Inter-organ communication in physiology and disease – Course and Conference Office

EMBO | EMBL Symposium

Inter-organ communication in physiology and disease


Please note that this event will now take place virtually.  

Symposium Overview

“Like a machine, any organism, even the simplest, is a functional unit, coherent and integrated. We are far from having elucidated, in complex organisms, the entire structure of these functional units”. A major outcome of research using model organisms has been to address this central question of biology that was stated so clearly and candidly by J. Monod in 1969. Genetic studies in model organism have first revealed that we are far from knowing all the functions fulfilled by various organs in vertebrates or invertebrates. In doing so, this body of work has nonetheless led to unprecedented progress in our understanding of how homeostasis of an entire organism is maintained. As a result, modern physiology has slowly moved from a purely molecular discipline back to rediscovering its holistic nature. The powerful combination of molecular and physiological approaches is revealing new insights into energy metabolism, endocrinology, cardiovascular and renal physiology as well as the regulation of cognitive and immune functions. Symbiotic interactions with resident microbes have added a further dimension to the study of host physiology.

This symposium aims to provide a high visibility platform to scientists from multiple disciplines who use molecular genetic tools to probe inter-organ communication signals that maintain homeostasis. We anticipate that, by bringing together scientists interested in various aspects of vertebrate and invertebrate animal physiology, we will foster interactions between them that will accelerate the discovery of novel physiologies. This meeting will also directly address a fundamental and long-term goal of the study of physiology: how can recent developments in whole-organism physiology pave the way to novel, adapted and efficient therapies for multiple degenerative diseases?

Session Topics

  • Brain-body crosstalk
  • The gut and its microbes
  • Fat and liver signals
  • Immune-metabolic crosstalk
  • Non-canonical inter-organ communication


Keynote Speaker


Shingo Kajimura

Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center


Asya Rolls

Technion – Israel Institute of Technology


Filip Swirski

Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School


Scientific Organisers

Conference Organiser

Nathalie Sneider

EMBL Heidelberg


Preliminary Programme

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  • The virtual conference includes live-streamed invited speakers and short talk presenters with Q&A sessions after each talk, as well as Panel Discussion sessions. 
  • All digital poster presenters are encouraged to upload a recorded flash talk or narration with their digital poster and to schedule video calls during poster session times.
  • 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.

Day 1 – Monday 21 March 2022
14:00 – 14:15Opening remarks
14:15 – 17:05Session 1: Non-canonical inter-organ communication
14:15 – 14:40Talk title to be announced
Ralph DeBerardinis – UT Southwestern Medical Center, USA
14:40 – 14:55Selected
14:55 – 15:20Talk title to be announced
Stavroula Kousteni – Columbia University, USA
15:20 – 15:35Selected
15:35 – 15:50Break
15:50 – 16:15Intestinal gluconeogenesis: what was the purpose of natural selection?
Gilles Mithieux – INSERM, France
16:15- 16:30Selected
16:30 – 16:55Talk title to be announced
Iqbal Hamza – University of Maryland, USA
16:55 – 17:00Transition to Panel Discussion
17:00 – 17:30Panel Discussion – Session 1
17:30 – 18:00Break
18:00 – 19:00Poster Session 1
19:00 – 19:05Transition to Session 2
19:05 – 21:20Session 2: Brain-body crosstalk
19:05 – 19:30 Inter-organ neural circuits for reward and appetite
Ivan De Araujo – Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, USA
19:30 – 19:45 Selected
19:45 – 20:10Talk title to be announced
Ana Domingos – University of Oxford, UK
20:10 – 20:25Break
20:25 – 20:50Talk title to be announced
Lisa Stowers – Scripps Research, USA
20:50 – 21:05Selected
21:05 – 21:20 Selected
21:20 – 21:25 Transition to Panel Discussion
21:25 – 21:55Panel Discussion – Session 2
21:55 – 22:00Transition to Bar Mixer
21:55 – 22:00Social Programme: Bar Mixer

