The NCCR Chemical Biology Annual Retreat 2016 took place last June and was held, just like the previous years, at the Eurotel Victoria, Villars-sur-Ollon, in Vaud. Over 90 members at all career stages came together over the three-day event to learn and exchange on their research, take the opportunity to get to know other scientists from the network and share in a convivial manner.
The retreat proved once more to be a valuable knowledge transfer exercise. Academic members were keen to listen to 25 contributed talks and attend over 40 posters by our junior research members. The invited “keynote speakers” were Andrey Klymchenko (Research Associate, Lab. of Biophotonics & Pharmacology, Strasbourg University) and Prof. Matthias Wymann (Dpt. of Biomedicine, University of Basel). They respectively presented interesting insights of their work relative to the development of fluorogenic probes for lipid and proteins in biomembranes or the complexity of phosphoinositide 3-kinase signaling and targeting pathways.
The Knowledge and Technology Transfer session held presented the activities of the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) – represented by Lan Zuo Gillet, Program Director, and Marine Favre, CTI Administration and Marketing Officer, to cover the CTI training opportunities. Coach Sébastian Dubuis further expanded on the coaching programmes available while Dr Lavinia Alberi acted as a “testimonial” and gave insights on her career path as both an entrepreneur and a researcher.
The outreach activities of the NCCR and the multiple ways researchers can actively contribute to it were presented by our Scientific Communicator, Nolwenn Chavan. An afternoon dedicated to team building activities is always part of the programme. We set for an excursion to the impressive Salt mines of Bex, which hold the Swiss market exclusivity on culinary salt production. A most interesting moment through history and a glimpse on a declining craft of courageous men.
Finally, the format of the strategy session was inverted compared to previous years. We implemented in advance a bottom-up approach and intended to “shake the box” by soliciting the involvement and creative thinking of the students and postdocs from the network. PhD student Qiuliyang Yu (Johnsson’s lab) co-lead the session with maestria together with our Director Howard Riezman, and many new directions and initiatives were risen.