The Vienna Doctoral School (VDS) “Molecules of Life” retreat 2018


The third “Molecules of Life” retreat took place in Traunkirchen, Austria, continuing and strengthening the tradition of choosing locations next to Europe’s most beautiful lakes.
The VDS’s mission of promoting research across many disciplines was reflected in the attendance of over 100 PhD students, postdocs and group leaders in disciplines ranging from Life Sciences, to Chemistry and Molecular Biology.

Participants enjoyed networking opportunities and teambuilding activities such as a boat race across the beautiful lake Traunsee, where everyone clearly was a winner on this sunny day!
“It is always so rewarding to watch all the participants having a great time. Thanks to the beautiful location and the scientific program with a large number of talks and posters, the retreat was a great success, and I hope that many fruitful scientific collaborations will stem from it,” says VDS Manager Gerlinde Aschauer. 

The prizes for best talk went to Master Student Clara Billroth and PhD students Simona Ferraioli and Lucy Sneezum. Clara told us about how intrinsically disordered proteins can be studied using NMR; Lucy energized the audience by telling us about the importance of moderation in inflammation, and Simona described the impact of the nuclear lamina on chromatin organization during muscle cell differentiation.
In the posters category, the prizes went to Konstantina Georgiou, for her superfast explanation of how the proteins of the nuclear lamina are regulated during the cell cycle; to Emma Stepinac for illustrating how she uses structural biology to chase a DRAGON (component of the Drosophila centriole); and to Karolina Zielinska for her thorough investigation of how Calcium regulates the cytoskeleton and the phagocytic ability in a protozoon.

This year, two additional prizes were sponsored by FEBS Journal, which went to PhD students Elena Galimberti for her talk on mRNA decay and how it impacts the exit of embryonic stem cells from pluripotency; and to Tanino Albanese for his poster on stress-induced protein variants.
The “VDS Out of the Box Stipend”, allowing the winner to acquire new tools for their research, went to Aleksej Drino this year. He will invest it in equipment that will enable him to investigate the role of tRNAs in early embryogenesis.

Manuela Baccarini says: “Attending this conference and delivering the prizes is truly the best moment of the year for me. These young scientist are the future and they are an inspiration for all of us. Many congratulations to the winners and their truly special contribution, but also a shout-out from the whole committee to all of you who presented, chaired and discussed. The committee found that the general quality was extremely high, higher than in many international conference, which made it really difficult to award the prizes. Finally, many thanks to all the students but in particular to the students’ reps for helping make the school activities better in the future. Rule your school, and see you all next year!”.