Apr 142014


Click on the image to view the new issue of Science in School.

Looking for new teaching resources or inspiration for innovative biology lessons? If so, you will be pleased to read that the 28th issue of Science in School is now available! Biology teacher will not be disappointed by the breath of life sciences content in the current edition of the magazine – topics range from infectious diseases to basic and applied cell biology and epigenetics, cancer research and drug discovery.

The issue’s feature article discusses how archaeologists and geneticists have joined forces to uncover the mystery behind one of the most intriguing infectious diseases in history – the Black Death.  A palaeo-geneticist involved in the research explains how the scientists used molecular genetics techniques to analyse DNA from the bacterial pathogen Yersinia pestis which was found inside the teeth of plaque victims from medieval Britain. Their research provided crucial clues on the reasons behind the large death toll caused by the infection.

Looking at the science of natural medicines, a further life sciences article focuses on the interface between chemistry and medical biology, and takes the reader through current routes of drug design and production. Processes discussed are the use of chemical synthesis to obtain increased amounts of medical compounds from natural products, the production of semi-synthetic medicines, and the utilisation of natural compounds as templates for new drug designs.

If you ever wondered what eating broccoli or cashew nuts does to your genes, the article “Food that shapes you: how diet can change your epigenome” will give you plenty of ‘food for thought’. And a report on the World Cell Race – the Olympics for cell lines – will provide lots of reasons why it is important to study cell mobility. Cell division, rather than mobility, is the focus of an article on the yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe – a model organism which gives biologists essential clues about the behaviour of cancerous cells.

Apr 012014

It’s only April and our EMBL School Ambassadors have already been very active this year…but read on as there is more to come.

In July 2014, EMBL School Ambassadors Jelena Tica and Matilda Males will be acting as mentors at the Summer School of Science – a 10-day international event organised by the non-profit organisation Society Out-of-Frame Education, taking place in Croatia. In their Summer School project Jelena and Matilda are offering high school students the possibility to explore the genome architecture of primates using next generation sequencing and bioinformatics. Find out more by visiting Jelena‘s and Matilda‘s ambassador profiles and read the project summary at Jelena‘s and Matilda‘s diaries.

Find out about this year’s programme of the Summer School of Science organised by the Society Out-of-Frame Eduction and how to apply on the School website http://drustvo-evo.hr/s3

Applications for the Summer School of Science are now open, so if you know any international high school students (9th – 12th grade) who may be interested in attending, please see below for details.

The Summer School of Science is a 10-day long international interdisciplinary workshop for talented high school students. The students can apply until May 1st 2014.

The School held in Pozega, Croatia consists of two camps:

  • camp S3++ (July 12th – July 22nd) – 11th or 12th grade students
  • camp S3 (July 24th – August 1th) – 9th or 10th grade students

Organised by the non-profit organisation Society Out-of-Frame Education (EVO - http://drustvo-evo.hr/index_en.html), it offers high school students a diverse range of research projects and lectures in the fields of science and technology. This year, they have gathered an international team of young scientists coming from top European scientific institutions - University of Cambridge, University of Zurich, EMBL Heidelberg, ETH Zurich, EPFL Lausanne.

Project work will be accompanied by evening lectures given by eminent scientists from all over the globe. Confirmed speakers include

  • Prof. Ivan Djikic (Biochemistry Institute of Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany)
  • Bojan Zagrovic (Max F. Perutz Laboratories, Vienna, Austria), recipient of the prestigious European Research Council Starting Grant

The School is supported, among others, by the Google Rise Award, European Union FP7 grant and Open Society Foundations.

More information about this year’s program and how to apply can be found on the School website http://drustvo-evo.hr/s3

Mar 252014
ELLS Science Chat

Last week ELLS has hosted its very first Science Chat in 2014, connecting Italian high school students from the Istituto Scolastico Cattolico Paritario ‘Vincenza Altamura’ in Rome with EMBL researchers from Monterotondo and Heidelberg via the web.

Postdocs Jose Viosca presented his work on behavioural traits such as fear and anxiety, and postdoc Federico Rossi discussed his research on microglia – the macrophages of the brain. Continue reading »

Feb 252014
Video on-demand of EMBL Insight Lecture is now available online

Did you miss the last EMBL Insight Lecture by Dr. Christiane Schaffitzel on 31st January? Or do you want to go over selected parts of the lecture again? We are pleased to announce that the video of Christiane’s talk “From Code to Function – Observing Protein Synthesis Through the Electron Microscope” is now available on

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Feb 112014
Making your brain social

Failure to eliminate links between neurons produces autistic-like mice

In a nutshell:

Microglia deficit during development causes reduced functional brain connectivity and behaviours linked to autism
Effects persist into adulthood
Some connections between neurons have to be trimmed so others can grow strong

In many people with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, different parts of the brain don’t talk to each other very well. Scientists have now identified, for the first time, a way in which this decreased functional connectivity can come about. In a study published online on the 2nd of February in Nature Neuroscience, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Monterotondo, Italy, and collaborators at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT), in Rovereto, and La Sapienza University in Rome, demonstrate that it can be caused by cells called microglia failing to trim connections between neurons.

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