Our ISBER 2017 travel grant winner reports back!

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08 June, 2017

ISBER 2017! Our travel grant winner, Brad Godfrey shares his experience of the event…

This year’s ISBER 2017 Annual Meeting took place in the beautiful city of Toronto, Canada. As well as an amazing location, the chance to network with peers and exciting talks, delegates were treated to a sell-out gala evening held at the spectacular Casa Loma – a romantic homage to the medieval era and one of Toronto’s top tourist attractions.


There were also a variety of awards to be had, most notably the award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Biobanking’ Dr. Allison Hubel is Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Biopreservation Core Resource (BioCoR), a national resource in biopreservation. Her research focuses on development of fit-for-purpose protocols for preservation, development of technology to improve preservation/processing of cells, and understanding molecular mechanisms of damage during preservation.

ISBER_5K_run_imageA few brave souls also joined the ISBER 5K fun run in near darkness at dawn. The route wound through the local city sights and ended with winner Kaj Rydman being presented with a most unusual trophy…

One lucky delegate sampling ISBER’s delights was our travel grant winner Brad Godfrey from Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan, USA who kindly shared his experience of the event:

Brad, what did you enjoy most about ISBER 2017?
Toronto was a wonderful city. I found the talk from the astrobiologist to be the most interesting; not necessarily the most useful, but definitely the most interesting and thought provoking!

So what are the latest trends that other biobanking specialists and researchers should keep an eye out for?
Everything is now automated. Biobankers should be able to program automation. In fact, I wish there were more vendors with automation at the conference and less with freezers.

Apart from some new regulatory changes, what else did you find from the conference that will be most relevant and/or useful to your research?
There were some wonderful ideas on quality control measures over time. And the networking was beneficial too.

What did you find most surprising about the event?
The amount of people that were not actually biobanking. There was a surprising amount of just regular bench scientists. Their collections were large for bench scientists but small for a biobank. And, if you don’t advertise/share your samples, it’s not really a biobank.

What (if anything) did you think was missing from the event?
I would like to have seen a talk on the effectiveness of different LIMS systems for different institutions. Some might be better at expanding collections / adding cohorts and others seem to be good at allowing programming for customization. An unbiased approach may have been difficult.

Could ISBER have been done anything better?
I was pretty happy with the overall experience.

Would it be worth going to the ISBER conference again next year?
I think not. Maybe every other year would be more beneficial.

Agreed, it could be perceived as expensive to go to every year, however for those unable to, this year ISBER held its first ever live webcast – streaming “Polar Shift: How Biobanking is Changing Our Thinking and the World”. Speakers included the keynote speaker Hannes Dempewolf (CropTrust, Bonn, Germany).

The talks highlighted how evidence derived from biobanking, and its associated practices, is shown to be instrumental in new discoveries, new processes, and new ways of thinking that are changing practices in medicine, agriculture and veterinary/environmental arenas. Being deemed a success, the live webcast may feature in future meetings and allow cash restricted labs to still engage with ISBER to gain something from the conference.