Sunday, November 20, 2011

XI Jornadas de Bioinformatica in Barcelona (23-25 January)

  A short note to spread the word on the joint Spanish and Portuguese Meeting on Bioinformatics.  This is a yearly meeting that is gaining momentum every year, and it is a great opportunity to meet most groups doing bioinformatics in the region. Talks are in English and everybody is welcome to attend.

 As other years, this meeting has associated a regional (Spain, Portugal and North Africa) ISCB student symposium. This year this symposium is co-organized by, Salvador Capella-Gutierrez, one of the members of my lab. 

 If you plan to submit a communication, there is time till the end of November.

 See you there.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

ALPHY 2012: French-Spanish meeting on Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Genomics (March 19 -21, Banyuls-sur-Mer)

 I am glad to announce ALPHY 2012, which for the first time is jointly co-organized by French and Spanish researchers. I was very glad to be invited by my French colleagues to sit at the organizing committe. I think it is a great opportunity to join two communities with ample experience in phylogenetics-related research.

ALPHY is an annual meeting, organized in France since 1995, dedicated to the field of Bioinformatics and Comparative Genomics (ALPHY = ALignments and PHYlogeny). The main goal of this meeting is to promote informal exchanges in this highly multidisciplinary field, and to encourage young scientists to present their work. The official invitation follows, plus a very tempting picture of the location.

This year, ALPHY is co-organized by Spanish and French scientists, in the nice city of Banyuls. There will be two invited speakers (Henrik Kaessmann and Jose Castresana), and the program will be open to contributions for 20’ talks.
The registration to the meeting is free, but mandatory. Please use the link (top left of this page) to register. If you wish to present your work, submit your abstract in the registration form.
Important dates:
  • Deadline for abstract submission: January 10 2012
  • Deadline for registration : February 1st 2012
Hasta pronto – A bientôt – fins aviat - see you in Banyuls!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sad news from CIPF: the rise and fall of the "flagship" of valencian research

For those who don't know. I am originally from Valencia. There, one of the deepest traditions and the main festivity are the so-called "Falles", which in part consist of building huge temporary cardboard sculptures which are exposed for little more than a week and then burned in a big fire. For some people is hard to understand how so much time and money is invested in something that is then left to the flames.

Apparently, something similar is happening with a research centre!!!

 The "Centro de Investigación Príncipe Felipe" was created in 2005 by the local Valencian government with the idea of making it the "flagship" of research in the region. It came with a strong investment from the regional and central governments and soon attracted many scientists. I was one of the seduced scientists, who originally from Valencia, and at that time in the Netherlands was enthusiastic about a move aiming to put biomedical research in Valencia at the forefront.

 Five years after its creation, the cuts started. Crisis had hit Spanish economy and many local governments had big debts, particularly that of Valencia who has been famous for investing in huge events such as the America's cup or the formula 1 competition. When things went complicated, research was seen as one of the most superfluous thing in which a government could invest, and thus cuts were announced. This year the centre is firing 40% of the personnel, including PhD candidates at the middle of their PhD. I guess many of the remaining researchers will leave this downsized center for a better live elsewhere. The flagship is now sinking, "burned" after so much investment and efforts, the comparison to our "Falles" is unavoidable.

The whole story is reported by Nature and by many articles in the Spanish press. As Juli Peretó reports, the local government is letting CIPF fall, while keeping investing on other type of events, such as an international Golf tournament in Castelló, or increasing the funds for a motorbike circuit. This is most ironic, and deeply sad.

 I just wish the best for my many ex-colleagues that are still at CIPF and hope this is not the kind of science policy that the future government of Spain (according to polls is likely to be the same conservative party that is now governing in Valencia) is planning.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Educational video on the Tree of Life

In the blog of Jun-Hoe Lee, a former visiting student in my lab, I found this interesting video from Yale university on the Tree of Life and the efforts to reconstruct it.


I think it is a good piece for popular communication of science and conveys pretty reasonably well the problem. Of course, there are simplifications and some important aspects such as that of horizontal transfer of genes, symbioses, and their effects on the tree are not covered, but it provides an attractive and educational introduction to the problem of assembling the tree of life.