Odour-guided behaviours in mice

On March 11th, Venkatesh Murthy from the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Harvard University, US, gave a conference at the PRBB invited by the CRG. He explained his study “An olfactory cocktail party: figure-ground segregation of odorants in rodents”, which was the cover of Nature Neuroscience in September 2014. After a brief introduction to the anatomy of the olfactory system of rodents, he explained that many odours are complex mixtures: different chemicals combine and then we can smell a particular object. His main question was: how well can a mouse pick out an individual odorant from a mixture? They wanted the mice to … Continue reading Odour-guided behaviours in mice

Bad times, slimmer children?

On January 21, Judit Vall Castelló from the Centre for Research in Health and Economics (Pompeu Fabra University) gave a conference at the PRBB invited by the CREAL. She talked about her last study on the effect of business cycle conditions on children’s weight. She explained that the majority of the research connecting recessions with body-weight has so far focused on adults or babies. In adults, most of the literature finds a link between better economy and weight increase, which would suggest that recessions are “good” for adult’s health. But, is it the same for children? Spain is one of the … Continue reading Bad times, slimmer children?

Get it right, keep it clean, make a record

Keeping detailed records of your research and taking the right decisions when analysing your data is easier said than done. Yet, despite its importance, researchers often receive no formal training in these and other issues key to scientific integrity. The PRBB Good Scientific Practice Working Group – formed by members of all the centres at the park, including myself – run a survey at the PRBB last year in which improper record keeping was the most relevant (mis)behaviour identified by scientists at the park, with over 40% of the 521 respondents saying they had “sometimes or often” noticed it.  Several surveys … Continue reading Get it right, keep it clean, make a record

A successful EMBO Practical Course on targeted proteomics at the PRBB

Different targeted strategies have recently emerged in the field of proteomics that enable the detection and quantification of a predetermined subset of proteins with a high degree of sensitivity and reproducibility across many samples. Major advances have been achieved in the targeted proteomics workflow, including advances in instrumentation, the generation of thousands of publicly available targeted assays, and the development of multiple computational tools for convenient data analysis. This field is known as targeted proteomics and although it has successfully been applied in several research projects of molecular biology, systems biology and translational medicine, there is still a strong gap … Continue reading A successful EMBO Practical Course on targeted proteomics at the PRBB

Interdisciplinary conference on neural engineering at the PRBB this September

Next 21-23 September 2015 an International Conference on System Level Approaches to Neural Engineering (ICSLANE) will take place at the PRBB. Organised by the Neural Engineering Transformative Technologies (NETT) Consortium, the conference presents an outstanding list of invited speakers. Maciek Jedynak and Alessandro Barardi, both research fellows at the Jordi Garcia-Ojalvo group (CEXS-UPF), and local organisers of this exciting conference, tell us a bit more about it. ————- Neural Engineering is an inherently new discipline that brings together engineering, physics, neuroscience and mathematics to design and develop brain-computer interface systems, cognitive computers and neural prosthetics. Neural Engineering Transformative Technologies (NETT) is a Europe-wide consortium of … Continue reading Interdisciplinary conference on neural engineering at the PRBB this September

Is perfect genome assembly possible? Yes, says Gene Myers.

According to Gene Myers (near) perfect genome assembly is within reach for any organism of your choice. Time will tell if he’s right, but being an influential bioinformatician who has made key contributions in sequence comparison algorithms such as BLAST, whole-genome shotgun sequencing and genome assembling, one will think he knows what he’s talking about! In a conference at the PRBB auditorium today, he explained to a mixed audience of biologists and computer scientists how, after a few years dedicated to other issues (mostly image analysis), he was now coming back to sequencing with great excitement. The reason: PacBio RSII. This sequencing device is able to produce very … Continue reading Is perfect genome assembly possible? Yes, says Gene Myers.

Global cancer control: an interdisciplinary approach to prevention

The director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Christopher Wild, celebrated his birthday in style this year. On that special day, February 21, he gave a talk to a full auditorium at the PRBB, in what was the 3rd Global Health session co-organised by ISGlobal, CRESIB and CREAL. This was his second visit to the park, the first one being six years ago, when the building was pretty much empty. “It’s great to see how now everything is thriving!”, he said. Wild started pointing out the three aims of the IARC, the cancer agency of the World … Continue reading Global cancer control: an interdisciplinary approach to prevention

Gene kissing in the PRBB

Wouter de Laat was one of the developers of 4C, a technique highly used to find out DNA interactions between different regions within or between chromosomes. He came from the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, The Netherlands, to give a talk to the PRBB today, invited by Guillaume Filion, from the CRG. The room was packed, with more than 70 researchers ready to learn about how much function is actually within the genome structure. We learned about ‘gene kissing’ – or how genes functionally related but far away in a chromosome come close together during transcription. Interestingly, when de Laat and … Continue reading Gene kissing in the PRBB

Horses with spots and giraffes with stripes

Shigeru Kondo (Institute of Frontier Biosciences, Osaka University, Japan) gave one of the last talks at the “Computational approaches to networks, cells and tissues” meeting that took place this week  at the PRBB Auditorium. Co-organised by James Sharpe (CRG) and Hernán López-Schier (HZM), the meeting was supported by QuanTissue, a collaborative European network to bridge the gap between the traditional developmental cell biology, biophysics and systems biology. And so it did! Most of the nearly 200 participants were physicysts or mathematicians, as one could tell from their presentations and posters full of complicated mathematical formulae. But the subjects they studied … Continue reading Horses with spots and giraffes with stripes