Cellular mechanisms driven by phase separation – Course and Conference Office

EMBO | EMBL Symposium

Cellular mechanisms driven by phase separation


This conference will take place at EMBL Heidelberg, with the option to attend virtually.

Registration is not yet open for this event. If you are interested in receiving more information please register your interest.

Symposium overview

The realisation that intracellular phase transitions underlie the formation of membrane-less compartmentalisation in cells has transformed our understanding of cellular organisation. While the existence of membrane-less organelles, such as nucleoli, stress granules, and Cajal bodies had been known for a long time, it had remained largely unclear until recently how they were formed, maintained, and regulated. Biomolecular condensates are often highly dynamic, and continuously exchange their components with the surrounding environment. These properties enable tight, cooperative regulation of compartmentalisation, concentration of biomolecules and fast adaptive responses. Beyond large intracellular bodies, the same physical principles are emerging as organising principles for a wide range of subcellular bodies including heterochromatin, super-enhancers, and membrane receptor clusters. Moreover, new insights into biology are emerging hand-in-hand with the development and application of condensed matter physics to provide a quantitative framework to interpret and predict how cells form and regulate biomolecular condensates.  

To take full advantage of these newly emerging principles, we need to develop new tools and approaches to characterise the emergent properties of phase-separated states and their impact on biological function. This requires a combination of cell biology, genetics, biochemistry, structural biology, biophysics, soft matter physics, and polymer physics. This combination of disciplines will allow researchers to synergistically decipher how novel functions and pathologies emerge from the process of phase separation in biological systems, and what molecular underpinnings facilitate and regulate this key process.

This conference will bring together scientists from diverse fields, thinking environments, and scientific backgrounds. By doing so, we hope to foster new discoveries and nurture a new generation of scientists who challenge the boundaries of existing fields and think outside the box to tackle important emerging problems in the life sciences

What past participants say about the Symposium

“I have never been to a conference where every single talk was relevant, exciting, and well done. This is particularly phenomenal given the interdisciplinary nature of this field.” – Carlos Castaneda, Syracuse University, USA

“Although Intrinsically Disordered Proteins and Phase Separation have been around for a number of years, this meeting felt like the kick-off for a novel area in molecular biology.” – Roland Dosch, University Medical Center Göttingen, Germany

“This was the best conference I have attended in years, bringing together biophysicists and biologists in an exciting and challenging format. I learnt a lot and have made great contacts for new collaborations.” – Sarah Mizielinska, Kings College London, UK


Keynote Speakers


Tony Hyman

“Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics”


Ankur Jain

Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research


Mike Rosen

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center


Scientific Organisers


Sponsorship opportunities

We offer a variety of event sponsoring possibilities, with the flexibility to select a set sponsorship package or combine individual sponsorship options to suit your event budget. Discounts are available for companies sponsoring multiple events at EMBL Heidelberg. View other conferences, or contact sponsorship@embl.de for further information.

If you are interested in becoming a media partner of this event, please visit our media partnerships webpage.


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EMBO | EMBL Symposia promote scientific communication and collaboration in the European research area. They provide scientists with a platform to discuss and exchange ideas on forward-looking topics and new developments in the life sciences.

Topics emphasise upcoming developments and the interdisciplinary nature of related fields. Jointly funded and organised by EMBO and EMBL – and complementary to their respective courses, workshops, and conference programmes – the symposia promote scientific communication and collaboration.

All symposia are held in the EMBL Advanced Training Centre (ATC) in Heidelberg, Germany, or virtually.

Date: 14 - 17 May 2024

Location: EMBL Heidelberg and Virtual

Venue: EMBL Advanced Training Centre


  • Simon Alberti
    Technische Universität Dresden
    • Sara Cuylen-Häring
      EMBL Heidelberg, Germany
      • Dorothee Dormann
        Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany
        • Alex Holehouse
          Washington University in St. Louis, USA

        Contact: EMBL Events

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