EpiGene2Sys – The Journey Continues

Source: HMGU

In continuation of the European Network of Excellence “EpiGeneSys”, the kick-off “EpiGene2Sys – The Journey Continues” meeting was held at the Botanische Staatssammlung from 15th-17th January 2018. Organised by Institute directors Maria Elena Torres-Padilla and Robert Schneider, the aim of the meeting was to bring together epigeneticists and systems biologists and support sustainable interactions established during EpiGeneSys.

The “EpiGeneSys” European Network of Excellence was a hugely successful network promoting interdisciplinary exchange and training, as well as encouraging collaborative exchange of tools and knowledge.  With such high achievements during the funding period, the network highlighted the importance of collaborative approaches and the aim of “EpiGene2Sys – The Journey Continues” is to maintain interactions between network members and develop the legacy of the network even further.

Overlooking the beautiful botanical gardens in Munich, the meeting began on Monday afternoon with a welcome from Professors Torres-Padilla and Schneider and their wish for a smooth and productive continuation of the network and collaborative opportunities arising from EpiGeneSys. 

The programme, featuring talks from group leaders, post-docs and PhD students, touched on the wealth of topics and approaches that epigenetics so importantly embodies. From the transmission of environmental and metabolic information, chromatin organization and the role of the non-coding genome, to the importance of computational frameworks and their fusion with biological approaches, the meeting was a fascinating opportunity to see first-hand how progressive a community of open, collaborative and international researchers can be. Indeed, a number of the speakers presented data from projects arising from collaborations initiated at EpiGeneSys meetings. Equally pleasing was the number of junior group leaders, involved in the original EpiGeneSys network as postdocs, and now heading their own, successful teams.

A keynote lecture from Martin Howard of the John Innes Center, Norwich, UK, on the first afternoon highlighted the ever apparent fact that the fusion between computational approaches and biological data holds the key to addressing ever complex questions, answers to which may be otherwise inaccessible.  A second keynote lecture topping off the second day, this time from Cedric Feschotte from Cornell University, Ithaca, U.S.A., took the audience on a fascinating tour through the world of transposable elements, a topic becoming ever more important in the field of epigenetics. With a dusting of snow decorating the garden outside, the final morning delighted with the exploration of genome organization, and novel approaches to studying epigenetic phenomena at the single cell level and during development.

The meeting series is due to continue on a yearly basis and we look forward to assembling again in 2019.