Competition in Biology: The race for survival, from molecules to systems - 15th EMBL PhD Symposium 2013

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  • About the Symposium

    From enzyme catalysis to ecosystems dynamics, biology is riddled with competition. DNA sequences compete for transcription factor binding to be expressed, cells in communities often compete for resources, pathogens compete against host immune systems, and on a larger scale, organisms compete against each other for limited resources in their environment.

    The 15th EMBL PhD Symposium (21-23 November 2013), entitled 'Competition in Biology - The Race for Survival from Molecules to Systems', addresses this.

    The Symposium is an annual event, organised by first-year PhD students at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany. It brings together fellow students from around the world, for a 3-day series of talks by leading experts but also by students themselves. Networking opportunities, poster sessions and workshops are also included in the programme.

    Biological competition offers an exciting and fresh perspective on the life sciences. The 2013 Symposium is timely in contextualising biological competition as a fundamental concept from the biomolecular to the systems level.

    Abstract Submission / Poster Competition

    If you are interested in giving a talk or presenting a poster, please submit a short abstract (up to 2000 characters) describing what you will present. The submission link will be provided by email after registration. Poster abstracts will be automatically entered into the competition for the Poster Award. The registration fee will be waived for those who are accepted as speakers.

    We highly recommend abstracts to be submitted as early as possible, as spaces for short talks and posters are limited.

    Travel Grants

    All participants are eligible to apply for a travel grant. Further information will be provided in the confirmation email after registering.


    • Matthew Chang – Nanyang Technological University (Singapore, Singapore)
    • Kevin Foster – University of Oxford (Oxford, UK)
    • Ron Fouchier – Erasmus MC (Rotterdam, the Netherlands)
    • George Kassiotis – MRC National Institute for Medical Research (London, UK)
    • Rebecca Kilner – University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK)
    • Eva Kisdi – University of Helsinki (Helsinki, Finland)
    • Sarah Reece – University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, UK)
    • John Sutherland – MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (Cambridge, UK)
    • Gregory Velicer – Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (Zürich, Switzerland)


    Molecular Competition

    Day1: Thursday, 21st November

    This will focus on the molecular mechanisms for intra- and inter-cellular competition. It aims to elucidate the importance of small molecules and chemical reactions as fundamental steps of sustaining and limiting life. Topics in the session will span from molecular assembly and prevalence of molecular interaction and inhibition, to viral infection and hijacking.

    Host vs. Pathogen

    Day 2: Friday, 22nd November

    This will discuss infection biology and host-pathogen interactions. The topics covered will include evolutionary epidemiology, systems and synthetic biology, pathogen infection strategies and host defence mechanisms.

    Species Competition

    Day 3: Saturday, 23rd November

    This will focus on systemic levels of competition from the context of microbial populations to a general approach on the study of the evolution of cooperation. Topics will include examples of social life and interactions between different species of bacteria, social approaches for humans, as well as general evolutionary studies.

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    Conference START 23.11.2013 END

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