Monday, August 29, 2011

SPS 2011 in Bergen

The annual meeting of the Scandinavian Physiological Society was held August 12-14. The difficulty of trying to combine working as a junior doctor with active research made itself evident by my trying to fly in the same morning. Since the airlines still believed it was summer, there were no direct flights. So I had to board at 05:40 in the morning in order to arrive in Bergen at 09:30 after a brief stop in Copenhagen. Yes, Copenhagen. That is 1217 km instead of 703 km according to Google Maps.

Anyway, that meant I missed the opening lectures. As far as I have heard they were brilliant. Polly Maltzinger talked about "Conversations between tissues and the immune system" and then Roger Seymour talked about "Homage to Scholander, Johansen and Schmidt-Nielsen: Ecophysiology of temperature regulation and energetics".

The most interesting presentation that I actually attended was Jens Titze's about how macrophages in the skin affect sodium balance and blood pressure. Apparently this happens completely without involving the kidneys. If you, like I, have a hard time grasping the idea you can read more in his Nature Medicine paper: "Macrophages regulate salt-dependent volume and blood pressure by a vascular endothelial growth factor-C-dependent buffering mechanism" (Machnik et al. Nat Med. 2009 May;15(5):545-52). The future developments in this field will be very interesting.

The social program was outstanding. The young investigators party included a free bar (Yay!) and a live band. Although they played a bit too loud for relaxed conversations, the lubrication was enough to get even young, more or less autistic, researchers to socialise and meet new people. Saturday evening there was the conference dinner, which was held at the top of mount Fløyen. The resturant managed to produce very nice, quite authentic Norwegian food, and similarly very good entertainment with some authentic Norwegian parts.

All in all, a very successful meeting. Thanks to the organisers in Bergen and the SPS for making it happen.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bjarne Magnus Iversen (1942-03-30 - 2011-08-05)

My very good friend and mentor Bjarne Magnus Iversen died the night to august 5th. He was born in March 1942 and became 69 years old. At the time of his death he was on a fishing trip with friends, one of whom found him dead in bed on Friday morning. The death was sudden and unexpected, but peaceful. He was in no way ready to leave us, but if he would have had a choice I am certain he would have liked nothing better than to die while fishing.
Bjarne was known for his modesty and great ability to make friends. He would describe him self as “just a fisherman from the fjords.” Everyone who had the benefit of meeting Bjarne got the feeling that he really cared about him or her and their lives. This was an ability that he used to great effect in his work as a physician, as a scientist and as an administrator. As outlined in any of the more formal obituaries he achieved much in his life and left us at the absolute peak of his career.
He was an avid fisherman and would never miss a chance to send pictures of his latest catch to everyone he knew. I used to take him hunting in Sweden, where he availed himself to several fine trophies and even better dinners of Swedish roe deer. A dream of his was to hunt moose, and although we did on one or two occasions he never got the chance to fell one. Our plans to rectify this in the autumn will now forever go unfulfilled.
Bjarne had the indomitable spirit to go from failure to failure without loosing enthusiasm for the project at hand, or loosing sight of the goal. As my thesis advisor and mentor this was his greatest asset. We will try to go on in his spirit and attack each new challenge with undiminished zeal.