The 13th Horizons in Molecular Biology PhD Student Symposium
September 2016 saw the successful conclusion of the 13th annual Horizons in Molecular Biology Symposium. Organized by students of the Molecular Biology program, the four day-long event once more featured eminent scientists from a plethora of fields, and hosted almost two hundred participants from thirty different countries.
The symposium was kicked off by the 10th Career Fair, at which Drew Berry enchanted his audience with stunning animations of cellular processes. Talks given by representatives from industry giants, a biotech startup, a consulting firm, and a funding agency gave participants insights into alternative career paths, while Patrick Müller, a Molecular Biology program alumni turned research group leader, talked about opportunities in academia.
For the first scientific lecture of the symposium, Highlight Speaker Karl Deisseroth gave an illuminating talk on optogenetics, the 2010 Nature Method of the Year he pioneered. Mariann Bienz followed with new insights on the formation of the Wnt signalosome. True to the mission of Horizons to showcase a wide range of research topics in molecular biology, the following days featured talks on the role of actin during meiotic chromosome segregation (Melina Schuh), rRNA dynamics that facilitate the translocation of tRNAs in the ribosome (Harry Noller), the molecular mechanism of maternal inflammation-induced autism-like behavior (Gloria Choi), the function and regulation of phosphatidylinositols in cellular membranes (Pietro De Camilli), identifying miRNA targets in vivo (Amy Pasquinelli), tracing Aedes aegypti odour preference to the molecular level (Carolyn McBride), glycosaminoglycan signaling in the brain (Linda Hsieh-Wilson), and self-assembled DNA machines and their applications (Hendrik Dietz).
This year’s Horizons also featured a mixture of classical and cutting-edge research methods. Yifan Cheng gave an engaging talk on using single particle cryo-electron microscopy to obtain high-resolution structures of membrane proteins, and Maria Barna and Gloria Brar spoke about using high-throughput methods to uncover new paradigms of translational regulation, while David Morgan and Ramanujan Hegde demonstrated the power of elegant biochemistry experiments for studying cell cycle regulation and protein quality control.
What truly sets Horizons apart, are the many opportunities for participants and speakers to interact. Between talks and at social events, motivated students were engaging in lively discussions with the invited scientists. On the final day of Horizons, both speakers and participants left the conference hall delighted with the quality and diversity of science, while also invigorated and re-inspired to work towards answering their own scientific questions. The Horizons organizers have already started assembling the speaker lineup for 2017 it will take place on 11-14th September – save the date!
Written by Kai-Hsin Chan, edited by Marija Liutkutė
Horizons in Molecular Biology 2015: Our 12th annual symposium was a success!
Almost thirteen years have passed since Horizons in Molecular Biology first kicked off its successful start. The 12th annual symposium took place from September 14th to 17th, 2015. This year, the symposium hosted an excellent selection of speakers from all across the globe and across a broad range of topics. The conference started with an exciting keynote by Tom Rapoport on how the organelles inside cells take up their elegant shapes, and continued with insights into the field of structural biology by Axel Brunger, Pamela Bjorkman, and Adam Frost. At the interface of physics and chemistry, Alice Ting talked about live-cell proteome mapping while Charalampos Kalodimos discussed the dynamics of protein assemblies. Eminent scientists in the field of developmental biology like Kimberly Mowry, Karuna Sampath, and Didier Stainier shared some of their most fascinating research. Manuel Mayr's talk established a link between basic science and clinical biology. The talks on neurosciences by Erika Holzbaur and King-Wai Yau were truly impressive. Inspiring talks by Scott Emr, Kathleen Green, Fumiyo Ikeda, Maya Schuldiner, and Carola Vinuesa left us with a promise of excitement and motivation for research in the field of biochemistry and cell biology, while the Nobel Lecture by Martin Chalfie inspired the audience.
Apart from the plenary lectures, the presence and active participation of the speakers were exciting. In addition to the speakers, we welcomed around 200 young scientists from 17 different countries and four different continents. Additionally, this year, for the very first time, we hosted a special event called Beyond the Horizons which included art exhibitions depicting an overlap between art and science. Be it the career fair, wine and cheese session, the poster session, the art exhibition or the conference dinner and party, the interaction and networking between speakers and participants marked the success of the conference. Having completed last years’ Horizons, we hope that our conference keeps expanding its horizons with each passing year. We ask you to mark your calendars already for the 13th Horizons in Molecular Biology, which will take place from September 12th to 15th, 2016.
-Shrutee Jakhanwal, on behalf of the Horizons Organizing Committee
Of Journeys, Messages, Circles and Small Wonders - 11th Horizons in Molecular Biology
The 11th Horizons in Molecular Biology Symposium, organized by students of the IMPRS for Molecular Biology, took place from September 15-18 2014. We were glad to be able to welcome a diverse selection of excellent speakers and an audience of more than 250 participants from 42 countries – setting a new record in international diversity!
The Horizons symposiums are reknowned for their diversity of topics, giving participants the opportunity to interact with scientists from a broad range of fields, and this year was no different: From our section “Journey through Life” over “Circles of Life” and “Small Wonders of Life” to “Messages in Life”, virtually all areas of Molecular Biology were covered.
Among this year's 19 speakers were the two Nobel Laureates Ada Yonath, with a riveting talk about “the amazing ribsome”, and Sir John Walker, who shared his insights on the mechanism of ATP-synthesis. Further topics included the construction of connectomial maps of the brain (Jeff Lichtman), the resolution of structures of membrane proteins by solid-state NMR (Mei Hong), the connection between DNA methylation and Rett syndrome (Sir Adrian Bird), using proteomics to elucidate angiogenesis processes in cancer-associated cells (Sara Zanivan), and the translation from bench to bedside through the examples of DNA vaccines (Margaret Liu) and the use of KATP channel blockers in neonatal diabetes (Frances Ashcroft).
But we also looked beyond pure research: In his keynote lecture Ingo Potrykus shared with us his journey of developing Golden Rice and trying to deliver it to the farmers in countries in need of it, reminding the audience of the social and political implications of research. And during the opening talk of the Career Fair, Uri Alon elaborated in his amazing guitar talk on “Love and Fear in the Lab”, and the importance of emotions in scientific work.
Finally, Horizons has always been and always will be a place for students to interact with each other and established scientists, to forge contacts, and most important of all have fun! The relaxed atmosphere during the “Wine & Cheese” poster session, the conference dinner and party, the speed dating event at the Career Fair, and last but not least the coffee breaks, fuelled by hundreds of litres of coffee and a sizeable amount of cookies, promoted close proximity between speakers and participants.
The 12th Horizons in Molecular Biology symposium will take place from September 14 – 17 2015 and we are happy to already be able to announce that Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie, best known for his work on GFP, has agreed to join us as a guest speaker. So save the date, and see you in 2015!