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Parallel Sessions

In addition to plenary lectures and poster sessions, a core part of the FEBS 2023 scientific programme will be a range of 'symposia' – identified by the Scientific Programme Board as important and stimulating topics – offered in three parallel streams. Each symposium is expected to comprise talks from three invited leading researchers as well as two short presentations mainly selected from submitted abstracts, allowing a focused look at progress, approaches and challenges in key topics. Brief introductions to the sessions are gradually being added below.


Autophagy is a conserved degradation process essential for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis. It is characterized by the formation of double membrane-bounded autophagosomes that sequester cytoplasmic material and deliver it to lysosomes for degradation. Autophagy is tightly regulated, and autophagosome biogenesis is a complex process that depends on the function of about 20 core ATG proteins. This session will report exciting recent findings on the mechanisms that regulate and drive autophagosome formation.

Biotech solutions to current problems

Join us for a fascinating exploration of biotech solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing our world today. Biotechnology is playing an increasingly important role in creating a more sustainable way of life. In this session, you will dive into cutting-edge research and innovative technologies that are being developed to tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time. You will hear from experts in the field who will share their insights on the latest advances in biotechnology, including the use of synthetic biology, for the recycling of plastics, for the environmental bioremediation or for the development of more efficient and environmentally friendly processes or new biomaterials.

Cancer and ageing

Aging is the biggest single risk factor for most of the common adult human cancers. However, the reasons for this are not well understood. The biology of aging is currently viewed in terms of ~12 “hallmarks of aging”, namely genomic instability, telomere attrition, epigenetic alterations, loss of proteostasis, disabled macroautophagy, deregulated nutrient-sensing, mitochondrial dysfunction, cellular senescence, stem cell exhaustion, altered intercellular communication, chronic inflammation, and dysbiosis. Many of these hallmarks of aging are similar to the “hallmarks of cancer”, suggesting that multiple age-associated dysfunctions likely contribute to cancer. A better understanding of the role of aging in cancer can lead to improved risk assessment, early detection and cancer prevention.

Cell death and inflammation

The past two decades have witnessed an explosion in knowledge concerning how cell death and inflammation are regulated – from the discovery of multiple forms of programmed necrosis (necroptosis, ferroptosis, pyroptosis among others) to how the latter modes of cell death contribute to inflammation and disease. This session will feature cutting-edge talks on different cell death modalities, will explore how cell death decisions are made at the molecular level, and discuss the impact of divergent cell death modalaties on inflammation in sterile as well as infectious settings.

Cell metabolism and stress

Eukaryotic cells share well-conserved metabolic and signaling pathways that have evolved to respond to changes in intracellular requirements and extracellular stress conditions, which include hypoxia, DNA damage, and nutrient excess or scarcity. Alterations in cellular metabolism can result in disease states that include cancer, chronic inflammation and diabetes, and thus characterization of the complexity of the pathways involved is a high priority in molecular medicine. High-dimensional approaches and recent developments in imaging as well as synthetic biology are facilitating the capture of these systems in all their complexity. This session will present some of the exciting new developments in this field. 

Chemical biology

Chemical biology is a rapidly growing, interdisciplinary field that merges chemistry and biology to understand and manipulate biological systems at the molecular level. It employs chemical techniques and tools to study and modify biological processes, including protein–protein interactions, enzyme activity, and gene expression. By integrating chemical and biological approaches, chemical biology offers insight into fundamental biological phenomena and provides opportunities for the development of new therapeutic strategies. By covering different highlights, this session should convince you that chemical biology can bring unique opportunities for discovery and innovation. 

Climate change: biochemical CO2 fixation

Turning CO2 into sugars is a complex process catalyzed by the enzyme ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RUBSICO). This enzyme has a complicated architecture and only in recent years have the assembly pathway and cofactors involved have been identified and characterized. Efforts are ongoing to further understand the underlying mechanisms of CO2 fixation and to engineer the process with a view to increase its efficiency. This session includes talks from leading experts in the field on basic and applied aspects of biological CO2 fixation.

Emerging technologies for the future

Many key advances in science have been enabled through technological breakthroughs that have had a transformative effect on the field. This session will feature some of the emerging technologies that hold great promise for deepening our understanding of biological processes and pathways at new levels of resolution and complexity.

Gene expression / Epigenetics

Gene expression is controlled by transcription factors (TFs), which recruit cofactors that modify and reorganize chromatin to facilitate transcription initiation and elongation. TFs recognize specific sites in DNA which are highly abundant in genomes, although most remain unoccupied. Genes are often transcribed in bursts, with periods of gene activity interrupted by periods of inactivity. Transcriptional bursts are determined by the stochasticity of TF occupancy. This session will present recent advances in our understanding of the processes that regulate the search of transcription factors for their genomic binding sites, and that control transcriptional dynamics at the level of a single gene.

Host–microbial interactions

The microbiome within mammalian hosts constitutes an essential segment associated with metabolism and other cellular processes. This session will explain several recently discovered key molecular mechanisms involved in cellular responses to pathogenic microorganisms. Research in these directions possesses immediate significance for biomedical approaches fine-tuned for fighting pathogens. A special focus will be on intracellular pathogenic parasites of mammalian hosts, such as Toxoplasma, Plasmodium and Mycobacterium.

