The Non-Coding Genome – Course and Conference Office

EMBO | EMBL Symposium

The Non-Coding Genome


EMBO and EMBL are committed to sharing research advances and sustaining scientific interaction throughout the coronavirus pandemic. We are delighted to announce that this conference is going virtual and invite you to join us online.

Symposium Overview

This symposium will explore the diverse, dynamic and multifaceted roles of RNA across a spectrum of cellular processes. It will provide an interdisciplinary discussion of the roles of non-coding RNAs in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, with the aim of enhancing our understanding of gene regulation and function.

In the 50 years since RNA was identified as a central component in the flow of genetic information, it has become increasingly clear that RNA performs many additional diverse and interesting functions. Regulatory RNAs are known to play central roles across numerous biological processes required for cell viability and function. Moreover, prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes are pervasively transcribed to generate many additional RNAs with unknown functions, raising the question: What else does RNA do?

Session Topics

  • Functions and mechanisms of small RNAs
  • RNA granules and localisation
  • Long non-coding RNAs and circular RNAs
  • Other types of small RNAs
  • RNA modification
  • Viral RNAs and immunity and RNA therapeutics

What past participants say

“The symposium was INCREDIBLY good! It was almost perfect, well organised, and with excellent chosen speakers. It provided lot of opportunities to learn, discuss, share, and network among young and expert scientists. I would be happy to join again any time possible.” – Monah Abou Alezz (Institute of Molecular Genetics L.L. Cavalli-Sforza – National Research Council, Pavia, Italy)


Keynote Speakers

Asifa Akhtar

Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics



Lin He

University of California, Berkeley


Scientific Organisers

V. Narry Kim

Seoul National University and Institute for Basic Science

South Korea

Conference Organiser

Maryann Heck

EMBL Heidelberg


Chris Stocks

EMBL Heidelberg



  • All talks will be live-streamed with Q&A sessions after each talk.
  • Information on the live stream and access to the discussion platform and digital posters will be provided shortly before the start of the event.
  • Access to the recorded talks will be available for 2 weeks after the start of the event.

All times in the programme below are shown as the time in Europe/Berlin.

To find out the equivalent time zone in your location, enter Berlin, the programme time and date along with your city into the Time Zone Converter.

