ESF | EMBO Symposia
EMBO and the European Science Foundation (ESF) co-fund ESF | EMBO Symposia, which bring together participants and experts from the life sciences and other scientific disciplines to discuss topics that are of major importance to the scientific community in Europe.
Annual application deadline: September 15 for symposia taking place at least 18 months later.
The topics should be at the forefront of scientific research and should be interdisciplinary. ESF | EMBO Symposia concentrate on topics that are at the interface between life sciences (ensuring that 'molecular aspects' are covered) and other related science disciplines, such as: molecular biology, chemistry, physics, computer sciences, mathematical modelling, space science, clinical medicine, engineering, environmental science, humanities and social sciences.
Venue and Dates
ESF | EMBO Symposia take place in Pułtusk near Warsaw, Poland. The symposia may be held between March and December, but the summer months of July and August are not recommended. The typical duration of a symposium is five nights, including four full conference days. Participants will normally arrive on a Saturday afternoon, and depart on Thursday after breakfast. When submitting a proposal for a symposium, the desired dates should be indicated.
The Chair (or the Co-chairs) will be responsible for developing the scientific programme for the symposium, and a small organizing committee may assist them.
The Chair and the organizing committee only have to undertake the scientific aspects of the symposium organization. This includes any decisions on financial support for invited speakers and other participants. However, it is recommended that the Chair seeks additional sponsorship from other sources, and they should advise ESF which organization(s) they intend to approach. All other organizational tasks and logistics will be the responsibility of the ESF Conferences Unit, working in close co-operation with EMBO. An ESF Conference Officer will be assigned to each symposium. His/her tasks will include all the administrative arrangements at the venues, publicizing the symposium, financial and budgetary matters, the processing of applications, communicating with participants and speakers, making payments and collecting fees.
The ESF Conferences Unit will also finalize all on-site administrative arrangements. A conference officer will be present for the duration of the symposium to take care of registration, travel payments and to oversee the local administrative organization. Owing to the size of the events, Chairs are encouraged to provide an assistant or young researcher to help at the registration desk, and to be responsible for the organization of the poster sessions and/or other on-site scientific aspects.
The symposia feature lectures by invited leading scientists followed by time for extensive discussion. An informal exchange of ideas, both inside and outside the lecture room is encouraged, and the number of sessions in the daily timetable is limited in order to facilitate this. In addition to the 5 – 6 hours per day of lecture room activities, poster sessions, round-table discussions or discussion groups are organized. One afternoon is usually kept free of lectures in order to allow time for leisure activities, or the lunch periods can be extended.
One evening should be reserved for a 'Forward Look Plenary Discussion' about future developments in the field. The format of this discussion can be provided by ESF.
In order to encourage speakers to present their latest results and ideas, which may not yet be fully explored and ready for publication, no written papers are requested. The publication of selected papers may be prepared as proceedings and approved by the Chair after the symposium. This is subject to the agreement of the speakers concerned.
Participants will eat all their meals together to encourage further contact and networking. In order to gain optimum benefit from the symposium, both speakers and participants are expected to stay for the whole duration of the symposium.
When selecting speakers and participants, organizers are requested to ensure a wide geographical representation with a recommended ratio of about two-thirds European participation to one-third non-European. ESF | EMBO Symposia usually have between 80 to 150 participants. Special attention should also be paid to the involvement of younger applicants and those from developing countries, and over-representation of scientists from the host country should be avoided. Moreover, the gender balance should be taken into consideration.
Scientists working for private industry should be judged on an equal footing with those from universities. If scientists working for industry are invited as speakers, the additional fee will not be levied.
Poster sessions are a very important feature of ESF|EMBO Symposia. Ideally, the venue for the poster session would be located close to the main meeting room and will be large and bright enough to host such an event. Moreover, a social event may be incorporated into the symposium. The following factors should also be considered:
- each participant should give a one-slide presentation about the contents of his/her poster contribution at the beginning of the scheduled poster discussion sessions;
- sufficient time should be allowed for posters to be viewed, ideally throughout the entire meeting.
The maximum funding available for an ESF | EMBO Symposium is €30,000. The grant available from ESF and EMBO will normally be used to meet the expenses of the invited speakers and selected young scientists. Experience shows that it is often possible for speakers to obtain some of their travel costs from other sources, if the sponsor offers partial support. It is expected that participants (other than the speakers) will pay for their travel, accommodation, subsistence and a modest registration fee.
Management of the grant
The ESF Conferences Unit, in close consultation with EMBO and the Chair, will manage the grant. ESF will be responsible for all payments.
- may be charged between €200 – 300 per participant (excluding accommodation);
- may be charged up to €500 for participants from industry (excluding accommodation);
- must be all inclusive (full board & lodging, meeting facilities for the duration of the meeting, a social programme, and group bus transfers);
- should be paid directly to ESF (an online fee payment facility will be available);
- Editorial staff of scientific journals may attend the symposium without paying the higher fee, provided that the organizer(s) agree to their participation, and they guarantee to publish a report of the symposium in their journal (subject to the prior agreement of the Chair).
It is a condition of funding that the Chair submits a scientific report after the symposium in the following format:
- An introduction (up to two pages) on the topic in non-specialist terms.
- Scientific content of the symposium:
- a summary of the sessions focusing on the scientific highlights;
- an assessment of the results and their potential impact on future research or applications.
- 'Forward Look Plenary Discussion':
- State-of-the-art in the field;
- Emerging topics;
- Visions for the future of the research field – identification of issues expected to be of relevance in the 5 – 10 years time;
- Is there a need for a foresight-type initiative?
- The reaction of the participants to the location and the organization, including networking, and any other relevant comments.
The reports should be sent to ESF no later than six weeks after the end of the symposium. The reports will be forwarded to the appropriate ESF Standing Committees and Expert Committees for information and consideration in their science policy discussions and to the EMBO Courses & Workshops office. The introduction may be posted on a 'Conference Highlights' page within the ESF Conferences website (subject to the explicit authorization of the author).
Advertising & co-funding
The symposia must be entitled "ESF | EMBO Symposium". All materials must include the EMBO logo and ESF logo prominently (co-sponsorship may be acknowledged). ESF and EMBO do not usually favour co-sponsorship that requires proceedings to be published. There should be no confidential information disclosed. Eventual IPR or copyright are the property of all participants contributing financially or intellectually to the Symposium.
ESF and EMBO will be responsible for the publicity of each symposium, and for disseminating information to potential applicants. ESF and EMBO will publicize the symposia on the EMBO poster, EMBO and ESF website, social media channels and through selected mailing lists, partner organizations and other print and online media.
In addition, it is very important that Chairs provide a comprehensive emailing list for poster circulation.
As soon as it is agreed to go ahead with the symposium, Chairs will be expected to email the ESF Conferences Unit with the following documents in order to advertise the event:
- the preliminary scientific programme, including a paragraph about the scope of the symposium, the list of topics to be covered, the list of confirmed invited speakers with their affiliations and the titles of their lecturesthe full address and email list of the invited speakers;
- a comprehensive, geographically-balanced email list of all potentially interested scientists;
- a list of scientific journals or reviews and their websites for publicity and free inserts in calendars of events.
15 September for symposia taking place at least 18 months later.
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