Milan 2021

EXPLORING LIFE DYNAMICS: In and out of equilibrium

This event was initially going to be held in Milan in November 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was postponed and finally organised from Milan and held completely online in May 2021.

Despite the online format, the ENABLE 2021 event was a huge success, with more than 300 young researchers participating from 43 countries, including both EU and non-EU members. The event included the usual three parts: the scientific symposium, a Career Day, and outreach events for schools and the general public.

The 2021 LOC/SOC managed to secure 6 sponsors (FEBS, IUBMB, EATRIS, ZEISS, The Company of Biologists and New England Biolabs). Since the event was held online, the funds raised from the sponsors were not used to award travel grants. Instead, grants for satellite events were awarded. Interested participants had the opportunity to submit a satellite event proposal, giving details on aims, programme and budget. A total of five satellite events were funded.

The ENABLE 2021 event showcased the determination of this consortium to continue organising unique high-level conferences that stand out from the classical scientific symposia and that are focused on the young generation of scientists.

ENABLE MILAN 2021 at a glance

Scientific Symposium

The scientific program covered a broad range of topics, from fundamental biology to translational medicine, and touched upon multidisciplinary research projects and integrative omics approaches.

The symposium hosted lectures by eight renowned keynote speakers. These presentations were grouped into four sessions that covered driving topics of modern research.

Scientific sessions and keynote speakers

Fundamental Biology

The many hats of the cell

Radboud University
Nijmegen, Netherlands
IRCCS Ospedale San Raffaele
Milan, Italy

Integrative Omics

Towards personalised medicine: solving the enigma of bytes

University of Oxford
Oxford, UK
University of Trento
Trento, Italy

Translational Medicine

Bridging the gap between bench and bedside

The Ohio State University
Ohio, USA
University of Zurich
Zurich, Switzerland

Multidisciplinary Research

Life sciences join forces to push biomedicine forward

University of Navarra
Navarra, Spain
Max Planck Institute
Dresden, Germany

Satellite events

Thanks to our sponsors, participants were given the opportunity to organise small satellite events at their own institutes, to better disseminate the ENABLE spirit. See below the list of the five ENABLE satellite events that took place in May-June 2021.

Bridging the gap between academic, clinical and industry collaborations: impact across the research lifecycle

Virtual workshop promoting the career development of international early career researchers.

10 May 2021, University College of London, UK.

Targeting translational biomedicine through interdisciplinary science

Virtual congress on the role of interdisciplinary science in biomedical research, giving a global perspective of career development pathways through the experiences of early-career researchers.

10 May 2021, Maimónides Institute for Biomedical Research of Córdoba (IMIBIC), Spain.

ENABLE your Career: PhD, and What’s Next!

In-person event. Academia vs. Industry round table and “Scientist for a Day” (outreach event with local primary school students).

11 May 2021, Centro de Investigación Médica Aplicada (CIMA), Spain.

POP UP LAB – Improv meets Biomedicine

Improvised theatre was used as a medium to engage the general public with some of the latest scientific research in biomedicine.

10 May 2021, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research (CPR), Denmark.

How to simplify science without inaccuracies

Virtual event aiming to give scientists tips on how to improve their science communication skills for the general public.

15 June 2021, Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), Spain.

Career Day

The Career Day is one of the core activities of ENABLE events. Despite the online format of the ENABLE 2021 gathering, participants had the chance to broaden their horizons and expand their capabilities through three complementary career activities: insightful discussions with 12 experts from different career paths in the career chats section, 12 workshops aimed at building new skills, and an opportunity fair hosting 18 participating institutions from academia, start-ups, and the biotech and pharmaceutical world.


During the ENABLE 2021 event, participants had the opportunity to join one of the 12 workshops on personal and professional development. These sessions covered topics from “How to prepare a competitive application for funding schemes in cancer research” to “Talk that science! – Tips for science communication and outreach”,  “Building Personal Resilience and Handling Stress” and “Goal setting and time management”.

Career chats

Career chats break with the classical format of career development round tables by fostering more direct interaction between the PhD and Postdoc communities and experts with different profiles from academia and industry, such as PIs, industry CEOs, medical science liaisons, medical advisors, regulatory affairs managers, science management consultants, editors and science communicators.

