Berlin Science Congresses Part I: Focus on the spindle
Dr. Simone Reber works, where King Frederick I once laid the basis for more than 300 years of medical history. Together with her team of eight, the biochemist, who holds a doctorate in chemistry, has been researching the innermost part of the cell at the Humboldt Campus in Berlin-Mitte for three years. At a two-day congress in an old lecture hall ruin in February, she shared the latest insights in cell biology with other experts from all over the world. It wasn't difficult for her to decide on the venue: extraordinary venues and a varied supporting programme attracts scientists from all over the world to Berlin.
Dr. Reber, can you please tell us more about your research area?
In terms of content, we are working on cell division. About six million cells divide in our bodies per hour. This process is important to replace and repair diseased or dead cells.
The regeneration process decreases with age, but as long as the cells divide in a controlled manner, you are healthy. The mitotic spindle in the cell plays a decisive role in this division process. It ensures that the genetic information is evenly distributed among the new cells during division.
This spindle is the object of our research.
How do you examine the human cell?
We work with eggs from African clawed frogs. A frog lays about 1000 eggs a day. We examine them in the laboratory with experts from various scientific fields. Our team includes physicists, chemists, cell biologists, and engineering scientists who deal with the force of division, the chemical composition, and the structure of the spindle apparatus.
In fact, we are trying to find out how the length and geometry of the spindle is regulated during cell division. There is a saying that you only understand a system when you can build it. We know the components of the system for the spindle, but do not yet know how they interact. Exchange with other scientific disciplines is particularly important for this purpose.
You have organised such a congress …
Yes, I received an enquiry from the German Society for Cell Biology (DZG) and the funds to organise a congress for young scientists. The Young Scientists' Forum took place in February 2018 - with over 100 participants from all over the world and various disciplines.
Why did you choose Berlin?
There were two things in favour for Berlin: First, that I live and work here myself and second, because people like coming to Berlin. Berlin attracts scientists. When organising a congress, the city is secondary because most of the time the participants are at the event, but of course I prefer to go to a meeting where I can do or experience something afterwards. Our congress took place Monday and Tuesday - nevertheless many guests had arrived on Friday and spent the weekend here.
What role did the choice of venue play for you?
I think Berlin offers some very special venues for science congresses. For example, the Animal Anatomical Theatre and the lecture hall ruin in the Museum of Medical History. These congress centres have an extraordinary charm that is very characteristic of Berlin. We chose the ruins of the lecture hall - an old lecture hall that was destroyed during the war and only temporarily rebuilt. It is a ruin, but it has been beautifully renovated and is functional for meetings or congresses. That's what Berlin stands for: places with history, not quite finished, but still cool and attractive.
Typical for Berlin...
Exactly! And in the end, I think, it's the nature of a meeting that makes people feel comfortable, makes them stay long after the end of the programme, that not only the content but also the context of the event sticks with them. We had an extraordinary venue, street food from food trucks, and a guided tour through the Museum of Medical History. That's what makes a congress special. And at the end there was a lot of positive feedback and numerous emails requesting we organise something like this again soon.
Where did you find your inspiration for planning the congress?
I came up with new ideas for meetings at a preparatory meeting for the Q Berlin Questions conference in the Berlin Salon. New concepts for conferences were discussed here with 40 invited participants from very different areas. I also met the visitBerlin Convention Office, which supported me in my planning.
Would you recommend Berlin for scientific congresses?
Yes. Berlin simply has a lot to offer in this area. I also think it's a good thing that the meeting takes place where science happens and not somewhere on a fairground on the outskirts of the city. And that's where Berlin is ideal. Because a lot goes on here, right in the central city: this is where Charité, Humboldt University, and the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology are located. In November, the BIMSB (Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology) will also move to the campus in central Berlin. Then there's gonna be a lot going on here. This shows that Berlin has a lot of potential for scientists and scientific events.
Thanks: We thank Simone Reber for the interview!
Take advantage of our team's knowledge of locations and service partners as well as our huge network! We'll help you with planning and implementation and introduce you to event partners and science experts in our city. Whether you're planning a conference, convention, meeting, or incentive, contact us at convention@visitBerlin.de or start looking for a great location in our Meeting Guide Berlin.
Dr. Simone Reber in person:
- Dr. Simone Reber studied biochemistry in Heidelberg and Seattle before receiving her doctorate in Zurich and Heidelberg and subsequently worked as a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute in Dresden.
- In 2014, she was a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin.
- Since the beginning of 2015, she has been researching fundamental processes of cell division at the Integrative Research Institute Life Sciences (IRI) at Humboldt University Berlin with an eight-person, interdisciplinary team.
- You can find out more about the research here: https://www.thereberlab.com.