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Special Sessions

EU-OPENSCREEN Special Session

Chemical biology approaches and their application in cell biology

Chair: PIOTR ZIELENKIEWICZ, Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, PAS, Warsaw, Poland
Monday July 8, 18:30-19:30

Dr Bahne Stechmann
EU-OPENSCREEN: Collaboration opportunities in chemical biology for international biochemists and molecular biologists
Research projects in chemical biology aiming at the discovery of novel small molecular probes, which can be used as versatile tools in cell biology, are complex and often require access to high-throughput screening platforms, large compound collections and chemical hit-to-lead optimisation expertise, which are not always available to academic researchers. EU-OPENSCREEN (www.eu-openscreen.eu) is an academic, publically funded, not-for-profit organisation, which supports scientists to implement their research projects in early drug discovery to collaboratively develop novel small molecular probes for their proteins-of-interest, by providing access to high-throughput screening platforms, compound collections and medicinal chemistry expertise. Hear more about how molecular biologists in Europe and beyond can work together with EU-OPENSCREEN to identify their own novel chemical tool compounds.

Dr Zbigniew Leśnikowski
POL-OPENSCREEN: The Polish research infrastructure of open access screening platforms for chemical biology 
POL-OPENSCREEN is the Polish network within EU-OPENSCREEN since 2010. Research in the field of organic, bioorganic and medicinal chemistry in Poland is often top-ranking. However, these capabilities are not enough used for the promotion of new bioactive compounds and future drugs development. One of POL-OPENSCREEN’s aims is to fill this gap to the benefit of the county’s science and economy and to contribute to the international network of collaborations and keeping Europe at the forefront of the biological and medical sciences. At present, the consortium includes eight leading Polish research institutions and is open to new members and partners. The implementation of the large-scale infrastructure project financed by Polish Ministry of Sciences and Higher Education aimed at the construction of the National Compounds Library and improvement of screening capabilities is ongoing.

Prof María Isabel Loza
ES-OPENSCREEN: The Spanish open innovation ecosystem in chemical biology and drug discovery
The drug discovery process has evolved in the last years to an open innovation framework where both private and public institutions share risks and benefits of a drug discovery program. In Spain different initiatives were implemented with the purpose of establishing public-private partnerships in early drug discovery considering the EU-OPENSCREEN ERIC consortium. Among these initiatives the Spanish Network of Excellence on Drug Discovery (REDEFAR) was implemented by joining the efforts of 10 public research groups and creating a REDEFAR Community involving the different stakeholders of the drug discovery field. REDEFAR network is linked to ES-OPENSCREEN, the Spanish node of the ERIC EU-OPENSCREEN, creating an ideal ecosystem in chemical biology and drug discovery with all the actors involved. We will present here some of the initiatives carried out in this Spanish ecosystem.

Dr Päivi Tammela
FIMM High Throughput Biomedicine Unit - High Capacity Screening Site in EU-OPENSCREEN
University of Helsinki coordinates Finland's participation to the EU-OPENSCREEN ERIC and chairs the national Drug Discovery and Chemical Biology (DDCB) platform. The DDCB platform consists of four units located in Helsinki, Kuopio and Turku, providing complementary expertise in various technologies related to chemical biology and drug discovery. The High Throughput Biomedicine Unit at FIMM is a High Capacity Screening site in EU-OPENSCREEN, and provides services and expertise related to high-throughput screening technologies, laboratory automation and liquid handling systems. We have Labcyte Access station for acoustic, low-volume dispensing and integrated HighRes Biosolutions Acell robotic system suitable for cell-based and biochemical assay development and chemical library screening. Our platform allows flexible, fully or partially automated assay protocols, and is especially suited for running cell-based screens.  Our specialty is Drug Sensitivity and Resistance Testing (DSRT) platform for individualized systems medicine, which is extensively used for studying responses of ex vivo patient samples towards >500 oncology drugs and probes at several concentrations.

PTBioch Special Session

Tuesday July 9, 12:30-12:50

Prof Jan Potempa
Protein-ligand and protein-protein interactions in type IX secretion system of Porphyromonas gingivalis

Porphyromonas gingivalis uses type IX secretion system (T9SS) to secrete proteins. Cargo proteins of T9SS invariably possess a C-terminal domain (CTD) signal targeting them to an outer membrane (OM) translocon. Concurrently with translocation, the CTD is cleaved by PorU which functions as the sortase attaching anionic lipopolysaccharide (A-LPS) to secreted proteins thus anchoring them into the outer membrane. PorZ, a cell-surface associated protein, is an essential component of T9SS with unknown function. Structure-based modelling predicted PorZ as a carbohydrate-binding protein and, accordingly, we showed that recombinant PorZ binds A-LPS, but not O-LPS. The binding was blocked by monoclonal antibodies specifically reacting with a phosphorylated branched mannan in anionic polysaccharide (A-PS) repeated unit of A-LPS. Examination of A-LPS derived from mutants producing variably truncated A-PS confirmed that the phosphorylated branched mannan is, indeed, the PorZ ligand. Purified recombinant PorZ interacted with PorU sortase in a manner strongly enhanced by A-LPS. This interaction on the cell surface was confirmed by pull-down experiments revealing that PorZ, PorU, together with integral OM β-barrel proteins PorV and PorQ, are assembled in an oligomeric structure apparently involved in posttranslational modification and retention of T9SS cargos on the bacterial surface.


