18 December, 2006

Iberic Chapter at EMBL&cetera

Dear alumni,

Thanks to our fellow alumna Sarah Sherwood, a chronicle of the last meeting held in Valencia can be found within the pages of the December 2006 EMBL&cetera issue. Please find below a copy of the article and enjoy!

[from an article written by Sarah Sherwood]

Alumni hit Valencia for 2nd Iberian reunion

A warm, sunny day in late summer on the shores of the Mediterranean. With this kind of setting, it didn’t take a lot of armtwisting to convince EMBL alumni to switch off their computers, hang up their lab coats and head over to the beach for the second gathering of the EMBL Alumni Association’s Iberian local chapter. The event, attended by more than 25 alumni currently living on the Iberian peninsula, took place on 29 September at the Polytechnic University of Valencia.

After a short welcome, EMBL alumni took to the podium to discuss their latest research. Speakers included Alfonso Valencia, María del Mar Vivanco, local chapter head Juan Valcárcel, Domingo Barettino, Jordi Bernués and Alberto Muñoz. Topics ranged from protein interaction networks to vitamin D and colon cancer, and gave participants not only a great opportunity to hear the latest in Spanish science, but also to explore possibilities for collaboration. After the morning session, shop talk carried on over into lunch as the participants regrouped at a seaside restaurant, enjoying a magnificent seafood paella and other Iberian delicacies.

Between courses, alumni took stock of the progress that they have made in setting up their local chapter. Since their last meeting, the chapter website has been improved and now includes a blog, set up by Carlos Luque, to facilitate communication among members. Continuing areas of activity include completing alumni profiles in the online searchable database, which will hopefully help members identify people with particular expertises and career paths. Future projects include organising a laboratory management course and promoting visits of students and postdocs to alumni labs.

Thanks are due to reunion organisers Ramon Serrano and Angel Nebreda who delivered a top-notch programme and a truly pleasant day with friends old and new. Next year’s event is scheduled to take place in September or October in Bilbao, and will be hosted by María del Mar Vivanco at the CICbioGUNE. Current EMBL staff take note: the Iberian alumni want to strengthen ties with current EMBL staff and are planning on inviting some of you to their next reunion. If you’re interested, get in touch with María at mdmvivanco<.at.>cicbiogune.es.

– Sarah Sherwood

13 December, 2006

EMBL PhD Student Shared Pool

Dear alumni,

Let me call your attention about the possibility that EMBL offers of accessing their PhD Applicant Pool. Those of you which are in the position of hiring a student may use this service to find a suitable candidate. In their own words, taken from:


"Regularly, the EMBL International PhD Programme receives a very high number of applications for its annual selection. Because of self-selection, many of these come from very good candidates, and the number of very good applications usually far exceeds the number of students that we can invite for interview.

To serve both the applicants [who would otherwise be unsuccessful] and the community of our academic colleagues [many of whom seek qualified applications], we are introducing a new service. The potential 'match-making' should create a win-win situation for applicants and interested principal investigators alike.

Applicants can decide whether or not they want their files to be included in this service. As a consequence, all included dossiers reflect the principal authorization by the students.

Evidently, only qualified parties should have access to this service. Therefore, we ask you to complete the brief questionnaire at the bottom of this page. Passwords will then be issued to qualified members of the scientific community only.

All users will receive an automatic e-mail request for feedback. This feedback will serve to optimise this new service for the user community.

Anne Ephrussi, Dean of Graduate Studies and Matthias Hentze, Associate Director, EMBL"

Shared Applicant Pool Questionnaire

12 December, 2006

EMBL Alumni Board Meeting, November 6, 2006

[edited from a message by Juan Valcárcel]

De: Juan Valcarcel
Para: EMBL Alumni, Iberic Chapter
Fecha: 20-nov-2006 10:07

Dear all, here is a summary of the last meeting of the EMBL alumni board on Nov 6 with some information relevant to our chapter members:

1. There is a EU-funded programme to stimulate the interest of young girls in science, engineering and technology called SET-Routes. The relevant issue for female alumni is that, if they are interested in this, they may become “School Ambassadors” (who go to schools to speak to students about the wonders of science) or “University Ambassadors” (who go to Universities to speak about the wonders of research) and participate in these programmes with the support of the SET-Routes program and EU funding. We discussed at the meeting the need to bring these activities to both male and female students at all levels by both male and female scientists. The SET-Routes program, however, involves specifically female scientists, although the male students will also benefit from the presentations. If you are a female alumnus and you are interested in this and other related activities please visit:


and get in touch with Julia Willingale, who coordinates the participation of EMBL in this program, at:


2. There is now a EMBL Postdoc Association which tries, among other things, to help postdocs to get in the job market after their stay at EMBL. The Association would like to establish links with the Alumni Association because they see us as an experienced source of useful information to get jobs, start a lab, etc. The Alumni Association Board counted on the good will of the Alumni and told the postdoc representatives that they should not refrain from getting in touch with alumni (e.g. through chapter heads) who could suggest who to contact regarding their specific concern or problem. It was also decided that the Alumni Association will try to generate a Lab Management manual(pretty much along the lines of the one generated by the HHMI in the US, see at:


but with relevant European and more local information for scientists establishing their groups. Several members of the Board offered to contribute to this effort, which could benefit greatly also from your contributions down the road.