Each career chat had a dedicated virtual room and participants were able to switch from one chat to another to talk to the professionals involved and learn more about their career paths and the obstacles and surprising opportunities they encountered.

Opportunity fair

The ENABLE 2021 Opportunity Fair provided a unique occasion for young and talented researchers to meet up with companies and organisations and build constructive interactions with people from various life science sectors. Representatives were present from:

  • Pharmaceutical and Biotech companies
  • Academic organisations
  • Scientific Societies

Click here to see the list of companies that participated.

Outreach activities

From its start, ENABLE was conceived with the firm belief that science should never be hidden behind academic walls or a group of experts. Consequently, public outreach has always been a core value. In addition, the COVID pandemic has taught the world a lesson in this regard: science needs to be properly shared in order to fully engage society in relevant conversations, thus avoiding misinformation. As part of the ENABLE 2021 event, a variety of online outreach and public engagement activities were organised.

Ask the scientist

In collaboration with WIRED, an online science and technology magazine, a virtual event was developed in which people had the chance to approach the frontiers of Neuroscience. On this occasion, chaired by Andrea Gentile from WIRED magazine, four experts with different backgrounds discussed a variety of top research lines, from epigenetics to the ethical framework of neurogenomics and psychiatry, with Artificial Intelligence as a backbone topic.

Cross-Disciplinary Session

The Cross-Disciplinary Session was devoted to discussion about Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. In collaboration with the eXtemporanea group, a scientific community of young European researchers, a virtual event was organised to talk about the intersection between Artificial Intelligence and humans and how this relationship can be studied and understood. The topics addressed by the invited experts ranged from the basics of algorithms to the limitations of these mathematical pillars in solving certain scientific (and sometimes purely human) problems. These topics raised interesting questions about adding human social dynamics into machines and the implications this could have.

Activities for schools

Outreach events were also targeted at children and teenagers. First, an educational activity called “Discovering the invisible world” was organised for 10-11 year old primary school students to introduce the world of micro-organisms and their functions around us and “inside” us. The activity also included a practical section in which children performed basic and fun experiments to learn about microbes. Second, an outreach activity called “Genome editing: goals and new challenges” was organized for 12-13 year old primary school students, in which they were introduced to the concepts of DNA and how it can be modified in the laboratory to study diverse aspects of life. Finally, the activity “A model for each experiment”, which targeted high school students, explained the most common models used in life science research–from cells to complex organisms–and their applications to study human diseases.

Pub Talks

10-minute talks about mind-blowing science, still online but over a beer! In the evening, a series of online pub talks were given by young scientists. International PhD students and Postdocs taking part in the ENABLE conference shared their work with the general public in a short, entertaining and easy-to-grasp manner. Talks were streamed on YouTube.

The organising committee

Scientific organising committee


Cecilia Restelli – Anjali Mann – Gorana Jendrisek


Tugce Karaderi – Massimo Carraro – Joachim Johansen


Mateusz Biesaga – Anna Bartomeu – Inés Marin


Baranca Buijsers – Valentina Palacio Castaneda – Valerie Betting

Local organizing committee

Angelica Julieth Diaz Basabe – Nicolò Caporale – Susanna Eli – Michele Crestani – Sonia Viganò – Giulia Lovati – Angeli Dominique Macandog – Sara Martin – Sara Milovanovic – Ludovico Rizzuti – Federica Ruscitto – Gaia Sambruni – Silvia Tiberti – Marco Rigoli – Georgia Lattanzi – Alessandro Vitriolo – Giulia Marotta – Bianca Giuliani – Sebastiano Trattaro – Francesco Strati – Corey Jones-Weinert – Elena Zaccheroni – Amir Fardin


Angelica Julieth Diaz Basabe – Nicolò Caporale – Susanna Eli – Michele Crestani – Sonia Viganò – Giulia Lovati – Angeli Dominique Macandog – Sara Martin – Sara Milovanovic – Ludovico Rizzuti – Federica Ruscitto – Gaia Sambruni – Silvia Tiberti – Marco Rigoli – Georgia Lattanzi – Alessandro Vitriolo – Giulia Marotta – Bianca Giuliani – Sebastiano Trattaro – Francesco Strati – Amir Fardin – Elena Zaccheroni- Corey Jones-Weinert – Simone Frascolla


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 724115.