Ten years from launch, the Abcam conference ‘Chromatin & Epigenetics’ attracts more than 1000 participants

Established in 2012, the biannual ‘Chromatin & Epigenetics’ conference is organized by our Institutes’ Directors Prof. Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla and Prof. Robert Schneider, together with Abcam. This conference attracts the who’s who of world-leading epigeneticists, who present their cutting-edge research and discuss the newest developments in the field. This year’s conference had to be held in a virtual setting, during which more than 1000 participants dialed in to listen to the recent breakthroughs in epigenetics and chromatin biology.


Over the past 10 years, the Abcam Conference ‘Chromatin & Epigenetics’ has inspired members of the international epigenetics community to share their work and discuss the latest advances in epigenetics. This high-profile meeting was initiated by Prof. Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla - the Director of the Institute for Epigenetics and Stem Cells, and Prof. Robert Schneider - Director of the Institute of Functional Epigenetics, while they were working at the IGBMC in Strasbourg. They have so far organized five inspirational meetings together with Abcam, which have seen a wealth of outstanding speakers including pioneers in chromatin biology and epigenetics, Nobel laureates, and groundbreakers of therapeutical approaches.

In 2017 and 2019, this conference was held on-site at the Helmholtz Center Munich. The meeting enjoys outstanding popularity with registration usually fills up long before the event. Researchers from all around the world are eager to travel to Munich and the Helmholtz Center to experience the friendly atmosphere that is fostered by Abcam, the organizers and the members of the epigenetics@HMGU.

The 2021 edition of our conference ‘Chromatin & Epigenetics: From Mechanism to Execution’ on April 14th and 15th, like most things was influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic. “In October 2020, we decided that the meeting, as we usually have it, cannot take place. But we did not want to cancel it fully,” explained Prof. Torres-Padilla. Thus, the organizers adapted the meeting to the digital format. 

Prof. Schneider added, “We decided for a compact set up featuring the talks from only five high profile speakers and this year’s keynote lecture of Prof. Rudolf Jaenisch (MIT) during two consecutive afternoons.” The meeting was nicely complemented with a panel discussion between the invited speakers, experts from the audience, and the organizers, which addressed the upcoming challenges and burning questions in Epigenetics: How to battle – phase separation versus biochemical interactions? Can chromatin direct cell fate changes during reprogramming? Are histone modifications or the histone code dead – where will progress in the field come from now?

The success of the meeting exceeded all expectations. “Because of the digital setting, we did not impose a maximum number of participants”, said Lucy Purser from the Abcam, “We are absolutely delighted to have had more than 1,700 registrations and 1,022 participants watching live from all around the globe. If held in-person, this would have not been possible.” The high interest in the Helmholtz-Abcam conference reflects the international visibility of the conference and also the presence of epigenetics@HMGU community in the field. This is a great recognition of the epigenetics research performed at the Helmholtz Centre in Munich.

The next Abcam ‘Epigenetics & Chromatin’ Conference will take place in Spring 2023, hopefully in-person. The organizers are already looking forward to welcoming the global epigenetics community at the Helmholtz Centre in Munich for another round of fruitful and groundbreaking discussions about the newest topics in Epigenetics and Chromatin.

Would you like to revisit both sessions anytime, follow the links:

Session 1: How it works and how it looks

Session 2: Single cells and their fates