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Anniversary Symposium: A celebration of science and friendship

01 Jun 2023

From 30 May to 1 June, the IMP and friends celebrated two very special birthdays. Scientific director Jan-Michael Peters and deputy director Meinrad Busslinger both completed full decades of lifetime, and what better way to highlight those anniversaries than to gather for a celebration of amazing science.

For the anniversary symposium "Chromosome biology meets adaptive immunology", past and present members of the Busslinger- and Peters Labs, collaborators, and long-time companions came together at the IMP to extend their wishes and to share the latest advances in their respective fields of research. In total, around 240 participants filled the lecture hall during those three days and gathered in the evenings for informal exchange.

The talks covered a wide range of topics, with a focus on the areas of research that Jan-Michael Peters and Meinrad Busslinger had touched upon during their scientific careers and that had been followed up and advanced further by former students and postdocs. Lots of references and jokes were made towards PAX5 and cohesin, as everyone was aware of the central role of these molecules in the respective labs. While the fields of immunology and chromatin organisation may seem unrelated to some, they have in fact striking links. As Meinrad Busslinger explained in his opening address, recent discoveries showed the importance of cohesin-mediated loop-extrusion for the diversification of antibodies, providing an elegant twist to the meeting’s theme.

For Busslinger, the symposium also marked his farewell, as he is about to retire. Recruited in 1987 by founding director Max Birnstiel, he spent 35 years as a senior scientist at the IMP, focusing on the development of B-cells. For the past ten years, he also served as deputy scientific director. “This symposium is the best birthday-present I can think of”, he said in his closing remarks, thanking the organisers. “And what’s even more special is that everyone we invited managed to come.”

For IMP scientific director Jan-Michael Peters, the symposium also provided an occasion to catch up with partners from past activities, such as the large EU-projects MitoCheck and MitoSys that spanned more than ten years of cross-border research. As he put it, “The combination of exciting science with a sense of family-reunion created a unique atmosphere for the meeting!” An impression that was shared by many participants.