Lab Olympics anyone?

Here at EMBL Rome we aspire to scientific excellence. This means insightful ideas, hard work, state-of-the-art facilities and perhaps a touch of luck. Occasionally, we like to blow off steam too, and the recent ‘Lab Olympics’ was a light-hearted excuse for the EMBL Rome groups to test their labcraft against one another. Including such classics as the Lab-bench race, Pasteur blow football, and of course the mind-boggling Chocolate-balls and a tape measure game, the evening fanfare was fun, a chance to interact, and fuelled by a freshly brewed batch of IPA from EMBL Rome brewmeister Jim Sawitzke.

The now annual Lab Olympics is spun out of an event organised last year by our lab to celebrate our arrival at EMBL Rome. Each lab enters a team of four people (preferably including a group leader) and then rotate around a series of loosely scientific-based games. Outstanding performances this year included the Asari lab in the Neuroepigenetics speed pictionary, the Hackett lab in the Lab-benchrelay, and finally a spectacular score by the Heppanstall lab/FACS facility in the Chocolate-balls and a tape measure game.

The Asari Lab with the 2018 Lab Olympics Trophy

Naturally, the evening had a theme, this year being the World Cup, with EMBL Rome bedecked in flags and international football colours. Of course, any respectable EMBL social has a best dressed and the Lab Olympics was no exception, with costumes reflecting an international culture/figure. There were some remarkable efforts including a full Mexican mariachi band, full Viking, and Napoleon complete with inflatable horse. The winning effort however was King Louis XIV (well done Violetta!). Which leads to the final question, who took the Lab Olympics crown this year. Well, once the scores were totted up and the dust had settled, and after an impressive performance, the victors were… the Asari Lab. Congratulations!

Fortunately, on hand was Sean Sawitzke, who made a great film about the evening, which you can find below.


At the Interface of Epigenetics and Neurobiology

EMBL Rome is changing. Last year we focussed our research on epigenetics and neurobiology, and as a consequence have recruited several new groups specialised in one or the other topic (e.g. see Boulard and Asari labs). Next up is a comprehensive site renovation to upgrade to a state-of-the-art campus, whilst further group leader recruitments are also in the pipeline. These are exciting times, and should remain so thanks to a new funding scheme that encourages research at the interface between epigenetics and neurobiology. This interdisciplinary funding bridges the two distinct themes at EMBL Rome and has already begun to foster cross-collaboration between groups. More broadly, the field of ‘neuroepigenetics’ is expanding rapidly and by leveraging the expertise of specialist labs on site, EMBL Rome could contribute key insights in the coming years.

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