News / 10 October 2018

A delegation of EMBL Australia researchers and senior administrators descended on the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) Heidelberg last month for a three-day program that included touring some of EMBL’s world-class core facilities, meeting international colleagues and sharing ideas for the direction of future research.

As well as exploring EMBL’s impressive core facilities in Advanced Light Microscopy, Electron Microscopy, Chemical Biology, Genomics and Proteomics, EMBL Australia group leaders presented their work and heard from their European counterparts in a joint scientific symposium.

EMBL Australia group leaders with EMBL Director General Prof Iain Mattaj
EMBL Australia group leaders with EMBL Director General Prof Iain Mattaj.

EMBL Australia group leader Dr Robert Weatheritt, who obtained his PhD jointly from EMBL and the University of Heidelberg and recently established his own research group at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, said he enjoyed returning to EMBL and meeting with old friends and colleagues, as well as hearing about the exciting research being undertaken by both EMBL Australia and EMBL Heidelberg group leaders.

Joint scientific symposium at EMBL September 2018
EMBL Australia and EMBL Heidelberg researchers took part in a joint scientific symposium.

Dr Weatheritt said, having just set up his laboratory, the timing of the delegation was perfect as it gave him an immediate overview of the diverse and exciting research being undertaken both locally and in Europe.

“Further, the diversity of research presented at the conference exposed me to a range of new research topics that I would not normally encounter,” he said.

“So I have returned to Australia with an extensive reading list and a horde of new ideas.”

Dr Weatheritt said during the visit he renewed old collaborations with former colleagues, as well as discussed potential future projects with them.

“The visit also enabled the exploration of areas of overlap with new EMBL group leaders that will hopefully create opportunities for future collaborations,” he said.

Another highlight of the delegation was the signing of a Framework Agreement between EMBL Director General Professor Iain Mattaj, who toured our Australian laboratories earlier this year, and representatives of the institutes that make up the EMBL Australia Partner Laboratory Network.

Monash BDI Director Prof John Carroll signs the Framework Agreement at EMBL
Monash BDI Director Prof John Carroll signs the Framework Agreement at EMBL

The agreement formalised the collaborative nature of the partnership between the parties, which aims to seed a dynamic, cooperative culture across Australia and facilitate research of the highest international standing.

The Heidelberg visit took place between 19 – 21 September and a number of group leaders also took the opportunity to visit the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) at Hinxton, UK and other EMBL outstations.

New relationships formed during the productive visit may yet turn into international collaborations, with a competition open to EMBL and EMBL Australia group leaders to compete for the funding of a joint project to the tune of €75,000.