Scientists from EMBL joined colleagues from Systems Biology Ireland (SBI) on 16 June at University College Dublin (UCD) for a scientific workshop to brainstorm future collaborative projects. Group leaders from EMBL and SBI shared their research with local staff and EMBL alumni in a series of engaging talks throughout the one-day event.
The event was co-chaired by EMBL Director General Iain Mattaj and SBI Director Walter Kolch. “Sharing knowledge and exchanging experiences is key to successful research,” said Mattaj, ”This meeting is a valuable opportunity to explore how we at EMBL can work even closer with Ireland’s leading research facility for systems biology.”
The meeting centred around issues regarding the huge quantities of data that are being produced by modern technology – not just the problems of how to store and access that data, but how to analyse it to extract meaningful insights that lie buried amongst the ones and zeroes.
“We are witnessing a paradigm shift in biology and biomedical research where the limitations of research progress stem from data interpretation rather than data production,” said Kolch.
Researchers at SBI utilise powerful computers and modern biological techniques to develop diagnostics and treatments – including truly personalised medical treatments – for human cancers, including childhood cancers, colorectal and breast cancer. Their team of 80 researchers from more than 20 countries are recognised as leaders within the systems biology field.
We are witnessing a paradigm shift in biology and biomedical research.
“Interpreting the function of biological regulation systems and their malfunctioning in diseases, like cancer, is at the heart of SBI’s research interests and a main topic not only for EMBL but also within the EU Horizon 2020 funding programmes,” said Kolch.
Connections between EMBL and SBI started well before the conference and continue to grow: Event co-organiser Des Higgins, professor of bioinformatics at UCD, is an EMBL alumnus, while Genome Biology Unit and senior scientist at EMBL Heidelberg, Eileen Furlong, completed her PhD at UCD. Following this successful event, attended by more than 100 Irish researchers at various career stages, EMBL and SBI aim to strengthen their relationship also on an institutional level.
To study the effect of commonly used drugs on bacterial envelopes, EMBL scientists applied a biochemical assay using a colour reaction. The deeper the red, the stronger the disruptive effect of the drug.