Annual Report 2021

A year of exceptional life science research, training, service, industry collaboration, and integration of European life science research.

​​‘Inspiring’ the next generation of life scientists

A successful EMBL postdoc program is complemented with new mentoring opportunities.

Female postdoc looks pensive, participating in training
EMBL’s postdoctoral community is central to EMBL’s ambitious interdisciplinary research programme. EMBL supports approximately 250 postdocs across its six sites, like Sissy Kalayhil (left) from EMBL Grenoble and Cecilia Perez-Borrajero from EMBL Heidelberg (centre), shown at a postdoc retreat held in 2021. Credit: EMBL

EMBL has always been committed to providing all-around training to its postdoctoral fellows, enabling them to develop their scientific, leadership, and communication skills – even introducing a progressive mentoring programme, Leadership and Excellence for Aspiring Postdocs (LEAP).  The EMBL Interdisciplinary Postdoc Programme (EIPOD), established in 2007 and co-funded by the EC’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme since 2009, focuses in particular on training a workforce of interdisciplinary researchers comfortable with straddling diverse fields and bridging disciplinary barriers.

In 2021, EMBL added a new dimension to its EIPOD programme with the EIPODs Inspire scheme. EIPODs Inspire pairs postdoctoral researchers with master’s degree students in EMBL’s member states, providing the latter with an opportunity to gain insight into the world of life science research and to navigate their career path with the help of a researcher who faced similar questions, uncertainties, and milestones not so long ago. For the EIPOD fellows, it offers an opportunity to support young scientists.

The first call for master’s degree participants was announced in 2021, and 24 students were selected. The students attended the EMBL PhD Symposium in December, where they met their mentors for the first time in a dedicated workshop. They will now build on those first interactions to develop a mentoring relationship over a period of 18 months.

Watching LEAP leap forward

An innovative EMBL program to address the ‘leaky pipeline’ for women in leadership roles in science celebrated a first year of mentoring postdocs and got an important boost in funding in 2021.

“EMBL supports scientists building networks. In organising the very first Crick-EMBL symposium, I personally saw how despite a pandemic, postdocs from both institutions could form strong bonds to lay the groundwork for joint, future research.”

– Lenka Cernikova, EIPOD postdoc in the Kosinski Group, EMBL Hamburg

“These programmes are great examples of the opportunities that EMBL provides for early-career scientists. If you know of enthusiastic and curious master’s students who may be interested in pursuing an interdisciplinary career in life sciences, then I thoroughly recommend you make them aware of EIPODs Inspire.

– Anne Ephrussi, Director of EMBL’s International Centre for Advanced Training (EICAT)

Explore more about EMBL's EIPOD programme:

Four female scientists at table outside at EMBL

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