Heidelberg, 26 August 2015 Super impressions From tips for using tricky fluorophores to an understanding of how long a project can take, there was something for everyone at the EMBL Advanced Course Super-Resolution Microscopy last month. Now in its second edition, the course is jointly organised by the EMBL Advanced Light Microscopy Core Facility and corporate partner Leica Microsystems. Over six days, course participants covered theory and practical applications, gaining hands-on experience with the latest commercially available super-resolution microscopes, alongside in-depth tuition and talks from more than a dozen renowned guest researchers and experts from EMBL and Leica Microsystems. Towards the end of their busy week, we asked a few of the participants for their impressions.
Monterotondo, 24 August 2015 Cellular synergy Combining synergies, science and shared visions, experts from EMBL Monterotondo and the Institute for Molecular Oncology (IFOM) came together for their first joint symposium, 29–30 June in Milan. Focussing on cell biology mechanisms in health and disease, the two-day conference included an extensive programme of presentations, networking and exchange. We caught up with alumnus Thomas Vaccari, now a principal investigator at IFOM, who was a speaker at the event.
Heidelberg, 24 August 2015 Decoding disease “Everything started with a dream,” says Alejandro Tocigl, an entrepreneur from Chile and CEO of Miroculus, a start-up company aiming to ‘democratise’ molecular diagnostics with a tool that could enable patients to be checked for diseases in a simple, affordable way, using just a millilitre of blood. Miroculus’ chief scientific officer is EMBL alumna Fay Christodoulou, an expert on microRNAs, which form the basis of the company’s technology. She first met Tocigl and the rest of Miroculus’ founding team during a graduate studies programme at Singularity University, a California Benefit Corporation located at NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley, which offers activities that encourage the use of technology for change.
Heidelberg, 24 August 2015 An ocean odyssey By Andres Peyrot October 2011. I’m on night duty aboard the 36-metre schooner Tara as it glides across the Pacific Ocean, a black mirror that reflects the star-riddled sky above and hides everything that lies beneath its surface. For the next six weeks, I am here to observe the life and times of this unique research vessel as it explores some of the most mysterious parts of our planet. Tomorrow seems a long time away, but two things keep me awake: the smell of salt hanging in the air and a line from a song – "The ocean is a desert with its life underground and a perfect disguise above…"
Heidelberg, 20 August 2015 Life in 3D A study led at EMBL by Judith Zaugg, in collaboration with a team at Stanford University, has shed new light on how variations in gene expression are controlled within our DNA. The research, published in Cell, leads to a greater understanding of how certain genetic variants can ‘switch’ on or off genes that can be far on the DNA strand but close in 3D. It could shed a new light on individual’s characteristics and disease predispositions.
Heidelberg, 12 August 2015 Make it personal The deadline is fast approaching for the first EMBL | Stanford Conference: Personalised Health, which will take place in the EMBL Advanced Training Centre in Heidelberg, Germany, from 16 to 19 November 2015. This kick-off event follows the signing of a Life Science Alliance between Stanford University and EMBL, and aims to bring together young researchers and worldwide leaders in the efforts to apply molecular approaches to personalised health.
Hinxton, 10 August 2015 Life is but a DREAM An international study published in Nature Biotechnology presents the combined results of a 2013 DREAM Challenge: a crowdsourcing initiative to test how well the effects of a toxic compound can be predicted in different people. The study, which is relevant to public and occupational health, shows that computational methods can be used to predict some toxic effects on populations, although they are not yet sensitive enough to predict such effects in individuals. It also presents algorithms useful for environmental risk assessment.
Heidelberg, 6 August 2015 Welcome: Theodore Alexandrov New team leader Theodore Alexandrov will draw on everything from cryptography to software development to help biologists and chemists see data in a new light. The Alexandrov Team aims to bridge computer science and biology, by providing tools that reveal where different chemical reactions take place within a cell, tissue or an organism. The team’s two flagship projects are the molecular cartography of the human skin surface, and the molecular annotation of high-resolution imaging mass spectrometry data.