Day 2 – Tuesday 22 March 2022
13:00 – 13:45Social Programme: Speed Networking
14:00 – 17:00Session 3: Immune-metabolic crosstalk
14:00 – 14:25Dialogue of microbiota and neuroimmune circuits in barrier homeostasis
Dan Littman – New York University, USA
14:25 – 14:40Selected
14:40 – 15:05Remembering immunity: Immune representation in the insular cortex
Asya Rolls – Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
15:05 – 15:20 Break
15:20 – 15:45Inter-organ communication in disease tolerance to infection
Miguel Soares – Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Portugal
15:45 – 16:00Selected
16:00 – 16:25Talk title to be announced
Filip Swirski – Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, USA
16:25 – 16:30Transition to Panel Discussion
16:30 – 17:00Panel Discussion – Session 3
17:00 – 17:30Break
17:30 – 18:30Poster Session 2
18:30 – 18:35 Transition to Session 4
18:35 – 20:50Session 4: The gut and its microbes
18:35 – 19:00The impact of the skeleton on homeostasis
Gerard Karsenty – Columbia University, USA
19:00 – 19:15Selected
19:15 – 19:40Inter-organ signalling: the third dimension
Irene Miguel-Aliaga – MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and Imperial College London, UK
19:40 – 19:55Break
19:55 – 20:20Neuronal regulation of immune fitness
Henrique Veiga-Fernandes – Champalimaud Foundation, Portugal
20:20 – 20:35Selected
20:35 – 20:50 Selected
20:50 – 20:55 Transition to Panel Discussion
20:55 – 21:25Panel Discussion – Session 4
21:25 – 21:30Transition to Living Room Concert
21:30 – 22:00Living Room Concert
Day 3 – Wednesday 23 March 2022
14:00 – 15:50Session 5: Fat and liver signals
14:00 – 14:25Talk title to be announced
Shingo Kajimura – Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, USA
14:25 – 14:40Selected
14:40 – 14:55Selected
14:55 – 15:10Break
15:10 – 15:35Talk title to be announced
Pierre Leopold – Institut Curie, France
15:50-16:50Talk title to be announced
KEYNOTE: Ruslan Medzhitov – Yale School of Medicine, USA
16:50-17:00 Break
17:00 – 17:30Panel Discussion – Session 5 and Keynote
17:30 – 17:45Closing Remarks and Poster Prize
17:45End of conference

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):

PhD Student €140

Accredited journalists may be eligible to register for a reduced press rate or in some cases for complimentary registration. Registrants may be required to provide accreditation or equivalent proof of press membership after registration. Please contact Nathalie Sneider 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. I

Types of payments accepted are international bank transfers and credit card payments.

Abstract submission

Abstract submission deadline: Monday 24 January 2022.

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. The same login credentials are used for both processes.

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.

Please note:

Title: The title should not exceed 20 words. Only the first word of the title should start with a capital letter and the rest of the title should be in lowercase.

Authors and Affiliations: Please fill in the author’s details as requested in the online form. The compulsory details are: First Name, Last Name, Organisation Name (Affiliation or Company), Country and Email. Mark only one author as the role of First author and please don’t forget to indicate who will be presenting. The order of the authors will be listed as follows: First Author, Co-First Author (alphabetically if multiple), co-author(s) (in the order added by the submitter).

Presentation Types: When submitting your abstract, you can 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.

Please check our FAQs pages for further information on how to submit an abstract.

Financial Assistance

Financial Assistance

Registration Fee Waiver

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.

The fee waiver will cover the registration sum that you have paid to attend the course or conference.

Childcare Grant

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. Attendance at the event is required in order to be eligible to receive the reimbursement. In order to apply for this grant, you must be registered by the abstract submission deadline.


Applications for financial assistance can be submitted via the submission portal* (for the submission of abstracts for conferences) 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.

For conferences, if you are not submitting an abstract, you can still apply for financial assistance in the submission portal. Take a look at the instructions for applying 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.


The scientific organisers will select the recipients of all financial assistance during the motivation letter or abstract selection process. Results will be announced approximately around 5 weeks before the event start date, however for some events this may be delayed. Selection results do not impact your admission to the meeting. Selection is based on your current work or study location, the reasons for needing financial support and the impact this event will have on your career.

Further details

See our list of external funding opportunities and information on attending a conference as an event reporter.

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

Virtual Participation


  • Do not broadcast the conference to unregistered participants.
  • You are encouraged to tweet and post about the event. Tweet unless the speaker specifically says otherwise, but be mindful of unpublished data. 
  • Please do not capture, transmit or redistribute data presented at the meeting.

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 conference platform for you to enjoy during the event.

How to ask questions

Please use the Q&A function in the event platform.

If you have any other questions, you can go to the Help Desk in the event platform. Click on ‘more’ on the top menu and click Help Desk. 

Time zone

The programme is planned based on the Europe/Berlin time zone, unless otherwise stated. As many virtual participants are attending from around the world, we do our best to accommodate as many time zones as possible when creating the programme. Please take your time zone into consideration when planning your attendance. Remember to set your time zone in your account. 

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.

Additional Information

Please find additional information including FAQs and terms and conditions on our Information for Participants page.


Media Partners

Development, a The Company of Biologists journal

Disease Models & Mechanisms, The Company of Biologists Journal

EMBO Journal, an EMBO Press journal

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: 21 - 23 Mar 2022

Location: Virtual


Abstract submission: 24 Jan 2022

Registration: 21 Feb 2022


  • Gerard Karsenty
    Columbia University, USA
    • Irene Miguel-Aliaga
      MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and Imperial College London, UK
      • Miguel Soares
        Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Portugal

      Contact: Nathalie Sneider

      Download event poster

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