Sep 162014


Cell fate: Journeys to specialisation

Have you ever wondered how cells differentiate into specific cell types? How do our blood, skin and muscle cells get their distinct abilities and shapes? And how are these processes controlled on a molecular and cellular level?

Join us on Sunday 12th October 2014 at 18:00 at the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut Heidelberg (DAI) for a public screening of the short film “Cell fate: Journeys to specialisation  DNA, proteins and stem cells”.

In the film, stem cell scientist Thomas Graf and his team accompany us on a journey through today’s stem cell research and into the cell itself.  The film provides a fascinating insight into how specialised cells develop from stem cells and how researchers are finding ways to change a cell’s fate, transforming it from one type into another. The screening will be followed by time for questions and discussion.

Event details:

Cell fate: Journeys to specialisation  DNA, proteins and stem cells
Public screening and discussion
Sunday, 12 October 2014 from 18:00 – 20:00 at the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut Heidelberg (DAI)
FREE admission

Film information:

Director: Patricia Delso Lucas
Animator: Sergi Esgleas
Producer: Katia Hervy
Science Producer: Clare Blackburn
Executive Producer: Amy Hardie


Sep 082014

Tschira-Jugendakademie pupils get hands-on during day of DNA barcoding. PHOTO: Rikk Villa

For just one day, PhD students could no longer claim the title of ‘youngest researchers’ at EMBL. That honour went to the 13 students aged 11 to 17 who conducted a full-day experiment in the EMBL training labs as part of the Tschira-Jugendakademie at the end of August this year.

Initially created as a one-time ‘summer camp’ programme, the Tschira-Jugendakademie is a project of the Klaus Tschira Stiftung, a German foundation that supports natural sciences, mathematics and computer science. The Tschira-Jugendakademie owes its existence to Nina Schaller, a former researcher at the University of Heidelberg. Honoured with an award for ‘understandable science’ by the Klaus Tschira Stiftung in 2009, she was inspired to create a curriculum that would immerse youngsters in a wide range of biological disciplines for five days at a time. “My idea was to teach the kids things that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, and do really awesome, hands-on projects with full-time biologists,” says Schaller.

The first session ran during the summer of 2011, and it was so successful that all of the nearly 70 students who participated wanted to do it again. In the three years since its inception, the Tschira-Jugendakademie has grown from a one-week course into a cycle of four different week-long curricula, and has partnered with a variety of research and education institutions to provide the experts and environments that make the programme such a success, including the University of Heidelberg, Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt, the Heidelberg Zoo and the Haus der Astronomie.

Life Science Learning

EMBL has a longstanding tradition of providing training courses for science teachers through its European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences (ELLS). Its goal is to provide continuing professional development to secondary school science teachers, onsite at EMBL Heidelberg, at our outstations and at research institutions in our member states that are interested in adopting its successful model. In addition, ELLS runs a School Ambassadors Programme and offers interactive webinars, e-learning modules and more teaching resources via its ‘EMBLog’ website. Linking teachers with EMBL scientists and providing opportunities to learn about the latest developments in the life sciences – so that teachers can pass that knowledge on to their students – is a hallmark of ELLS activities.

Continue reading »

Sep 032014

Viruses can have many different shapes – detailed knowledge of the molecular structures of viral proteins can help with the design of anti-viral substances

ELLS Guest Blog by Kanchan Anand

As a fresh outbreak of Ebola takes its toll in West Africa, I ask myself why we know a lot about viruses and yet do not have a vaccine or a drug against a lot of them. A little over two hundred years ago, in 1796, Edward Jenner developed the first antiviral vaccine to treat smallpox virus and since then scientists have developed vaccines for various viral diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, polio, hepatitis, influenza and rotavirus. However, we still have no vaccines against the common cold and many other, often deadly, viral infections such as Lassa, Marburg, SARS and H1N1. This seems perplexing at first, but let’s take a closer look into why handling a virus is not just challenging but actually quite tricky. Continue reading »

Aug 292014
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