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.
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
Insights into complex diseases
Novel experimental model systems
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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).