3. The Association, through a gift from the ELSO, will award the John Kendrew Prize to a EMBL alumnus who has made important contributions in research, science & society or any other science-related activities 2-5 years after leaving EMBL. Nominations will be accepted soon, with the goal of awarding the 1000 EUR prize + an invitation to lecture at EMBL(Heidelberg or any outstation) for the first time in 2007. This is intended to become a yearly award.

4. The Association has near 84.000 EUR in its account, of which near 46.000 EUR correspond to the Matti Saraste Fund. As you may remember, the Fund was started to honor Matti’s memory and was intended to generate sufficient cash to generate, through the interests of this money, a PhD fellowship at perpetuity in Matti’s name. This would require that the Fund would have around 500.000 EUR. Given that it seems very unlikely that the Fund will reach this amount, several options have been proposed for how to use the money, one of them to buy a fountain / garden to be located in the new Advanced Training Centre in the Heidelberg Campus. I expressed some concern that people that have contributed to the Fund may feel disappointed by replacing an investment in young scientists by a fountain, and suggested that other long-term investment schemes should be studied to see the real chances that the existing Fund could contribute to provide opportunities for young researchers, even if not at perpetuity. Other suggestion was to create a special event (e.g. a lecture, small workshop) in Matti’s name. There will be a consultation among alumni to find out what the majoritary opinion is.

5. We had the opportunity to see the plans for the Advanced Training Centre:


which looks like a fantastic complement to EMBL activities. Construction has already started and is expected to be finished in three years.

6. I summarized the activities of the Iberic Chapter, emphasizing the success of the Valencia meeting, the prospects for next year’s meeting in Bilbao and the stablishment of a blog by Carlos Luque. Other chapters that held or will hold meetings this year include UK, Austria and US.

7. A very good piece of news for us is that the spanish ministry will be supporting next year 5 postdoctoral fellowships for spanish scientists to work at EMBL. It may even become a regular call. It would be good to make this information available to PhD students that have recently defended their thesis or will do so in the near future.

8. Finally, there is an opening for Programme Coordinator of the Developmental Biology Program to replace Steve Cohen, who is leaving for Singapore next summer. The opening is for "Organismal Biology" to emphasize the type of developmental biologist they are looking for. We are asked to help to identify suitable candidates by spreading the word.

Best wishes,


21 November, 2006

And so it begun...

It was nearly a year ago when the Iberic Chapter met in Barcelona for the first time; here you can find programme and minutes, as they were posted to the mailing list by Juan Valcárcel. Take it as an appetizer of this year's meeting minutes, hopefully coming soon ;)

First EMBL Alumni Iberic Chapter Reunion

October 7th 2005, CRG Auditorium, Barcelona


10:25 Welcome by CRG Director Miguel Beato

10:30 Research Seminar by Angus I. Lamond, Chair of the EMBL Alumni Association (Wellcome Trust Biocentre, University of Dundee): “Nuclear Dynamics: a quantitative view of the protein flux through subnuclear organelles”

12:00 Research Seminar by Peter B. Becker, EMBL alumnus (Adolf-Butenandt-Institut-Molekularbiologie, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich): "Dosage compensation in Drosophila: Mechanism, Models, Mystery”

13:30 Sandwiches and drinks at CRG Foyer

14:30 Meeting of EMBL Alumni

  • Why the EMBL Alumni Association? Angus Lamond
  • Iberic Alumni statistics, local chapters activities Sarah Sherwood
  • Iberic chapter organization Juan Valcárcel

Open discussion, suggested topics:

  • what would you like the alumni association to do for you ?
  • what can you contribute to the alumni association ?
  • what issues affect the most to alumni returning to Spain ?
  • web page
  • networking
  • lobbying
  • interactions with EMBL
  • etc.

16:30 Coffee break

17:00 Meeting of EMBL Alumni (continued)

  • Getting organized

19:00 Lecture by Prof. Andreu Mas-Colell, Former Conseller for Universities, Research and Information Society of the Catalonian government (Professor of Economics at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra): “Is basic science an economically profitable activity ?”