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Day 1 – Wednesday 13 October 2021
14:00-14:10Opening remarks
14:10-16:40Virtual Session 1 – Functions and mechanisms of small RNAs
14:10-14:30ncRNAs: a non-canonical mode of intracellular transport through organelle hitchhiking
Marie-Laure Baudet – University of Trento, Italy
14:30-14:35Break (to setup and switch to the next live talk)
14:35-14:55A tRNA sensor for balancing mitochondrial translation
Gunter Meister – University of Regensburg, Germany
14:55-15:00Transition to next talk (to setup and switch to the next live talk)
15:00-15:15The SHAPE of human primary microRNAs
Seungchan Baek – Seoul National University, South Korea
15:15-15:30A SUMO-dependent regulatory switch connects the piRNA pathway to the heterochromatin machinery in Drosophila
Veselin Andreev – Institute of Molecular Biotechnology IMBA, Vienna
15:30-15:35Cellular abundance shapes function in piRNA-guided genome defense
Astrid Haase National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases/National Institutes of Health, USA
15:35-15:55Genome regulation by long noncoding RNAs
Howard Y. Chang – Stanford University, USA
15:55-16:00Transition to next talk (to setup and switch to the next live talk)
16:00-16:20From Strings of Nucleotides to Collective Behaviors: Lessons from Bacteria
Kai Papenfort – Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Germany
16:20-16:25Transition over to Meet the speakers from Virtual Session 1
16:25-16:45Meet the speakers from Session 1 in Zoom rooms
16:45-17:45Virtual Poster Session 1
17:45-19:15Virtual Session 2 – RNA granules and localization
17:45-18:20Regulation and function of noncoding RNAs
Joshua Mendell – UT Southwestern Medical Center, USA
18:20-18:25Break (to setup and switch to the next live talk)
18:25-18:45Protein gradients and X-inactivation by the lncRNA Xist
Kathrin Plath – UCLA School of Medicine, USA
18:45-18:50Break (to setup and switch to the next live talk)
18:50-19:05In situ 3’UTR cleavage of transcripts localized in sympathetic neuron axons
Catia Andreassi – University College London, UK
19:05-19:20Unraveling the interplay between Nuclear Exosome targeting and Functional 3D chromatin looping
Olivier Cuvier- CNRS, France
18:50-18:55Transition over to Meet the speakers from Virtual Session 2
18:55-19:15Meet the speakers from Session 2 in Zoom rooms
19:15-20:15Virtual speed networking
Day 2 – Thursday 14 October 2021
14:00-16:50Virtual Session 3 – Long non-coding RNAs and circular RNAs
14:00-14:35X chromosome regulation by roX lncRNAs
Asifa Akhtar – Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Germany
14:35-14:40Break (to setup and switch to the next live talk)
14:40-15:00The complexity of COOLAIR
Caroline Dean – John Innes Centre, UK
15:00-15:05Transition to next talk (to setup and switch to the next live talk)
15:05-15:20MIR-NATs aid proteostasis in neurodegeneration
Simone Roberto – University College London, UK
15:20-15:35Distinct structural domains of MUNC lncRNA regulate gene expression during myogenesis
Przanowska Roza – University of Virginia, USA
15:40-16:00Retrotransposons, friends or foes in preimplantation embryos
Lin He – University of California, Berkeley, USA
16:00-16:05Transition to next talk (to setup and switch to the next live talk)
16:05-16:25Non-coding RNA & RNA-dependent Proteins in Cancer
Sven Diederichs – University Hospital Freiburg, Germany
16:25-16:30Transition over to Meet the speakers from Virtual Session 3
16:30-16:50Meet the speakers Session 3 in Zoom rooms
16:50-17:50Virtual Poster Session 2
17:50-19:05Virtual Session 4 – Other types of small RNAs
17:50-18:10Damaged tRNAs as Signaling Molecules
Sandra L. Wolin – National Institutes of Health, USA
18:10-18:15Break (to setup and switch to the next live talk)
18:15-18:35Heritable memory in C. elegans nematodes
Oded Rechavi – Tel Aviv University, Israel
18:35-18:40Break (to setup and switch to the next live talk)
18:40-18:55New group of bacterial Argonaute proteins with RNA target specificity
Esyunina Daria – Institute of Molecular Genetics, National Research Centre “Kurchatov Institute”, Russia
18:55-19:10Oxygen-induced small RNA FoxI provides the noncoding arm of the Sigma E response of the cancer-associated Fusobacterium nucleatum
Ponath Falk – Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI), Germany
18:40-18:45Transition over to Meet the speakers from Virtual Session 4
18:45-19:05Meet the speakers from Session 4 in Zoom rooms
19:05-20:05Virtual bar mixer
Day 3 – Friday 15 October 2021
13:00-14:00Virtual Poster Session 3
14:00-16:35Virtual Session 5 – RNA modification
14:00-14:20The secret life of 5’ mRNA fragments
Štěpánka Vaňáčová – Masaryk University, Czech Republic
14:20-14:25Break (to setup and switch to the next live talk)
14:25-14:45piRNA-directed DNA methylation
Donal O’Carroll – The University of Edinburgh, UK
14:45-14:50Break (to setup and switch to the next live talk)
14:50-15:05Intergenerational hormesis is regulated by heritable 18S rRNA methylation
Eric Greer – Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital, USA
15:05-15:20A single m6A site is an antimorph switch for a cancer-associated lncRNA
Aaron Johnson – University of Colorado School of Medicine United States of America
15:25-15:45Role of RNA modifications in gene regulation
Ramesh Pillai – University of Geneva, Switzerland
15:45-15:50Break (to setup and switch to the next live talk)
15:50-16:10Regulatory nucleotide modifications in noncoding RNA
Samie Jaffrey – Cornell University, USA
16:10-16:15Transition over to Meet the speakers from Virtual Session 5
16:15-16:35Meet the speakers Session 5 in Zoom rooms
16:40-18:35Virtual Session 6 – Viral RNAs and immunity and RNA therapeutics
16:40-17:00Shutoff of cellular gene expression during SARS-CoV-2 infection
Noam Stern-Ginossar – Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
17:00-17:05Break (to setup and switch to the next live talk)
17:05-17:25Fundamental approaches to targeting noncoding RNAs with small molecules
Amanda Hargrove – Duke University, USA
17:25-17:30Break (to setup and switch to the next live talk)
17:30-17:45Artificial circular RNA sponges as a novel RNA therapeutic for molecular biology and medicine
Janina Breuer – Justus-Liebig-University Gießen, Germany
17:45-18:00Prediction and pan-cancer analysis of mammalian transcripts involved in target directed miRNA degradation
Nicassio Francesco – Italian Institute of Technology, Italy
18:00-18:10Closing remarks
18:10-18:15Transition over to Meet the speakers from Virtual Session 6
18:15-18:35Meet the speakers from Session 6 in Zoom rooms

