Science by the Seafront: researchers from around the world connected at the annual EMBL Partnership Conference “Perspectives in Translational Medicine”.

Hosted by EMBL Barcelona, located at the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park, the 3rd annual EMBL Partnership Conference took place from 25-27 September in Barcelona, Spain.

Photo: Christine Panagiotidis

The conference had attendees from both local and remote EMBL partnerships including EMBL Rome, EMBL Australia, BRAINCITY, Hubrecht Institute and from across the four Nordic nodes. There were visitors from DANDRITE (Danish Institute for Translational Neuroscience), MIMS (the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden), NCMM (the Centre for Molecular Medicine Norway), FIMM (Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland) and the EMBL in Heidelberg. This year’s conference took place at the unconventional and architectural impressive Barcelona Biomedical Research Park PRBB building located adjacent to Hospital del Mar and by the promenade in Barcelona – a vibrant and energetic environment creating a great conference setting.

The purpose with the annual partnership conferences was to support interaction and networking between researchers at all levels, to encourage knowledge-exchange, initiate scientific collaborations across organizations and research areas, but also to learn more within the topics of “translational neuroscience”, “host-pathogen interaction and immunity”, “model systems and disease modelling”, “genome organization” and “networks and computer modelling”.

The conference programme included keynote lectures, partnership updates, flash talks and poster presentations focusing on the field of molecular medicine. Edith Heard, the Director General of EMBL opened the conference following updates by the EMBL Partnership institutes. Poul Nissen, Director and speaker of the Nordic EMBL Partnership, along with the directors of each Nordic EMBL Partner, Oliver Billker (MIMS), Janna Saarela (NCMM) and Mark Daly (FIMM), gave an update of all four nodes. Around 70 intriguing scientific posters were presented by researchers making room for plenty of scientific discussions, collaborative initiatives and interaction.

Keynote lectures and presentations

To highlight a few of the inspiring keynote lectures and presentations, Edith Heard (Director General EMBL Heidelberg), talked about exploring the dynamic relationship between gene expression and chromosome organisation during X-chromosome inactivation. Oliver Billker (Director of MIMS) presented his lecture “Functional profiling of a Plasmodium genome” – Plasmodium parasites that are the causative agents of malaria and the requirement for in-depth understanding of the malaria parasite biology for potential new drug development. Janna Saarela (Director of NCMM) talked about primary immunodeficiency diseases and how to improve the diagnostics of these diseases by Next Generation Sequencing based analysis. Mark Daly (Director of FIMM) gave an exciting presentation about the involvement of human genetics and variation in the human genome in psychiatric disorders. Lastly, Keisuke Yonehara, Group Leader at DANDRITE, presented his talk “Visual motion processing in mice: circuits and disease”, which was about visual motion detection and processing and how knowledge gained from studies in mice can provide insight into the development of new genetic therapy for impaired retinal motion sensitive circuits.

A huge thanks to the scientific organizers from the EMBL partnerships and the conference organizing-team from EMBL Heidelberg, Barcelona and the Centre for Genomic Regulation for arranging such an interesting and exciting programme. Also, a huge thank you to all of this year’s speakers and poster presenters for sharing their research. We are already looking forward to the next meeting in Umeå in 2020.