|Director General||Edith Heard|
The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) is a molecular biology research institution supported by 27 member states, one prospect and two associate member states. EMBL was created in 1974 and is an intergovernmental organisation funded by public research money from its member states. Research at EMBL is conducted by approximately 85 independent groups covering the spectrum of molecular biology. The list of independent groups at EMBL can be found at www
EMBL was the idea of Leó Szilárd,James Watson and John Kendrew. Their goal was to create an international research centre, similar to CERN, to rival the strongly American-dominated field of molecular biology. Kendrew served as the first Director-general of EMBL until 1982, and was succeeded by Lennart Philipson. From 1993 to 2005 Fotis Kafatos, served as director and was succeeded by Iain Mattaj, EMBL's fourth Director General from 2005 to 2018. In January 2019, Edith Heard became the fifth Director General of EMBL and the first woman to hold this position.
Each of the different EMBL sites have a specific research field. The EMBL-EBI is a hub for bioinformatics research and services, developing and maintaining a large number of scientific databases, which are free of charge. At Grenoble and Hamburg, research is focused on structural biology. The EMBL Rome site is dedicated towards the study of epigenetics and neurobiology. Scientists at EMBL Barcelona will explore how tissues and organs function and develop, in health and disease. At the headquarters in Heidelberg, there are units in Cell Biology and Biophysics, Developmental Biology, Genome Biology and Structural and Computational Biology as well as service groups complementing the aforementioned research fields.
Many scientific breakthroughs have been made at EMBL. The first systematic genetic analysis of embryonic development in the fruit fly was conducted at EMBL by Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard and Eric Wieschaus, for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1995. In the early 1980s, Jacques Dubochet and his team at EMBL, developed cryogenic electron microscopy for biological structures. It was rewarded with the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
|Member country||Year of joining|
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Advanced training is one of EMBL's five core missions. Over the years, the Laboratory has established a number of training activities, of which the EMBL International PhD Programme (EIPP) is the flagship - it has a student body of about 200, and since 1997 has had the right to award its own degree. Other activities include the postdoctoral programme, including the EMBL Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral programme (EIPOD); the European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences (ELLS) for teacher training; and the Visitor Programme. EMBL is currently building a centre for high-resolution light and electron microscopy in its Heidelberg Headquarters. This centre will be open to visiting scientists worldwide and provide a unique service facility for the life sciences, uniting cutting-edge equipment, experts and data analysis.
In March 2010, the EMBL Advanced Training Centre (ATC) was inaugurated on the main campus in Heidelberg. Shaped in the form of a double helix, it hosts conferences and provides training.
EMBL also runs an active Science and Society Programme which offers activities and events on current questions in life science research for the general public and the scientific community.