Thursday, April 29, 2010

Experimental Biology - summary

Experimental Biology is over and I am waiting to fly home. All told, it has been a most productive meeting. Two new collaborators on two very exciting projects. Two world view changing sessions: the Cannon lecture on cells as fragile matter, and the myogenic session. Less partying that I had planned, but almost more than I could manage (I blame the man-cold).

For flying home we have the fantastic opportunity of staying at Schiphol in Amsterdam for nine hours. 9! I am going to bore myself to death. I bought an iPod (not iPad), but you cannot activate it under Linux, and my colleagues computer is a client, remote administration, thing where we cannot get iTunes installed. So, the iPod is just a useless lump of steel and glass.

Now I have to pack.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Experimental Biology - world changing seminar

Sometimes you just find the right seminar, the best seminar of the conference. The real renal section sessions haven't started yet and I am already sure that I have found it:

"Interactions between myosin light chain kinase and phosphatase in arteriolar myogenit tone"

With the world changing talks: "Pressure-induced activation of Rho kinase via sphingosine kinase" by S-S. Bolz from the University of Toronto, and "Gq-coupled receptors as mechanosensors in myogenic vasoconstriction" by M. Gollasch from Carité in Berlin.

In addition M.P. Walsh from the University of Calgary presented the very interesting talk: "MYPT1 phosphorylation in myogenically active arterioles."

I haven't really had time to digest all of this, or understand what it means to my research, but it is very clear that it is of major importance.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Experimental Biology - poster day

With a cold.

Anyway, yesterday did serve some quite nice talks and a couple of nice posters, but I was having the sniffles, so I don't remember shit. I did stay the course and at five I went the the hotel to rest a little before going out for dinner. I woke up at four in the morning again, couldn't go back to sleep (understandably), so here I am.

I have my posters today. The poster sessions are often one of the best parts of meetings like Experimental Biology - You get to chat for a bit longer with people who are actually interested in what you have done.

Today I am going to stay awake so that I can go out for some beer and dinner. Now I am really hungry - having not eaten since lunch yesterday - I am going to breakfast.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Experimental Biology - first morning

It is conference time for physiologists. Experimental Biology is by far the largest meeting for physiologists, and this year it's in Anaheim, California, right beside Disney Land. Now it's the morning of the second day. It is 5.30am and I can't sleep.

It started yesterday with the traditional refresher course. I feel a little bad for them, because I just couldn't take four hours of sitting down, so I only stayed for the first two and a half - even though the last talk looked like lots of fun. Of course, now in the days of the internet, I can just go and listen to the recording at

The first two were really good, Donna Korzick talked about how:

"The Heart Develops Pressure, And Pressure Makes the Blood 'Go Round"

Which turned out to be mostly charge excitation coupling and pacemaker activity, including some exciting new data on how local calcium releases actually drives the slow depolarisation (see Lakatta et al, Circ Res, 106: 659-673, 2010).

Then Philip Clifford talked about "Local control of blood flow." He showed some really nifty confocal images of vascular structure and then talked about autoregulation. Not proper, renal autoregulation, but the sloppy kind you find in other organs. Most interestingly he pointed out that the myogenic response is a quite slow mechanism in muscle tissue, for example. Taking somewhere around two minutes to return blood flow to normal after a perturbation. In the kidney, bloodflow quickly stabilizes (20-30 seconds) following a perturbation. Although some of this is probably because of interactions between the myogenic response and the tubuloglomerular feedback, I think I brought home that myogenic response is faster in the kidney.

The afternoon brought a guest appearance of renal circulatory physiology at the micro circulatory society. You might call it a refresher course in renal autoregulation and afferent arteriolar function provided by the usual suspects, Arendshorst, Peti-Peterdi, Inscho. There was a small detour to the medulla. Pallone presented some very interesting data on how water shunting from the descending vasa recta to the ascending helps increase the concentrating capacity.

Last of the days lectures was the Walter B. Cannon memorial award lecture. This year it was awarded to JJ. Fredberd of the Harvard School of Public Health, an engineer who works in pulmonary physiology and probably wil receive the Nobel Prize in medicine for his evolutionary findings. A fantastic lecture, where he presented more novel ideas (with supporting data) in less time than anyone I have met in recent memory. In short, cells are soft as shaving foam because it makes them capable of eating their neighbours and/or crawling around. This explains the development of the eucaryote. I will have to study this for years before I understand it, maybe I will attempt a post on the implications for renal physiology at some later time.

Finally it was time for the free food and free beer, i.e. the opening reception.

The time when the breakfast buffet opens is approaching and I have to go.