby, Vegas!"). Uh oh -- he’s good! In Vegas speak, I’ve got a tough act to follow.
They asked me to blog on the morning sessions at the conference, to give my take on the science and maybe offer some perspective for the non-science geeks among us. I’ve done a bit of science writing, but I’m not much of a speed-writer. I prefer to sand and buff my sentences, and let them develop a patina, like a nicely cured brie. No time for that at this meeting. I can’t help thinking about those hotel sculptors, who crank out beautiful centerpieces in minutes by taking a chain saw to a block of ice. I hope my blog posts don’t turn into a bunch of ice cubes.
My second confession is that what I’m looking forward to most at this meeting is not the science. Oh sure, I can’t wait to get updated on the very latest ideas and strides towards therapies. But what I’m really excited about is seeing all my old friends. I like to call myself MDA’s Chief Scientist Noodge. I pester our researchers to join us at our grant review meetings, I nag our scientific and medical advisers to send in their reviews, and I cajole our grantees to keep us up-to-date on their lab results and papers. But I think I’m a gentle noodge. And “my” scientists are the best. My favorite four days of the year are our spring and fall SAC and MAC meetings, when our Scientific and Medical Advisory Committees fly into Tucson to help us select the best grant proposals to fund.
Yes, those days are packed with science talk, but they also give everyone a chance to catch up on one another. We really are one big family. I hope you’ll get to know some of our researchers and clinicians while you’re in Las Vegas and find out what fascinating people they are. For instance, did you know that one MDA clinic director has a special affinity for dragonflies, and that his father was a Hollywood studio musician who played saxophone for many of your favorite '60s movie and TV themes (think: "Addams Family" and "Get Smart")? Another physician/researcher almost entered the ministry before deciding to go to medical school. Another almost became a professional dancer. And it’s common knowledge among the MDA research department that one anonymous MDA Clinical Meeting Co-Chair has been known to jam on his guitar to old-time music with a certain Director of Basic Research, who shall also remain nameless.
Don’t worry, I’ll be keeping close tabs on all the science, but between talks, I can’t wait to catch up on all my friends!