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Top life scientists to speak at annual European conference – The EMBO Meeting 2009


  • 29 August to 1 September, Amsterdam RAI convention centre
  • More than 120 leading researchers deliver diverse and compelling programme
  • Key themes include chromosome dynamics, signalling pathways in cancer, and stem cells


AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands, 27 August 2009 – The EMBO Meeting 2009, the first annual life science conference organized by the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), opens its doors to scientists from all over the world this weekend in Amsterdam.


In its first year, The EMBO Meeting attracts around 1,500 participants from nearly fifty countries and a faculty including some of the world's most renowned scientists. Highlights include special lectures from Svante Pääbo on Neandertal genomics; Kenneth Holmes on fifty years of protein structure; Harald zur Hausen on infections and human cancers and Fotis Kafatos on the European Research Council. Expanding horizons beyond the life sciences will be cosmologist and astronomer royal Martin Rees speaking about the effects of the 'Big Bang' on the biosphere.


Hans Clevers and Stephen West put together the diverse scientific programme for The EMBO Meeting 2009 that delivers keynote speeches and plenary lectures focusing on three topics: chromosome dynamics, signalling pathways in cancer, and stem cells. Twenty-one workshops extend these themes plus discuss current topics that span the life sciences disciplines and reflect the wide-ranging interests of the molecular biology community. Participants will view and discuss more than 500 posters of the latest research findings presented primarily by students and young postdoctoral researchers.


Press conference

The official press conference for The EMBO Meeting takes place on Sunday 30 August from 13:30 – 15:00 CET (Room M), featuring the following presentations:

  • Pascale Cossart, Institut Pasteur, Paris discusses the "unpredicted storm" of societal, environmental and historical factors that make us now, more than ever, susceptible to infections. Referencing her own research into the Listeria pathogen and the current H1N1 influenza pandemic, Dr Cossart argues that there is no time for complacency in the fight against infectious diseases.
  • Kenneth Holmes, Max Planck Institute, Heidelberg in the opening Special Lecture of The EMBO Meeting celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of one of the most significant breakthroughs in the history of molecular biology: the elucidation of the three dimensional structure of a protein (myoglobin) at atomic resolution. The structures of myoglobin and haemoglobin as elaborated by John Kendrew and Max Perutz are the first paradigm for gaining insights into functional mechanisms of proteins by interpreting their high resolution structures. Professor Holmes revisits this exciting development and the many breakthroughs that have followed.
  • Axel Ullrich, Max Planck Institute, Martinsried, is a world-leading translational life scientist in genomics-based molecular medicine. For over 30 years, he has successfully transferred discoveries from basic research to medical applications. He is one of the ten most cited scientists in the world. Professor Ullrich will discuss the genetic basis of cancer eluding to the human proto-oncogene / oncogene relationship and his experimental strategies that led to the first oncogene-targeted therapeutic agent, herceptin, for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Subsequent target-driven drug developments led by Professor Ullrich brought the discovery of a prototypical example for the adaptation of cancer therapeutics from highly specific to multi-targeted drugs. In 2006 the FDA and subsequently the European Medicines Agency approved (SU11248) SUTENT/Sunitinib for the treatment of Gleevec-resistant gastro-intestinal stromal tumours and Renal Cell Carcinoma (Pfizer). His current research aims to elucidate the mechanistic relevance of the Sunitinib target profile to aid in predicting patient response to this multi-specific cancer therapeutic.


Speakers are available for interview on request


Stem cell roundtable exclusively for science journalists and writers
Stem Cells: The next 20 years; natural versus induced pluripotency

A number of the world's leading stem cell researchers will participate in a roundtable discussion of stem cell research on Tuesday 1 September from 13:30 – 15:00 CET (on-site press room). The session will examine current leading-edge theory and research in the field of stem cells, and look ahead to what we might expect from the coming decades. Speakers include Hans Clevers, Rudolf Jaenisch, Austin Smith and Fiona Watt. All speakers are available for interview on request. The roundtable is available by conference call for journalists off site.


Conference call dial-in details:

  • Austria:    +43 (0)268 2205 6293
  • Belgium:    +32 (0)2 290 14 11
  • Czech Republic:    +420 (2)3900 0636
  • Denmark:    +45 3271 4611
  • Finland:    +358 (0)9 2313 9202
  • France:    +33 (0)1 70 99 32 12
  • Germany:    +49 (0)695 8999 0509
  • Hungary:    +36 (0)618 8932 17
  • Ireland:    +353 (0)1 4364 108
  • Italy:    +39 023 0350 9005
  • Luxembourg:    +352 2700 0734 18
  • Netherlands:    +31 (0)20 7965 012
  • Norway:    +47 (0)2 156 31 22
  • Spain:    +34 917 889 897
  • Sweden:    +46 (0)8 5052 0114
  • Switzerland (Geneva):    +41 (0)2 2592 7011
  • Switzerland (Zürich):    +41 (0)434 5692 63
  • UK:        +44 (0)207 1620 177


Notes to Editors

The EMBO Meeting follows on from former European Life Scientist Organization (ELSO) meetings to provide an annual life sciences forum in Europe for scientific exchange.

The EMBO Meeting attracts a diverse spread of life scientists from all parts of the world and in all stages of their careers. For many participants, the key attraction is the chance to learn about the latest research findings in the life sciences, both within and beyond their fields of interest.

In 2009, the Science & Society session focuses on the global challenge of food sustainability and plant science. The Women in Science session discusses gender differences in communication and self-presentation. The EMBO Meeting also provides practical advice and career development for scientists.

As part of its remit to promote excellence in the life sciences, EMBO annually awards the EMBO Gold Medal in recognition of outstanding contributions by young researchers in the molecular life sciences. EMBO is delighted to announce that Olivier Voinnet from the CNRS Institute of Plant Molecular Biology in Strasbourg will be awarded the 2009 Gold Medal in a special ceremony on Sunday 30 August from 18:15 – 19:45 CET (Auditorium).

The EMBO Meeting 2010 will take place in Barcelona.

For further information, please visit the EMBO websites:



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Tilmann KießlingTilmann Kießling
Head, Communications
T. + 49 160 9019 3839