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Experiences of BTS Winter 2018: Rebecca Stinson

Rebecca Stinson is a PhD Student at the Centre for Atherothrombosis and Metabolic Diseases, Hull York Medical School, and a BALR Travel Award winner for the BTS Winter Meeting 2018. She gave an oral presentation her abstract "S64: Calcium Signalling in Co-culture Models: a Method for Modelling Cell-to-Cell Interactions in both Acute and Chronic Cough" on Thursday 6th December 2018 in the session "Signal failures: mechanisms of lung disease" and she has kindly shared her experience of the BTS with us.

"It all started with a somewhat rhetorical question from a supervisor… “Have you thought about submitting an abstract in for BTS? The deadlines on Monday you’ve got ages to come up with something”. It was Friday lunchtime, which gave me a whole three days to write an abstract, the question was, what about? Cue sitting at my desk staring at a blank word document whilst talking to myself, nothing unusual there then!! A couple of cups of tea later and an abstract was formed.

That simple question was worth asking, as the abstract that arose as a result provided me with the opportunity to attend and give an oral presentation at the British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting 2018. Such an opportunity has seemed from the outset to be an important part of my PhD journey and thanks to the support from BALR had come to fruition. The prospect of presenting some of my PhD work to date to such an extensive and revered group of professions filled me with trepidation. However, as the first day of the conference arrived and I took my seat at my first session I realised that although I was nervous about presenting at a large national conference, it was an opportunity not to be miss and so I aimed to make the most from the two days I attended.

Having such a varied programme of presentations, discussions and posters to choose from, I opted for those that suited my area of research and interest. With this in mind I headed for the Joint BTS/BALR symposium, Winter is Coming: a Game of ‘Omes and spent the duration of both sessions marvelling at the range of research that is being conducted at other universities and considering methods which I could perhaps utilise in my own research. After a brief interlude for lunch and a chance to process all the new information gained during the morning sessions, I headed off to the poster presentation session ‘It’s a Bug’s Life: an Update in Pneumonia’. This session gave me the opportunity to gain an insight into the clinical aspect of studying respiratory infection, which I could relate to my own research around human Rhinovirus. Whilst simultaneously supporting a peer from my research group who was presenting during this session.

The first day had been enjoyable and provided an interesting mixture of clinical and basic science research. However, the second day was just around the corner and no amount of preparation seemed to make the looming prospect of my own presentation easier to handle. Having arrived excessively early for the second day, I took the opportunity to have a look at the wide range of posters on display and drink more tea in a bid to calm my nerves. During my session entitled ‘Signal Failures: Mechanisms of Lung Disease’ I had the chance to watch four excellent presentations and again be enthralled by the range of research being conducted in the field. Having finished my own presentation I looked out of the window and realised that my view had been that of Westminster Abbey in all its splendour however, my nerves had prevented me from realising. Sadly, completion of my presentation was the cue to return home, so having finished at the conference for this year I took the opportunity to step outside, relax and take in the history and architecture of the Westminster area, whilst reflecting on how fortunate I have been to have been given this opportunity to attend such a prestigious conference. I would once again like to extend my gratitude to BALR for helping to fund my attendance and I look forward to attending future events."

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