Cologne 2023

THE EMERGING CHALLENGE – Environmental impacts on human health
Group photo in the conference main room at the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference in Cologne in November 2023.
Attendees the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference in Cologne in 2023. Photo credit to Jacobifoto Dieter Jacobi.

On 23-25 November 2023 the second FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference took place at the University of Cologne (UoC), Germany, and welcomed more than 240 participants from 32 countries within and outside of the EU. The theme was ‘The emerging challenge: environmental impacts on human health’ and fused state-of-the-art and keynote lectures, educational workshops, career chats, thought-provoking presentations and an out-of-the-box creative lab waste art contest!

Our 13 sponsors were enthusiastic of this initiative and their contribution together with the local graduate schools allowed us to support a total of 62 travel grants.

FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE 2023 conference demonstrated once again how the ENABLE format is a unique high-level conference, different from the classic scientific conference to which we are used to, and with a special focus on the young generation of scientists and their needs.

Scientific Symposium

Following the scientific theme of the symposium, eight renowned keynote speakers from different fields shared their expertise and experience in four sessions across several topics including Epigenetics and the exposome, Cancer and infectious disease, Nutrition and microbiome, Novel experimental model systems and big data and computational modeling.

Participants also had the opportunity to share their science with their peers through flash and short talks as well as two poster sessions.

Scientific sessions and keynote speakers

Session 1

Computational biology

Fernanda Pinheiro

Human Technopole

Italy

Serena Nik-Zainal

University of Cambridge

UK

Session 2

Insights into complex diseases

Pascal Miesen

Radboudumc

The Netherlands

Dirk Haller

Technical University of Munich

Germany

Session 3

Novel experimental model systems

Solenn Patalano

IIBBS Alexander Fleming

Greece

Maria Bernabeu

EMBL Barcelona

Spain

Session 4

Epigenetics and exposome

Martin Howard

John Innes Centre

UK

David Aylor

NC State University

US

Career Day

The event included a Career Day with workshops, alternative-career chats and an opportunity fair with the sponsors. With the career day, the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE event gave participants the opportunity to get inspired about their future as young scientists and to broaden their skill set to take their future in their own hands.

Workshops

During the FEBS-IUBMB_ENABLE 2023 Conference, participants had the opportunity to join one of the 8 workshops on personal and professional development. The workshops touched on many important aspects of a scientific career – from identifying the potential in your research (Gateway, UoC), generating robust data (Martin Michel University of Mainz) and avoiding biases in science (Niels Gehring, UoC), to how to publish your work (Valerie Teng-Broug, Elsevier). More-personal topics were also introduced, such as overcoming imposter syndrome (Michaela Höhne, Elanto Science), providing evidence for the skills that stay (Jörg Stange, hfp Consulting) and navigating career paths after a PhD (Gateway, UoC). Naturally, given the conference’s theme, participants learned how to make their lab more sustainable and environmentally friendly (Tomo Šarić, Anna Schmitt and Johanna Stachelscheid, UoC).

Two photos side by side showing the workshops at the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference Cologne 2023.
Workshops at the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference in Cologne in 2023. Photo credit to Jacobifoto Dieter Jacobi.

Career chats

Career chats during the conference were a unique opportunity to have a direct interaction between the PhD and Postdoc communities and experts with different profiles introducing a range of science-related career path options after PhDs, such as consulting, scientific publishing and communication, patent attorney, pharmaceutical research associate, or clinical safety manager.

Two photos side by side showing the career chats at the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference Cologne 2023.
Career chats at the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference in Cologne in 2023. Photo credit to Jacobifoto Dieter Jacobi.

Job fair

Where will the next challenge be in your career? The FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE job fair was a unique and concrete occasion for young and talented researchers to meet with companies and public organisations and build up constructive interactions with people from various life science sectors. The 2023 edition included:

  • Pharmaceutical and Biotech companies
  • Editing/publishing companies
  • Academic organisations
  • Scientific Societies
Two photos side by side showing the job fair at the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference Cologne 2023.
Job fair at the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference in Cologne in 2023. Photo credit to Jacobifoto Dieter Jacobi.

