21st EMBL PhD Symposium
Facing the Future
Perspectives and challenges of life sciences in the 21st century
28th–30th November, 2019
EMBL Heidelberg, Germany


About the Symposium

Join us for the 21st Anniversary of the annual EMBL PhD Symposium. Since its conception in 1999, the EMBL PhD Symposium has evolved into a highly respected scientific meeting, connecting young researchers and high-profile scientists alike. This year our Symposium centers on the theme Facing the Future: Challenges and Perspectives of Life Sciences in the 21st century.

In order to present a global picture of the latest challenges and perspectives, in this event we are dedicated to bring together the most outstanding researchers from a broad range of disciplines, that implement highly promising approaches to tackle the current scientific questions as well as the global problems we face as humanity. We will address environmental and global health issues, highlight interdisciplinary approaches as physics and informatics in biology, present innovations in life sciences and raise awareness of the challenges within the scientific community including big data, open access and gender equality.

The meeting aims to showcase exciting and groundbreaking research, from Master's projects all the way to Nobel Prize winning work. It is an opportunity to meet the Scientists that currently drive the Science of the Future and to network with the next generation of scientists. With a broad theme, we hope to encourage many young researchers from across the sciences to showcase their research, stimulate cross-disciplinary discussion and meet scientists from diverse backgrounds to share ideas.

Come and join us at the 21st EMBL PhD Symposium, for three days of exciting and future-oriented science.


Alba Diz-Muñoz Alba Diz-Muñoz Albert Cardona Albert Cardona Anthony Hyman Anthony Hyman Charles Pence Charles Pence Christophe Dessimoz Christophe Dessimoz Françoise Baylis Françoise Baylis James Briscoe James Briscoe Jannie Borst Jannie Borst Jenny Molloy Jenny Molloy Madan Babu Madan Babu Mark Post Mark Post Michael Zimmermann Michael Zimmermann Petra Schwille Petra Schwille Silvia Marchesan Silvia Marchesan Tempest van Schaik Tempest van Schaik Tobias Erb Tobias Erb Tony Wood Tony Wood Upinder Bhalla Upinder Bhalla
Photo of Alba Diz-Muñoz

Dr. Alba Diz-Muñoz

European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit

Dr. Alba Diz-Muñoz is Group Leader at the Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany. She completed her PhD in 2011 at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, in the laboratories of Ewa Paluch and Carl-Phillip Heisenberg. There, Alba investigated the differential role of blebs and lamellipodia for cell migration during zebrafish gastrulation. In 2012, Alba moved to San Francisco, USA, to be a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratories of Orion Weiner at UCSF and Dan Fletcher at UCBerkeley. There, she identified a signalling cascade that is activated by changes in membrane tension and demonstrated its role for polarity, motility, and membrane tension homeostasis. In 2016, Alba started her own research group in the Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg. The Diz-Muñoz group studies the crosstalk between mechanical properties and cellular signalling cascades that drive morphogenesis and fate specification in immune cells, embryonic stem cells and zebrafish embryos.

Photo of Albert Cardona

Dr Albert Cardona

HHMI Janelia

Albert Cardona graduated in Biology from the University of Barcelona in 2000, and completed his PhD in Developmental Biology at the same University in 2005. After a brief stint as a software engineer at the Institute of Neuroinformatics in Zurich, Cardona joined the lab of Volker Hartenstein at UCLA as a postdoc, where he started his work on anatomy of Drosophila larval brains. In 2008 he returned to the Institute of Neuroinformatics in Zurich as a group leader, while simultaneously being a visiting scientist at HHMI Janelia. During this time he imaged imaged with serial transmission electron microscopy a chunk of the larval nerve cord and reconstructed its circuits with his software TrakEM2, and initiated the development of the CATMAID software for the collaborative reconstruction and analysis of neural circuits. In 2012 he joined HHMI Janelia as a group leader and worked towards the collaborative mapping of the complete central nervous system of the fly larva. His lab work focused on many areas, with emphasis on olfactory processing and learning and memory.

