Welcome to the blog

Welcome to our blog! We’ve set this up so that people can get to know more about what we do here at EMBL in Italy. First of all a couple a basics. EMBL stands for European Molecular Biology Laboratory – we call it ’em-bell’ like the word, not the acronym. EMBL is an unusual research institute located at 6 sites across five countries in Europe. All put together, it’s smaller than your typical university, but it packs a bang for the buck – having been ranked first in Europe and fourth in the world for scientific output. EMBL has a unique culture, and I’ll let the researchers speak for themselves, but here are a few facts to get you started:

  • more than 1600 people and 80 laboratories
  • average age is 38
  • dynamic staff turnover rules means change is the norm at EMBL
  • core missions of fundamental research, training, and technology development
  • ‘Epigenetics & Neurobiology’ Unit in Italy was founded in 1998 – currently has 7 research labs

Working at EMBL means working with people from around the world. For example, at our unit in Italy we currently have 23 nationalities and at least as many languages. We have physicists, chemists, biologists, and computer scientists working side-by-side. Diversity means taking advantage of the best of all worlds and learning from each other – we do lots of interacting and I suspect you’ll hear about that on the blog.

You might be asking, what’s in the name of the blog? Well, we put ‘Genes’ first because, after all, everything really does come down to them. The key question of course is how and when and why they get expressed – that’s the ‘epigenetics’ part. Next we have ‘Brains’ because we’re convinced that this organ is at the origins of why we do things – what makes us get up in the morning, what makes us perceive the world differently, and how can we use that knowledge to minimize suffering and pain? That’s the ‘neurobiology’ part. And then putting them together – how is it that genes can build something as amazing as the brain? Well, and ‘Beer’ because it seems to be flowing particularly freely these days – you’ll hear more about that later.

So join us as we embrace change and get just a little closer each day to understanding how the living world around us works.

Author: Cornelius Gross

Neurobiologist interested in the molecular and cellular mechanisms of the control of instinctive behavior associated with defense, reproduction, and ingestion; EMBL Group Leader since 2003, Senior Scientist & Deputy Head of Unit since 2009, postdoc with Rene Hen at Columbia University, PhD with William McGinnis at Yale University 1995

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