Cellular mechanisms driven by phase separation – Course and Conference Office

EMBO | EMBL Symposium

Cellular mechanisms driven by phase separation


This conference will take place at EMBL Heidelberg, with the option to attend virtually.

Symposium overview

Phase separation is emerging as a common biophysical principle underlying many important cellular functions. This conference will bring together scientists from cell biology, biophysics, biochemistry, molecular biology, structural biology, developmental biology, polymer physics, and soft matter physics to study condensates in biology and disease.

The goals of this symposium are to:

  • increase our understanding of the physiological relevance of condensates in many biological processes
  • explore the large repertoire of new tools and methods that can be applied to study the phenomenon of biological condensates
  • provide transdisciplinary training to tackle the role of condensates in biology

Session topics

  • Membraneless compartments in the cell
  • Molecular mechanisms of condensate assembly
  • Phase separation: a polymer physics perspective
  • Condensates in cellular quality control
  • Protein structure in the condensed state
  • Condensates in gene expression
  • Emerging technologies

What past participants say about the Symposium

“I have never been to a conference where every single talk was relevant, exciting, and well done. This is particularly phenomenal given the interdisciplinary nature of this field.” – Carlos Castaneda, Syracuse University, USA

“Although Intrinsically Disordered Proteins and Phase Separation have been around for a number of years, this meeting felt like the kick-off for a novel area in molecular biology.” – Roland Dosch, University Medical Center Göttingen, Germany

“This was the best conference I have attended in years, bringing together biophysicists and biologists in an exciting and challenging format. I learnt a lot and have made great contacts for new collaborations.” – Sarah Mizielinska, Kings College London, UK


Keynote Speakers


Anthony Hyman

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics


Ankur Jain

Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research


Edward Lemke

Institute of Molecular Biology

and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz


Michael Rosen

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center


Scientific Organisers

Dorothee Dormann

Institute of Molecular Biology and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz


Conference organiser

Preliminary programme

Are you on social media? Post using #EESPhaseSeparation and don’t forget to tag @EMBLEvents