Photo of Anthony Hyman

EMBO Keynote Lecture

Dr Anthony Hyman

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics

Prof. Dr. Anthony Hyman is Director and Group Leader at the MPI-CBG. He was born May 27, 1962 in Haifa, Israel and is a citizen of the UK. In 1984, he received his BSc first class in Zoology from UCL, where he worked as research Assistant in 1981. From 1985-1987 he wrote his PhD on “The establishment of division axes in early C.elegans embryos” under the supervision of Dr. John White at MRC in Cambridge. From 1988-1992 he carried out his postdoctoral research in the lab of Prof. Tim Mitchison at UCSF, investigating the mechanism of chromosome movement with in vitro approaches. As a postdoc, he was a Lucille P. Markey Senior Fellow (1991-1992). In 1993, he became a Group Leader at EMBL Heidelberg, before he moved to Dresden in 1999 as one of the founding directors of the MPI-CBG, where he was Managing Director from 2010-2013. He has been a member of ASCB since 1996 and EMBO since 2000. In 2002, he was named honorary Professor of Molecular Cell Biology at the Technical University Dresden. He was awarded the EMBO Gold Medal in 2003, and he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2007. In 2011, Dr. Hyman was awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize and the Schleiden Medal from the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in 2017.

Photo of Charles Pence

Dr Charles Pence

Université Catholique de Louvain

Charles Pence is Chargé de cours and Director of the Centre de philosophie des sciences et sociétés at the Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. His work focuses on the philosophy and history of evolutionary biology, as well as the ethics of contemporary technology. His group is also a leader in the application of digital humanities tools to the study of the life sciences. His current work explores the past, present, and future of the concept of chance and the tools of statistics in biology.

Photo of Christophe Dessimoz

EMBO Young Investigator Lecture

Dr Christophe Dessimoz

University of Lausanne

Christophe obtained his Master in Biology (2003) and PhD in Computer Science (2009) from ETH Zurich, Switzerland. After a postdoc at the European Bioinformatics Institute near Cambridge (UK), he joined University College London as lecturer (2013), then Reader (2015). In 2015, he joined the University of Lausanne as SNSF professor, retaining an appointment at UCL, where part of his lab remains active. Since 2016, Christophe is also a group leader at the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. At the interface between biology and computer science, Christophe’s lab seeks to better understand evolutionary and functional relationships between genes, genomes, and species.

Photo of Françoise Baylis

EMBO Science Policy Lecture

Dr Françoise Baylis

Dalhousie University

Françoise Baylis, PhD is University Research Professor at Dalhousie University. She is a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia, as well as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. Baylis was one of the organizers of, and a key participant in, the 2015 International Summit on Human Gene Editing. She is a member of the WHO expert advisory committee on Developing global standards for governance and oversight of Human Genome editing. Her forthcoming book is Altered Inheritance: CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing (Harvard University Press, 2019)

Photo of James Briscoe

Dr James Briscoe

The Francis Crick Institute

James Briscoe is a senior group leader at The Francis Crick Institute. He obtained a B.Sc. in Microbiology and Virology from the University of Warwick, UK. Following a PhD in Ian Kerr’s laboratory at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London (now part of The Francis Crick Institute), he undertook postdoctoral training at Columbia University, New York, USA, with Thomas Jessell. In 2000 he moved to the MRC-National Institute for Medical Research (now part of The Francis Crick Institute) to establish his own research group and in 2001 he was elected an EMBO Young Investigator. He was awarded the EMBO Gold Medal in 2008 and elected to EMBO in 2009. In 2012 he was appointed Head of Division in Developmental Biology. He serves on several editorial boards and is Editor-in-Chief of Development. His research interests include the molecular and cellular mechanisms of graded signalling by morphogens and the specification of cell fate in the vertebrate neural tube. To address these questions his lab uses a range of experimental and computational techniques and model systems that include mouse and chick embryos and embryonic stem cells.

