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McLean Hospital Research Fellow Natalia V. Luchkina, PhD, took part in the annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany, this past June. Established in 1951, this event provides undergraduates, PhD candidates, and post-doctoral researchers with the opportunity to listen and learn from Nobel Prize recipients in fields such as physiology, medicine, physics, and chemistry.
This year, the event brought together 39 Nobel laureates and some 600 young scientists from 84 countries, selected from thousands of applicants. Luchkina’s participation at the meeting was supported by the Else Kröner-Fresenius Foundation, which funds medical research and medical-humanitarian development projects.
“It was an amazing experience,” Luchkina said, explaining that the Nobel laureates told personal stories about their careers and research experiences and offered “inspiration and motivation” to the young scientists in attendance. Moreover, Luchkina said that she was excited to meet with Nobel winners whose discoveries and innovations have become part of her everyday research work at McLean. Among the laureates in attendance were Torsten N. Wiesel, Harold E. Varmus, and Elizabeth H. Blackburn, along with Erwin Neher and Bert Sakmann, the inventors of the patch clamp methodology.
As a neuroscientist in McLean’s Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, whose work focuses on the brain circuitry underlying fear and anxiety, Luchkina was pleased to interact with many younger scientists who shared her interests and expertise. “The overall focus of the meeting was broad, and the majority of the laureates were biomedical researchers, with some involved in other fields, such as chemistry and structural biology,” she mentioned. “But I was happy to see that there were many people in the field of neuroscience among the younger scientists.” Interactions with her colleagues from all over the world, she said, “gave me the chance to discuss the specifics of my work and learn more about what is happening in my field.”
This learning continued after the Lindau meeting, as Luchkina was selected as one of 25 young scientists to participate in a four-day post-event organized and sponsored by the Max Planck Society in Munich. Luchkina spent time at the society’s headquarters and the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, where she visited labs from Professor Dr. Alon Chen’s Stress Neurobiology and Neurogenetics lab and spoke with researchers engaged in the study of stress. The post-event, she said, “was helpful to my work due to a significant overlap and interaction between neuronal circuits underlying stress, fear, and anxiety. Furthermore, the institute focuses on translational research, and, like McLean, they conduct basic neuroscience research in a hospital setting.”
The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings were established to “provide a globally recognized forum for exchange between Nobel Laureates and young scientists” and to “inspire scientific generations and build sustainable networks of young scientists around the world.” Those who attend the meetings take part in lectures, panel discussions, walks, lunches, and more to foster communication among scientists and “overcome the borders between nations and minds and to work towards a future of peace and scientific progress.”