Annual Report 2020

Collaborative discovery in challenging times

See some highlights from 2020 below or see the full report.

"I truly admire the effort and dedication of staff across EMBL, and no more so than over the past year. Our swift and assured response to the coronavirus pandemic leaves me in no doubt of our ability to provide the knowledge and tools needed to solve challenges of global importance."

During the unprecedented challenges of 2020, EMBL took rapid action to ensure the safety of staff and to join the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tackling COVID-19

Our scientists and collaborators discuss how EMBL's state-of-the-art facilities, expertise, and service provision have helped the global community tackle COVID-19.

EMBL's response

We carried out numerous projects to understand the biology of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and advance the development of testing methods, treatments, and vaccines.

Data resources

A focus of our efforts in 2020 was making COVID-19 data easily accessible to the international research and healthcare communities.

Alongside EMBL’s COVID-19 projects, research at our six sites has continued to make significant advances.

EMBL performs fundamental research in molecular biology.

EMBL offers vital services to scientists in EMBL member states and around the world.

person using a computer

Bioinformatics services

EMBL's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) maintains the world’s most comprehensive range of freely available and up-to-date molecular data resources.

scientific machine

Structural biology

Florent Cipriani, who recently retired as Head of the Instrumentation Team after a long career at EMBL Grenoble, is one of the pioneers of instrumentation development in this field, creating ingenious inventions with worldwide impact.

Rendered model of building

EMBL Imaging Centre

Cutting-edge electron and light microscopy technologies

We give researchers open access to cutting-edge imaging technologies, integrating methods in light and electron microscopy.

See how EMBL's services adapted during a challenging year.

EMBL trains scientists, students, and visitors at all levels.

composite of image of person in scientific background

EMBL courses and conferences

Learning lessons and looking ahead

The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for those trying to organise scientific courses and conferences.

The EMBL International PhD Programme recognises potential and trains students from EMBL member states and beyond. The programme gives PhD students the best starting platform for a successful career in science.


EMBL engages in technology transfer and industry relations.

people at a paper signing

EMBL and Leica

Leica Microsystems and EMBL have signed a unique long-term framework collaboration agreement to provide new imaging technologies.



Smart crystallography

ALPX has become the latest spinoff company from EMBL Grenoble.

Innovation and translation in numbers

EMBL’s technology transfer arm, EMBLEM, plays a key role in enabling these activities.


EMBL actively engages in technology development and transfer, and industry relations.

EMBL coordinates and integrates European life science research.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted EMBL’s collaborative science, shared research infrastructures, and open data.

EMBL’s administrative and scientific operations teams provide the foundations for the five missions and enhance EMBL’s activities and policies.

See all the statistics in the full report, alongside our staff awards, alumni impact, and more.

See the full report
annual report cover