  • Please note that the programme is subject to change. Some speakers may need to join virtually to give their talk.
  • For registered participants, recorded talks will be accessible on demand for 2 weeks after the end of the event, unless indicated otherwise.
Day 1 – Tuesday 14 May 2024
12:00 – 14:00Registration and light refreshments
14:00 – 14:15Opening remarks
14:15 – 15:15Keynote lecture: Interphases, Interfaces, and Microphases
Rohit Pappu – Washington University in St. Louis, USA
Session 1: Membraneless compartments in the cell
15:15 – 15:45Title to be confirmed
Tony Hyman – Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Germany
15:45 – 16:00Selected short talk
16:00 – 16:15Selected short talk
16:15 – 16:30Selected short talk
16:30 – 17:00Coffee break and meet the speakers
17:00 – 17:30Identifying condensate-forming proteins regardless of their structural disorder across organisms
Agnes Toth-Petroczy – Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Germany
17:30 – 18:00Flash Talk Session 1
18:00 – 19:30Poster Session 1 (odd numbers)
19:30 – 21:15Dinner in Canteen
21:15 – 22:45After dinner drinks in ATC Rooftop lounge
Day 2 – Wednesday 15 May 2024
Time (Europe/Berlin)Speaker
Session 2: Molecular mechanisms of condensate assembly
09:00 – 09:30Modulating DEAD box protein phase transitions with charge and ions
Tim Nott – King’s College London, UK
09:30 – 09:45Selected short talk
09:45 – 10:00Selected short talk
10:00 – 10:30Coffee break and meet the speakers
10:30 – 10:45Selected short talk
10:45 – 11:15Internal Structure of Chromatin Condensates
Mike Rosen – The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, USA
Session 3: Protein structure in the condensed state
11:15 – 11:45Decoding molecular plasticity in the dark proteome
Edward Lemke – IMB & JGU Mainz, Germany
Not available on demand
11:45 – 12:00Selected short talk
12:00 – 12:15Selected short talk
12:15 – 12:30Selected short talk
12:30 – 13:00Complex coacervation of highly charged IDPs
Ben Schuler – University of Zurich, Switzerland
13:00 – 14:30Lunch
Session 4: Condensates and RNA
14:30 – 15:00DEAD-Box ATPases as Regulators of RNA-Containing Membraneless Organelles
Maria Hondele – University of Basel, Switzerland
Not available on demand
15:00 – 15:15Selected short talk
15:15 – 15:30Selected short talk
15:30 – 16:00Coffee break and meet the speakers
16:00 – 16:30Coordination of cell growth and division by condensates
Amy Gladfelter – Duke University, USA
16:30 – 16:45Selected short talk
16:45 – 17:15Flash talk Session 2
17:15 – 18:45Poster Session 2 (even numbers)
18:45 – 20:30Dinner in Canteen
20:30 – 22:30After dinner drinks in ATC Rooftop lounge
Day 3 – Thursday 16 May 2024
Time (Europe/Berlin)Speaker
Session 5: Condensates in cellular quality control
09:00 – 09:30SUMO2/3 conjugation of TDP-43 protects against aggregation
Serena Carra – University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
09:30 – 09:45Selected short talk
09:45 – 10:00Selected short talk
10:00 – 10:30Coffee break and meet the speakers
10:30 – 11:00Sequence programmable nucleic acid condensates
Ankur Jain – Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, USA
11:00 – 11:15Selected short talk
11:15 – 11:45Title to be confirmed
Hyun Kate Lee – University of Toronto, Canada
11:45 – 12:00Selected short talk
12:00 – 13:30Lunch
13:30Free afternoon
Day 4 – Friday 17 May 2024
Time (Europe/Berlin)Speaker
Session 6: Condensates in gene expression
09:30 – 10:00The role of stress-induced nuclear condensates of NELF in organismal physiology
Ritwick Sawarkar – University of Cambridge, UK
10:00 – 10:15Selected short talk
10:15 – 10:30Selected short talk
10:30 – 11:00Coffee break and meet the speakers
11:00 – 11:15Selected short talk
11:15 – 11:45Multiphase behavior of the nucleolus throughout the C. elegans life cycle
Stephanie Weber – McGill University, Canada
11:45 – 12:00Selected short talk
12:00 – 14:00Lunch
Session 7: Emerging technologies
14:00 – 14:30Molecular mechanisms of protein phase separation
Tuomas Knowles – University of Cambridge, UK
14:30 – 14:45Selected short talk
14:45 – 15:00Selected short talk
15:00 – 15:15Selected short talk
15:15 – 15:45Coffee break and meet the speakers
15:45 – 16:15Form and function in biomolecular condensation
Yongdae Shin – Seoul National University, Korea
16:15 – 16:30Selected short talk
16:30 – 17:30Keynote lecture: From physics to biology and back again: How physical understanding of condensate properties can explain biological function and disease processes
Tanja Mittag – St. Jude Children’s Hospital, USA
17:30 – 17:45Feedback Survey Session (Q&A)
17:45 – 18:00Closing remarks and Poster prize
18:00 – 23:00BBQ + DJ

Practical information

Registration fees and abstract submission

On-site registration fees include admission, conference materials, meals and coffee breaks. Participants are expected to book and pay their own accommodation and travel expenses.

Virtual registration fees include access to all of the talks (livestreamed and on demand) and facility to submit questions.

On-site Academia€725
On-site PhD Student€625
On-site Industry€925
On-site Journal Editor€300
Virtual Academia€225
Virtual PhD Student€175
Virtual Industry€275

* Editors from scientific journals are allowed to attend at a reduced rate, but asked to contribute to the conference in return by taking part in ‘meet the editors’ sessions or other planned activities within the programme.

A letter to support your visa application will be issued, on request, once payment of the registration fee is confirmed. We recommend that you book your visa appointment as soon as possible, to avoid any delay with your visa application.

Accredited journalists may be eligible to register for complimentary press registration. Registrants may be required to provide accreditation or equivalent proof of press membership after registration. Please contact Sophie Dutzi for more information. Please note that we do not offer complimentary registrations for editors of scientific journals.

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. If you are added to our waiting list, please consider taking advantage of our offerings to participate virtually.

On-site participants: Types of payments accepted are international bank transfers and credit card payments.

