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Greg Emery

Between 2002 and 2004, Greg Emery was a postdoc at Jürgen Knoblich's lab. Today, as a professor at the University of Montreal, he reflects on the value of his high-calibre peers at the IMP.

During my PhD in the group of Jean Gruenberg in Geneva, I acquired a solid formation on vesicular trafficking. For my postdoc, I wanted to apply this knowledge to an in vivo model system. I ended up applying to a few groups, mainly at the EMBL and the IMP. I knew the IMP through Lukas Huber who I met in Jean Gruenberg's lab before he started his own group in Vienna. I contacted Meinrad Busslinger, Barry Dickson and Jürgen Knoblich and was invited for an interview.

Rapidly, I had the feeling that this institute was the optimal place to perform as a postdoc: PIs and students were very sharp and motivated, the facilities impressed me and the overall atmosphere was just filled with science. During my visit, I realized that Drosophila was the model system that would allow me to exploit at best my experience in a model system.

I was very interested in many topics, axon guidance and cell migration in particular, but asymmetric cell division was even more intriguing and fascinating to me. Furthermore, Jürgen's pragmatic view of the scientific career sounded very appealing. Finally, the cultural possibilities and the quality of living in Vienna achieved to convince me to join Jürgen's group at the IMP.

I arrived in spring 2002. After spending a few months to adapt myself to Drosophila and on an unsuccessful initial project, I started a very exciting project involving in vivo life imaging of asymmetric cell division. At that time, we were sharing our lab space and group meetings with the group of Michael Glotzer. Furthermore, we had journal clubs with the group of Barry Dickson. In addition, my project expanded so that I ended up interacting with people from the group of Meinrad Busslinger. The close contact with these different groups was extremely stimulating and inspiring.

…you know while working there that your friends and colleagues will be part of the next generation of PIs and that you will continuously meet them during your career.

Greg Emery

I spent more than four years in Jürgen's group. During that time, it evolved dramatically: the group increased in size and moved to IMBA. When I started, Jürgen was a junior PI and when I left he was senior scientist.

However, in many ways he stayed the same. Jürgen is an impassioned scientist and was a great mentor for me, always able to identify the key experiments, the one that will turn an interesting project into great science. He is also one of the best communicators I know and was systematically able to contaminate me with his enthusiasm and his motivation. Most of all, Jürgen was always accessible if I had a problem or needed advice, even when the lab population reached its highest peak.

To my opinion, the most remarkable about IMP/IMBA is the density of outstanding people. You know while working there that your friends and colleagues will be part of the next generation of PIs and that you will continuously meet them during your career. The chance to work surrounded by them and through the supervision of great mentors is unique.

I left Vienna at the end of 2006 to start my own group at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) at the University of Montreal. In my lab, we are continuing some projects started in Vienna, by studying in more detail the regulation of vesicular trafficking during asymmetric cell division and we are exploring new avenues by looking at cell migration.

My time at the IMP/IMBA exceeded all my expectation, my goal as the head of a research group is thus to offer the same type of research environment and scientific philosophy to my students.

By Greg Emery, first published in 2009