The 9th Horizons in Molecular Biology Symposium

Organizers and participants of Horizons in Molecular Biology 2012
Organizers and participants of Horizons in Molecular Biology 2012

With more than 300 young scientists from all over the world, the 9th “Horizons in Molecular Biology” meeting in October 2012 broke the participants record in the history of our symposium! Together with the 24 invited renowned international speakers they spent a truly stimulating, diverse and entertaining week of scientific exchange.


The famous biochemistry textbook author couple Judith and Donald Voet delivered two riveting opening talks at the Career Fair preluding the symposium and were kind enough to stay with us throughout the entire event. Donald Voet cautioned us not to pursue “cargo cult science”, i.e. science that is carried out correctly in its form but without any understanding of the scientific method, while his wife Judith Voet shared her joy in teaching and communicating science. It was a great experience to have two real celebrities of the field, who furthermore were so accessible and eager to interact with students. Even some of our speakers got very excited, Drew Endy calling the Voets his “personal heroes”.


The main idea of “Horizons” – stimulating exchange between PhD students and senior scientist in academia and other fields – thus was off to a good start. Apart from the intense communication after lectures and during poster sessions, several scheduled events provided a platform to allow for communication. For example, students engaged senior scientists during speed dating sessions or in the more casual event “Lunch with the Prof”. Many of the speakers also mingled with the students at the conference dinner, the subsequent party and various other social events. Connecting cutting-edge science with the joys of life is another hallmark of “Horizons”. This became perhaps most apparent during the vivid traditional “Wine & Cheese” poster session.


One feature of “Horizons” is also its diversity, which was achieved by inviting speakers from a wide range of subject areas in molecular biology and beyond, thereby attracting students with equally diverse interests who contributed their own ideas and research. This year’s talks spanned such diverse fields as dynein motion (Andrew Carter), the genomic history of the “Black Death” (Johannes Krause), large noncoding RNAs (Ronald Breaker) or the host-pathogen arm’s race in evolution (Harmit Malik). Jennifer LippincottSchwartz and several other speakers expressed how stunned and delighted they were to get the opportunity to experience this stimulating diversity together with the students. Exchange between fields of research often leads to entirely new ways to view ones own problems in science and maybe even the one or the other cooperation was sparked or a postdoc application set up because of this symposium.


As always, it were the little things that made this event memorable: For example, the 2002 chemistry Nobel laureate Kurt Wüthrich delivered his talk in entirely new wardrobe, purchased especially for the occasion – because his luggage got stuck at Frankfurt airport. Thomas Südhof came to the “SNAREMecca Göttingen” to poach in Reinhard Jahn’s domain with an intriguing talk containing almost exclusively unpublished data.


In the year 2013 we are going to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our “Horizons in Molecular Biology” symposium, taking place on September 9th-13th. We already look forward to yet another great conference with such renowned speakers as Tim Hunt (Nobel laureate of 2001), who will give the keynote talk, and cordially invite all of you to celebrate the anniversary with us! The highlights of the 2012 meeting were filmed and combined in a trailer that can be viewed on our website. We kindly ask you to share this trailer amongst your friends and colleagues and thereby help us in promoting the upcoming 10th “Horizons”! 

Sven Truckenbrodt, Tino Pleiner

from Molecular Biology Newsletter, Issue 4 (Jan 2013)


Speakers 2012

Molecules of Life

Wah Chiu, Judith Frydman, Anne Marie Pyle, Matthias Selbach, Kurt Wüthrich

Organization of the Cell

Andrew Carter, Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, Hidde Ploegh, Tom Rapoport, Romeo Ricci, Sharon Tooze

From Genes to Function

Dominique Bergmann, Ronald Breaker, Drew Endy, Joannes Krause, Harmit Malik, Maria Elena Torres-Padilla 

Cellular Communication

Maria Pia Cosma, Joshua Kaplan, Dieter Oesterheldt, Jeremy Reiter, Thomas Südhof 

Horizons Opening Talk

Ron Laskey 

Career Fair Keynote Lecture

Judith and Donald Voet

Photo gallery