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European Molecular Biology Organization

The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) promotes excellence in life sciences in Europe through a range of programmes and activities. EMBO is largely funded by the European Molecular Biology Conference (EMBC), an organisation comprising 27 member states including most European Union states and some neighbouring countries. Together with EMBO, EMBC promotes a strong pan-European approach to research.

The organization nurtures training and careers at all stages. This is done through courses, workshops, conferences and fellowships. The most recent is the Young Investigator Programme, which promotes Europe’s best young scientists in the early stages of their research careers. EMBO promotes mobility throughout member states, and globally through post-doctoral and short-term fellowships.

Case study

BBSRC-supported scientist Dr Andy Lovering from the University of Birmingham has been awarded an EMBO Young Investigator award for 2014-2017.

Andy Lovering

What is the Young Investigator Programme (YIP)?

The EMBO Young Investigator Programme is a prestigious scheme involving mentorship and networking for early career researchers as they start their own independent groups.

Where do applications come from and which topics do they feature?

Applications are received from across Europe and span a wide range of research topics. For example, the last annual meeting featured research on magnetotactic bacteria, protein structure prediction, plant homeostasis and flatworm regeneration.

What is your area of research and why is it important to BBSRC?

At the time of applying to the scheme I had recently worked on cell wall biosynthesis at Professor Natalie Strynadka’s lab at the University of British Columbia, and I was changing focus to start my own group at the University of Birmingham, looking at the structural biology of bacterial predators. The aim of this work is to assist the applied usage of these useful killers by understanding the molecular basis for predation. The naturally antibacterial strain Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus offers new opportunities for novel anti-microbial strategies, an important priority for the BBSRC.

How were you supported by EMBO during your membership?

There are many ways in which the scheme has supported me; these have included providing a small stipend and access to funds for equipment and consumables (useful in that they are smaller in scope than “regular” applications). I have also benefited from being able to use cutting-edge European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) facilities at cost price and attending EMBO annual and sectoral meetings.

Do you feel your career and your relationships with other researchers have profited from being a member of the programme?

I have benefitted strongly from the additional exposure of the EMBO YIP. And if you wish to visit the labs of other YIPs you meet, EMBO will help facilitate and fund this. I have had several conference and collaboration invitations that have arisen directly from YIP membership. You are even eligible to attend the annual meeting after your original three years have expired – you’re a YIP for life!

Did your PhD students take part in the PhD course offered by EMBO YIP?

My PhD students have also attended the annual training course which was very positive, providing training on some of the wider aspects of science careers at an early stage.

Would you recommend YIP to other early-career researchers?

I would heartily recommend it for early-career researchers on the verge of independence. Aside from the enjoyment of participation, it’s a great endorsement of you and your work.