Immunometabolism in cancer development and therapy

We are beginning to understand how the metabolism of immune cells and cancer cells is intertwined in the tumor niche. The Warburg effect, coupled with nutrient shortage and hypoxia, not only affects the cancer cells, but is also linked to immune suppression and angiogenesis. In this session we will discuss how metabolism affects the immune response to cancer. We will also learn about metabolic rewiring of immune effector cells. Because metabolic enzymes and pathways offer numerous druggable targets, this knowledge is opening new avenues for cancer treatment.

Innate immune pathogen sensing

The innate immune system utilises a panoply of pattern recognition receptors to sense and respond to pathogens, as well as shape the intensity and ‘flavour’ of the immune response according to the level of threat imposed by the infection and the specific tissue involved. In turn, pathogens have evolved an array of ingenious strategies aimed at undermining host defence mechanisms that prolong their survival and enhance biological fitness. This session will explore some of the latest developments in pathogen sensing and host–pathogen interactions in innate immunity.

Mitochondria in health and disease

Mitochondria are fascinating organelles with functions that extend far beyond the respiratory production of ATP. They contribute to a plethora of metabolic processes and we realize that they also play key roles in cellular signalling pathways. It is therefore not surprising that mitochondrial dysfunctions have been implicated into many human disorders. This session will provide insights into how mitochondria contribute to cellular homeostasis and how biogenesis and turnover are affected in neurodegeneration and ageing.

Protein life cycle I: localisation, dynamics, functioning

Proteins are the workhorses of the cell, and thus cells take the ‘husbandry’ of these molecules very seriously. If they are to perform their required function, these workhorses must be taken from the stable to the worksite (localisation), equipped with the necessary equipment (post-translational modifications), and where necessary, harnessed with other horses (protein complex formation). The workhorses must then be cajoled to move in a concerted way in order to plough the correct furrows (protein dynamics). This session will focus on the functional prime of the protein lifecycle, in the brief time between translation and inevitable degradation.

Protein life cycle II: degradation

Protein turnover requires the cleavage of proteins into peptides and amino acids. The degradation process involves lysosomes, autophagy and the proteasome. The process is tightly controlled and there are many enzymes and factors involved, most notably the covalent modification of proteins to tag them for degradation. This session will feature recent developments in the field both for bacterial and eukaryotic degradation.

Protein life cycle III: ribosomes, folding, chaperones

The life of proteins begins at the ribosome. The cell’s most complex machinery is required to decode the information present in mRNA and to synthesize the corresponding polypeptide chain. The linear sequence then has to fold into a three-dimensional structure. This process is assisted by ribosome-associated molecular chaperones and, after release from the ribosome, by soluble chaperones. In this session, the underlying mechanistic principles and the conceptual framework are addressed and recent progress is presented.

RNA biology

RNA molecules serve as both the choir and conductor of the enormous symphony of gene expression. It is increasingly recognised that all steps of gene expression are interconnected and that RNA-based processes play crucial roles in both the homeostasis and adaptation of cells. Many functions of non-coding RNAs have emerged and our understanding of the role of codon choice and untranslated regions in messenger RNAs is growing. In addition, medical applications  of RNA silencing and synthetic messenger RNAs are at the forefront of pharmaceutical innovation, such as in the RNA-based SARS-COV-2 vaccines. This session will focus on recent discoveries in RNA biology, covering both coding and non-coding RNAs, their processing and functions, as well as their applications.

Supramolecular assemblies I: signal transduction

Communication with the environment is vital for all living organisms and must be maintained and continuously modified according to the actual conditions. What are the molecular mechanisms responsible for transmitting the information between the cellular milieu and its surroundings? How are these mechanisms regulated? This session will provide recent insights into the physiological processes and their regulatory pathways in several particular situations. State-of-the-art methodology allowing a quantitative kinetic and thermodynamic understanding of the molecular pathways will also be addressed.

Supramolecular assemblies II: RNA–protein complexes, molecular machines

The colourful world of RNA and its many implications for physiological processes is a hot topic of key current interest. RNA molecules usually recruit protein partners to fulfil their diverse roles. What governs the interactions between RNA molecules and proteins to build supramolecular assemblies of astonishing diversity? How are the distinct roles coordinated among the different nucleic acid and protein partners in these molecular machines? The session will allow an insight into recent discoveries with a special focus on disease mechanisms and the routes to counteract adverse physiological effects.

Supramolecular assemblies III: metabolons, multienzyme complexes

How do proteins within a cellular environment effectively coordinate their individual activities to drive a specific biological process? Exciting new research has propelled the idea that supramolecular enzyme complexes organize to provide a mechanism by which biochemical signals and metabolites are transferred across all living organisms. These intricate arrangements have emerged as a critical level of biochemical regulation in cellular metabolism. These recent advances have provided new opportunities to explore their cellular and molecular organization and how these features contribute to their overall function. Please join us to learn more about the catalytic properties and mechanisms of such biomolecular assemblies and their potential applications in the medical sciences. 

The exposome and cancer

It has been known for a long time that the risk of getting cancer is based on both our genes and the things to which we are exposed. Genes have been discovered that lead to familial cancer pre-disposition and it well established that smoking increases our risk of several cancer types. The list of things that we are exposed to (the exposome) and cancer risk is however increasing. It is now clear for example, that radiation, alcohol, obesity and microfibers such as asbestos are all significant risk factors for cancer and this forms the topic of this session.