21:00 Dinner at a restaurant nearby CRG


Participants (27 out of 36 registered alumni from Spain and Portugal, from a total of 82): (if I am missing someone, sorry and please let me know)

Angus Lamond
Sarah Sherwood
Consuelo Montesinos
Ramón Serrano
Belén Miñana
Alberto Muñoz
María Macías
Sandra Villegas
Domingo Barretino
Jordi Bernués
María Carmo-Fonseca
Paula Sampaio
Ramón Eritja
Fátima Gebauer
Pepe Reina
Elena Rebollo
Luis Bejarano
Paloma Domínguez
Angeles Ortega
Pablo García de Frutos
Peter Askjaer
Lidia Perez
Angel Nebreda
Rosa Barrio
Jim Sutherland
Eusebio Perdiguero
Carlos Luque
Adolfo Domínguez
Juan Valcárcel

The first reunion of the EMBL Alumni Association Iberic Chapter took place at the Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG) of Barcelona on October 7, 2005. The meeting started with a welcome address by CRG director Miguel Beato, followed by two outstanding research seminars by Angus Lamond, chair of the EMBL Alumni Association, and Peter Becker, EMBL alumnus, on their latest research in the fields of nuclear structure and dynamics, and chromatin remodeling in Drosophila, respectively.

After lunch, Angus Lamond, Sarah Sherwood and Juan Valcárcel summarized the general goals of the Alumni Association and of local chapters, provided Alumni statistics, gave an online-demonstration of resources and information available through the Association web pages, and summarized the initiatives around the establishment of an Iberic chapter.

The meeting continued with extensive and lively discussions on the expectations, opportunities, difficulties and possible solutions for the activities of the Alumni Association and the Iberic chapter. There was general agreement that maintaining and strengthening links with EMBL and between alumni are very positive initiatives that can have significant benefits for the alumni, their research environment and also for EMBL's mission. Possible benefits went all the way from sharing expertise and advice on specific problems (whether technical, career-wise or domestic) to the vision of a “virtual” laboratory sharing projects, protocols, research resources or personnel.

To start exploring these possibilities, the following concrete initiatives were taken:

  1. To organize a second reunion in Madrid or Valencia in 2006. Angel Nebreda and Ramón Serrano volunteered to do it. It was suggested that the reunion should have strong scientific content, with seminars by one or two invited speakers and short talks and posters describing the research carried out by alumni or their labs. Updates on new technologies (e.g. available at EMBL through the visitors' Programme) could be very useful. There should also be time for reviewing the activities of the local chapter and for future plans. To facilitate attendance, the dates of the reunion could be fixed around another popular scientific meeting. Name tags and list of participants would be helpful.
  2. To organize a Laboratory Management Course for alumni and other scientists interested, perhaps also linked to the local chapter reunion of 2006. Maria Carmo-Fonseca has already emailed the person in charge of these courses in EMBO and she and Juan Valcárcel will try to find sponsors. Two other areas that were mentioned as worthwhile pursuing along these lines were “Scientific Communication” and “Career Options”.
  3. To improve the content and usefulness of Alumni web pages: the participants agreed to fill up information about their profiles in the Alumni web site within one week. Sarah Sherwood agreed to look into improving the searching utilities of the web site (e.g. to be able to use combinations of categories, like “Spain” and “microarrays”, to find local people with that particular expertise).
  4. Eusebio Perdiguero and Carlos Luque volunteered to set up web blogs that will facilitate sharing information between local chapter alumni, (e.g. periodical reviews on granting opportunities). They will work together with Sarah Sherwood to establish links between these blogs and the Alumni web site.
  5. To promote rotations of PhD students in Alumni's labs and promote the participation of Alumni on thesis committees. Alumni interested in participating in these iniciatives will indicate so in their web site profile. Alumni are encouraged to offer their expertise and resources for these visits, and to be willing to join, as well as requesting other alumni to join, thesis committees.
  6. To clarify the steps to be taken by alumni to have access to the pool of students that participated in the EMBL predoc selection, but that could not find a suitable position at EMBL. Juan Valcárcel will request this information from the EMBL PhD Programme office and circulate the information to local chapter alumni.

