EMBL in Spain: from EvoDevo to Tissues

More than a hundred scientists from across Spain and Europe met at the Andalusian Centre for Developmental Biology (CABD) for the 2022 ‘EMBL in Spain’ event

Group of around hundred people looking at the camera
Group photo of the attendees.

The 2022 edition of the EMBL in Spain event was held on 4 November in the Andalusian city of Seville and was co-organised by Peter Askjaer, Vice Director of CABD; Damien Devos, Group Leader at CABD; Juan Martínez-Morales, Group Leader at CABD; and James Sharpe, Head of EMBL Barcelona.

Co-organisers of the event. From left to right: James Sharpe, Peter Askjaer, Juan Martínez Morales and Damien Devos.

EMBL in… events aim to share what is happening at EMBL with the scientific community of a member state country. These events are fostered by the Alumni Relations team at EMBL and seek to open up valuable dialogue among researchers working in specific fields.

Finding scientific inspiration within and outside academia

The programme included speakers and attendees from many Spanish institutes, such as CABD, the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the National Centre for Biological Research Margarita Salas (CIB), the National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC), the Centre for Cooperative Research in Biosciences (CIC bioGUNE), the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), and the Neuroscience Institute CSIC-UMH. Colleagues from the EMBL sites in Heidelberg, Hinxton, and Barcelona were also present.

 “CABD is not just excellent in curiosity-driven science; it is also excellent in applications, training, and top-class scientific services. This is very much inspired by what EMBL does,” said Peter Askjaer, Vice Director of CABD, while presenting the new programme of the institution.

Blanca Pijuan-Sala, postdoctoral fellow in the Furlong Group at EMBL Heidelberg gave an inspirational talk about her scientific journey, which took her from Barcelona to London, Cambridge, and Heidelberg. Her advice for young scientists was: “Be proactive, get exposure to different experiences to find out what makes you tick, apply for positions and experiences that motivate you, overcome the fear of rejection, talk, network, collaborate, and most importantly, secure your endurance. It’s a long journey and failure is part of it.

Blanca Pijuan-Sala, during her talk at the EMBL in Spain event

Remco Loos, Scientific Senior Director at the CITRE-Bristol Myers Squibb, gave a talk about scientific life outside academia and its opportunities. “There’s a lot of interesting research going on in industry with the big goal of delivering drugs. The success depends on collaborations. I feel l’ve won the lottery: I can spend my time doing valuable research and see how we can make a real difference,” he said.

In addition to the scientific talks, attendees had the opportunity to visit the CABD fish facility (one of the biggest in Europe), get inspired during the poster session, and relax after a stimulating day with some tapas.

Integrating life sciences in Spain

EMBL Barcelona has been fostering the connection and integration of life sciences in Spain together with other colleagues at EMBL, such as the International Relations and Alumni Relations teams. Past editions of the EMBL in Spain events took place in Madrid and in Barcelona.

Angela Nieto, CSIC Full Professor at the Institute for Neurosciences CSIC-UMH and EMBL Council Delegate, addressed the audience with a forward-looking vision. “Now, more than ever, it’s important to stay in touch with EMBL and with other Spanish institutes. EMBL’s new programme aims to connect even more with the scientific community, and EMBL Barcelona is a great place to establish collaborations and projects. Please visit it!” said Nieto, encouraging the audience to keep up with the already existing collaborations.

Last year, EMBL and CSIC signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a framework agreement and coordinate efforts in Spain. In 2022, the first workshop under this MoU focused on One Health took place in Madrid.

“These events are a great opportunity to connect with colleagues from the local community and across Spain,” said James Sharpe, Head of EMBL Barcelona. “There is the perfect balance between scientific talks and networking activities. We are looking forward to the next edition.”

Tags: alumni, barcelona, tissue engineering


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