Toronto RNA Enthusiasts’ Day (TREnD) was first held in 2016, as a scientific conference developed by trainees for trainees. Over the past eight years, TREnD has become a vital part of our RNA community, providing trainees with valuable scientific communication opportunities, encouraging new interactions and collaborations, enabling trainees to explore career opportunities, and exposing attendees to new ideas and techniques. The eighth annual TREnD, TREnD2023, was held in person and online via the Fourwaves platform this year, on August 1st and 2nd, and attracted junior RNA researchers, postdoctoral fellows, and PIs from across southern Ontario, Quebec, and New York.


This year’s organizing committee was composed of a group of junior RNA researchers from across the greater Toronto area: Sameen Ahmed (PhD student, Maass Lab, Dept. of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto (UofT)), Giovanni Burke (Greenblatt Lab, Dept. of Molecular Genetics, UofT), Dr. Evelyne Collignon (Postdoctoral Fellow, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Ramalho-Santos Lab), Charlotte Martin (PhD student, Calarco Lab, Dept. of Cell & Systems Biology, UofT), Dr. Volker Nitschko (Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Molecular Genetics, UofT), Pallavi Pilaka (PhD student, Calarco Lab, Dept. of Cell & Systems Biology, UofT), Sharanja Premachandran (PhD student, Calarco Lab, Dept. of Cell & Systems Biology, UofT), and Yifan (Eva) Wang (PhD student, Palazzo Lab, Dept. of Biochemistry, UofT),. The trainee organizing team was supported by University of Toronto faculty mentors: Dr. Julie Claycomb (Professor, Dept. of Molecular Genetics) and Dr. John Calarco (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Cell & Systems Biology).


TREnD2023 brought together over 100 scientists both in person and online. Our online format enables accessibility and allows us to reach a wider swath of RNA researchers from around the world. Online TREnD2023 programming kicked off on August 1, with a career panel and virtual poster session. On the career discussion panel, trainees heard from a scientists pursuing a diverse set of careers outside of academics. Dr. Amy Cui, Medical Manager of Oncology at Astellas Canada, Dr. Sonny Chen, a ​​Computational Biologist at Roche, Dr. April Pawluk, a Scientific Publications Strategist at the Arc Institute, and Dr. Marco Blanchette, Vice President of Research and Development of Eclipse Bioinnovations spoke about their training and education paths, and described the skills needed for their positions, before taking questions from the audience. In the virtual poster session, Dr. Jennifer Porat, from Dr. Mark Bayfield’s lab at York U., won the best poster prize.


The second day of TREnD2023 was held in person at the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning. Attendees were delighted to kick off the day by learning about a wonderful scientific journey featuring the importance of RNA base pairing in various molecular processes, along with the role of serendipity in key discoveries made throughout her career, shared by keynote speaker, Dr. Joan Steitz. A Lunch and Learn discussion on the topic of science outreach and communication, featuring Tara McDonnell, the Co-President of ComSciCon Canada Non-Profit Organization, Kausar Panchbhaya, the Programs Manager & Science Communicator of RCIScience, and Supreet Randhawa the Program Coordinator, and Daniela Angulo, a Program Facilitator at Pursue STEM, drew an engaged crowd. Dr. Howard Lipshitz, the Chairman of the Board at RNA Canada ARN shared an update about the the group’s efforts and encouraged trainees to get involved, and two sessions of 12 total trainee talks along with a poster session featuring almost 50 posters were also highlights of the day. Brook Falk (Brill lab), Nevraj Kejiou (Palazzo lab), Carina Lyons (Youn lab), Welna He (Calarco lab), and Negar Khosraviani (Fish lab) were poster prize winners, while Sean Ihn (Palazzo and Kate Lee labs) and Sebastian Fuentes (Claycomb lab) took away prizes for the best talks. Finally, Emily Deng (Calarco lab) took the prize in the RNArt contest for her comic book-style rendering of DICER: The post-transcriptional maniac.


Overall, TREnD2023 was a smashing success, in no small part because of continued financial support from the RNA Society and the Dept. of Cell and Systems Biology (UofT), a generous workshop grant from the Dept. of Molecular Genetics (UofT), and most importantly from the support of our outstanding RNA Canada community! Thanks to everyone. You can keep up with TREnD updates on Twitter (@TrendRNA) and at our website (