The reunion ended with a lecture by Prof. Andreu Mas-Colell, economist and former minister for science and universities of the Catalonian government, on the need and benefits of basic research for knowledge-based economies, followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Overall, the participants felt very positively about the reunion, they felt encouraged to participate in the activities of the Association despite the pressing constraints on their time, and looked forward to future events. Perhaps the most important consequence of the meeting was to make us aware that there is a significant number of people willing to stay in touch, willing to provide help if they can, and willing to work together to enrich our research environment, in the style of EMBL. And these people are one click away using the email list below:

[N.B. email list supressed, as this blog is open to the general public]

20 September, 2006

Valencia Meeting - Final Programme

[edited from a message by Angel Nebreda]

From: Angel Nebreda
To: EMBL Alumni, Iberic Chapter
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2006 11:48
Subject: final programme, EMBL alumni meeting in Valencia, Sept 29

Second meeting EMBL alumni - Portuguese and Spanish chapter

Date: Friday, September 29, 2006

Place: Instituto de Biologia Molecular y Celular de Plantas (IBMCP), Aulas 2-9 y 2-10 Centro de Formación de Postgrado, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain

Host : Ramón Serrano (rserrano<.at.>ibmcp.upv.es ; tel. +34- 963877883)

Organizers: Ramón Serrano and Angel Nebreda


10.30-10.45 Welcome by organizers and by EMBL Alumni Association representatives

10.45-12.00 Presentations by EMBL Alumni:
  • Alfonso Valencia (CNIO, Madrid): Protein interaction networks: retrieval, organization, prediction and analysis.

  • María Vivanco (CICbioGUNE, Bizkaia): Steroid hormone receptors in normal cells and during tumour development.

  • Juan Valcárcel (CRG, Barcelona): Regulation of pre-mRNA splicing.

12.00 -12.45 Coffee break

12.45-14.00 Presentations by EMBL Alumni:

  • Domingo Barettino (Instituto de Biomedicina, Valencia): Activation of PI3K/Akt signaling pathway by Retinoic Acid through a non-genomic action of its nuclear receptor RAR.

  • Jordi Bernués (Institut de Biologia Molecular, Barcelona): Negative self-regulation of Trithorax-like gene expression: new roles for GAGA factor in flies.

  • Alberto Muñoz (Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Madrid): Vitamin D and colon cancer.

14.30 Working Paella Lunch at Malvarrosa Beach.
Discussion on administrative/organization issues.

19 September, 2006

Valencia Meeting - How to Get There!

[edited from a message by Angel Nebreda]

From: Angel Nebreda
To: EMBL Alumni, Iberic Chapter
Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2006 11:04
Subject: information on the EMBL alumni meeting in Valencia, Sept 29

Dear All,

Please find below and linked information on how to get to the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia and to the seminar room where the meeting will take place.

Best regards,

Ramon Serrano
Angel Nebreda

Detalles generales de cómo llegar al sitio en la página web del Campus de Vera. Está justo a la salida de la autopista a Barcelona en el norte de la ciudad. El campus (y el tranvía) van perpendiculares al mar, que queda a la derecha en el mapa adjunto.

La reunión será en el AULA 2-10 del Centro de Formación de Posgrado, edificio 6G. Es un edificio blanco detrás del edificio 6C que es donde está el Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Plantas.

18 August, 2006

Iberic Logo

EMBL alumni logo
Hello everyone! This is, as far as I know, the only EMBL Alumni Association logo. Maybe we, the Iberic Chapter, should have our own, what do you think? Any comments, ideas, or even better, logo designs are welcome!

Meeting in Valencia, September 29, 2006

[edited from a message by Angel Nebreda]

From: Angel Nebreda
To: EMBL Alumni, Iberic Chapter
Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2006 21:37:04 +0200
Subject: EMBL meeting in Valencia, September 29

Dear All,

Below is the programme of the second EMBL alumni association meeting (Iberic chapter) that will take place on Friday, September 29 at the Instituto de Biologia Molecular y Celular de Plantas (IBMCP), Universidad Politécnica de Valencia.

Looking forward to seeing you all in Valencia.

Best regards,

Ramon Serrano
Angel Nebreda

Second meeting EMBL alumni - Portuguese and Spanish chapter

Date: Friday, September 29, 2006

Place: Instituto de Biologia Molecular y Celular de Plantas (IBMCP), Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain

Host: Ramón Serrano, +34 963877883, rserrano<.at.>ibmcp.upv.es

Organizers: Ramón Serrano and Angel Nebreda


10.30-10.45 Welcome by organizers and by EMBL Alumni Association representatives

10.45-12.00 Presentations by EMBL Alumni: Alfonso Valencia (Madrid), María Vivanco (Bilbao), Juan Valcárcel (Barcelona)

12.00 -12.45 Coffee break

12.45-14.00 Presentations by EMBL Alumni: Domingo Barettino (Valencia), María Macías (Barcelona), Alberto Muñoz (Madrid)

14.30 Working Paella Lunch at Malvarrosa Beach. Discussion on administrative/organization issues

17 August, 2006

EMBL Alumni Iberic Chapter

Welcome to the EMBL Alumni Iberic Chapter Blog!.

This blog is intended to be an informal tool of communication between members. For a more formal website you should go to our local chapter homepage, within the general EMBL Alumni Association Website.

You can add comments to every post, but only the administrators can add new posts. Please do use and abuse of this blog; all your suggestions are very welcome!.