[personal profile] jaipur
Mom’s been home for a few days now, and even had her first dose of chemo on Tuesday. So far, so good! She also got her genetic testing results and has none of the BRCA markers, which has relieved her mind greatly. It’s no surprise to me—I’ve said for years that our family doesn’t show the cancer phenotypes that indicate BRCA—but I’m glad she finally got it off her mind (and she can quit bugging me to get it done).

Apparently I can't do Lj-cut at Dreamwidth, so my apologies for the long entry... I will have to figure that out!

Tuesday night I flew from Atlanta to Toronto. A few years ago, Arvo from Toronto sat me down at a conference and picked my brain about multi-site neuroimaging, and put me on as a consultant on a grant he was submitting. It didn’t get funded but in the revision he again picked my brain and this time put me on as a subcontract. That version did get funded, we’ve been having various start-up calls over the summer, everyone’s done their non-human scans and calibrations, so here I am with the rest of his group getting yet another multi-site schizophrenia neuroimaging study started.

I spent all day yesterday at the scanner as he and two other PIs went through the protocol—eye opening for everyone, since some of these guys hadn’t been in an MRI in 20 years, and they discovered that a 1.5 hour scan was pretty much the limit of what they could do or what they would ask anyone else to do, which I very much agree with. Also the cognitive tasks are a mess, but that’s not my department. ;) I caught one error in the protocol on the first scan, which made me feel like at least I earned my right to be here. ;) That was finally all over at 5 pm, at which point I sat down with Arvo and one of his post docs about all the stuff I had thought of during the day, confirming various points and raising other ones—then we met Jike and some of the other project PIs for drinks, then off for a big project dinner with all the staff from all the sites, then another round of drinks at another bar, and back to the hotel room at midnight. I felt like someone off of freakin’ Mad Men. ;) But I was drinking mostly red wine, and once dinner was over I only had water, so this morning was not so bad. I discovered that Stestr from another university in Toronto, the one who taught me about Partial Least Squares and Canonical Coefficients and whatnot way back when, who was on our external advisory board for the project back in California, not only remembered me but picked a seat next to me so we could chat during dinner--which was nice because I knew hardly anyone there except him, and I was hoping we could chat.  Random stuff comes up when you put different people together, so after we talked about what we both were working on and points of commonality in some of our work, someone was commenting about the training tapes for the clinical part of the study and how old and out of date they were—they said one of them had a Steely Dan soundtrack, and Stestr said he preferred a band called Steeleye Span. It was quite a shock to us both to find someone else who even *knew* about the band! And it turned out he’d run into it when he was 18 and doing a road trip with a friend who was a fan (Stestr is now 60)—while I was introduced when I was in college, by others who were fans. :) Such is life!

And once again, even though this group is tangential to all my previous collaborations so it is all new people to me, all the PIs are men; the key physicist at Toronto is a woman, as is the head of the imaging center (and actually, the key imaging physicist at one of the other sites is a woman too), but there were only two senior women at the meeting the past two days—me, and the Toronto physicist. She has, by the way, done an amazing job at figuring out ways to compare DTI scans across scanners, that I hope she publishes, because wow everyone needs that and there is nothing out there! But there were plenty of women in the room, at the meeting, but they were all recruiters, coordinators, clinical raters, temp folks who are basically kids on their way to medical school. I do not understand why no women are in schizophrenia research—I mean, there *are* women in schizophrenia imaging research; I can think of half a dozen serious PIs off the top of my head; but wow, it is easy to pick up a group of such researchers and have no women in it who are at the top level. (Nancy Andreassen, Raquel Gur, Judy Ford, Dara Manoach, Cindy Wible, Carol Tamminga, Lynn Delisi, Ayse Belger, Deanna Barch are all at the top of their game and at or near the top of the heap; below them are a couple who used to work with Ty Cannon, Cadenhead and the gal who does DTI research and just got a professorship, Katie whose name I never remember, and Ayse’s friend in Alabama I met at one point. Carol even runs the big multi-site BSNIP project. And of course I just sent Cawr off to do schizophrenia research as a post-doc, and hopefully she will keep it up. Among the males doing imaging in Sz, we have Cannon, Thompson, Toga, Pearlson, Glahn, Malhotra, Brown, two McCarthys, the male Gur, Mathalon, Lim, Bustillo, Potkin, Carpenter, Carter, Csernansky—and that’s all established guys, not even dipping into the youngsters who are just getting their professorships. So it’s not an all male field; but it certainly isn’t evenly split.)

Anyway, it was a little tough rolling out of bed this morning but not too bad. Today was mostly the meeting, reviewing for everyone what the study was about, what was being done, what had been done so far, what the plans are. Arvo did a great job and I now understand it a lot more. It’s very different from the previous Sz projects I’ve been part of, in that they are doing a decent amount of cognitive work, but very little by way of clinical symptoms. Not the usual battery of symptom measures, very little on positive symptoms, but lots of social interactions assessments. I need to get a copy of these tests so I can get familiar with them. Social cognition is not my strong suit…

My flight was at 5:30 pm—I was routed through LaGuardia—so I was on the same flight as Anma and the rest of the NYC site team, and Anma and I shared a cab. I actually had met him before as part of the GENUS project this past year, and it was interesting to chat with him about that—he’s a man of definite opinions, and I hope I never get on his wrong side—if he doesn’t like you, he doesn’t care who knows it. He’s one of those super intense people who bikes 50 miles for fun and seems to have everything beautifully under control and in balance, and yet is super productive and brilliant and charging ahead on his own goals. The kind of person I will never be but I do admire them from afar, a bit like seeing a rare species in the wild. I prefer people like that when they are more like Vica or Hast, actually nice to other people by default and not biting; but you can’t have everything.

We got to the airport by 3:40 and it was smooth sailing through customs etc. (except one fellow got detained for almost an hour! We still don’t know what bizarreness is in his background ;), but then we found out the flight was delayed by almost 2 hours. Which meant I wouldn’t make my connection! And of course, my phone hadn’t been able to connect to the Canadian networks since I’d been there, and the wifi in the airport wasn’t working. The folks at the counter just kept saying that LaGuardia delays were affecting both inbound and outbound flights so connecting passengers “should be” fine. Luckily, the café had networked tables with ipads, so eventually Anma pointed out I shouldn’t take the counter people’s word for it, so I checked with delta.com and my 2nd flight was delayed as well; but they were able to rebook me onto a direct flight from Toronto. (Why I wasn’t on a direct flight to begin with I am not sure—possibly it was too expensive when I was looking at it?) However, the connection was spotty/slow and I couldn’t print the boarding pass from the café table, so I went over to a Delta counter and asked them about it. They said they couldn’t rebook me because I had bought my ticket through Orbitz and they couldn’t change a two-leg flight for a single-leg flight!

Well that was confusing and disturbing and my hopes were dashed, but Anma was having none of it. He took me over to the counter where my putative new flight would be boarding from, explained I was on the flight and asked if they could print me out a new boarding pass? Which the woman very kindly did, there it was in the system, no problem. I need to buy Anma a drink the next time I see him (which will be next week in New York, come to think of it). Way to model assertiveness and efficiency.  I’ll be home before midnight tonight.
Though fuck me, I am behind. Naco’s revised paper is due tomorrow or they won’t take it; my incoming student for next spring needs a whole bunch of paperwork done to get her visa process rolling; I’m a month behind on ENIGMA work; and the R21 with Hekl needs to be finished!! I’ll be up early tomorrow and getting right to work…

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jaipur

August 2015

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