Why should a microscopist go to Siofok in May?
It is no longer cheap to attend a conference or symposium at home either, so no matter how inviting a big event is, if you have to choose for financial reasons, most people choose the one on their own research topic. Unless you are a microscopist. Even if not every year, then once in a while it is worth going to Siófok.
The history of the Hungarian Society for Microscopy is incomparably shorter than that of microscopes (from about 1600, in the Netherlands) because it dates back only to 1958, but it has had several names, which in just over 60 years is also a fine achievement for an official society, especially if we consider that changing the name is much more difficult and expensive than for a human being. They were established as a section of the then state-licensed "apex organization", the Metrology and Automation Science Association, then called the X-ray and Electron Optics Section, after the X-rayers were spun off, the Electron Microscopy Section. In 1990 finally, as an independent society, the Hungarian Society for Electron Microscopy which before 2000, followed international trends and the integration of modern light microscopy and other imaging systems, finally the Hungarian Society for Microscopy, according to the decision of the membership.
Fortunately, there are still among us founders from 1958, including our own Professor Dezső Szabó and Professor Pál Röhlich (SE, Institute of Anatomy), whom we refer to here not because he became the first President of the Society, but because he still attends our conferences and even this year he came to Siófok, where we have been holding our annual meetings since 2009.
He can testify to the fact that the Society has retained its friendly character to this day, and strives to operate in the spirit that was its aim sixty-five years ago. Let this conference be for all those who love microscopy and want to know its development and potential, beyond their own field of research!
It was thought at the time that this common interest could be as strong a basis for annual meetings as any research topic. The fact that for two decades or so, material and life science lectures have not even been in separate sections proves this assumption to be true. Materials scientists first discussed atomic force microscopy (AFM), which is now a standard tool for investigating a range of biological questions, and ultracryo electron microscopy, initially used exclusively in the life sciences, is now also used for some investigations in materials science.
That is why the main aim of the lectures should not be to present their own results obtained with more-less microscopic techniques, but to show the advantages of the microscopic techniques and methods used to answer the given question, and their potential, to recommend the ways of implementation, to draw attention to the difficulties to be avoided or avoided, to share what is interesting and important for another microscopist even if the real significance of the given results may not be clear to everybody in all details.
However, the number of presentations that have been genuinely prepared with this aim in mind has not been very decisive until now, since it is not easy to reformulate a presentation in this way. This year, however, there has been a real breakthrough, and the six presentations from our institute have contributed a great deal to this.
The presentations from Balázs Rózsa's group have been highly anticipated for years, and not surprisingly, physicists/material scientists are perhaps even more eager to see their new developments. Understandably so, as the physics behind them is more easily understood than by most life scientists, for whom the results are more understandable. Now, Chakrabarti Abhrajyoti gave a very nice presentation on their latest development, a high-resolution, two-photon, acoustic-optical system, and answered questions with confidence.
Pál Vági's presentation gave the audience an understanding of the principles and use of STED, one of the super-resolution microscopy methods, and Csaba Cserép gave a practical explanation of the advantages of STED over STORM, another method with a similar resolution still in use in many places, with the title "Bumpy road - pitfalls and advances in the super-resolution analysis of biological samples".
We also had two young speakers who were in the running for the Best Young Speaker Award based on their 5-minute, to-the-point presentations and answers to questions. (The winner will receive a €250 grant to attend a microscopy course or conference.)
Dárius Leszkó, from István Katona's group, led at home by Zsolt Lele, had a tougher job as the last speaker. He presented the applicability of an important new technique based on fluorescent photoaffinity- ligand for the study of the D3 dopamine receptor, which is also helping drug development. He presented with confidence in his knowledge of the subject, and the lack of more questions caused that he was unable to demonstrate his knowledge even better. We hope there will be a next time!
Dóra Máté-Schwarcz Anett, aka Netti, demonstrated the importance of knowledge of brain mapping for a brain researcher, in an interesting and richly illustrated way. This not only led to many questions but also to a Special prize based on the online votes of the audience. She came second in the competition, for which she and her supervisors (Ádám Dénes and Csaba Cserép) deserve congratulations!
Last but not least, I would like to mention Zsófi Maglóczky, who was the first of our colleagues on the first day of the conference, and who is known in our institute as a great speaker, and also for her profound theoretical and practical knowledge in the field of neurological diseases, especially epilepsy. She talked about the importance, the possibilities, and the difficulties of fine structure research in neurological diseases, and demonstrated this with human samples. The importance and burden of neurodegenerative diseases in society are well known, as is the challenge of working with human samples, which are still indispensable source of information. It was not unexpected that she received countless questions after her presentation.
During the wine tasting at the end of the day, the topics of the day's presentations were discussed at several tables. Certainly, this would have been the case 50-60 years ago, and it is gratifying that it is still the case today. The HSM remains a friendly society, where everyone who uses and loves microscopes of any kind and method is still welcome.