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]

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