I talked to Kai Simons today. He’s the fellow who, I think, had some interesting ideas on new approaches to Alzheimer’s disease research last night. He praised the format of the minsymposium on AD that was designed not to present data but to direct approaches and identify future goals in a field that really has stymied researchers for a time. The style allowed for a lot of discussion and argument, and that’s not something that happens a lot in regular talks. Simons had an interesting take on all this calling out the stodgier aspects of the traditional symposium for not engaging in debate. Simons told me he doesn’t even read abstracts anymore. So often the things folks write up are not what they can present, but what they hope they can present by the time the talk comes up.
But here’s some really interesting news. Well, news to me, anyway. Simons is the president of the European Life Science Organization ELSO, a somewhat unique grassroots organization of biologists that contains as many as 40% graduate students. He told me that the efforts of maintaining the organization are no longer feasible and that it would fuse with the much larger European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and eventually disappear. The next ELSO meeting in September in Nice, France is co-sponsored by EMBO in late August and early September. The decision was made in October and announced in EMBO’s most recent newsletter.