Photo of Jannie Borst

Dr Jannie Borst

Leiden University Medical School

Jannie Borst has a Master degree in Biology with Chemistry and a PhD degree in Medicine (1985) from Leiden University. She did her PhD work at Harvard Medical School and continued her career at the Netherlands Cancer Institute where has been group leader since 1987 and department head from 2002 to 2019. She is professor in Experimental Oncology at the University of Amsterdam and professor in Immunology at Leiden University. In 2019, she has become the head of the Department of Immunohematology and Blood Transfusion at Leiden University Medical School. Her research focus is on costimulatory receptors and their associated gene expression programs that regulate T cell function. She also works in the field of cell death and immunity. In collaboration with dr. Hans van Eenennaam of Aduro Biotech Europe, she has helped to develop a new immunotherapeutic drug against cancer that is now in clinical testing.

Photo of Jenny Molloy

Dr Jenny Molloy

University of Cambridge

Dr Jenny Molloy is a Shuttleworth Fellow at the University of Cambridge, studying the role and impact of open approaches to intellectual property for a sustainable and equitable bioeconomy. In particular she researches the potential for local, distributed manufacturing of enzymes to improve access and build capacity for biological research. This work combines technical development using synthetic biology-based platform technologies with qualitative research on challenges faces by molecular biologists globally through interviews and case studies. In addition to her research, Jenny is a founding Director of Biomakespace, a community laboratory for engineering with biology, and she co-organises the international Gathering for Open Science Hardware.

Photo of Madan Babu

Dr Madan Babu


M. Madan Babu heads the Regulatory Genomics and Systems Biology group at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK. His group uses data science approach to investigate how regulation is achieved at multiple levels of complexity in cellular systems with an emphasis on intrinsically disordered proteins and G protein coupled receptors. The work from his group has been recognized by several awards from various learned societies. Most recently, he received the Francis Crick Medal (2015) from the Royal Society, the inaugural Blavatnik Life Sciences Laureate (2018) and the EMBO Gold Medal (2019). He is an elected member of EMBO (2016) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2017).

Photo of Mark Post

Dr Mark Post

Maastricht University, MosaMeat

Prof. Mark Post is MD, PhD and chair of Physiology at Maastricht University, after positions at Utrecht, Harvard, Dartmouth and TU/e. He engineers tissues for medicine and for food. He presented the world’s first hamburger from cultured beef in August 2013. He is CSO of MosaMeat, Qorium and CEO of Cell2Tissue, companies that commercialize animal and human products from stem cells.

Photo of Michael Zimmermann

Dr Michael Zimmermann

EMBL Heidelberg

Michael Zimmermann is a group leader at EMBL in Heidelberg. Michael received a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Basel University and a Master’s degree in Biotechnology from the Ecole Supérieure de Biotechnologie in Strasbourg. He performed his Ph.D. work with Uwe Sauer at ETH Zurich, where he developed metabolomics and Systems Biology approaches to study microbial metabolism in the context of host-pathogen interactions. For his postdoctoral training, Michael joined Andrew Goodman’s group at Yale University to study the molecular mechanisms of host-microbiome interactions. Michael’s most recent research investigates how the human gut microbiome contributes to drug metabolism, which can result in interpersonal variation of patients’ drug response and toxicity. His group employs bacterial genetics, metabolomics, gnotobiotic mouse work, and mathematical modeling to systematically map microbial drug transformations and to quantitatively separate microbial and host drug metabolism in vivo.

Photo of Petra Schwille

Dr Petra Schwille

Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry

Petra Schwille obtained her PhD in 1996 in the group of Manfred Eigen at the MPI for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen. After a postdoctoral stay at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) she established a research group at the MPI Göttingen in 1999 and accepted a professorship and chair of biophysics at the BIOTEC of the TU Dresden in 2002. In 2011, she was appointed scientific member of the Max Planck Society and Director at the MPI of Biochemistry, Martinsried. Her research interests range from single‐molecule biophysics to bottom‐up synthetic biology of artificial cells.

