Jason McSheene

An Outlet for Thoughts, Ideas, and Discussion

Month – July 2014

American Society for Artificial Internal Organs- June 18-21, 2014

This a follow up to my entry from last month entitled “Conference Networking”.

ASAIOLast month I took my first steps into the industry in which I plan on spending my career. To do this, I joined the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs (ASAIO) and attended its annual conference. I had been to a couple of academic biology conferences alone before, so I was not very concerned with being by myself. And as I outlined in the previous post, I had my clear goals for learning and networking:

  1. Identify current research
  2. Introduce myself to everyone
  3. Investigate the companies/institutions doing the work

I am happy to say that I made great progress on each of those points! Not only did I walk away from the conference knowing much more about the work being discussed, but I made a few contacts and I scouted out a few companies.

Additionally, Richard Wampler, MD, Associate Prof Surgery at Oregon Health Sciences University gave such a fantastic and inspiring keynote speech which felt like it was aimed directly at me. The morning before, Kurt Dasse, PhD, President & CEO, GeNO LLC gave an overview of the society that was both welcoming and motivating. ASAIO just felt right as an organization to which I can contribute.

This motivation was essential to my enjoyment of the conference due to the lack of tissue engineering. I was surprised to see that most of the talks were about mechanical heart pumps. Sure, there was a good amount of work being done with artificial kidneys but the meeting as a whole was quite bioengineering heavy. Thankfully the talks were all pretty good and I picked up the engineering problems and solutions quickly.

However, not everything was as expected. First, this conference was a large mix of engineers, business leaders, researchers, and physicians. Being used to a broadly academic crowd, this new group of people felt a bit more closed off, guarded. There are definitely differences in the cultures of all those groups. I made it a point to introduce myself to as many people as possible, including groups. Some groups, like a small group of Yale medical students was friendly while others were very dismissive.

Another unexpected point was the lack of diversity. Biomedical research, speaking broadly, felt very diverse when compared to the ASAIO membership. I immediately felt how helpful it is to have someone who merely looks like you in a position of power or authority. Perhaps it was a lack of familiarity with the field, but I felt a bit less secure when a vast majority of the talks were given by white males over 45.

Thankfully, ASAIO facilitates a subgroup called fyi (for young innovators, under 35). This group is amazingly diverse and was a true fresh breath. The students, postdocs, and leaders I met in this group were very interesting and passionate. I hope to interact with them further. The ASAIOfyi group held a couple of luncheons to help the new generation interact with those who were more experienced. This definitely helped!


In summary, while the meeting did not help me directly find a job or a very helpful lead, it did lay the groundwork for my career path. I learned that there is a ton of room in the tissue engineering field and that the companies out there (as a whole) really have been focusing only on mechanical solutions. I believe hybrid biological-mechanical devices will produce the best results in long-term replacement artificial organs and therapeutics.

If I met you at the meeting, thanks for stopping by the site!

Productivity Web Tools for Graduate Students

“Productivity” can be a hairy subject. The goal is to get the best results out of your time investment but not become a fully automated robotic cyborg with the sole mission of completing task after task. With this in mind, we want to introduce a few resources we find useful in our own searches to get the most out of the time we spend working and living.

Why be “more productive”? What are the pitfalls? Doesn’t it seem a little pointless?
I recommend visiting A Year of Productivity, where Chris Bailey chronicles his experiences of living out different methods of being productive. Not everything works but it is interesting reading his thoughts while living in nearly complete isolation for 10 days or drinking only water for a month.

We recommend not trying a full makeover in a short amount of time. This might cause burn out and much discomfort in your personal life. Try a method or a tool for a bit, see how it might fit into your life and your goals, then move on.

Software and Website Tools

  • Papers (34 for students) http://www.papersapp.com 

    PapersIconThis was my first PDF management program and I loved it. My friend called “iTunes for academic research”. If your research articles are all over your computer or just lazily thrown into a single folder, Papers can help you organize it by reading the metadata of the PDF files. It can rename your files (e.g. “Smith_2014”) and you can place them into different reading lists.
    The program started off as Mac only and remained the best Mac solution for a while. If there is something much better, let me know!
    The full retail price is €71 but it is 34 for students.  Again, I have not used this program for the last few years but it now available for PC and can be used cross platform with your current iOS devices.


  • Mendeley (free) http://www.mendeley.com/
    After I switched to my MendeleyIconcurrent Windows PC laptop, I bemoaned the fact that Papers for Windows really was not that great. However, people used Mendeley. I’m happy to say that over the last 2-3 years, Mendeley has become a MUCH better program than it was.
    Mendeley and Papers both fill the same functional role: organize and catalog all of your PDF based resources. Mendeley, however, is free. You can save your library to the cloud and then have your iPad or other computers sync with it. When I travel, now I load up on research papers and just have to bring my iPad.


  • Google Calendar (free) https://www.google.com/calendar/
    GoogleGoogle Calendar is invaluable. There really are way too many uses for it, whether it be tracking your work or coordinating dinner with your family.
    There are a ton of articles out there on taking advantage of Google calendar


  • Mint (free) https://www.mint.com
    MintPeople who are uneasy or scared about their financial situation are often distracted and cannot do their best work.Are your finances all in a mess? Do you even know how much money you have to your name? No fear, Mint’s web application (which also syncs with your mobile devices) can help set you straight.
    For me, the budgeting tool has been a great asset. By staying on budget, I cut down on the amount of choices I need to make on a daily basis, and direct that brain power towards achieving my goals.One warning: If you’re worried about much of your personal finance information being on one site, you may prefer the numerous other offline products available. I have personally not run into any trouble with Mint.com but I’m also aware that nothing is ever completely safe on the internet.



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