Programmes and activities
Promoting excellence in the life sciences
EMBO Programmes and activities are about research on the mechanisms of life at all levels, from single molecules to organisms and ecosystems. To be able to group and retrieve information from a particular area, we apply a system of 20 broad and non-exclusive categories to our projects, communities, and events. Brief descriptions and lists of keyword terms define the scope of these subject areas.
This area includes the study of cell growth and division processes in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes. A prominent topic would be the aberrant control of the cell division and growth cycle in cancer.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: asymmetric cell division / bacterial cell division / CDK / cell cycle checkpoint / cell division / centriole / centromere / checkpoint / chromosome cycle / cohesin / cyclin / haploid / kinetochore / meiosis / mitosis / spindle
This area encompasses the study of cell polarity and shape, especially in the context of tissues and organs. EMBO Members with an interest in this area will often be investigating the interplay of structures such as the cytoskeleton or the extracellular matrix, in relation to cell adhesion and migration. More specific subtopics include invasive growth; axon pathfinding; neurite outgrowth; morphogenetic aspects of angiogenesis or organogenesis.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: actin dynamics / angiogenesis / axonal transport / cell adhesion / cell morphogenesis / cytoskeleton / epithelial stem cell / epithelial-mesenchymal transition / extracellular matrix / integrin / mechanobiology / microtubule / motility / organoid / polarity / symmetry / tissue engineering / tissue regeneration / tumor microenvironment / vascular system / wound healing
This subject area includes the molecular analysis of primary and secondary metabolic processes, energy conversion and biosynthetic pathways. Photosynthesis and other electron transport phenomena across cellular and organellar membranes are important topics in this line of research, as is the study of the specialized compartments in which they occur.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: adipocyte / anaerobic / autophagy / bioenergetics / carbohydrate / carbon fixation / cell engineering / cell respiration / chronobiology / homeostasis / lipid / metabolic disease / metabolic engineering / metabolic network / metabolomics / nitrification/denitrification / nutrient / obesity / physiology / reactive oxygen species / redox / stress
Transcription and other processes acting on the genome are usually viewed in the context of DNA-associated architectural and regulatory proteins and elements, and their respective modifications. Epigenetic mechanisms exert regional or global control of phenomena like heterochromatin formation, chromosome inactivation, dosage compensation, allelic imprinting, silencing, and chromatin effects on DNA recombination.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: chromatin dynamics / chromatin structure & nuclear organization / chromosome structure / CpG islands / DNA methylation / enhancer / epigenetic inheritance / epigenetics / epitranscriptomics / expression profiling / heterochromatin / histone modification / nuclear organisation / Polycomb / remodelling / silencing / transcription factor / transcriptome
This broad area of research aims to understand the molecular processes leading to the development of tissues, organs and organisms. Topics also include germ line cells, fertility, reproduction and sex determination, as well as somatic stem cells, cellular differentiation and senescence, if studied in a developmental context.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: adult stem cell / ageing / axis / cell fate / developmental plasticity / embryogenesis / embryonic stem cell / evolution of development / fertilisation / germline / growth control / iPS cells / maternal inheritance / morphogenesis / neur(on)al development / nodal / oocyte / organogenesis / organoid / pattern formation / pluripotency / regeneration / reproduction / self-renewal / sex differentiation / stem cell / symmetry / totipotency / zygote
Molecular differentiation processes lead to the formation and maturation of distinct specialized cell types. The balance of differentiation and de-differentiation, survival and death, self-renewal and senescence of cells, and stem cells are common topics studied in this subject area.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: adult stem cell / ageing / apoptosis / cancer stem cell / cell fate / cell morphogenesis / embryonic stem cell / epithelial-mesenchymal transition / growth control / hypoxia / iPS cells / lifespan / lineage / mesenchymal / necrosis / neural stem cell / organoid / pluripotency / reprogramming / self-renewal / senescence / stem cell / tissue regeneration / totipotency
