Meeting Summary: Riboclub 2023, Sept 24th – 28th

Riboclub 2023:  September 24th-28th, Hotel Cheribourg, Orford, QC

The annual meeting/opening session of the Riboclub has been Canada’s largest annual meeting of RNA scientists for more than twenty years. For four days, more than 200 RNA scientists from Canada and from all over the world gathered in Orford, QC to present their most recent work and to promote the mission of advancing RNA research.

The theme of this year’s meeting was RNA vs pathogens: biology, medicine and technology, and was convened in collaboration with RNA scientists from Harvard University.  In keeping with the theme of the conference, there were a number of sessions dedicated to the interface of human pathogens and RNA biology, including Viral RNA (chaired by Aaron Schmidt, Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard), Immunology and Host Response (chaired by Gaya Amarasinghe, Washington University), and RNA Therapeutics (sponsored by Moderna and chaired by Ryan Flynn, Harvard University).  Other sessions included Machine Learning, Computational biology, and Databases, chaired by Yoseph Barash, University of Pennsylvania;  RNA Visualization and Probing, chaired by Éric Lécuyer, Montréal Clinical Research Institute; Ribosomes and Translation, chaired by Haribabu Arthanari, Harvard Medical School; RNA Binding Proteins (Sponsored by adMare BioInnovations) and chaired by Jinwei Zhang, NIH; and RNA Modifications and Non-coding RNA, chaired by Richard Gregory, Harvard Medical School.

The conference also welcomed a number of outstanding keynote and special speakers.  Roy Parker (University of Colorado, Boulder) gave the opening keynote address, discussing his most recent work investigating fundamental principles in stress granule formation.  The student choice lectures were given by Drs. Hanah Margalit (Hebrew University, Israel) and Maria Carmo-Fonseca (University of Lisbon), who spoke about bacterial small RNAs and regulation of splicing, respectively.  The attendees were also treated to very entertaining talks about careers in science by Eric Westhof (U. de Strasbourg) and Gabriel Lander (Scripps), to open and close the meeting.

RNA Canada ARN also had a major presence at the conference!  After an RNA Canada ARN Outreach open house on the first day, attendees were able to attend special RNA Canada ARN activities including a session on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion featuring Kristina Song (Université de Sherbrooke), Britt A. Glaunsinger (UC Berkeley), Aaron Schmidt (Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard), Julie Claycomb (University of Toronto) and Mark Bayfield (York University). The EDI activity was introduced and moderated by Samer Hussein (Université Laval) with help from Muhammad Riaz Khan and Michelle Scott (Université de Sherbrooke). There was also an RNA from academia to industry session which included presentations from adMare, RNA technologies and therapeutics, NMX solutions and Nanovation therapeutics, moderated by Jonathan Perreault (INRS), as well as an RNA Quebec funding session with presentations from CQDM, Génome Québec, Mitacs and Axelys, moderated by Benoit Chabot (Université de Sherbrooke).  A Science Social Media presentation was also prepared by the RNA Canada ARN Outreach committee and was led by Farnaz Mansouri-Noori (York University).  Finally, the Chair of the Board of Directors, Dr. Howard Lipshitz, gave a presentation detailing the future planning and outlook of RNA Canada ARN, in advance of the ratification of the inaugural RNA Canada ARN bylaws by members.  The video of the presentation can be accessed here. The effort of RNA Canada ARN at the 2023 meeting was evident with the record increase in the number of attendees and the many activities of RNA Canada that enhanced the overall meeting to all trainees and principal investigators in Canada.

Trainees were also well represented at the meeting, with a number of prizes awarded to the top posters.  The 1st prize for posters ($1000) was awarded to Kasimir Kienbeck (University of Zurich), 2nd prize ($750) to Elsa Hien (Université de Sherbrooke), and 3rd prize ($500) to Al Rohet Hossain (UBC).  The public choice prize was awarded to Duale Ahmed (Carleton University), and the micro-talk prize ($350) was awarded to Roman Sarrazin-Gendron (McGill University). And among Canada’s principal investigators, Julie Claycomb (University of Toronto) was presented with the Riboclub Blue Jacket Award for exceptional service to the Canadian RNA Community.

Looking ahead, the 2024 Riboclub meeting will be combined with the RiboWest and TREnD conferences into the RNA Canada ARN 2024 conference in Ottawa, ON (Sept 30th – Oct 4th).   Save the date!