After the ceremony to mark the opening of the new site extension, the EBI hosted an on-campus symposium for all EMBL alumni and EBI staff. The event attracted 116 participants and was a great opportunity to meet friends and enjoy an excellent programme of talks by the EBI's directors, scientific staff and alumni.
EBI Associate Director Graham Cameron illustrated the bioinformatics contribution made by the EBI over the last 25 years with material from his personal archive of photographs and journal extracts. His humorous account chronicled the scientific and structural development and achievements of the EBI, referring to key personalities and the political and scientific hurdles they faced.
EBI Director Janet Thornton complemented this with an account of the EBI's mission, services and goals, inviting alumni not only to use these resources, but also to raise awareness among their national funding bodies that their support will be essential in building a stable bioinformatics infrastructure for Europe - a point strongly endorsed by EMBL's DG Iain Mattaj.
EBI faculty Ewan Birney and Nicolas Le Novère presented their research areas together with former EBI staff Chris Sander, Des Higgins, Anton Enright, Liisa Holm and Tom Flores, all of which reflected the cutting-edge science carried out at the EBI and continued by its alumni.
Alumni Association chair Angus Lamond outlined the role of the Association in supporting EMBL alumni and staff through its careers services, awards and local chapters, amongst other things. In particular, he referred to its most recent initiative, a wikiformat online career development resource. This will be available to EMBL staff and alumni by the second half of 2008, and will offer a major new resource for career development in Europe. He also invited all alumni to consider nominating themselves or others to stand for the Board elections in September 2008. In particular, he encouraged nominations from female candidates and alumni from the EMBL outstations, to maintain a representative balance of gender and EMBL units on the Board.
The event was concluded with a discussion, chaired by the UK Local Chapter head Annalisa Pastore (Group Leader, National Institute of Medical Research, London), during which Janet and Graham invited EMBL's alumni to use the EBI for regular meetings in conjunction with EBI conferences and usertraining courses in the future. This was welcomed by all participants.
The Alumni Association would like to thank the EBI for hosting this special event, all attendees for their participation and Cath Brooksbank and her team for making it such a success!