Virtual participants: We are only able to accept card payments. In exceptional cases we can accept bank transfers. Please contact events@embl.de for details.

Abstract submission

Only participants registering to attend the on-site event are eligible to submit an abstract. Abstracts will not be accepted from virtual participants.

After registration you can submit your abstract via a separate link that will be provided in the email confirmation. Alternatively, you can access the link on the confirmation page directly after registering. The same login credentials are used for both processes.

Please note:

Abstract body: The limit of 2000 characters refers to manually typed text and excludes spaces. If an error occurs try using a different web browser (preferably Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox).

If you copy-paste the text into the form, hidden formatting might still be included which may cause the text to exceed the 2,000 character limit resulting in an error message. We recommend you clear all formatting before pasting in the text.

If you have special symbols in your text, make sure you are using Unicode characters, otherwise these will not be recognised.

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

Authors and affiliations: Please fill in the author’s details as requested in the online form. The compulsory fields are: First Name, Last Name, Organisation Name (Affiliation or Company), Country and Email.

Kindly mark only one author in the role of First Author and please don’t forget to indicate who will be the Presenter.

Please enter your co-authors correctly via the system by adding accounts together with their organisation/institute. Do not copy-paste them into the body of the abstract text, as they will not be indexed in the abstract book.

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.

For detailed instructions on how to submit a conference abstract, follow the instructions provided in this video.

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

Financial assistance

Financial assistance

Limited financial assistance is provided by the EMBL Advanced Training Centre Corporate Partnership Programme and EMBO in the form of registration fee waivers, travel grants and childcare grants

Your place in the meeting is only confirmed by paying the registration fee, which is mandatory even when receiving a fee waiver.

Registration fee waiver

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

Travel grant

The travel grant will cover the cost of travel to an on-site event (airfare, train, bus, taxi, accommodation, visa, and/or registration fees*) and is provided up to specified caps which are normally as follows:

–up to €400 for participants travelling to an EMBL Conference or EMBO|EMBL Symposium from within Europe.

–up to €1000 for participants travelling to an EMBL Conference or EMBO|EMBL Symposium from outside Europe.

–up to €500 for any participant travelling to an EMBO Workshop.

–up to €1000 for any participant working in Chile, India, Singapore or Taiwan travelling to an EMBO Workshop.

–up to €700 for any participant working in Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovenia, and Turkey travelling to an EMBO Workshop.

*Registration fees are only covered for EMBO Workshops

The organisers may reduce the grant cap to accommodate more participants. Recipients will be notified of their travel cap amount when they are informed of the outcome of their application. Original receipts must be provided with your signature for all costs incurred within two months of completion of travel. Scanned copies cannot be accepted.

Childcare grant

There is the possibility to apply for a childcare grant to offset child care costs incurred by participants, speakers and organisers when attending a conference. Eligible costs include (but are not limited to) fees for a baby-sitter or child-care facility and travel costs for a caregiver. Please note that priority will be given to early stage researchers. In order to apply for this grant, you must be registered by the abstract submission deadline. There is a limited amount of funding available for the childcare grants and funds will be distributed amongst eligible applicants.


On-site participants

You may apply for financial assistance when submitting your abstract. In your application you will be asked to answer questions regarding 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.

Virtual participants

If you are attending virtually, you can apply for financial assistance in the submission portal by the abstract deadline. Read the instructions on how to apply for financial assistance. Only submissions for financial assistance will be accepted. Presentation abstracts cannot be submitted here and will be declined. 

In your application you will be asked to summarise your current work,  answer questions regarding 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 abstract selection process. Results will be announced approximately 6 – 8 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 for registration fee waivers and travel grants is based on scientific merit, your current work or study location, the reasons for needing financial support, and the impact this event will have on your career.

Childcare grants will be allocated in the same timeframe (6-8 weeks before the event start date). 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 (from travel costs) have been received.

Further details

View 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.

Accommodation and travel

Accommodation is not included in the conference registration fee.

As further changes in our events are possible, you should book flights, trains and hotels with flexible options and favourable cancellation conditions.

