29 January 2020 – On 7-11 December 2019, the annual ASCB|EMBO Meeting took place in Washington DC, USA. It was the third such conference since EMBO partnered with ASCB for their first joint meeting in 2017. The meeting brings together life scientists from around the world, as well as others working in fields such as scientific publishing, policy and training.
With an attendance of over 5,500 participants, including more than 4,500 scientists, the meeting allowed researchers to interact and share their work with the global life science community. During the opening EMBO Director Maria Leptin (pictured) spoke about the importance of international scientific exchange. Many EMBO Members and Young Investigators attended, including ten who spoke in sessions on topics ranging from the integration of modelling and experimentation in cell biology to individual and collective cell migration. This year’s EMBO Gold Medal recipients, Paola Picotti of ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and M. Madan Babu of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK, were among the speakers. They each gave lectures on their work and received their awards in a dedicated EMBO Gold Medal ceremony.
Discussing policy and publishing
The ASCB|EMBO Meeting not only serves as a platform for sharing research, but also facilitates discussions on various aspects of how science is done and shared. A recurring theme this year was the development of science publishing. EMBO Head of Scientific Publications Bernd Pulverer hosted a discussion entitled A Transition to Open Access or Open Science, with a panel including Jean-Claude Burgelman (European Commission), John Inglis (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press), Jodi Nunnari (University of California, Davis) and Ron Vale (University of California, San Francisco). The panellists discussed recent initiatives to progress Open Science, the challenges involved and potential solutions, emphasising that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work.
Continuing the theme of scientific publishing, ASAPbio and EMBO Press launched Review Commons at the meeting on 9 December. Review Commons, which was announced earlier this year, is a partnership involving 17 affiliate journals which intends to improve the speed and efficiency of scientific publishing. Authors can now submit papers online for peer review, before having to select a journal or pre-print server for publication.
The EMBO Science Policy Programme was also involved in discussions on improving research practices. Michele Garfinkel (Head of Policy) chaired a session on policy approaches to ensuring integrity of cell lines, wherein Helen Sitar (Policy Officer) and scientist David Drubin were panellists. Helen also assisted in a session on research assessment reform led by DORA Program Director Anna Hatch. Meanwhile, Samuel Krahl from EMBO Solutions led a series of three seminars on lab leadership, focusing on communication, giving feedback and resolving conflict.
The next annual ASCB|EMBO Meeting will be held in Philadelphia on 5-9 December 2020, and will be called the ‘Cell Bio’ Meeting in the future.