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New international research program for climate, biodiversity and ecosystems

With the programme "Molecules to Ecosystems", Europe's leading life science research laboratory EMBL aims to link traditional molecular biology research to global agendas on climate, biodiversity and ecosystems. For the programme to be successful, it is necessary to get researchers from different professional disciplines to work together. The programme and its significance for Danish research will be presented at a symposium at Aarhus University in Denmark on 3-4 November 2022.

The programme "Molecules to Ecosystems", aims to link traditional molecular biology research to global agendas on climate, biodiversity and ecosystems. Figure: EMBL.
[Translate to English:] video
EMBL's video on the new programme.

This new programme from EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory) takes a solid approach with molecular/genetic/systems biology mechanisms to big questions such as ecosystem dynamics with environmental impacts and climate change, microbiome interactions and dynamics in everything from the marine environment to humans, and the complex interplay of cells and molecules in human biology. With the new EMBL programme, the 28 member countries have also contributed large resources to fulfill these goals.

The programme will expand EMBL's scope to study the molecular basis of life in the context of changing environments, transforming our understanding of life on earth and providing potential solutions to some of society's biggest threats, such as irreversible loss of biodiversity, antimicrobial resistance, pollution, climate change, food security and new pandemics.

Over recent decades, remarkable molecular insights have been made in model organisms, ranging from bacteria to animals, under defined lab conditions. However, living organisms do not exist in isolation. From plankton in oceans to bacteria in the human gut, every organism in nature is part of a complex and dynamic ecosystem, living in a community with other organisms, in physical and chemical environments. Therefore, there is a need for researchers from different professional disciplines to work together to understand these systems and their dynamics.

The vision is to advance the understanding of ecosystems at the molecular level and study life in context. The result will be fundamental research that expands what we know about life on earth and provides new means to address major global challenges.

The Chairman of the organizing committee of the symposium Professor Poul Nissen states:

"The new EMBL programme is a crucial leap in ambition in the life sciences and medical disciplines to move from a descriptive level to a full theory of complex, living systems, where one integrates and models data on dynamic systems at all levels from atoms and molecules to organisms, ecosystems and the biosphere as a whole.”

"Therefore, EMBL has also taken a big step towards becoming an active player in the member states' strategic research on, for example, climate and environmental issues and pandemics. EMBL has always been a pioneer in new methods and questions in molecular biology, and the symposium at Aarhus University will be both a snapshot of the most outstanding research and a look into future research, concludes Poul Nissen."

The programme will be presented at a symposium to be held on 3-4 November 2022 in the Main Hall (“Aulaen”) at Aarhus University. The symposium aims to create contact with research environments in Denmark, which have so far been less oriented towards molecular biology and EMBL within these fields. In addition to a presentation of the "Molecules to Ecosystems" programme, an introduction will be given to the various opportunities for financial support to help realise the programme and for innovation derived from results.

The symposium is also strongly aimed at younger researchers with a focus on the many programmes for student exchange, PhD studies, postdoctoral and group leader positions, research support and networks in EMBL and with EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organization) that can promote career development and research networks in Denmark.

For further information, please contact

Professor Poul Nissen
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetis
Aarhus University, Denmark
pn@mbg.au.dk - Mobile: +45 2899 2295