The hotels below have rooms on hold for participants until 16 April 2024, in some cases at special rates. Please email the hotel directly, quoting the booking code EES24-06 to confirm the exact price of the room.

Hotel AnlageHilton HeidelbergHotel Monpti
B&B HotelHotel Holländer Hof Premier Inn Heidelberg City
Hotel Bayrischer Hof Hotel ibis HeidelbergHotel Vier Jahreszeiten Heidelberg
Exzellenz HotelLeonardo Hotel Heidelberg City Centre

Travel information

For travel information, please see here.

If you are travelling to the conference within Germany then you are eligible for the Deutsche Bahn ‘Event Ticket’ (called the ‘Veranstaltungsticket’ in German). This will result in a lower ticket price if your travel distance to Heidelberg is more than 100 km. You need to provide proof of your event attendance when purchasing the ticket.

For more information in English see here or in German see here.

You can book your ticket here.

Conference shuttle buses

Conference shuttle buses are free of charge for participants, and depart from designated bus stops near the hotels to EMBL and back, mornings and evenings.

The bus stops for this conference are:

  • Hotel Staycity (Speyerer Str. 7)
  • Kurfürsten-Anlage (Opposite Main Train Station)
  • Hotel Premier (Kurfürsten-Anlage 23)
  • Leonardo Hotel Heidelberg City Center (Bergheimer Str. 63)
  • Neckarmuenzplatz (Heidelberg Tourist Information)
  • Peterskirche (Bus stop)
  • ISG Hotel (Im Eichwald 19)

View Conference shuttle bus stops and hotels in a larger map. Please note that not every bus stop will be used for every event.

Further details

Address: EMBL, Meyerhofstraße 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany.

For more information about accommodation and travel, please refer to the FAQ page.

Onsite information


All meals and coffee breaks are included in the registration fee. Our catering staff will prepare a wide variety of vegetarian meals, meat and fish dishes, soups, pasta, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as a variety of desserts.

Please wear your badge at all times when serving yourself.

No food or drinks are allowed in the auditorium.

Charging lockers

There are lockers available next to the stairs leading down into the Auditorium. You will find some of those equipped with sockets to charge your smartphone/tablet etc.

Electricity and charging station

In most places the electricity is 220 volts AC (50 cycles). An adaptor and a plug that fits the German socket may be needed for your appliances/laptop (i.e. American, Japanese, etc.). A USB charging station for electronic devices is available at the registration desk.

EMBL merchandise

If you are interested in purchasing EMBL merchandise (products presented in the glass display in the registration area), please email the EMBL shop to place an order or get in contact with your Course Organiser.

Kindly note the EMBL shop is only open upon request and all purchases must be made in cash (Euros only).

Health and safety notes

Please read EMBL’s COVID-19 safety policy for on-site events.
Do not smoke in any EMBL building.
Eating and drinking is prohibited in the Auditorium and all laboratories.
Do not enter any restricted areas or the laboratories unless instructed to do so.

If first aid is required …

  • The first aid room is located next to the ATC Registration Desk (room 10- 205).
  • Dial the Emergency number 222 from any EMBL internal phone only.
  • Where is the accident? What happened? How many injured?
  • Emergency number 06221-387 7821 from mobile phones.
  • Please report all accidents to the conference officer at the registration desk.

In case of fire …

  • Press the nearest fire alarm button or the Emergency number 222 from any internal phone.
  • A loud fire alarm will go off if an evacuation is required. On hearing the alarm leave the building immediately following the escape route and fire wardens and head to one of the meeting points
  • Do not use the lifts.

Beyond first aid…

Please remember to bring your own medication, if needed, to the conference. Note that the next pharmacy is a 4-minute drive from the EMBL, but for many medications you will be required to see a doctor to get a prescription.

Ensure in advance that your medical insurance will cover you during your visit in the event that you do need to see a doctor while in Heidelberg. In any case, the EMBL Course and Conference Office will assist you to get to the pharmacy and a doctor of your choice if necessary.


Wi-Fi is available on campus using the EMBL-Events network and the event specific password, which will be provided on site. The eduroam network (secure, worldwide roaming access service developed for the international research and education community) is also available.

Lost and found

‘’Lost and Found’’ items are kept at the registration desk until the end of the conference.


