Need for TREnD

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has a vibrant RNA biology community of approximately fifty labs, whose exciting research spans many model systems, including bacteria, yeast, Drosophila, C. elegans, mice, zebrafish, plants, ciliates and humans. The last decade has witnessed an explosion of paradigm-shifting RNA-related discoveries, including microRNAs, transcriptome-wide sequencing approaches and CRISPR, and it has been said that we are in “the golden age of RNA biology research.”

There is an abundance of outstanding RNA research across a broad variety of disciplines in the region, but there is also a need to increase communication to: share ideas and state-of the-art technologies, build cross-disciplinary collaborations, and encompass a greater number of scientists in our scientific network. In response to the unmet demand for broader discussions about RNA biology, in 2014 trainees initiated a monthly Toronto RNA club. Our symposium, TREnD2016 (for Toronto RNA Enthusiasts’ Day), will greatly complement these meetings and extend their impact beyond the thriving RNA community at the University of Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). An inspiring and lively day of RNA-related discussion across multiple model genetic systems will be an outstanding networking and scientific tool for our community. In particular, we aim to bring together a diverse group of scientists focused on classical genetics and novel high-throughput genomic approaches and spark exciting new collaborations.


TREnD2016 will bring together researchers of every level to share their research and scientific approaches. We will begin the day with a dynamic keynote talk from Dr. Erik Sontheimer; an inspirational figure in RNA biology, who has made fundamental discoveries in the mechanisms of RNAi and the CRISPR bacterial RNA defense system. The rest of the symposium will feature presentations from students and trainees in the region. Talks from students and trainees will be selected from submitted abstracts with a goal of covering the wide spectrum of RNA biology, genetic model organisms and career stages. Through a networking lunch and a poster session, we will encourage further collaboration, participant involvement, and the dissemination of scientific ideas. Our symposium will also feature a “Trainee’s Choice” Poster Award, based on student voting. The first of its kind in the region, our symposium will provide trainees with valuable scientific feedback, strengthen and unify our scientific community, expose us to new ideas, and establish new collaborations. As the organizers, we will plan and orchestrate all aspects of the day with guidance from our faculty advisors, Drs. Julie Claycomb and Olivia Rissland—including creating an event website, acquiring additional funds, selecting abstracts, developing logos and advertising materials, and chairing the sessions. In the long term, we intend this symposium to be an annual, trainee-organized event that brings together the diverse and exciting science in the region.