AIMMS 2014 annual meeting: many attendants, diverse programme

On Thursday 10 April, the 2014 annual meeting of the Amsterdam Institute for Molecules, Medicines and Systems (AIMMS) took place. Over 160 staff members, post-docs, PhD and Master’s students attended the event and were updated on AIMMS’ research and the STAR graduate programme through key-note lectures, pitches, posters and oral presentations.

04/15/2014 | 1:04 PM

The 2014 annual meeting of AIMMS started with a warm welcome of director Prof. Nico Vermeulen. He first provided the audience with a general introduction of AIMMS and its research. Vermeulen also placed the institute into the perspective of O|O building and the collaboration of the science faculties of VU and UvA, as AIMMS is major part of the human life science cluster.

STAR graduate programme
Subsequently, Prof. Frank Bruggeman provided an update to the AIMMS STAR graduate programme. He provided the attending candidates the opportunity to introduce themselves to the public and in particular also to the AIMMS principal investigators. Then 11 PI's provided 3-minute pitches to the STAR students and the audience to inform them on and interest them in their research. “I really liked the PI pitches”, said Michaela Wenzel, PhD student at the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS) at UvA. “It provided a comprehensive overview of research in AIMMS and potential collaboration partners when we move together in the O|O building.”

Annual meeting 2014

Poster presentations
During lunch, 43 AIMMS post-docs, PhD and Master’s students presented their research posters in the M0 hall, generating lively discussions with the participants. 4 jury members visited all posters, graded them and selected the three best posters and presenters. Their names were announced at the end of the plenary session.

Oral presentation competition
The 160 attendees reconvened for the oral presentation competition of 5 PhD students performing interdisciplinary projects in two AIMMS research groups. Reka Ötvös started with a lecture on a miniaturized analytical platform she developed for rapid screening and identification of bioactive compounds. Then Angelina Huseinovic talked about her genome-wide screen to identify genes and mechanisms involved in paracetamol-induced toxicity. Matthijs van Lint continued with acetogenins: remarkably selective tumor growth inhibitors. Subsequently Petra Krumpochova presented her research on the Warburg effect with an integrated metabolomics approach. Marjolein Glas concluded with a new potential antimicrobial drug target for which she identified possible inhibitors.

Research technician Andrea van de Stolpe: “The oral presentation competition was very nice. It was interesting to see the various research topics of these PhD students and how different disciplines come together in their projects.” Under guidance of Dr. Maikel Wijtmans, the audience voted for the best oral presentation.

Human life science lectures
After a short tea break, the programme continued with keynote lectures in the field of human life sciences. Dr. Renée van Amerongen of SILS provided a greatly illustrative lecture on her research on stem cells. Van Amerongen utilizes the mouse mammary gland as a model system for cell growth and regeneration and performs lineage tracing of Wnt-responsive cells in various stem cell lines.

Then Prof. Bas Teusink of the System Bioinformatics group presented his research on imbalanced reactions in glycolysis in yeast, which was recently published in Science. Teusink discovered this imbalance arises from the fundamental design of the glycolysis pathway, causing cells to undergo growth arrest.

Award winners
Prof. Hubertus Irth concluded the plenary session with an update on the collaboration with Faculty of Science of UvA. Subsequently, he announced the prize winners. Irth awarded the oral presentation prize to Marjolein Glas. The prize for the best contribution to the plenary discussion went to Michiel den Braver. The best poster presentation awards went to one Master’s and two PhD students: Maurice Steenhuis, Raymond de Wit and also Marjolein Glas.

The annual meeting concluded with an Indonesian buffet dinner and drinks served by study association VCSVU. All in all, it was a pleasant and informative day in which the future of AIMMS was put on the map for all beneficiaries, from Master’s students to staff members. “The programme was diverse and depicted the broad range of what AIMMS is all about”, concluded PhD student Jordy van Angeren.

More information
Read the full report of the 2014 AIMMS annual meeting here.

Click here for a news item on the award winners and their research.