ERC Special Session

European Research Council Special Session – How to apply for your next ERC grant

Wednesday July 10; 09:00–10:00

The European Research Council (ERC) is a funding agency of the European Union that supports excellent ground-breaking research across all fields and aims to push forward the frontiers of knowledge. Funding is available for scientists of any nationality to work in the European Union or in a country associated to the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme. This session will present the funding schemes offered by the ERC (Starting, Consolidator, Advanced and Synergy grants) and details about the evaluation process. It will include practical information on how to draft your next proposal and apply for funding. In addition, Prof. Gunter Meister, who has received both a Starting and a Consolidator grant from the ERC, will present his experience as an ERC grantee regarding the application process and the difference that the ERC grants have made to his research and career. The session will include time for Q&As with the audience.

Chair: Maria Siomos, Panel Coordinator of the LS2 Panel (Genetics, ‘Omics’, Bioinformatics and Systems Biology), ERC, Belgium
• Helena Magliarelli – Scientific Officer, ERC, Brussels, Belgium
• Gunter Meister – Professor of Biochemistry, University of Regensburg, Germany

FEBS Special Sessions

Alongside the core research-focused scientific program of the FEBS Congress, FEBS committees and working groups are organizing sessions of wide general interest to molecular life scientists – on education, research and career skills, 'science and society', and gender issues. These provide a contrast to the scientific symposia, with opportunities to hear about research-related interests such as teaching in the molecular life sciences, soft skills for researchers, and subjects for debate.

FEBS Special Session on Gender Issues in Science 

Sunday July 7; 16:15–18:15. Chair: Cecilia Arraiano, Portugal

Women and men should have the same opportunities across all science disciplines. Different careers are possible – e.g. academia, industry – but we have always to address gender issues if we want to ensure diversity to support the quality of research and innovation. A culture of collaboration implies the inclusion of both men and women solving problems facing society. The session will present and discuss how we can avoid discrimination and significantly contribute to the progress of science.

• Closing the gap: providing equal opportunities in scientific careers, Isabelle Vernos (Chair, ERC’s Gender Balance Working Group), Spain
• Improving gender balance in science and innovation – key elements of lasting progress, Maren A. Jochimsen (Vice President,  European Platform of Women Scientists EPWS), Germany
Advancing gender equality in the sciences: not a black and white issue, Charise Johnson (500 Women Scientists), UK

FEBS Special Session on Science & Society – Personalised medicine: a future vision 

Tuesday July 9; 16:15–18:15; Organized by the FEBS Science and Society Committee

The advance in the knowledge of the human genome and in the technology that allows it to be sequenced, analyzed and compared, is allowing the beginning of a new era in the study of human diseases. Likewise, it opens new opportunities to develop tailor-made treatments, especially to understand and treat rare diseases, as well as new ethical challenges in the use of biomedical information. 

Chairs: Emmanouil Fragkoulis, Greece; Isabel Varela-Nieto, Spain
• Personalised lifestyle beyond personalised medicine: the future is here, Paolo Gasparini, Italy
• Bioethics and personalised medicine, Andrzej Kochanski, Poland
• Precision medicine of rare diseases and the link with common disorders, Francesc Palau, Spain

FEBS/IUBMB Special Sessions on Education 

Session 1 – Creative teaching: Effective learning in life sciences education

Monday July 8; 16:15–18:15; Co-organized by the FEBS and IUBMB Education Committees

How do we go about fostering effective learning in our students through the use of creative teaching methods? How do we bring together student-centred approach, active learning and ideal doses of creative activity? This session will explore the nature and value of creative teaching and propose a number of strategies that life sciences educators should consider if they hope to graduate the future scientists of 21st century society.

Chairs: Luciane Vieira de Mello, UK; Laszlo Dux, Hungary
• Enhancing your classroom teaching by integration of open online courses, Peter de Jong, Netherlands
• Student-activating methods of teaching in life sciences, Michal Nowakowski, Poland
• Undergraduate teaching laboratories the transformative impact of learning technologies, Bill Heslop, UK
Panel discussion and Q&A

Session 2 – Future education now!
Tuesday July 9; 16:15–18:15; Co-organized by the FEBS and IUBMB Education Committees

Internationally recognized educational innovators Eric Mazur and Joan J. Guinovart will be the speakers of this session. Now is the time for FEBS educators to listen to their motivational talks and be inspired.

Chairs: Gul Guner Akdogan, Turkey; Jean-Luc Souciet, France
• Innovating education to educate innovators, Eric Mazur, USA
• Revamping postdoctoral training and education, Joan J. Guinovart, Spain

FEBS Special Session on Research and Career Skills

Wednesday July 10; 16:15–18:15; Organized by the FEBS Working Group on the Careers of Young Scientists and the FEBS Education Committee

This session will provide short talks on a range of skills for scientists beyond the lab bench. Participants will then be able to choose one of the four topics to explore further in practical exercises and discussion.

Chairs: Irene Díaz Moreno and Ferhan Sağın
• How to elaborate a cogent scientific grant application, Miguel A. De la Rosa, Spain
• How to make the best out of your paper, Daniela Ruffell, Spain
 How to write an interesting and insightful review article, Seamus Martin, Ireland
• How to prepare an engaging undergraduate lecture, Francesco Michelangeli, UK
• Small-group exercises and discussion

FEBS Research and Careers Skills Workshop – Networking 

Monday July 8; 18:30–19:30; Organized by the FEBS Network Working Group

Following a popular session at last year’s FEBS Congress, this workshop will look again at the value of networking for scientists and a range of networking approaches for different aims, such as finding a collaborator or seeking a new academic position. Participants will take part in small-group discussions facilitated by FEBS-associated scientists, and one aim will be to generate and share a set of tips to take away and put into practice. The session will end with a short speed networking game. 

FEBS has twin commitments to high-quality publications and the promotion of molecular biosciences. As a charitable academic organization,
FEBS uses income from the journals to fund its diverse activities, including support for the FEBS Congress.