This area encompasses the molecular study of evolution; environmentally or ecologically oriented subdisciplines of population biology, evolutionary biology, genomics or systems biology; behavioral ecology; ecological genomics and evolutionary ecology; environmental microbiology & metagenomics; population genetics & genomics; experimental & computational evolution.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: abiotic stress / adaptation / agriculture / barcoding / biodiversity / biofilm / biogeochemistry / carbon fixation / climate change / co-evolution / endosymbiosis / environmental microbiology / experimental evolution / field ecology / fitness / genome variability & evolution / host-pathogen interaction / human genetics & evolution / marine / metagenomics / microbial ecology / microbial evolution / microbiome / microbiota / multicellularity / nitrification/denitrification / origin of life / phylogeny / plankton / population genetics / self-incompatibility / sex / social behaviour / speciation / symbiosis
This broad area includes all processes contributing to the replication, recombination and repair of genomes, as well as to their faithful segregation. Typical other aspects studied are mobile genetic elements, lateral transmission, genome editing, restriction/modification systems, genomic and chromosomal rearrangements, and the structure and function of telomeres.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: aneuploidy / chromosome cycle / chromosome structure / CRISPR-Cas / DNA damage / DNA polymerase / DNA recombination / DNA repair / gene targeting & editing / genetic engineering / genome (in)stability / homologous recombination / mismatch / mitochondrial DNA / mutation / non-homologous end joining / nuclease / polyploidy / recombination / retrotransposon / segregation / somatic mutation / telomere / transgenic / translesion DNA synthesis / tumour genetics & evolution / X chromosome
This subject area encompasses the large-scale analysis of genomes; bioinformatics analyses of genome, gene, or gene product structure and evolution; structural modelling and simulations; and artificial-intelligence approaches to computational biology.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: bioinformatics / cancer genetics & genomics / complex traits / computational biology / database / diversity / dosage compensation / epigenomics / expression profiling / functional genomics / genetic code / genetics / genome (in)stability / genome variability & evolution / genomics / human genetics & evolution / machine learning / mathematics & modelling / metagenomics / mitochondrial genome / modelling & simulation / population genetics / proteomics / screening / sequence analysis / simulation & modelling / single-cell genomics / software / theoretical biology / transcriptome
Research in this subject area focuses on the mechanisms underlying innate and adaptive, cellular and humoral, immune defenses, as well as the regulation of these defenses at the molecular, cellular and organismic level. Plant pathogen responses are currently not included in this category.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: adaptive immunity / allergy / antibody / antigen processing & presentation / autoimmunity / B lymphocyte / cancer immunology / complement / immune evasion / immune tolerance / immunogenetics / immunological memory / immunological synapse / immunotherapy / inflammasome / innate immunity / lymphocyte development & differentiation / macrophage / major histocompatibility complex (MHC) / mRNA vaccine / mucosal immunity / neutrophil / pattern recognition receptor / systems immunology / T lymphocyte / tumour immunology / vaccine / virus & immunity
This broad subject area covers many classical “cell biology” themes: the structure and function of cellular membranes and compartments; membrane composition and function, including membrane lipid signalling; trafficking and transport of macromolecules, metabolites or ions across membranes, into and out of cellular organelles and compartments; active transport of membranous vesicles, particles, and macromolecules; exo- and endocytic processes; protein and vesicle sorting; molecular motors and pumps; channels and pores.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: autophagy / axonal transport / channel / endocytosis / endoplasmic reticulum (ER) / endosome / endosymbiosis / exocytosis / exosome / fusion / Golgi / lipid biosynthesis & transport / membrane curvature & tension / membrane dynamics / membrane organisation / membrane traffic / mitochondrion / motor protein / nuclear envelope & pore / nuclear transport / phagocytosis / protein sorting & targeting / RNA localization & transport / secretion / sorting / synaptic vesicle / transporter / vesicle
This broad category includes research on the molecular biology of viruses, bacteria, archaea, protozoa, fungi and pathogenic microorganisms.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: antibiotic resistance / antimicrobial / antiviral / archaea / bacterial cell envelope / bacterial communication / bacterial pathogen / coronavirus / HIV / host-pathogen interaction / infectious disease / influenza virus / malaria / microbial ecology / microbial evolution / microbial genetics / mycobacteria / parasite / pathogenesis / plant defence & resistance / plant pathogen / Plasmodium / protozoa / Salmonella / trypanosome / virulence / virus & host cell / virus & immunity / virus assembly & structure
Researchers in this subject area study the molecular mechanisms and genetic factors underlying human disease and cancer, frequently in the context of cell culture or animal models. Other work aims at the development of vectors, vaccines, molecular diagnostics and therapeutics.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: animal model / autism / autoimmunity / cancer therapy / clinical & preclinical testing / dementia / diagnostics / disease genetics / disease model / drug (target) discovery / drug resistance / epidemiology / gene therapy / human genetic disease / immunotherapy / leukaemia / metabolic disease / metastasis / neuronal disease / oncogene / personalized medicine / pharmacology & pharmaceutics / physiology / regenerative medicine / therapy / tumour formation & progression / tumour genetics & evolution / vaccine / vascular system / wound healing