Outreach Activities and Networking

Our goal is to bring science closer to society. This year, in harmony with our green & environmental theme, public pub talks & pub quizzes were held on the importance of taking care of our planet. The participants had the possibility of joining pub talks & pub quizzes to raise awareness on adopting a green-lab-initiative in their own labs. FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE brings & popularises science to a younger audience as well, as activities for kindergarten and high school students encourage their curiosity, educate about environmental impacts and inform about possible career paths in natural sciences.

Double photo, on the left-side one showing a man looking down a microscope and on the right-side one a group photo showing adults on the back row and children sitting in front, all wearing hats to protect from the sun.
Outreach activities at the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference in Cologne in 2023.

Social Activities

Science was combined with fun too, as the social activities included a gala dinner that took place in a German brewery, a treasure hunt, a pub quiz on lab waste and a photography contest on lab waste turned into art.

Two photos side by side showing the social activities at the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference Cologne 2023.
Social activities at the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference in Cologne in 2023. Photo credit to Ole Radach.

Sustainability

The organizers also inaugurated the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE forest with more than 300 trees planted in the Amazonia and Tanzania, to partially compensate for CO2 emissions generated from the event. Other sustainability initiatives included a vegetarian-only menu, reusable cutlery, exclusively digital distribution of the abstract book and programme, and seed-paper name badges.

Double photo showing on the left a lecture session and on the right a stand, both activities about sustainability at the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference Cologne 2023.
Sustainability activities at the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference in Cologne in 2023. Photo credit to Jacobifoto Dieter Jacobi.

The Organizing Committee

One of the reasons ENABLE stands out among other conferences is the effort put into the outreach activities. It is a duty of scientists to continually commit to disclosing their work to the general public. The only way we can really become better and create a change in the society we are living in is through having clear and transparent discussions including all of the citizens interested and not just scientists. This is why ENABLE dedicates itself to public outreach activities and why the ENABLE conference started well before all of the participants have arrived. 

Scientific Organizing Committee (SOC)

University of Cologne: Franziska Baumann, Ximena Hildebrandt

SEMM: Andrea Mariani, Giulia Perticari

CPR: Katerina Nastou, Mikaela Koutrouli

IRB: Luis Rodríguez, Marcos Fariña

RIMLS: Teodora Grigore, Jonas Gockel

IBIS: Francisco José Ostos Marcos, Aida Amador Álvarez

FEBS: Marta Reyes Corral

IUBMB: James Murphy

Photo of the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference organizing committee 2023 holding up the event flag, which is the ENABLE name and logo.
The organizing committee at the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference in Cologne in 2023. Photo credit to Jacobifoto Dieter Jacobi.

Local Organizing Committee (LOC)

Elena Heuten (LOC Scientific Symposium Chair) – Michaela Höhne (LOC Communication & Outreach Chair) – Susanne Steigleder (LOC Sponsors & Career Day Chair) – Danae Angelidaki – Kristie Bariboloka – Sarah Buchholz – Roberta Colapietro – Deborah Delbue da Silva – Christina Efraimoglou – Adrian Gackstatter – Nourhan Hassan – Schinya Ibrahim – Patrizia Kroll – Mert Mestanoglu – Julie Mudler – Tim Schlegel – Besarta Thaqi

LOCAL COORDINATORS

Dr. Debora Grosskopf-Kroiher (Managing Director – Center for Molecular Medicine),  Dr. Isabell Witt (Scientific Coordinator of the Graduate School for Biological Studies), Kathy Joergens (Graduate School for Biological Studies office).

Group photo showing the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference 2023 local organisers
The local organizing committee at the FEBS-IUBMB-ENABLE conference in Cologne in 2023.

Conference Promotional Video