NCMM attends the annual Nordic EMBL Partnership meeting 2020: Connecting with colleagues to increase future interactions

Swedish Nordic EMBL node, MIMS, hosts the 10th annual Nordic EMBL Partnership meeting from Umeå, Sweden. 

Photo of Oliver Billker opening the conference, standing on podium with screen behind

Professor Oliver Billker opening the 10th Nordic EMBL Partnership Meeting in Umeå. Photo: Nora Lehotai/MIMS

The Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine held its 10th annual conference in slightly different circumstances to previous years.

MIMS (Laboratory for Infection Medicine Sweden) hosted the conference from their home in Umeå. With travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19, the conference moved online in its entirety for the first time. Thanks to some excellent technical organisation from the MIMS team, NCMM researchers were able to join the conference from Oslo.

New possibilities offered thanks to virtual format

The ease of being able to present and participate online opened up access for both speakers and attendees, with a record 344 people registering for the event; the highest number in the meeting’s 10-year history. 

The online format also created new opportunities in terms of the meeting’s programme, with six keynote talks from leading international scientists and an introduction from EMBL Director General, Edith Heard, where she gave insight into EMBL’s future plans. The programme also featured a panel discussion on Open Science, over 40 research presentations from scientists from the four Nordic nodes and EMBL, four online poster sessions where over 50 posters were presented, a YIM (Young Investigators Meeting), and plenty of opportunities to interact with peers and colleagues thanks to breakout sessions and a ‘Meet the Speakers’ Slack channel.

NCMM researchers well represented throughout the scientific programme

NCMM Director, Professor Janna Saarela, introduced each NCMM group leader as part of her update, highlighting the relevance of each group’s research to the wider Nordic EMBL Partnership network. 

The following NCMM researchers also presented their research:

  • Nikolina Sekulic, group leader: Centromere – a megadalton protein-DNA complex ensuring genomic integrity
  • Eva Cunha, researcher: Cryo-EM structure of Helicobacter pylori urease with a novel inhibitor in the active site at 2.0 Å resolution
  • Nancy Saana Banono, PhD student: Zebrafish larvae carrying a mutation in cacna1d display schizophrenia-like behaviours 
  • Sebastian Waszak, group leader: Genetic control of somatic mutation patterns in cancer genomes
  • Jaime Castro-Mondragon, postdoc: Cis-regulatory mutations associate with transcriptional and post-transcriptional deregulation of the gene regulatory program in cancers 
  • Marieke Kuijjer, group leaderLarge-scale network models to understand gene regulation in healthy and diseased tissue.
Collage of ncmm researchers at the partnership meeting
Some of NCMM's researchers at the Nordic EMBL Partnership Meeting 2020. 
Top, L-R: Marieke Kuijjer, Eva Cunha, Nikolina Sekulic
Bottom, L-R: Sebastian Waszak, Anthony Mathelier, Janna Saarela.

Group leaders Anthony Mathelier and Marieke Kuijjer and Director Janna Saarela also chaired sessions during the programme. 

Meetings help connect researchers within the Nordics and with EMBL

The Partnership meetings are important in terms of helping the Nordic-based researchers learn more about research at the EMBL and its outstations, and vice versa. This knowledge-sharing is vital in helping to increase interactions, both amongst the Nordic nodes and with the EMBL. 

Professor Oliver Billker, Director of MIMS, comments

“Our annual conference is the highlight of the Nordic EMBL Partnership. We were therefore deeply disappointed when it became clear that we would be unable to welcome our new colleagues to Umeå this year and renew our old friendships. I think we made the most out of going online, however.

We invited more speakers from EMBL and its partnerships than we would have been able to do otherwise, and we also used the opportunity to expand our national and Nordic network.

It was wonderful to hear from all the new group leaders who joined the partnership recently. I also think I speak for many of us if I say we never felt better informed about the fantastic research happening at EMBL.”

NCMM wishes to thank the team at MIMS for organising a fantastic conference, and also thank all those from NCMM who gave a talk, chaired a session, or presented a poster. We look forward to the 2021 meeting, hosted by DANDRITE in Aarhus.

For more information about the Nordic EMBL Partnership, visit the Partnership’s About Us page.



Published Sep. 29, 2020 1:14 PM - Last modified Mar. 15, 2021 9:55 PM