EMBL BioMalPar 2018 Heidelberg report

Parnika Mukherjee (HU)

Published July 11, 2018


The 14th annual BioMalPar meeting at EMBL, Heidelberg commenced on the rainy morning of May 23, 2018. During three days of meetings, scientists from all career stages addressed important issues in malaria and shared recent findings. Under four broad categories, talks and posters from a vast assortment of research areas were given:

  • Immunobiology and pathophysiology
  • Parasite molecular and cell biology
  • Vector parasite interactions
  • Computational and systems biology

There were seven talk sessions in total over three days: Vector Biology and Transmission, Omics and Systems Biology, Molecular and Cellular Biology (1), Host–parasite Interactions, Immunobiology and Vaccine Development, Drugs and Resistance and Molecular and Cellular Biology (2). Not only were the talks presented beautifully and the speakers connected well with the audience, but I also enjoyed listening to how scientists from vastly different backgrounds approached their scientific questions. The talk sessions took place in the auditorium of the ATC building while the posters were arranged on its double helix.


The poster session proved to be particularly significant for me. Some scientists whose work I have been reading about since Day 1 of my PhD, eagerly discussed my project at length. I was encouraged to talk about what tools and methods I am using, what results I have already obtained. I not only got their input, but was also asked to give an account of my experience with the tools that I have used. At the end of the poster session, I was left with ideas on how to circumvent some problems that I have faced and might face in the future. This was a very good experience, because it not only left me motivated to do my research well, but it also gave me a more realistic picture of the outcomes of my project.


Other than talk sessions and poster sessions, there was the possibility to participate in one of two workshops: “Make up your parasites with CRISPR/Cas9” and “Life beyond the P-value: from elementary to advanced data analysis”. In the latter, we discussed how the definition of p-values might be misinterpreted and scenarios in which the computation of p-values is necessary. On the last day after all scientific sessions, there was a panel discussion on “Career development - science and more”. PhD students and Postdocs brought up issues they face with regards to further employment, being recognized as a good researcher based on published papers, etc.


On the evening of May 24th, all PIs and students gathered on the foyer of the ATC building to welcome the band Art Donuts. The band covered songs from Queen, Bruno Mars and many others and we danced to our hearts’ content under the double helix. The upbeat atmosphere of the conference was very enjoyable and to witness everyone’s motivation towards doing good science was a delightful experience. Given the possibility, I would definitely go back to this conference in coming years.


Photo credits - Left: The ATC building at EMBL, Heidelberg. Credit: https://www.embl.de/; and second from left: the double helix in the ATC. Credit: Thomas Ott, Mühltal; https://www.on-light.de/.