On 24 June 2015, EMBL-EBI staff gathered to celebrate Janet Thorton's 14 years as Director of the institute, as she prepares to hand over leadership to Rolf Apweiler and Ewan Birney on 1 July.
At the centre of the event was a game, Handover on Data Mountain, where tables competed in a hands-on quiz – complete with 3D puzzles and ordnance maps – to earn enough points to scale Data Mountain and enable Rolf and Ewan to relieve Janet on the summit. Third place went to team ‘Edmund Hillary’, Ewan Birney’s table, which comprised a mixed bunch of staff (and one interloper, who initially thought the game silly but then couldn’t resist). Second place went to team ‘Ben Nevis’, with co-mountaineers EMBL Director General Iain Mattaj and Janet Thornton. First prize, including several large Toblerone bars, went to the team ‘Cho Oyu’ (the EMBL-EBI Web Production team). The weather was gorgeous and sunny, the barbeque delicious and filling, and the company relaxed and happy.
The single best argument for human cloning.
In the evening, a dinner was held to honour Janet, with many of her closest colleagues from all over the world attending. Iain Mattaj praised Janet for her passion, hard work, patience, perseverance and dedication to mentoring staff at all levels. After describing her further as a modest, highly respected and widely acclaimed role model and trusted colleague, he called her “the single best argument for human cloning”. Others standing up to give testament to the unique and rewarding experience of working with Janet as Director over the years included Mike Stratton, Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute; Graham Cameron, former Associate Director and co-founder of EMBL-EBI; Alf Game, former Research Director of the BBSRC; Tommi Nyronen of CSC Finland; Soren Brunak of DTU Copenhagen; and of course Ewan Birney and Rolf Apweiler, Joint Associate Directors of EMBL-EBI.