EMBL and IIT: Launching new avenues of collaboration

EMBL and IIT scientists met in person at EMBL Rome to strengthen their collaboration and explore new opportunities for scientific exchange

people taking a group photo

For over a decade, EMBL and the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italian Institute of Technology – IIT) have collaborated on various topics, such as RNA technologies, neuroscience, and the training of young scientists through the ETPOD postdoctoral programme. Since the signing of their Collaboration Agreement in 2021, the two organisations have actively explored new avenues for collaboration, particularly in the context of EMBL’s Programme ‘Molecules to Ecosystems’, which was officially launched in January 2022.

To this end, scientists from across EMBL’s six sites and IIT gathered in person at EMBL Rome for a two-day workshop between 11 and 12 April 2022.

The event was formally introduced by EMBL Director General Edith Heard, who said, “EMBL and IIT are well aligned in terms of forward-looking strategic institutional priorities. I am confident that we will further strengthen our collaboration and enhance the exchange of scientific and technical expertise as well as of talented people with IIT, for the benefit of our respective scientific communities but also of Italy as a whole.”

“The workshop was important to share our research results on the topics of molecular biology, and also to introduce new themes, such as new materials and robotics, that may pave the way to further innovation,” said IIT Scientific Director Giorgio Metta.

The event was also attended by representatives from the Italian Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), in whose campus EMBL Rome is based. Daniela Corda, Director of the Biomedical Sciences Department at CNR, said, “This workshop further strengthens the ongoing collaborations among CNR, EMBL, and IIT scientists, who will find in the Monterotondo Campus the ideal meeting point for discussions or for the organisation of courses and meetings. The CNR staff at the Campus will gladly support all these initiatives.”

EMBL’s new programme seeks to study life in its natural context, and to understand how the rich diversity of life on Earth works at the molecular level. This, in turn, can help researchers develop solutions to tackle societal challenges related to the environment, health, and well-being.  Collaboration with national partners will be key to this process. In the case of EMBL and IIT, the collaboration touches on strategic areas, such as promoting novel green technologies, advanced data sciences and theoretical approaches, and interdisciplinary training of young scientists.

The two-day workshop covered many different fields of molecular biology, such as imaging, structural biology, nanomaterials, neuroscience, microbial ecosystems, genomics, and data sciences. In some of these fields, there are already ongoing collaborations between EMBL and IIT research groups, especially in the area of RNA biology.

“The synergy between IIT and EMBL is strategic to advance in research fields that are fundamental to responding to present and future challenges for human health,” said Stefano Gustincich, IIT Associated Director for Life technologies.

“This workshop was the first official in-person event at EMBL Rome since the beginning of the pandemic, and it was held in our newly renovated auditorium, which served as a vaccination hub last summer,” said Cornelius Gross, Interim Head of EMBL Rome. “The opportunity to return to in-person events will further foster productive scientific exchange. We hope to have regular meetings with our IIT colleagues in Rome and across all EMBL and IIT sites.”

Tags: cnr, etpod, iit, international relations, rome, workshop


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