Sparkling Scientific Ideas, Lovely People and Food – EDBC 2019

By June, Predoctoral Fellow at Sharpe Lab:

How to combine sparkling scientific ideas, lovely people and food? Throw a conference in Alicante. The European Developmental Biology Congress 2019 was exactly that.

Six of us from EMBL Barcelona overcame a long journey consisting of cancelled train and a delayed flight, right in time for the first plenary lecture given by Nipam Patel (Woodshole, USA), on Hox conservation and butterfly patterns.

EMBL suffering through the longest queue in Sants station

The conference overall addressed exciting biological questions, such as:

How are the cell identity/fate determined and regulated? How do individuals cells ‘know’ their organ shape? How do biological patterns regenerate in robust manner?

To the first question, Meryem Baghdadi (Institute Pasteur, France) suggested that quiescent stem cells, which are the cells that no longer stay in the cell cycle, is not a ‘passive’ state but maintaining its own niche through Notch-regulated microRNAs.

To the second question, James Sharpe (Head of EMBL Barcelona 🙌) discussed how convergent extension, the concept that involves both cell migration and cell intercalation, elegantly explains the shape of the limb bud.

Yonatan Stelzer (Weizmann institute, Israel) presented exciting single-cell RNA sequencing methodology, which incorporates fine spatial and temporal information during gastrulation stage. The team achieved high temporal resolution by assigning individual embryos with molecular indexes, followed by cell type & transcriptional similarity analyses.

The highlight of the session came when James Cotterell, a postdoc of the Sharpe Lab, gave a short talk under the title of “Endogenous CRISPR arrays for scalable whole organism lineage tracing”.

James Cotterell, during his talk on CRISPR

And the poster session followed – EMBL had six posters: Four from Sharpe lab, One from Ebisuya lab and one from Trivedi lab.

Some of us found a time for a tiny excursion to the heart of the city, as you could see from the refreshing view from Castell de la Santa Barbara.

The last night of the conference was accompanied by the Michelin star winning-chef’s vegetarian Paella – as keen EMBLers, we were able to get a special photo with her, and a few signed bottles of the finest quality olive oil. I’ll open one when I want to revisit the memories of Alicante!