Courses and Conferences

EMBL Courses and Conferences are a major European platform for sharing and expanding research, knowledge and contacts through face-to-face and virtual interaction

Inclusivity criteria for EMBL courses and conferences

EMBL’s courses and conferences are advanced, innovative, open, inclusive, diverse, responsive, and sustainable. EMBL’s course and conference mission is to support the scientific community with a platform to communicate the latest science, exchange ideas, foster collaborations, educate, and promote the new generations of scientists. In an effort to promote the inclusion of the whole breadth of the scientific community, encourage diversity, and support the emergence of new generations of scientists, we are proposing an updated set of inclusivity criteria. These criteria specify targets for the composition and turnover of course and conference faculty, with the goal of providing diverse role models for course and conference participants. While we specify targets to balance gender and global participation, we have worked on the principle that diversity in all dimensions is to be encouraged. As stated in the EMBL Courses and Conferences Code of Conduct, EMBL is dedicated to providing a safe, welcoming learning experience for everyone, regardless of individual characteristics.

EMBL Conferences

The following guidelines for organisers and speakers will apply for all conferences organised by EMBL starting from 1 January 2023. Should organisers of conferences before this date have an opportunity to move closer to the targets summarised here (for example, if a speaker drops out, considering new speakers who would increase the overall diversity of the speaker list), they are also encouraged to do so.


The organising committee has a strong impact on speaker diversity as each organiser best knows the scientists and the ongoing science in their direct field of research. Rotating organisers should allow diversification of the profiles of invited speakers and increase the ability to promote emerging ideas and new concepts.

  • Conferences should have a minimum of 3 scientific organisers (range: 3 – 5) with gender balance (minimum 33% or 40% women, respectively, in case of an uneven number of organisers) and continental diversity (EU / Asia-Pacific / Africa / Americas).
  • The turnover of organisers is strongly encouraged for repeated conferences. To maintain continuity between editions, we recommend that half of the organisers remain and rotate off after two conferences. The organising committee is encouraged to suggest names to build the upcoming conference committee.


  • The invited speaker list should demonstrate gender balance, with a minimum of 40% women.
  • Invited speakers should include at least 50% speakers whose place of work is Europe, covering a variety of European countries, and source the remaining speakers (minimum 25%) from a variety of non-European continents, including Asia-Pacific / Africa / Americas. We encourage invitation of speakers from low- and middle-income countries (as defined by the UN DAC list).
  • For repeat conferences, invited speakers from the previous conference edition should not be reinvited. A list of the speakers from previous editions will be provided by the course and conference office to the organisers.
  • Invited speakers should include at least 20% early-stage researchers, here defined as having no more than 5 years experience as a principal investigator.

EMBL Courses

The following guidelines for organisers and speakers will apply for all courses organised by EMBL starting from 1 January 2023. Should organisers of courses before this date have an opportunity to move closer to the targets summarised here (for example, if a speaker or instructor drops out, considering new faculty who would increase its overall diversity), they are also encouraged to do so.


  • Courses should aim for 2-4 scientific organisers with gender diversity (40%+ women, 40%+ men) and continental diversity (EU / Asia-Pacific / Americas / Africa).
  • The turnover of organisers is also encouraged for courses. Organisers are expected to be actively involved in the planning and delivery of the course.
  • We encourage a debrief meeting once feedback from each edition of the course has been received, to agree on who will remain on the organising committee and who will rotate off; latest every 3 – 5 years, better after every course version, we propose a more thorough review to ensure that both the methods being taught, and the course faculty, are representative of excellent and cutting-edge science, and within scope for EMBL’s scientific programme.

Speakers and instructors:

  • Organisers should plan that speakers as well as instructors independently of each other include >40% women and >40% men (timeline to change for currently repeating courses: 2 years).
  • Organisers should encourage diversity in the nationality/ethnicity of speakers and instructors, including speakers and instructors from multiple countries as far as budgets allow. This may be more feasible for virtual courses than for in-person courses.
  • EMBO Practical Courses have to follow EMBO’s geographical distribution guidelines, which are regularly updated.


  • Selection of candidates should be based on there being a good match between the learning objectives of the course and the stated needs of the candidate, unbiased by other factors.
  • Depending on the applicants, the course should not welcome more than 20% of participants from the same institution’s host country. Same institutions have to be avoided in order to ensure a broader geographical distribution of the knowledge learned during the course.
  • EMBO Practical Courses have to ensure that the maximum amount of participants from the country in which the course is taking place should be respected.
  • Course organisers should aim for gender balance when selecting the final participants (at least 30% of the minority gender). 
  • In rare circumstances there may be places (no more than 30%) ring fenced for a specific audience (for example, BioIT courses that were initially designed for internal audiences; courses supported by Marie Curie Doctoral Training Networks that include places for students funded by that network). 
  • The process should ensure that all who are able to benefit from the course are equally able to apply, through provision of accessible application mechanisms. This is one area that the EDIF working group on external training will be working on in 2022.