General, 18 September 2017 40 years of Courses and Conferences EMBL has been training scientists throughout its history. The first recorded practical course was hosted at EMBL before the laboratory buildings in Heidelberg were officially inaugurated – an EMBO Course in Electron microscopy of nucleic acids in 1977. Today, EMBL hosts over 7000 attendees to courses and conferences every year.
Heidelberg, 7 September 2017 Science + X: Explaining the science behind the Matrix movie Separating fact from fiction, EMBL researchers Ina Huppertz and Thomas Schwarzl explored the science behind the Matrix movie at an EMBL Science Movie Night at a Heidelberg cinema in May. Speaking to more than 200 science fiction enthusiasts ahead of a screening of the 1999 classic, their talks covered areas ranging from our perceptions of reality to the blurring of lines between humans and machines. In the first of a series of articles on the impact of extracurricular activities on research, we spoke to Ina and Thomas about their experience.
Hamburg, 1 September 2017 The future is bright as XFEL opens its doors Today, the European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser Facility (European XFEL) celebrated the inauguration of its X-ray laser and officially opened for researchers. At a total length of 3.4 kilometres, the European XFEL is the world’s largest X-ray laser. Its light source produces X-ray flashes up to one billion times brighter than other available X-ray sources, offering unique research opportunities in the life sciences, as well as many other fields.
Heidelberg, 31 August 2017 Funding agreed for imaging centre The German state and federal governments have agreed on funding for a high-resolution microscopy centre at EMBL in Heidelberg. The letter of intent was signed today during an official ceremony at EMBL's Heidelberg campus by representatives of the German government together with industry and foundation partners. The new centre for light and electron microscopy will be a unique service facility for the life sciences and unite cutting-edge equipment, experts and data analysis. It will be open to visiting scientists from all over the world as well as industry partners.
Hinxton, 29 August 2017 Computational models of cancer available Personalised computational models of how our bodies work have the potential to become a powerful tool for understanding, and eventually treating, complex illnesses like cancer. Because each person is biologically unique, computational models personalised using biological data extracted from individuals can help us understand why some people respond to medical treatments in unexpected ways.
Heidelberg, Stanford, 28 August 2017 Bridging excellence: EMBL and Stanford’s Life Science Alliance EMBL Senior Scientist Lars Steinmetz, who directs the Life Science Alliance, reflects on the progress made since the launch of the EMBL and Stanford initiative. “At our inaugural event, participants from EMBL, Stanford, and many other institutes had the opportunity to discuss exciting scientific developments, interact with leading researchers and form new transatlantic collaborations. Indeed, enabling this kind of scientific exchange was one of the main reasons motivating me to initiate the Life Science Alliance – 18 months on and I am glad to see that it has grown.”
Heidelberg, 25 August 2017 Opinion: Archives for Science In a 2007 letter published in Nature, biologists Sydney Brenner and Richard J. Roberts addressed the importance of scientific archives. To their fellow molecular biologists, they implored, “Let’s not wait until memories have faded and papers been discarded at the end of a career before deciding to save our heritage.” The legacy in danger of being lost is not the published record, which is preserved by libraries, but the unique material that complements it: laboratory notebooks, email exchanges and prototype instruments, to name a few. By telling the stories behind the science, the archival record reveals a glimpse into the past and, in turn, evidence of how science is carried out.
Heidelberg, 11 August 2017 Welcome: Justin Crocker EMBL Heidelberg’s new group leader Justin Crocker and his group are trying to understand how the cells in a developing embryo are directed towards particular fates – in other words, how a cell that can initially become any kind of cell in the body is programmed to become a specific type. “Our goal is to reach a point where we can program and control developmental fates in a whole organism. What motivates my work is a desire to understand how this information is encoded and how the process of development plays out so precisely every time,” explains Justin.
Hinxton, 9 August 2017 Welcome: Evangelia Petsalaki Cells communicate using chemical ‘signals’ between proteins or other molecules. This molecular conversation allows cells to do their job, whether it’s growth, repair or defence. Errors in cell signalling are responsible for a range of diseases, including cancer, autoimmunity and diabetes. The Evangelia Petsalaki group at EMBL-EBI is creating models of signalling in cells to probe the way they communicate with each other. Their aim is to make both predictive and conditional models, so they can anticipate what might happen in a biological network under different conditions.
Hinxton, 1 August 2017 Welcome: Zamin Iqbal The Iqbal group works on a range of problems related to genetic variation in microbes. One core project involves analysing 100,000 tuberculosis (TB) genomes as part of a consortium seeking to find the genetic underpinnings of drug resistance. The results feed directly into the group’s work on TB diagnostics: they recently demonstrated that one could go from a patient’s sputum to a full diagnostic test for TB including drug resistance prediction, in just 12.5 hours.