Charles Hinzman

Program: PhD Candidate, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Year: 2nd

Conference & Date: American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2019 Annual Meeting

My Poster Title: Characterization of extracellular vesicles in pancreatic cancer: Changing the way we think about tumorigenesis

Location: Atlanta, GA

Summary of my research: I am studying extracellular vesicles (EVs) in pancreatic cancer. EVs are small particles that are released from all the cells in an organism. My project is to better understand how these EVs contribute to tumor development and formation in pancreatic cancer. The goal is to identify key changes within the pancreas that occur before a tumor is visible, so that potentially we can create diagnostic tests which will identify the disease earlier.

Why I chose this conference: The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting is the largest and most comprehensive cancer research meeting. This venue provides an opportunity for early career researchers, like me, to receive feedback on their project from researchers around the world. It also provides attendees with an unprecedented opportunity to gain new insights from the research that others present. 

What is something I learned I did not know before: Several of the previously believed components of extracellular vesicles (EVs) may not actually be components of EVs! There was a poster demonstrating that some of these proteins are just contaminants generated during sample preparation, and not biologically relevant. This was a major finding!

Advice for others who want to attend in future: I have 2 pieces of advice for those who want to attend the AACR annual meeting. 1st, try to develop a schedule as best you can prior to attending the meeting. It’s very difficult to find posters, for example, while you are walking around the exhibition hall – it’s best to have a plan! 2nd, find a few people whose research resonate with you and find an opportunity to introduce yourself to them. The AACR annual meeting is a great way to form collaborations and to network.