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,


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