epigenetics@HMGU @1 year

Today marks a year since the launch of the epigenetics @HMGU webpage. Founded by institute directors Robert Schneider (IFE) and Maria Elena Torres-Padilla (IES), epigenetics @HMGU is composed of 25 research teams working in the field of epigenetics with strong backgrounds in chromatin biology, stem cells, computational biology, metabolism and cellular plasticity.

By joining forces, the last year has seen the launch of a wealth of activities aimed at benefiting the researchers in the community and bringing international visibility to the teams and Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen as a whole. We caught up with some members of epigenetics @HMGU as they look back and share their thoughts on the previous year.

Adam Burton, Postdoc in Maria Elena Torres-Padilla’s lab, Institute of Epigenetics and Stem Cells. “Over the course of a year since its instigation, the epigenetics @HMGU program has provided an excellent framework for the establishment of a community of like-minded researchers at the Helmholtz in Munich. The coincident launch of this initiative with the move of the laboratory of Maria Elena Torres-Padilla to Munich has greatly facilitated our integration into the pre-existing community here, through the numerous forums for networking run by the program. In addition, the initiative has provided a number of valuable opportunities which I personally have been involved in, such as supervising a student through the summer internship program. I am also very appreciative for the opportunity to take part in the forthcoming epigenetics retreat and ChIP-seq data analysis course as well as establishing a scientific interaction with the lab of Ken Zaret, through the UPenn collaborative initiative.”

Maria Colomé-Tatché, Group Leader in Computational Epigenomics, Institute of Computational Biology "As a young group leader that works on computational epigenomics, the epigenetics @HMGU community is a great resource. All members of the community share great excitement for epigenetic research and we have established channels where we can share our work and discuss future directions.  The community includes members that have a great variety of expertise, and has enough critical mass to allow for multiple initiatives that would otherwise not be feasible. These include for example the distinguished speaker seminar series, partnerships with other universities, summer student internships etc. It definitely makes the Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen a very attractive pole for epigenetic research."

Carsten Marr, Group Leader in Quantitative Single Cell Dynamics, Institute of Computational Biology
“Launched only one year ago, the epigenetics @HMGU initiative has gained impressive momentum at our research center. With monthly internal meetings, seminars from renowned epigenetics experts, and already four international meetings, epigenetics @HMGU has become a hub for students, postdocs, and PIs with interest in epigenetic mechanisms. Especially for computational researches like me, these interactions allow us to meet and talk to experimentalists directly, get a better understanding of the systems and available technologies, and to sharpen our research questions. I am thus looking forward to another exciting year, where the platform will continue to serve as a condensation point for methods, systems, and people, fostering interdisciplinary discussion across institutes and promoting scientific excellence at the center.”

Jessica Pellegrino, PhD student in Robert Schneider’s lab, Institute of Functional Epigenetics "The epigenetics @HMGU initiative has been a wonderful resource for me since joining the Helmholtz Zentrum. The Distinguished Speaker and Internal Seminars are always interesting and allow me to interact with other researchers studying epigenetics at the institute. The opportunity to be involved with organizing the epigentics@ HMGU Retreat, as well as to participate in courses and meetings offered by the initiative has been a very positive experience. In addition, the summer intern programme provided me with a wonderful student who will continue to work in our lab as a Masters student."

Stefan Stricker, Group Leader in Epigenetic Engineering, Institute of Stem Cell Research “In my experience scientific initiatives are rarely improving scientific environments significantly. However, the epigenetics @HMGU initiative at the German Research center of environmental health achieved exactly this, most prominently due to the enthusiastic commitment of those in charge. It represents a thriving platform for scientists investigating the molecular mechanisms by which epigenetic and environmental factors affect development and disease. Although only implemented one year ago, it provides enough critical mass to foster collaborative research, international collaborations and creative exchange already, making Munich a place second to none to investigate the functional aspects of epigenetics today. We are very fortunate to be part of this network and are looking forward to the subsequent years of epigenetics @HMGU."

Raffaele Teperino, Group Leader in Environmental Epigenetics, Institute of Experimental Genetics "The introduction of the epigenetics @HMGU has very much contributed to establishing an epigenetic community at the Helmholtz Research Center in Munich. The regular meetings, as well as the internal and guest-speaker seminars have given my group the possibility to exchange ideas, discuss data and be externally more visible. This is a crucial aspect for a controversial subject like epigenetics and an even more controversial topic like Epigenetic Inheritance, as the one my group is mostly focused on. Also, we have benefited from the first epigenetics @HMGU summer school, which allowed my group to host an excellent student for 8 weeks. Finally, I would judge this first year of activities as absolutely successful and I’m confident it will get better and better with time."

Alexander Wolf, Group Leader in Epigenetics, Molecular Toxicology and Pharmacology “With the initiative epigenetis @HMGU the growing epigenetic community at the Helmholtz Zentrum München became organized and therefore nicely visible. Regular meetings and an internal seminar series make sure that there is a permanent scientific exchange within the community but also with “non-epigenetic” groups at the HMGU. This drives cutting-edge research and supports collaborations, which is especially helpful for Young Investigator Groups like us. Another benefit for the entire Helmholtz Zentrum München is the Distinguished Speaker Seminar series, which brought several world-leading epigenetic researchers to Munich within the first year. Well done epigenetics @HMGU! Keep on going.”