There are lockers available on-site to store your luggage, which require a 2 EURO coin to operate. There is another luggage room on level E0, which is free to use but remains unlocked during the conference.

Nursing room

There is a nursing room available in the ATC Rooftop Lounge on level A29.


During the conference, an EMBL Photographer may be taking photos. If you would not like to appear in these, please inform the photographer or a member of the Course and Conference Office.


We can help to print your boarding pass/train ticket. Please send it to events@embl.de and collect your print-outs at the registration desk.

Room for prayer, yoga and meditation

There is a room for prayer, meditation and yoga located on level E0 behind the Auditorium. Please be respectful of others using the room.


A variety of activities in Heidelberg can be found on the website of Heidelberg Marketing.

Travel to and from the venue

During the event, we provide conference shuttle buses to and from EMBL. In addition, there is the public bus 39A that serves the EMBL campus and taxis can be easily booked at any time. Information on the conference shuttle buses can be found on the individual event website and more detailed information on travelling to EMBL can be found on our Travel Information page.

Useful German expressions

GoodbyeAuf Wiedersehen (formal)
Tschüss (informal)
Good morningGuten Morgen
Good afternoonGuten Tag
Good eveningGuten Abend
Good nightGute Nacht
I’m sorryEs tut mir leid
Excuse me…Entschuldigen Sie
How are you?Wie gehts?
I’m fine thanks. And you?Mir geht es gut , danke. Und Dir/Ihnen?
What is your nameWie heißen Sie? (formal)
Wie heißt du? (informal)
My name is..Ich heiße..
Do you speak EnglishSprechen Sie englisch?
I don’t understandIch verstehe nicht
Please speak more slowlyKönnen Sie bitte langsamer sprechen
Thank youDankeschön
Where is the toilet?Wo ist die Toilette?
Please call me a taxiBitte rufen Sie mir ein Taxi
How do I get to….?Wie komme ich zum/zur…..?
A beer/two beers pleaseEin Bier/zwei Bier bitte
A glass of red/white wine pleaseEin Glas Rot/Weißwein bitte
The menu, pleaseDie Speisekarte, bitte
Is there a local speciality?Gibt es eine Spezialität aus dieser Gegend?
I’m vegetarianIch bin Vegetarier
It was deliciousEs war hervorragend
The bill, pleaseDie Rechnung, bitte
I have a headacheIch habe Kopfschmerzen
I have a sore throatIch habe Halsschmerzen
My stomach hurtsIch habe Magenschmerzen
I’m allergic toIch bin allergisch gegen
I need a doctor who speaks English.Ich brauche einen Arzt, der englisch spricht.
Virtual participation

What’s included?

  • Access to all the livestreamed talks
  • Video library of the recorded talks during the event and for two weeks afterwards. Please note: at the request of individual speakers, some talks are not recorded.
  • Facility to submit questions

Please note that only on-site participants are able to submit abstracts and participate in the poster sessions.

Event platform

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


  • 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. Please take your time zone into consideration when planning your attendance.

COVID-19 related questions

COVID-19 information for onsite events at EMBL Heidelberg can be found in our COVID-19 FAQs.


Gold sponsor

Bronze sponsor

Event supporter

Media partners

EMBO Reports, an EMBO Press journal

FEBS Letters,

FEBS Open Bio

International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Journal of Cell Science, The Company of Biologists Journal

Medinformatics, a Bon View Publishing journal

Open Biology, a Royal Society journal

PLOS Biology, a PLOS 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 sponsorship@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.

Media kit

Want to let others know you’re attending this event? Take a look at our shareable media and feel free to use them in your social media channels or presentations.

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Date: 14 - 17 May 2024

Location: EMBL Heidelberg and Virtual

Venue: EMBL Advanced Training Centre


Abstract submission: Closed

Registration (On-site): Closed

Registration (Virtual): 7 May 2024


  • Simon Alberti
    Technische Universität Dresden
    • Sara Cuylen-Häring
      EMBL Heidelberg, Germany
      • Dorothee Dormann
        Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany
        • Alex Holehouse
          Washington University in St. Louis, USA

        Contact: Sophie Dutzi

        Download event poster

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