In a world of science acronyms, two of the best known in research biology are coming together. The American Society for Cell Biology and the European Molecular Biology Organization will join forces for a joint 2017 ASCB/EMBO Meeting, December 2–6 in Philadelphia, PA. This will be followed in 2018 by the second ASCB/EMBO Meeting, December 8–12 in San Diego, CA. The two-year agreement, signed last month by ASCB Executive Director Erika Shugart and EMBO Director Maria Leptin, calls for a careful review each year to gauge the success of the joint meeting and to determine next steps in what both sides are regarding as an experiment.
According to Pietro De Camilli, ASCB’s incoming 2017 President, the first tangible step toward the 2017 ASCB/EMBO Meeting was the appointment of Co-Program Chairs by the two societies: Tobias Walther of Harvard Medical School in Boston for ASCB and Laura Machesky of the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow, Scotland, for EMBO.
Both De Camilli and Leptin note that while it wasn’t planned this way, the two embody the increasingly international nature of cell science. Walther received his PhD in Germany and came to the United States for a postdoc at the University of California, San Francisco, while Machesky did her doctorate at Johns Hopkins before her postdoc in the UK at the MRC Laboratory in Cambridge. Machesky now works in Scotland, Walther in Massachusetts.
“Science is an international endeavor,” says De Camilli, who as 2017 ASCB President will preside at the Philadelphia meeting. “The ASCB has become a beacon for this, not only in America but in the world. Many members of EMBO, one of the strongest European scientific societies, are already ASCB members. The joint meeting will acknowledge and consolidate our partnership.”
The new agreement leaves the bulk of the organizational and financial management of the joint meeting to the ASCB, which has U.S. convention center contracts into the next decade, De Camilli explains. EMBO, along with its input on the scientific program, will present its Gold Medal winner and the Jeantet Prize awardees at the joint meeting, as well as a number of talks by EMBO Young Investigators. EMBO will also organize an additional plenary session on Open Science. “Some are a little wary of calling this an experiment but we don’t want to present this as a fait accompli,”according to De Camilli, who stresses that both societies will evaluate the resulting meetings and seek member input. “But given the international nature of our science and the size and expense of a big meeting, this makes sense,” De Camilli says.