"Your mothers and fathers paid for EMBL – so use it!" This was the message from EMBL DG Iain Mattaj to more than 120 young Swedish scientists on 19 September at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (RSAS).
The event, initiated by RSAS and funded by the Swedish Research Council (SRC) and the Alumni Association, addressed the hot topic of mobility amongst young Scandinavian scientists. It's such an issue in Sweden that over 30% of the participants traveled more than 75km to attend the meeting, appropriately called ‘EMBL – a jump start to an international career in molecular biology'.
The other speakers, Håkan Billig (SRC), Lennart Philipson (RSAS, EMBL), Bernt- Eric Uhlin (the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden, Umeå University) and Carl-Henrik Heldin (RSAS, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research), stressed the importance of research abroad for a jump start to a career back home, referring to their own success in Sweden after research at EMBL (Philipson) or EMBL's node at Umeå University (Uhlin). Dr. Billig went further by pointing out that from the experience of the SRC, Swedes who have researched abroad are more successful in securing national funding back in Sweden.
Finally Carl-Henrik Heldin, former EMBL Scientific Advisory Committee chair, encouraged all the young scientists to "just do it" for the sake of new scientific knowledge, as well as personal adventure!
Former EMBL pre- and postdocs Linda Sandblad, Klas Kullander and Johan Kreuger, together with EMBL predoc Carolina Tängemo – all Swedish – led a panel discussion on the significance of EMBL to their career and personal lives. Most of the discussion focused on the Swedish social security system as a reason for immobility amongst young scientists. In Sweden, parents are entitled to share 14 months paid leave between them, this benefit being lost if they spend more than 12 months abroad. As most Swedes are between 25 and 30 when they start their predoctoral research, raising a family is a major issue which they do not wish to jeopardise through a career abroad.
Linda Sandblad, mother to 4-year old Lea, closed this discussion with a noteworthy consideration. "Doing good research at EMBL is an investment in your future career. This is the best social security you can have for yourself and your child."
EMBL and the Alumni Association would like to thank EMBL alumna Anna Ledin for making this event happen, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for hosting it, the Swedish Research Council for their generous funding, and all alumni for attending and inspiring scientists to come to EMBL.