Practical Information

Registration Fees and Abstract Submission

Registration Fees (include access to all of the talks, digital poster sessions and online group discussions, and help us cover our costs to run the event. For further information please refer to the FAQ page):

Academia190 Euro
PhD Student140 Euro
Industry240 Euro
EMBL StaffIntranet access

Accredited journalists may be eligible to register for a complimentary registration. Registrants may be required to provide accreditation or equivalent proof of press membership after registration. Please contact Maryann Heck for more information.

Confirmation and Payment

Registration will be on a first-come first-served basis. Your place can only be confirmed after payment of the registration fee.
Types of payments accepted are international bank transfers and credit card payments.

Abstract submission

Only registered participants are eligible to submit an abstract. We only accept online abstract submissions.

After you have logged in and successfully registered, you will receive an email asking you to submit your abstract.  Click on the link provided and enter your abstract in the text box provided. Alternatively you can submit your abstract by clicking on the link on the confirmation page directly after registering.

When submitting your abstract you can also apply for an oral or poster presentation. A selection process will take place with the results announced 2-3 weeks after the abstract submission deadline.

Financial Assistance

Registration Fee Waivers

All academic and student registrants are invited to apply for a registration fee waiver, provided by the EMBL Advanced Training Centre Corporate Partnership Programme and EMBO. The registration fee waiver covers the registration sum that you have paid to attend the meeting. Conference participants are not required to pre-pay the registration fee to be selected for a fee waiver for a virtual meeting. If you have already paid the registration fee and are awarded a fee waiver, it will be reimbursed after the meeting. Course participants are required to pay the course fee in advance, which will then be reimbursed after the recipient has attended the course.

Childcare Grants

For participants and speakers with childcare responsibilities there is the possibility to apply for a grant, provided by the EMBL Advanced Training Centre Corporate Partnership Programme and EMBO, to offset childcare costs incurred when participating at a virtual event. Eligible costs include fees for a babysitter or childcare facility or travel costs for a care giver. Please note that priority will be given to early stage researchers. Costs will be reimbursed after the meeting only once a reimbursement form and original receipts have been received. In order to apply for this grant, you must be registered by the abstract submission deadline.

Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds Travel Grant

Applies to selected courses only. Availability will be indicated during the abstract or motivation letter submission process.

This grant covers costs related to your attendance to the course (registration, travel and accommodation costs). The grant is restricted to PhD students and postdocs who conduct basic biomedical research.
Whether you are eligible to apply for a travel grant, depends on when you received your university entrance qualification (e.g. Abitur, A-Levels, High School Diploma, Final State Examination):

– for PhD and MD students, as well as graduates, the university entrance qualification must not have been obtained more than 11 years ago at the time of the envisaged course
– for postdocs, the university entrance qualification must not have been obtained more than 13 years ago at the time of the envisaged course


Applications for financial assistance can be submitted via the submission portal* (for the submission of abstracts for conferences or the submission of motivation letters for courses) by completing the Financial Assistance Application Section (underneath the section for entering abstract/motivation letter information). The link to the portal can be found in the registration confirmation email that you will receive after registering for the conference or course.

For conferences, if you are not submitting an abstract, you can still apply for financial assistance in the submission portal. Read the instructions on how to apply for financial assistance.

Note that priority will be given to those submitting an abstract to present at the conference. In your application you will be asked to answer questions regarding your motivation for applying, and, for registration fee waivers, the reasons why your lab cannot fund your attendance and how your attendance will make a difference to your career. Application for financial support will not affect the outcome of your registration application.

