Diary of a meeting

06.11.16 Melbourne 

Spent the weekend trying to make posters for the meeting. They are not brilliant but hopefully they will do the job. Note to future organisers, you might want to think about having posters ready to advertise the meeting before you open the meeting for registration! Otherwise people might not know that the meeting is open for registration. Did I mention we opened the meeting for registration :-)? Aaaannnnd we already had our first official registrant (big hello to that super organised person). Small frisson of excitement there. Now we only need 399 more 😉 roughly.

02.11.16 Melbourne 

It’s been a couple of months but the organisers have not been idle. Our program is taking shape both on the social and scientific side, we’ve recruited a new Singapore based organiser, and good friend, Vinay and we’ve secured more funding. I think however that you would never be able to guess what we’ve been talking about … no not Donald Trump … Dylan Thomas and his poem that begins “There was a saviour, Rarer than radium, Commoner than water, crueller than truth;”. What could be rarer than radium but commoner than water? Isn’t that just nonsensical or does the juxtaposition make for some greater insight? It could be grant funding … after all in the current climate it feels like getting a grant is rarer than radium and yet there are plenty of people who get one. But … they are still not commoner than water, though sometimes the reviewers can be crueller than truth. I have my own more sensible thoughts about what he means but they’re not relevant here. But in the context of this meeting how about time? Without wishing to get deep, Tolkeinesque and riddly, “This thing all things devours: Birds, beasts, trees, flowers; Gnaws iron, bites steel; Grinds hard stones to meal;”, how about time? Time left to organise this fantastic meeting … time is after all commoner than water and yet finding time to do the things that need to be done, finding time to do the things you want to do. When you need to find this time suddenly it feels like it is indeed rarer than radium. Better stop wasting it here with musing then!

27.08.16 Melbourne 

Many scientists are familiar with the sound-bite translation of the following bon-mot, but not the original, “Dans les champs de l’observation le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés.” attributed to Louis Pasteur. While chance only favours the prepared mind my thoughts are that something important in the original, “in the field of observation”, is lost. But would it have been propagated so readily in the longer form?

Anyway … I digress. What I wanted to write was that good meetings favour the prepared and that’s why I am delighted that we have already arranged chairs for TNF2019. Is this getting ahead of ourselves? I don’t think so and in fact I think it is an inspired move. What better way for the organisers of TNF2019 to succeed than by directly watching the failures of TNF2017 as they unfold ;-). Honestly I think it will be great to have this extended team of past, present and future organisers going into the future. And I’ll sign off with a bastardisation of another Pasteurism, “I am on the verge of mysteries and the veil is getting thinner and thinner.” – I am on the verge of TNF2017 and the veil is getting a damned sight too short for comfort.

02.06.16 Melbourne

The Jesuits have a motto attributed to their founder, although it seems to be a reworking of an earlier quote attributed to Aristotle, “give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” Ignoring the rather quaint sexism and other things that Catholic boy schools are notorious for … I would like to reword this and say, “give me lots of money and I will give you a great meeting :-)”. Seriously, today’s the day I need to get serious about applying for support. And for me it is important that I get the sponsors involved in the meeting itself, too often in meetings I’ve attended they seem like a side-show and I would like to do it differently.

01.06.16 Melbourne

Spent several hours looking into potential speakers.

30.05.16 Melbourne

Redesigned the logo to include the link to this website. Still rather plain, I’m hoping my friend, Kate Schroder, who designed the Japanese Australian Meeting On Cell Death logo, pictured below, which was absolutely inspired can help me out again.


29.05.16 Melbourne

Spent a couple of hours looking into potential speakers and researching previous meetings. David Wallach was able to send me quite a number of old programmes which are fantastic and which I have linked to on the previous meetings page. It’s cool reading through these ghosts of past meetings, seeing familiar names and topics crop up and old controversies fade away.

27.05.16 Melbourne

Off to a great start! Already have a number of great speakers who have accepted to present and most encouragingly an offer for some sponsorship from FEBS Journal. Thanks very much to the Editor in Chief, Seamus Martin. Let’s hope that this is the lucky first.

On a personal note I’ve been reading about Titus, a Roman Emperor from 81-79AD, best known for completing the Flavian Amphitheatre (aka The Colosseum). As far as I can gather he is famous for two quotes, “Friends, I have wasted a day” when he realised that he had not done a good turn to anyone and “I have made but one mistake” on his deathbed. If he only wasted one day and made only one mistake I can’t help thinking that  he might have made a better meeting organiser than me.

26.05.16 Melbourne 

I thought it’d be fun, informative & possibly cathartic to start a diary relating the successes and tribulations of myself and my fellow co-organisers as we organise the 16th International TNF Superfamily meeting, that will take place at the Biopolis complex from 17th of April – 21st in 2017. That’s 325 days to go.

What are we excited about? TNF biology is one of the most exciting areas in medical research today, drugs that target members of the TNF family are already widely used in the clinic and amazingly successful earning billions of dollars for pharmaceutical companies and transforming patients’ lives. But despite this there is still much left to learn at the fundamental level which may in turn lead to improved treatments. This conference is really an ideal opportunity to bring together researchers so that new discoveries can be rapidly disseminated and shared. And Singapore is really a great place to hold a meeting with the enormous government awareness of the importance of and investment in biomedical research, epitomised by Biopolis itself.

What are we worried about? There are so many quality scientific meetings and there are 450 places in the auditorium. Despite the fact that Singapore is so easy to reach maybe some potential attendees will be put off by the distance from Europe and the States.

So … first thing is to organise an attractive scientific program … and invite some world class scientists … better get started.