EMBL's fourth Partnership Conference highlights the value of its scientific networks
EMBL’s Heidelberg site was buzzing with activity recently, as more than 300 participants attended EMBL’s fourth Partnership Conference. The auditorium and foyers of the Advanced Training Centre hummed with energy and discussion, as EMBL’s partner institutes came together to explore new collaborations and to foster new research connections.
The programme included a focus on three key areas – stem cells and development; genomics and disease; and neurobiology – all chosen to bring researchers together in a meaningful way. The event started with a welcome from EMBL Director General Edith Heard, and a keynote speech from Andres Metspalu, Head of the Estonian biobank. Participants were then able to choose from a diverse range of sessions across the three overarching themes, followed by flash talks, poster sessions, and networking opportunities.
The programme also included the Young Investigators Meeting, for PhD students and postdoctoral fellows from EMBL and partner institutes. The YIM ran for 1.5 days after the Conference, and gave a great opportunity for participants to exchange ideas with peers from a wide range of organisations, as well as helping to lay the foundations for long-lasting professional networks.
Speaking ahead of the event, Head of International Relations Plamena Markova explained that, “over the last few years EMBL’s partnerships have gone from strength to strength. This Conference represents a great opportunity to bring people together from right across our member states, to share ideas, forge new links, and ultimately enrich the research that is being undertaken.”
The Conference offered many valuable opportunities for EMBL and its partner institutes, as well as a fantastic chance to meet face-to-face after so long. As the partner institutes apply a stringent scientific turnover model, the conference was an opportunity for new groups and their leaders to meet and connect.
Here is just a small selection of of the views shared by those attending:
Virginijus Šikšnys, EMBL Council delegate and Science Director of the Vilnius
University Life Sciences Center (VU LSC) in Lithuania. Credit: Dorota Badowska and Edward Prior/EMBL
Looking at things from different angles:
Judith Zaugg, EMBL Group Leader, benefitted from being able to meet in person with researchers from other institutes who have close ties to her group. Being able to interact with a number of people from the Centre for Molecular Medicine Norway – NCMM – offered the chance to discuss new approaches to complex questions, and to experience different but complementary approaches.
Judith Zaugg, EMBL Heidelberg Group Leader. Credit: Dorota Badowska and Edward Prior/EMBL
Poul Nissen, Director of the Danish Research Institute of
Translational Neuroscience (DANDRITE), the Danish node of the Nordic EMBL Partnership
for Molecular Medicine. Credit: Dorota Badowska and Edward Prior/EMBL
Cutting edge science to be inspired by:
Lionel Christiaen, Director of the Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology in Bergen, felt inspired by the talks, and fortune to be able to follow up with those researchers giving them. The Sars Centre comprises various studies of the basic biological processes in marine biology, using functional and comparative molecular methods, and has been an EMBL partner since June 2003.
Lionel Christiaen, Director of the Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology in
Norway. Credit: Dorota Badowska and Edward Prior/EMBL
Breaking down knowledge silos:
András Dinnyés, from the Hungarian Centre of Excellence for Molecular Medicine – HCEMM – has deep experience in bringing together work across different fields, as well as bridging the gap between research and industry. He explained how the wide range of fields and techniques being discussed at the Conference helps to move research forwards.
András Dinnyés, Group Leader at the Hungarian Centre of Excellence for Molecular Medicine (HCEMM) and Director of BioTalentum Ltd. Credit: Dorota Badowska and Edward Prior/EMBL
Broadening scientific networks:
Maria Sachkova, a postdoctoral fellow at the Sars Centre, and Bernhard Payer, Group Leader at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, both gave talks at the conference. In their conversations during coffee breaks, they discovered they had common friends amongst their scientific networks. Both commented that the Partnership Conference allowed greater insight into other disciplines than specialised meetings that cover a smaller range of topics.
Maria Sachkova, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Sars International Centre for Marine
Molecular Biology in Norway and Bernhard Payer, group leader at the Centre for
Genomic Regulation in Spain. Credit: Dorota Badowska and Edward Prior/EMBL
Deepening understanding through new tools:
Derrick Lau, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of New South Wales and EMBL Australia, came to give a talk on his work on Parkinson’s Disease and single molecule strategies. He felt the breadth of the talks provided a great opportunity to explore something beyond his discipline.
Derrick Lau, postdoctoral researcher at the University of New South Wales, part of EMBL Australia. Credit: Dorota Badowska and Edward Prior/EMBL