Photo of Silvia Marchesan

Dr Silvia Marchesan

University of Trieste

Silvia Marchesan completed her PhD on the bio-orthogonal modification of glycoproteins at The University of Edinburgh (2008). Until 2010 she worked as Academy of Finland research fellow on integrin-mediated cell adhesion pathways. Until 2012 she worked on biomaterials, as joint fellow between Australia’s science agency (CSIRO) and Monash University. After maternity leave, she joined the University of Trieste (Italy) as Assistant (2015), then Associate (2018) Professor of chemistry. In 2017 she obtained the Erspamer Medal for her research on self-assembling peptides. In 2018 Nature Index listed her amongst the top-eleven Rising Stars in the natural sciences worldwide for the multidisciplinary research. She leads the Superstructures Labs where nanotechnology is used to develop biomaterials and new solutions at the interface between chemistry, biology, and materials science.

Photo of Tempest van Schaik

EMBO Women in Science Lecture

Dr Tempest van Schaik

Microsoft, London

Dr Tempest van Schaik is a multi-disciplinary engineer & inventor who’s developed creative solutions to problems in fields as diverse as healthcare, ocean science and agriculture. She has led the end-to-end development of new technology: from scientific research at the lab bench to user-centred products; from ultra-low cost sensors to hi-tech implantables, wearables and apps. She currently works as a machine learning engineer at Microsoft, London, focusing on healthcare & biosciences. She has a PhD in Bioengineering from Imperial College London with a lab placement at MIT, has spoken at TEDx and SXSW, is a grant recipient from Innovate UK and the US National Academies, and a Microsoft Ambassador for Diversity & Inclusion.

Photo of Tobias Erb

Dr Tobias Erb

Max Plack Institute for terrestrial microbiology

Tobias J. Erb is a microbial biochemist and Director at the Max Planck Institute for terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, Germany. His research centers on the discovery, the function and the design of novel CO2 converting enzymes from microorganisms, algae and plants and their use in engineered and artificial photosynthesis as well as synthetic chloroplasts and cells. Tobi studied Chemistry and Biology and did his PhD at the University of Freiburg (Germany) and the Ohio State University. After a postdoc at the University of Illinois, he headed a Junior Group at ETH Zürich (Switzerland) before he became a Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute in Marburg, where he was promoted to Director in 2017. Tobi’s work received numerous awards, among them the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize in 2016, the VAAM research award in 2017, and the Otto Bayer Award in 2018. He was named as one of 12 up- and coming scientists by C&EN of the American Chemical Society in 2015 and elected to the Young Academy at the National Academy of Science in 2013.

Photo of Tony Wood

Dr Tony Wood


Tony Wood is Senior Vice President and Head of Medicinal Science and Technology at GlaxoSmithKline. He has a BSc in chemistry and a PhD in organic synthesis from Newcastle University. After a postdoc at Imperial College, he spent 25 years with Pfizer in the UK and the US, before moving to his current role at GSK in 2017. He is one of the world’s pre-eminent medicinal chemists, and has the rare distinction of inventing a licensed medicine, the HIV antiviral maraviroc (Celsentri/Selzentry). This was the first mammalian host protein-targeted anti-HIV drug to reach the market. As well as being a pioneer of structure-based drug design to overcome problems of resistance, he has striven to advance strategies in medicinal chemistry design, including ligand efficiency and lipophilic efficiency, structural-property relationships for toxicity, and the use of chemoinformatics to inform molecule and library design. Dr Wood has received several awards for maraviroc, including the PhRMA Discoverers Award, the Prix Galien USA and the ACS Heroes of Chemistry Award. He was also the recipient of the 2005 Malcolm Campbell Award for Medicinal Chemistry from the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the 2010 UCB Ehrlich Award for Medicinal Chemistry from the European Federation of Medicinal Chemistry.

Photo of Upinder Bhalla

Dr Upinder Bhalla

National Centre for Biological Sciences

I trained in Physics, but found biological computation fascinating and joined Caltech for my PhD, just when they had begun their pioneering computational neuroscience programme. I've done both experiments and modelling throughout my career. I became interested in the computational capabilities of cellular signaling pathways, and worked on this for my postdoc at Mount Sinai in New York. I started my lab in the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, in 1996 and have been there ever since. I continue to investigate how subcellular signaling, both electrical and chemical, contribute to neural computation. Current interests include stimulus sequence recognition, novelty detection, and memory.


