Damon Runyon Blog

October 18, 2016

Philippe Soriano, PhD, Professor, Department of Developmental and Regenerative Biology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai


I have been on the Damon Runyon Fellowship Awards Committee for three years and as a developmental biologist, who studies signaling pathways in mouse embryos, I do not strictly work on cancer. However, the Damon-Runyon Fellows are all very bright minds and are curious about all areas of science, so it was really fun to interact with them at the Fellows Retreat in San Jose, CA, from September 25-28, 2016.


The retreat featured a keynote lecture on the first night by Kevan Shokat (UCSF) who talked about chemical approaches for studying Ras signaling. The second and third days were very busy with talks from third year Fellows on a wide variety of topics, a second keynote talk from former Fellow Abby Dernburg (UC Berkeley) who presented her work on how chromosomes recombine with each other in sex cells, and career panels coordinated by members of the fellowship awards committee and former scholars.


Important additional sessions were devoted to issues facing women in science and advice for physician-scientists. Several members from the Damon Runyon Board were able to join us on the second evening and interacted extensively with the Fellows. In the evening, poster sessions featuring work from the first year scholars very well attended, as facilitated by the close proximity of the all-important bar.


The discussions after each talk were vivacious, insightful, and illustrative of a broad scientific mindset, so this retreat was really terrific, just like the one that I attended last year. As a scientist further along in my career, what struck me is how great it would be to have these scholars as colleagues. There was a strong sense of community within the group, and my hope is that they can carry this along as they move into an independent phase of their scientific career.