Inspirational Daze

Flickr-photograph-by-Sören 'chucker' Kuklau.jpg

Kaleidoscopic vision is the best way to experience the 2012 annual meeting of the Society for Investigative Dermatology (SID). The meeting celebrated the 75th anniversary of the SID, and the spirits of its founders filled the Raleigh, NC convention center. Many of their pictures were on medallion decals in the entrance hall. These decals celebrated the past, and modern QR codes connected the medallions to articles about these individuals and their times.

Another inspirational exhibit was the reproduction of Stephen Rothman’s notebook documenting his displacement from Hungary and his relocation to the University of Chicago, where he performed and recorded pharmacological studies on his own skin.

The oral and poster presentations, many by dermatology residents and fellows from around the world, inspired attendees with new data related to skin biology and skin diseases.

The role of new technologies related to genomic sciences was impressive — everything from immunological mechanisms, to tracing hospital epidemics of serious infectious diseases, to determining the etiology of very rare congenital and genetic conditions that had resisted routine genetic testing were discussed. High school students from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, NC added to the youthful energy, and the students used the historical medallions on the floor for hopscotch, reminding us that the young think out of the box – and reminding us of the joy of play.

Five days later at the near-by concert Hall, Itzhak Perlman played the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D Major with the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra: another kind of inspirational performance, where the performer and audience were rapturously engaged with a challenging concerto. Using a 300 year old Stradivarius, Perlman captivated the audience, demonstrating that (admittedly, depending on the task) technology need not always be the newest. The performance took the complete commitment of a diligent master performer completely integrated with his supporting orchestra — not very different from the lecturers at the SID, whose orchestras of supporting junior and senior scientists allow their ideas to soar.

May all performers of science and the arts practice hard and play on for their committed audiences, who turn to them for inspiration.

(the image is from Flickr and attributed to Sören ‘chucker’ Kuklau)

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