Day 1, Thursday, November 28th

08:00 - 09:00 Registration
09:00 - 09:25 Symposium Opening & Welcome

Life Sciences Innovations

09:25 - 09:30 Chair: Sumanjit Datta
09:30 - 10:20 Keynote Lecture: Silvia Marchesan
Nanotechnology for new frontiers in the life sciences
10:20 - 11:00 Lecture: Albert Cardona
The wiring diagram of an insect brain
11:00 - 11:20 Coffee Break
11:20 - 12:05 Lecture: M. Madan Babu
Data Science Approaches to Biological Systems
12:05 - 12:15 Short Talk: Al-Eryani Ghamdan
Developing and applying high-throughput single-cell RNA full length sequencing to dissect cellular heterogeneity in disease
12:15 - 12:25 Flash Talks Beatrice Chiew, Daniel Tan Chun Sin, Reint Gana
12:25 - 13:15 Lunch

Science beyond academia

13:15 - 14:00 Lecture: Tony Wood
Science and Technology Challenges in Modern Drug Discovery and Development

Physics in Biology

14:00 - 14:05 Chair: Alberto Hernández Armendáriz
14:05 - 14:45 Lecture: Alba Diz-Muñoz
Cell and ECM mechanics for pluripotency and survival
14:45 - 14:55 Short Talk: Karen Soans
Investigating cell-matrix interplay during collective cell migration in vivo
14:55 - 15:05 Short Talk: Alena Kucerova
Squeeze me: Principles of efficient molecule delivery into cells by a microfluidic device
15:05 - 15:30 Coffee Break
15:30 - 16:20 EMBO Keynote Lecture: Anthony Hyman
Biomolecular Condensates and their Implications for Physiology and Disease
16:20 - 16:30 Flash Talks: Helena Raymond-Hayling, Anna Jungblut, Tim Dullweber
16:30 - 17:30 Workshops (see Details)
17:30 - 19:00 Poster Session
19:00 - 20:00 Dinner
20:00 - 22:00 Evening Programme: Tour of Heidelberg and Pub visit

Day 2, Friday, November 29th

Machine Learning & Big data

09:00 - 09:05 Chair: Valentyna Zinchenko
09:05 - 09:55 Keynote Lecture: Upinder Bhalla
Data, tools, and models to understand synaptic computation
09:55 - 10:35 EMBO Young Investigator Lecture: Christophe Dessimoz
Big Data: Opportunities, challenges and some solutions
10:35 - 10:45 Short Talk: Julian Regalado
Deep Autoencoders for Sequence Similarity Exploration
10:45 - 11:15 Coffee Break
11:15 - 11:55 EMBO Women in Science Lecture: Tempest van Schaik
Machine learning in healthcare
11:55 - 12:05 Short Talk: Edgar Garriga
The Regressive Algorithm. An Accurate and Efficient Alternative to the Progressive Algorithm
12:05 - 12:15 Flash Talks: Alistair Dunham, Bruno Iochins Grisci, Mehmood Arfa
12:15 - 13:15 Lunch

Science and Society

13:15 - 14:00 Lecture: Charles Pence
The challenge of breadth: Stories from Darwin to tomorrow

Systems & Synthetic Biology

14:00 - 14:05 Chair: Jesus Alvarado Valverde
14:05 - 14:55 Keynote Lecture: Petra Schwille
What does it take to build a Cell
14:55 - 15:05 Short Talk: Benjamin Doffek
From the farm to the pharm
15:05 - 15:45 Lecture: Jenny Molloy
Synthetic biology as a platform to increase global access to molecular tools
15:45 - 16:15 Coffee Break & Round Table
16:15 - 16:55 Lecture: James Briscoe
The cellular and molecular Logic of Spinal Cord Development
16:55 - 17:05 Short Talk: Short talk: Lukas Weilguny
Reconstructing the invasion route of DNA transposons using extant population samples
17:05 - 17:15 Flash Talks: Karolina Spustova, Martina Varisco, Paula Weidemüller
17:15 - 19:00 Poster Session
19:00 - 20:00 Dinner
20:00 - 22:00 Evening Programme: Pub Quiz