Neuroscientists study molecular aspects of differentiation, (patho)physiology and (dys)function of the nervous system.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: Alzheimer’s disease / autism / axon guidance / behaviour / brain / cerebral cortex / cognition / computational neuroscience / decision-making / dementia / dendrite / epilepsy / forebrain / glia / hippocampus / learning & memory / neur(on)al development / neural stem cell / neurodegeneration / neuronal circuit / neuronal differentiation & survival / neuronal disease / neuronal plasticity / neurotransmitter / optogenetics / Parkinson’s disease / schizophrenia / sleep / synaptic plasticity / systems neuroscience / theoretical neuroscience / visual system
While it may be taxonomically difficult to define what a plant is, the EMBO subject area “Plant Biology” largely covers the molecular investigation of the genetics, structure, growth, reproduction, metabolism, development and diseases of photoautotrophic organisms.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: agriculture / Agrobacterium / alga / Arabidopsis / carbon fixation / chloroplast / crops / flower / land plant evolution / meristem / photosynthesis / plant biotechnology / plant breeding / plant defence & resistance / plant development / plant hormones / plant metabolism & physiology / plant-microbe interaction / root / seed
Starting with protein biosynthesis through translation, this subject area also includes subsequent post-translational modifications, protein folding, complex and filament assembly; proteolytic processing, maturation and degradation; protein aggregation and amyloid formation; and the biochemistry and enzymology of biological macromolecules.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: actin dynamics / aggregation / biochemistry / chaperone / enzyme mechanism / ERAD / glycobiology / GTP-binding protein / heat shock / histone modification / lipidomics / macromolecular machine / phase separation / phosphorylation / post-translational / protein biosynthesis / protein degradation / protein modification / protein-protein interaction / proteomics / ribosome / self-organization / supramolecular complex / translation / tRNA / ubiquitination / unfolded protein response (UPR)
Research in this subject area focuses on the post-transcriptional maturation, modification, folding, cleavage, splicing, polyadenylation, degradation and stability, localization and transport of RNA.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: alternative splicing / CRISPR-Cas / editing / intron / long non-coding RNA / microRNA / mRNA / nonsense-mediated mRNA decay / piRNA / polyadenylation / post-transcriptional / RNA binding proteins / RNA localization & transport / RNA modification / RNA processing / RNA splicing / RNA structure, folding, catalysis / RNA virus / RNP / silencing / siRNA / small non-coding RNA / snRNA / snRNP / splicing / tRNA
Signal transduction research explores the mechanisms involved in sending, receiving and integrating biological signals, as well as the effects of these signals on growth, replication, differentiation, stress responses; on circadian and other rhythms; and on neuronal and synaptic functions.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: bacterial communication / calcium signalling / circadian rhythm / cross-talk / cytokine / growth factor / GTP-binding protein / Hedgehog / Hippo / hormone / JNK / MAP kinase / mechanical sensing / neurotransmitter / Notch / phosphoinositide / PI3K / receptor / second messenger / TOR / Wnt
Researchers with an interest in this subject area study multi-dimensional structures and dynamics of biological macromolecules. They often apply biophysical approaches; high-resolution microscopy; crystallography; or NMR or other spectroscopic techniques.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: active matter / advanced light microscopy / Bayesian statistics / biophysics / chemical biology / cryo-electron microscopy / crystallography / electron microscopy / electron tomography / fluid dynamics / force / in-situ structural biology / live imaging / mass spectrometry / mechanobiology / microfluidics / NMR / optogenetics / physics / protein engineering / protein structure / modelling / single-cell methods / single-molecule techniques / soft matter physics / statistical physics / super-resolution microscopy / tools & technology / X-ray crystallography
Studies in this subject area analyse or predict properties and behaviours of complex biological systems in terms of their molecular components and their interactions.
TYPICAL KEYWORD TERMS: active matter / computational neuroscience / engineering / epigenomics / experimental evolution / expression profiling / mathematics & modelling / metabolomics / metagenomics / modelling & simulation / network / noise / peptidomics / proteomics / reconstitution / regulatory networks / self-organization / synthetic biology / systems immunology / systems medicine / systems neuroscience / theoretical biology / theoretical neuroscience / transcriptome