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The Ravello Meeting


The Ravello meeting took place in September 1963 and was critical in the development of what was to become EMBO. Meetings had taken place on 28 March and 28 June in Geneva, hosted by Victor Weisskopf who invited the great and the good from several European countries, working from a list drawn up by John Kendrew.


All participants agreed on the problems that were inhibiting the development of molecular biology in Europe: that young, ambitious scientists left for the United States to further their careers; that disciplines such as zoology and botany were rigidly separated in University departments; that there was no European integration of research; and that it was harder, for entirely bureaucratic reasons, for a European biologist to make a career move from one European country to another than for the same person to go to the United States.


In a paper prepared by Conrad Hal Waddington, it was suggested that the purpose of the organization would be ‘to build up the resources (equipment, jobs) of a number of selected labs in the various nations of Europe, and to make communication between them really easy.’ (1)  He also proposed the election of 100–150 Fellows, who would be funded to make short visits to one another, as well as postdoctoral posts and courses.


Few personal recollections are still available of the Ravello meeting itself. Held on 16 and 17 September, it was added on to the end of a ten-day international summer school on molecular biology.


(1)  Waddington C.R., unpublished paper, Bodleian Library MS. Eng. c. 2418, NCUACS F.3.


Georgina Ferry Source: EMBO in perspective: A half century in the life sciences.