18 November 2019 – The annual EMBO Members’ Meeting took place from 29-31 October 2019 in Heidelberg, Germany, and welcomed 53 recently elected members, who presented their work in talks and were able to meet each other and find out more about EMBO. Other members also attended, including many of the new members’ proposers.
At the meeting EMBO presented an updated ‘members carpet’ that shows a ‘map’ of all EMBO Members. The first edition was created for EMBO’s 50th anniversary in 2014. The new version includes all members elected since then. Each EMBO Member is represented by a circle whose colour and placement reflect the main themes of their research.
“I feel incredibly honoured,” said newly elected member Nicole Dubilier, head of the Max Planck Institute for Marine Biology in Bremen, about her election to the organization. “I just found my circle on the rug and I’m surrounded by people whose names I know and think highly of. I’m grateful that Colin Murrell proposed me for election.”
A global community
Although largely European, the EMBO Membership is a global community that extends beyond Europe. Frédéric de Sauvage, who is originally from Belgium but has been based at Genentech in the USA for most of his career, is one of eight new Associate Members elected in 2019. “EMBO is the representation of molecular biology in Europe so, as a European at heart, it’s a great honour to be a part of it.” While de Sauvage has stayed in touch with the European life science community, often speaking at EMBO workshops, for example, he is looking forward to becoming more involved as an Associate Member. “I’ve seen the courses advertised and I know that they’re very well attended, and that people really enjoy them, so I’m looking forward to more opportunities.”
EMBO is the representation of molecular biology in Europe so, as a European at heart, it’s a great honour to be a part of it.Frédéric de Sauvage, EMBO Member
On the other hand, Dubilier, who is based in Germany, finds EMBO’s global activities particularly fascinating, having joined EMBO Director Maria Leptin and several EMBO Members on a visit to Chile in 2018. “It’s extremely exciting to reach out to researchers working on other continents that are doing excellent research and discuss possible collaborations.”
Members’ contributions to EMBO
Members make essential contributions to EMBO by joining committees that help to run the programmes. Ana-Maria Lennon-Duménil, who was elected in 2018 and leads a lab studying immune cell biology at the Curie Institut in Paris, recently joined the Young Investigator Committee. She took part in her first committee meeting in October 2019 and believes the programme is very valuable for life scientists in the early stages of independent research. “The value for these scientists is being introduced to the community of molecular cell biologists in Europe very early on and being able to receive all the support from EMBO for their students and themselves.”
Janusz Bujnicki, a recently elected member who studies the structures and mechanisms of action of molecular systems involving RNA at IIMCB in Warsaw, Poland, is himself a former EMBO Young Investigator. “It was great to be a part of the Young Investigator network as a junior PI and to receive support from EMBO. I believe that EMBO Membership will give me a chance to pass the favour forward to the next generation of junior PIs.”
Bujnicki, who is also a member of the science advice mechanism at the European Commission, has been invited to join the committee for EMBO Courses and Workshops. “High-quality science is, among other things, the bedrock of science-for-policy advice. EMBO Courses and Workshops are renowned for their very high level and good quality of science and this is extremely important as an element of educating and training junior scientists.”
An evolving membership
Bujnicki leads an interdisciplinary research team, and said he particularly enjoyed the way the EMBO Members’ Meeting fosters interdisciplinarity by bringing people from a wide range of subdisciplines together. “The meeting is very intense. I like the diversity of talks, which demonstrates how broad and interesting the field of molecular biology is.”
This diversity has increased as the field of molecular biology has grown and evolved, and is reflected by the membership. Dubilier , who researches the symbioses between marine animals and chemosynthetic bacteria, has also noticed this. “In the last five to ten years EMBO has started to expand more strongly beyond classical molecular biology and more into the environmental sciences. It’s the perfect time because the methods are now available for environmental researchers to be able to use molecular tools to understand organisms. It’s exciting to see that change.”