EMBO celebrates 50 years of achievement

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Posted by Barry Whyte 27/1/14


2014 has arrived and EMBO is celebrating its 50th anniversary. EMBO officially acquired legal status on 12 July 1964 and the first goal was to establish networking activities to enhance interactions between European laboratories. These early activities, which were to prove extremely beneficial for life scientists in Europe, were started by the provision of fellowships and the election of the first members of the organization. A second objective was to create a central laboratory for molecular biology, a goal that was realized in 1974 with the foundation of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.




Meetings and activities will take place throughout the year to inform a wider audience about the past and present activities of EMBO. Events in 2014 include the EMBO-EMBL Anniversary Science and Policy Meeting in July, the FEBS-EMBO 2014 Conference at the end of August as well as the 2014 Anniversary EMBO Members Meeting in October.


Over the past year, we have been working with science writer Georgina Ferry to interview all the directors of EMBO. Georgina Ferry is the author of such books as Max Perutz and the Secret of Life and The Common Thread: A story of science, politics, ethics and the human genome. We have also interviewed some leading scientists about the early days of EMBO and how the organization has developed over the years. The interviewees include Sydney Brenner, James Watson, and Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza. As 2014 progresses, we will make the interview content available via our web timeline. The book will also be made  available on the EMBO anniversary web site in February.


To start the year, the Secretary General of EMBO, Sir Paul Nurse, has published an editorial in Science where he outlines some of EMBO’s achievements and why we should argue for increased support to strengthen and expand the activities of the organization. “EMBO has had a major influence on the life sciences in Europe through important but often quite modest objectives and a clear mission to help scientists do their best research,” says Nurse. “By effectively describing what EMBO has achieved in the life sciences, we can argue for increased support to strengthen and expand its activities and ties with the international scientific community in the years ahead.” The editorial is available here.


Happy New Year and we hope you will join us in celebrating fifty years of achievement at EMBO.