*For some events, applications for Childcare Grants will still be done by email. Information about the grant will be sent out shortly after the abstract/motivation letter deadline. Please contact the event Conference Officer if you have any questions.


The scientific organisers will select the recipients of registration fee waivers during the abstract selection process for conferences and the participant selection process for courses. Results will be announced approximately 3 – 4 weeks before the event start date. Selection results do not impact your admission to the meeting. Registration fee waiver selection is based on your current work or study location, your motivation for applying, the reasons for needing financial support and the impact this event will have on your career. Childcare grants are allocated based on career stage, with priority given to early stage researchers.

Further details

Check out this list of external funding opportunities or get more information on attending the conference as an event reporter.

For further information about financial assistance please refer to the FAQ page.

Virtual Participation Guidelines


Please do:

  • Use the event-specific hashtag as communicated during the event for any related tweets
  • Tweet unless the speaker specifically says otherwise
  • Be mindful of unpublished data
  • Be respectful in tone and content

Please don’t:

  • Share Slack, live stream or poster session links with others
  • Broadcast the conference to unregistered participants
  • Capture, transmit or redistribute data presented at the meeting unless presenter gives explicit consent
  • Use offensive language in your posts
  • Engage in rudeness or personal attacks

Additional information can be found in our Code of Conduct.

Health and well-being

It is important to stay healthy and move around, especially when you are attending an event virtually. We have put together a few coffee break stretches and yoga videos in the events Slack workspace for you to enjoy during the event.

How to ask questions

Questions during and after the talks can be asked in live streaming platform. The chair moderates the questions and shares them with the speaker. If time runs out or you think of a question later, you can use Slack to ask your questions in the dedicated session channels or via direct message.

Time zone

The programme is planned based on Central European Summer Time (CEST), unless otherwise stated. As many virtual participants are attending from around the world, we do our best to accomodate as many timezones as possible when creating the programme. Please take your time zone into consideration when planning your attendance.

Virtual event platforms

We are using a virtual event platform for this conference. More information about the platform will be shared ahead of the conference.


Media Partners:

EMBO Journal, an EMBO Press journal

International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Open Biology, a Royal Society journal


Sponsorship Opportunities

We offer a variety of event sponsoring possibilities, with the flexibility to select a set sponsorship package or combine individual sponsorship options to suit your event budget. Discounts are available for companies sponsoring multiple events at EMBL Heidelberg. View other conferences, or contact sponsorship@embl.de for further information.

If you are interested in becoming a media partner of this event, please visit our media partnerships webpage.


EMBL wishes to warn sponsors of EMBL conferences and courses of fraudulent schemes purporting to offer sponsorship opportunities on behalf of EMBL or affiliated with EMBL officials. One current scam campaign of which we are aware is conducted using the name ‘Judy Eastman’ (judy@gopcontact.a2hosted.com) and entails approaches to sponsors offering sponsorship opportunities on EMBL’s behalf. Please be kindly advised that all relevant communication regarding sponsorship of EMBL conferences, symposia and courses is handled by EMBL directly and is sent from an official EMBL account. EMBL does not work with any external providers on sponsorship acquisition.

Please also note that:

  • EMBL never provides attendee lists for purchase. Any offers of such are fraudulent.
  • EMBL will never call or email you to ask for your credit card details or to request a payment.
  • All payments are on invoice.

Suspicious communications purportedly from, for or on behalf of EMBL should be reported to EMBL at the following email address sponsoring@embl.de.


EMBO | EMBL Symposia promote scientific communication and collaboration in the European research area. They provide scientists with a platform to discuss and exchange ideas on forward-looking topics and new developments in the life sciences.

Topics emphasise upcoming developments and the interdisciplinary nature of related fields. Jointly funded and organised by EMBO and EMBL – and complementary to their respective courses, workshops, and conference programmes – the symposia promote scientific communication and collaboration.

All symposia are held in the EMBL Advanced Training Centre (ATC) in Heidelberg, Germany, or virtually.

Date: 13 - 15 Oct 2021

Location: Virtual


Abstract submission: Closed

Registration: Closed


  • Irene Bozzoni
    Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
    • V. Narry Kim
      Institute for Basic Science, South Korea

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