The second Dilofo meeting of EMBL alumni living and working in Greece took place from Saturday 31st May – Sunday 1st June 2008. Twelve alumni and members of their families (26 people altogether) plus thirteen graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from the groups of several alumni enjoyed a sunny weekend whilst discussing science and life in Greece.
Presentations were given on Saturday in the Cultural Center of the picturesque village of Aspraggeloi. Attendees, who had not been present in the last meeting, gave short presentations of their current scientific work, summarising their professional and personal lives since leaving EMBL. Presentations were also given by alumni who are either EMBO members (S. Georgatos) or EMBO Young Investigator awardees (Z. Lygerou and S. Christophoridis) on projects closest to their heart. A very lively and interactive scientific discussion followed all presentations. The following issues were raised during the three-hour round table discussion:
1. All participants expressed their deep concern over the complete lack of research funding from national sources in the last four years, which has severely affected the participants' strategic planning and the implementation of their research projects. Participants discussed ways to communicate their concern to the Greek authorities in an organised way rather than as a single entity.
2. Many participants thought that it would be a good idea to establish a scientific society with EMBL alumni as the founding members but open to all scientists involved in biology research (in the broad sense). It was agreed that this possibility would be explored by some members, in particular the practical aspects of such a task.
3. It was discussed and agreed that an effort would be made to set up a forum which would provide the opportunity to communicate directly with all other alumni regarding the exchange of reagents, ideas, protocols or expertise on technical and other matters. The alumni Wiki could perhaps be the platform for such a communication.
4. The discussion also concentrated on career development; repatriation problems after leaving EMBL; dealing with Greek bureaucracy; and retaining links to the Laboratory and its services.
On Sunday alumni visited the Vikos National Park where they enjoyed a spectacular view of the Vikos Gorge on the Voidomatis River - one of the deepest gorges with walls of up to one km in height and 12 km in length.
The next local chapter meeting in Greece will take place in Dilofo in May or June 2009. As one of the goals is to inspire young scientists, it was agreed that more graduate students and postdocs would be encouraged to attend this meeting.
By Anastasia Politou