eyeYPAG go to San Diego for iCAN – July 2023 – by Orla and Niamh

By Vijay Tailor-Hamblin,

Here’s what Orla had to say:

The iCAN summit this year was super fun and I think they have lived up to the fact that they try to improve the summit every year and I’m excited to see how it gets better in the years to come. At the summit, one thing I really enjoyed was the amount of creative activities there were this year which helped feel less overwhelming than last year.  These activities also gave me the opportunity to meet new people and make friends with other people my age at iCAN.

There were so many great things at this conference.

I was happy with the number of breaks scheduled between sessions as last year there were not many.  I felt this made last year’s conference less accessible to me as I was and still am quite young.


The iCAN summit also opened my eyes to so many jobs in the medical and research industry that many people might think would be boring but I realised that these types of jobs are not only very important but exciting and rewarding.  I personally think that research careers based around research for not only common diseases but rare ones would be a great area to work in; I think these jobs are some of the most important as so many people suffer from rarediseases and 95%of uncommon diseases are incurable.  I hope that my generation sees the importance of research and makes this percentage much lower.

The summit also showed me the importance of advocacy and the role young people can play in making changes to how they are treated in the medical world, but also how they can have an impact on law makers by sharing their stories and pushing for changes.

Overall, I really enjoyed the summit and had loads of fun. I’m so grateful that I got this opportunity and was able to learn so much.



Here’s what Niamh had to say:

I really really loved this year’s iCAN summit.  I think that it had improved from last year’s because it was more accessible and there were more opportunities for us to be involved in the sessions.  It felt like there were more breaks too and it was great that there was air con in the lecture theatres.

I enjoyed all of the talks, and my favourites were the one about different careers in medicine and research and the one on mental health.

Although I find it difficult to interact with others, I was in a good group where I felt included and I really enjoyed it.  I was worried about speaking in front of the iCAN group and the ISPI doctors, but I was confident in our idea and what I had to say about it (even though I forgot the second part of what I had to say!).

I enjoyed the free time we had to explore La Jolla and the local area and it was great going in the sea with Eleri and Jasmine and one of the American families we knew.

The parties that they had organised for us were fun – we could socialise with more people in a more relaxed environment and the food was delicious.

Overall, it was a great week which I enjoyed more than last year (I think it was because I was able to join in more) and I am looking forward to future summits – if I am lucky enough to be chosen again.


Here is a link to the iCAN website: https://www.icanresearch.org