I recently had the opportunity to attend a conference hosted by NIH, “The Third Circulation: Lymphatics as Regulators in Health and Disease,” which I am grateful to LE&RN for providing the means for me to do so. This conference was conceived as a way of increasing the interactions between researchers in the lymphatic field and researchers in other diverse fields that might benefit from a “more lymphatic point of view."
As a young lymphatic investigator, my experience is that we in the lymphatic field are more or less outsiders and try to shoehorn our work into different, more established and accepted fields such as immunology, nutrition, physiology, etc. This was really the first experience that I have had that was the exact opposite. This conference was more along the lines of us saying, “Hey world, here we are and this is how your work ties into ours."
This really resonated with me as my work normally doesn’t fit very well in circles outside of lymphatic biology. I study the effects of gastrointestinal inflammation on the function of the lymphatic system and while it contains aspects of immunology, physiology, cell biology and nutrition it never really fit in those categories. Don’t get me wrong, it was accepted by the researchers in those fields but it was always as more of a curiosity to them than as something they should be paying attention to. This is where I feel that conferences like this one are critically important in changing the opinion of members of other scientific communities so that they realize that lymphatic biology is not just a curious adjunct to their field, but something that could be critically important to the understanding of the problems they are studying.
I would be very excited to see this conference take off and grow every year as that would bode very well for the future. I plan on perusing an academic career and hopefully developing a research lab/program of my own and the more people that acknowledge the importance of lymphatic biology to their field, the better for my generation of lymphatic researchers.
We as a community of lymphatic researchers have so much to offer other fields and we have not aggressively conveyed that as a group. Our work ties into every major pathology from cancer to obesity and from chronic inflammation to heart failure and it is time for us to extend an invitation to researchers in other fields as a group, as a community, to work with us.
Walter E Cromer Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Texas A&M University Health Science Center
Dept. of Medical Physiology
Division of Lymphatic Biology