Day 3, Saturday, November 30th

Medicine, Health & Diseases

10:00 - 10:05 Chair: Anna Mathioudaki
10:05 - 10:55 Lecture: Jannie Borst
Origins and future of cancer immunotherapy
10:55 - 11:05 Short Talk: Ireshyn Govender
Novel urinary proteome profiling methods applied in an exploratory case-control cohort of HIV patients in South Africa
11:05 - 11:15 Short Talk: Vaheesan Rajabal
Role of res hunter transposons in the global spread of antimicrobial resistance
11:15 - 11:55 Lecture: Michael Zimmermann
Drug metabolic interactions between the gut microbiome and its host
11:55 - 12:05 Short Talk: Elisa Nerli
Neurogenesis initiation is independent of nuclear positioning in the vertebrate retinal neuroepithelium
12:05 - 13:15 Lunch

Science Policy

13:15 - 14:00 EMBO Science Policy Lecture: Francoise Baylis
Heritable Human Genome Editing: Scientist and Science Policy

Environmental issues

14:00 - 14:05 Chair: Elisa Kreibich
14:05 - 14:55 Keynote Lecture: Tobias Erb
Fixing CO2-fixation - Re-thinking photosynthesis with synthetic biology
14:55 - 15:05 Short Talk: V M Malathi
Field-evolved resistance to insecticides in the brown planthopper, Nilaparvata lugens (Stål): connexion of multiple resistance mechanisms
15:05 - 15:15 Short Talk: Sarah E Aamidor
“Stranger things” Sex mosaics in the honeybee: how haplodiploidy makes possible the evolution of novel forms of reproduction
15:15 - 15:45 Coffee Break
15:45 - 16:25 Lecture: Mark Post
Using Medical Technology to make Hamburgers
16:25 - 16:50 Short Lecture: Alejandro Andres Murillo Cordova
Biotic and abiotic interactions of the planktonic community in a changing ocean
16:50 - 17:00 Short Break
17:00 - 18:15 Panel Discussion Publishing now and in the future
Jan Korbel (EMBL Heidelberg)
Thomas Lemberger (EMBO Press)
Françoise Baylis (Dalhousie University)
Charles Pence (Université Catholique de Louvain)
(see Details)
18:15 - 18:30 Awards and Thank you's
18:30 - 20:00 Dinner
20:00 - 02:00 Symposium Party

Travel and Accommodation

How to get to Heidelberg

Heidelberg is easily reached by train, car or plane from any country in the world. The EMBL campus is located in the neighbourhood area of Boxberg which is approximately 10 minutes by car from Heidelberg's city centre.

Reaching us by train, plane, or car.

Travel Documents and Visas

Prior to travelling to Germany, some applicants from certain countries may have to acquire special travel documents, such as a visa. Applicants are strongly encouraged to check with the local German Authorities (Embassies or Consulates) about the need for special travelling documents. Since the process may be time consuming, applicants are advised to make such arrangements as soon as possible. Failure to obtain a visa after the deadline for participation in the conference will not result in a refund. Applicants are responsible for providing the right documentation needed for their entry into Germany. However, upon request, the Organising Committee can issue a formal letter of acceptance to the symposium for the purposes of obtaining a visa. Please be aware that no visa letters will be issued before payment of the registration fee. The organising committee can not be held responsible in the case of a refusal by German authorities to enter German territory.


The registration fee does not include accommodation, which has to be personally arranged. Buses to EMBL from Heidelberg downtown will be provided during the symposium.

Financial Support

There are a number of options for obtaining a travel grant:

  1. EMBL provides a number of travel grants for participants of the Symposium. If you would like to apply for one of these grants, please register for the Symposium. After successful registration you will be provided with a link to submit your abstract and apply for an EMBL travel grant. To apply, you will need to submit an abstract and provide details on your motivation for applying for financial assistance. You must submit your abstract and motivation by September 5th 2019 if you wish to be eligible for an EMBL travel grant. Successful applicants will be informed by September 12th 2019.
  2. There are a number of external grants available. You can find a list of these below:
    • The Royal Society of Biology have several travel grants for various biological fields such as genetics, biochemistry, and biology. Be sure to check the respective websites for application deadlines.
    • The Company of Biologists: This grant is aimed at early-career scientists wanting to attend scientific meetings, conferences, workshops and courses relating to the areas of research covered by the journal. Deadline is 19 August, 2019 (for travel after 30 September, 2019).
    • Axol Bioscience: You must be a PhD student or postdoctoral-level researcher working in academia or industry performing life science research in the fields of neuroscience or cardiovascular research.
    • The Biochemical Society offers students bursaries to help their Undergraduate and Postgraduate members attend a range of Biochemical Society events or online courses. Please note that bursaries are given on a first come, first served basis. Please apply early to avoid disappointment.
    • Fritz Thyssen Stiftung offer travel subsidies for projects that have a clear connection to the German research system. This connection can be established either at a personal level through German scientists working on the project, at an institutional level through non-German scientists being affiliated to German research institutes or through studies on topics related thematically to German research interests.
    • Each quarter, Antibodies.com offers travel grants up to $500 to help cover the cost of attending conferences. These travel grants are open to PhD candidates, lab managers, and post-docs from academic research institutions across the US. The grant is intended to help cover the costs of registration, accommodation, and travel to conferences of choice. For a chance to win, simply complete the online application form; including a summary of your research or abstract for the conference.” Details of the Travel Grants Program can be found on this webpage.
    • Contact personal university / institution for conference travel grants

Please note that you need to apply independently to these grants.
If you require any assistance please do not hesitate to contact the Symposium Organisers.


Registration: October 17th
Abstract submission / EMBL Fellowship application:   September 16th
Short talk and Fellowship selection: September 26th

Note: Abstracts for Posters can be submitted until the registration deadline.

  Fee Registration
General 170€ Deadline passed
Industry 220€ Deadline passed
Press   Deadline passed
EMBL Staff (including new EMBL PhD Students)   Register

Note: Late registration is still possible. If you are interested in attending the Symposium, please contact George Luca-Ruse.

Please note, payment is by credit card only. It is possible to pay later but registration is only complete and confirmed after paying the registration fee by October 17th 2019. If you experience any issues with payment, please contact the Symposium Organisers.

Abstract submission

To submit an abstract for the Symposium, please register for the conference. Upon registering, you will receive an email providing you with a link to submit an abstract and apply for a travel grant. Please provide your abstract for the conference by 16th September 2019.

We encourage all participants to submit an abstract: all those who do, have the opportunity to present their work as a scientific poster or in a short talk.

The Symposium offers the opportunity to present your work to an international audience and last year we received submissions on a range of topics, including Bachelor’s theses, Master’s Projects and PhD work.

To receive updates about the Symposium subscribe below.


Sponsorship Information

The EMBL PhD symposium will provide an invaluable networking environment for your company to enhance the profile amongst the molecular biosciences research community, especially towards the young generation. The symposium will offer prime opportunities for your company to promote your new products, latest technology, and services. If you are interested in sponsoring our symposium and would like to have more information, direct your enquires to us.

Sponsors of the symposium


Gold Sponsors

Abcam BASF

Silver Sponsors

bio-techne Merck

Bronze Sponsors

10x Genomics Avanti Polar Lipids Inc. Biology Open Luxendo BioMedX New England Biolabs

Event Sponsors

Nikon Boston Consulting Group

Also kindly supported by:

EMBL CPP founder partners

Leica Microsystems Olympus

EMBL CPP corporate partners

10x Genomics BD Boehringer Ingelheim Eppendorf Glaxo Smith Kline Sartorius ThermoFisher Scientific MACS-Miltenyi Biotec

EMBL CPP associate partners

Merck New England Biolabs Nikon Sanofi Roche Promega

Meeting Grants

Galton Institute Boehringer Ingelheim Stiftung

Travel Grants

10x Genomics BASF Biology Open Avanti Polar Lipids Inc. BioMedX German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Merck New England Biolabs Nikon


German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Graduate schools collaborations

We teamed up with Graduate schools all around Europe in order to cover the registration and travel costs for one or more of their students.


Have a question? Please feel free to contact the PhD Symposium 2019 Organising Committee:

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