Experiences of BALR Summer Meeting: James Parkin

In June, I had the opportunity to attend the BALR Summer Meeting. It was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days, with an array of wonderful talks, covering novel findings in basic and clinical lung research. The talks encompassed a wide range of topics, from infectious diseases to clinical rehabilitation strategies, all of which enhanced my overall knowledge and awareness of the current respiratory research landscape. It was interesting to see the use of new and creative stratagies to answer research questions, which left me with ideas of how I could implement similar strategies into my work. I think the organisers did a great job, setting up a conference that flowed so seamlessly, even with the restriction of it running over Zoom!

I was also given the incredible opportunity to present some of my early PhD findings in the Postgraduate Researcher Student Competition, which was my first time presenting at an external conference. I presented findings on differential toxicity in an alveolar epithelial cell line of fine particulate matter from brakewear, road wear and diesel exhaust, where I demonstrated that brakewear from certain brake pad types showed a greater capacity to induce markers of toxicity than diesel exhaust. This was an amazing experience, in which I was able to present my work to a large audience of expert researchers, many of whom asked interesting questions which forced me to think about my research in different ways. At the end of the second day, I was delighted to be informed that I had taken second place in the competition – a welcome surprise!

In all, the BALR summer meeting was a brilliant couple of days which I would recommend to anybody in the field of respiratory research. I look forward to next year’s meeting, hopefully in person!

James Parkin – First Year PhD student, University of Southampton.

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