On September 7-9, 2014 in Bethesda, Maryland, scientists, clinicians, and patients took part in our Seventh Scientific Meeting, Genetic, Epigenetic, and Mechanistic Studies of Temporomandibular Disorders and Overlapping Pain Conditions. The meeting, which was co-sponsored by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the Office of Research on Women's Health, explored the molecular and genomic basis of Temporomandibular and related chronic pain disorders. Participants had this to say about the meeting.
"Your organization of such a high-level meeting, with experts across the spectrum of relevant disciplines, deserves admiration. I sure took advantage of the opportunity to talk with my colleagues and exchange ideas. It was equally inspiring to listen to the testimony of patients and hear about the most urgent needs for research from the perspective of the patient advocate panel." - Joachim Scholz, M.D., Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
"My name is Jennifer Robinson, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University. I was able to attend the scientific meeting early in the month and truly enjoyed meeting fellow researchers, hearing the relevant research, and speaking with those afflicted with TMJD - especially because I'm new to the TMJ diseases." - Jenny Robinson, Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering Columbia University
"Thank you so much for your kind invitation and hospitality! You organized the best meeting I have ever been to. I learned a great deal more about the overlapping clinical syndromes and the latest new findings... It was an excellent meeting for all of us and I was honored to share in the experience." - Karin Westlund High, Ph.D., University of Kentucky
The TMJA Scientific Meeting: A Young Scientist's Thoughts
Maral Tajerian, M.Sc., Ph.D. a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Anesthesia at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, was a participant in our seventh scientific meeting. Her passion for science on chronic pain came through in her presentation and comments. Dr. Tajerian offered to share her thoughts on the meeting with our readers.
Attending scientific meetings is one of the most exciting things about being a researcher. After all, it's the best setting to meet other scientists and clinicians who share your interests and discuss new, unpublished data. And while the 7th annual TMJA meeting did include a list of very well established researchers who shared their exciting, and sometimes unpublished data, the reasons I particularly enjoyed the meeting go beyond those elements.
Dr. Maral Tajerian
When I first received the meeting agenda, I immediately noticed that the list of speakers included equal numbers of men and women. This might seem a little surprising (and encouraging), but most other meetings cannot boast this type of equal representation. Whether this was a mere coincidence or the deliberate design of the organizers, I will never know for certain; but as a female scientist, this made me even more eager to attend the meeting and share my research findings. Furthermore, during the meeting itself, the concept of sex and gender differences in chronic pain conditions, including TMJ, was a recurring theme. The meeting emphasized the need to explore these differences, particularly in the light of the knowledge that most chronic pain conditions have a higher preponderance in women.
Perhaps more striking was the emphasis that was placed on patient advocacy. As a basic scientist, this was my very first meeting where research presentation sessions were concluded with a dedicated "Discussions and Recommendations" period. These proved to be instrumental sessions where basic scientists and clinicians can reflect on the pragmatic clinical value of the presented information-all the while feeling a sense of "accountability" to the patient population. In addition, the meeting included round-table discussions with patients, a very informative video on TMD and a brief history of the TMJA during our awards dinner.
Particularly in a preclinical setting, it is easy to lose sight of what really matters and what the ultimate goal is: translating our preclinical laboratory findings from cells and rodents to humans. This is undeniably an arduous task, and not one where the outcome can be easily predicted, thus resulting in a situation that is frustrating to the scientist/clinician and patient alike. Unfortunately, we are in no position to promise chronic pain patients that our experiments will yield a cure to chronic pain, but we do want them to rest assured that we are trying our best and that we have dedicated our careers to this fight; and in that respect, they are neither alone nor forgotten.
Young Investigator Travel Awardees
Our science meeting is not only designed to bring together scientists and clinicians knowledgeable about TMD and its complex presentations, but also to invite young investigators to participate and stimulate their career commitments to TMD and related research.
This year the TMJA received abstracts from 12 investigators. The abstracts were judged by our scientific advisory board and six were selected and received $1,000 travel award to attend our meeting, present their poster and give a brief description. The TMJ Association is grateful to the National Institutes of Health for making these travel awards possible.
2014 TMJA Science Meeting Travel Awardees:
Yong Chen, Ph.D., Duke University, Durham, NC
Poster: TRPV4-mediated trigeminal pain: behavior assessments and mechanisms
Mentor: Dr. Wolfgang Liedtke
Daniel E. Harper, Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Poster: Confocal microscopy reveals nerve fiber similarities in fibromyalgia and patients with dry eyes with a normal ophthalmic exam
Mentors: Drs. Daniel Clauw and Richard Harris
Christopher D. King, Ph.D., University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Poster: Case-control analysis in resting and evoked inflammatory profiles
Mentors: Drs. Roger Fillingim and Joe Riley III
James Sciote, D.D.S, M.S., Ph.D., Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Poster: Associations between ACTN3 and OPPERA pain-related genes in malocclusion
Shad B. Smith, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Poster: Association between INADL genetic variant and the subgroup with high risk for TMD in the OPPERA study
Mentors: Drs. Luda Diatchenko and William Maixner
Roi Treister, Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital & Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Poster: Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the primary motor cortex for treating facial neuropathic pain - preliminary results of a randomized, sham-controlled, cross-over study
Mentor: Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander
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