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On Friday, Oct. 28, the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory (MMRL) hosted the 26th annual Upstate New York Cardiac Electrophysiology Society (UNYCES) conference. The annual conference which began at the MMRL in 1991 brings together the top undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral trainees, fellows as well as junior and senior faculty and researchers from around upstate New York and Canada.

“We are thrilled to have the UNYCES conference return to the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory,” said Dr. Jonathan Cordeiro, Interim Director of Research. “This is always one of the highlights of the year for those of us who work in the cardiac electrophysiology field, and it is known regionally as an event that brings together some of the best minds to help share knowledge and encourage collaboration.”

The conference this year also included a group of 54 high school students and science teachers for the first time ever listening to the lectures and learning from the scientists.

“The Masonic Medical Research Laboratory has a long history of engaging students and fostering their interest in science,” said Dr. Brian Panama, Research Scientist – Experimental Cardiology and Summer Fellowship Program Director. “For over 50 years the MMRL has mentored and inspired talented undergraduates as they pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This is just another example of how we are working to develop the next generation of scientists. We owe a great deal of thanks to Verizon Inc. for their foundation’s support underwriting the cost of students attending the conference.”

MMRL has hosted the UNYCES conference eight times in its 25-year history, with the most recent being in 2010. The conference brings together top scientists and researchers for a day of lectures, presentations and camaraderie.

In addition to the academic lectures, there was also the presentation of the Gordon K. Moe Young Investigator Award. This award is presented annually to an undergraduate or graduate student, post-doctoral trainee, or junior faculty member whose abstract is judged by a panel of senior scientists on the merit and quality of their presentations. The award winner receives a cash prize along with a plaque recognizing his other work. The award is named after the Laboratory’s second director of research who served in that position for over 25 years and is considered by his peers as one of the leading pillars in the field of experimental cardiology.

Following his death in 1989, the UNYCES conference recognized his lifetime contributions to research and science by establishing the Gordon K. Moe Lectureship, which ultimately led to the Young Investigator Award.

The high school students participating in the conference this year are the direct result of a $15,000 grant from Verizon Inc., and a generous donation from David Schneeweiss family. Thanks to the support of those two groups, students from nine high schools across the Mohawk Valley were bused to the lab and participated in the event.

“Verizon is proud to support the 54 Mohawk Valley high school students who will be participating in the UNYCES conference,” said Chip Lawrence, Senior Manager – State Government Affairs, Verizon. “Exposing high school science students to a world-class research facility like the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory is a tremendous opportunity for those students to gain real-life experience that will inspire them to become the next generation of scientists, doctors and engineers.”

Little Falls High School – 2 students / 1 teacher

Richfield Springs High School – 5 students 1 teacher

Clinton High School – 10 students 1 teacher

Thomas R. Proctor High School – 2 students / 1 teacher

New York Mills High School – 8 students / 1 teacher

Oriskany High School – 7 students / 1 teacher

Oneida High School – 6 students / 1 teacher

Westmoreland High School – 5 students / 1 teacher

Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School – 9 students / 1 teacher

Herkimer County Community College – 3 students / 2 teachers

This year’s key note address was given by Adrian Baranchuk M.D. FACC, FRCPC, FCCS, Professor of Medicine Professor, Program Director, Electrophysiology at Queen’s University Kingston, Ontario, Canada. His address, titled “Brugada Phenocopy: Time to go for genetic testing?”