Fatima Gebauer, Chair
Now: Group Leader, Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), Barcelona, Spain
EMBL: Postdoc and Staff Scientist, 1996-2002, Genome Biology
Profile: After graduating in Biological Sciences at the Autónoma University of Madrid, Fatima Gebauer worked as postdoc in the labs of Joel Richter at the University of Massachusetts, USA and Matthias Hentze at EMBL Heidelberg, where she then became Staff Scientist in 2000. Fatima obtained a Group Leader position at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in 2002. She is now Chair of the CRG Graduate Programme and member of the Board of Directors of the University Pompeu Fabra’s Doctorate School. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the RNA Society. Her research interests include the regulation of mRNA translation during embryonic development and cell homeostasis. Her focus is molecular mechanisms of translational control exerted by RNA-binding proteins (RBPs), the broader functions of RBPs at other steps of gene expression, and how RBP alterations contribute to cancer progression. Fátima is married to EMBL alumnus Juan Valcárcel, and has a daughter born while at EMBL Heidelberg.
Election statement: “Ever since I left EMBL thirteen years ago, I have not stopped communicating with current and past staff. From scientific collaborations to meetings, from using EMBL Core Facilities and panel expertise to just simple advice or friendship, EMBL and its alumni have always been there for me. I would like to contribute and extend this feeling of belonging, to spread the many benefits of networking, and to improve connections between alumni and EMBL, especially at this time when a new EMBL partnership lab is being created in Barcelona.”
Christian Engel, Vice-Chair
Now: Research Scientist, Sanofi, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
EMBL: Predoc, 1993-1997, Structural and Computational Biology Unit
Profile: Christian Engel did his PhD with Rik Wierenga in the EMBL Structural Biology and Biocomputing Programme (now Structural and Computational Biology Unit) and with Ken Holmes at the University of Heidelberg on the structure determination of a metabolic enzyme by x-ray crystallography. Between 1998-2001, he joined the group of Gil Privé at the University of Toronto as a DFG- and MRC-funded postdoc. He worked on the structural biology of a transmembrane protein, nowadays widely used for the structure determination of G-protein coupled receptors. Since 2001, Christian has been working as Research Scientist at the pharmaceutical company Sanofi, supporting various Small Molecule and Biologics Projects in early preclinical research and development. This work includes the support of rational drug design using x-ray crystallography and biophysical methods, as well as project management of early drug development.
Election statement: “In recent years, academic labs as well as industry have increasingly realised the importance of collaborations to promote basic science and translate it into applied research and practical medical progress. This is exactly the spirit of collaboration that I experienced during my time at EMBL. To strengthen and foster such collaborations, I’d like to set up a network of EMBL alumni working in industry and the life science business, serving as contacts for future collaborative efforts and as source of information for EMBL associates about non-academic institutions.”
Anne-Marie Glynn, Vice-Chair
Anne-Marie Glynn, Vice-Chair
Now: Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Global Brain Health Institute, University of California, San Francisco, USA | Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
EMBL: Head of EMBO Global Activities; Manager EMBO Courses & Workshops; Deputy Head Administration and Finance, EMBO (2008-2016), PhD & Postdoc Researcher, Structural and Computational Biology (2004-2008); Trainee, Cell Biology (2002).
Profile: Anne-Marie had the pleasure of experiencing multiple facets of EMBL, first tasting the EMBL environment as a trainee (Nebreda lab); subsequently completing PhD and Postdoc work (collaborating with Frangakis and Dubochet labs); acting as Staff Association representative. Subsequently Anne-Marie became a member of the EMBO team where she was privileged to further increase her network via EMBO Courses & Workshops, Leadership (Lab Management), and Global Activities.
Two years ago Anne-Marie joined the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI), which is dedicated to reducing the scale and impact of dementia. Anne-Marie is honoured to support the success of these leaders: having responsibility for the mentorship and leadership training programme and all alumni relations activities, strengthening connections and success of the members of the network and raising their profile, individually and collectively.
Election Statement: "I would relish engaging with and further strengthening the diverse network of former researchers and staff linked to EMBL and EMBO to synergistically benefit both alumni and the present team. Applying my knowledge of the lab, funding, finance, international and alumni relations environments to contribute meaningfully to the community – continuing from my time at EMBL and EMBO, when I'd the pleasure of collaborating with researchers and staff to establish pensions for researchers; develop leadership training for group leaders; and encourage new member states to offer their researchers access to the excellent opportunities both EMBL and EMBO offer."
Annabel Goulding, Treasurer
Now: Treasurer to the Meridian Society; Company Secretary to Tangent Films Ltd, London, UK
EMBL: Head of Pay and Benefits, 2002–2011, Administration
Profile: Annabel joined EMBL as an internal auditor in 2002 and left as the Head of the Pay and Benefits section in human resources in 2011, also serving as interim Head of HR for a year during this time. She continues to work as a consultant for the Laboratory in her area of expertise.
As Treasurer to the Meridian Society - a charity for the promotion of Chinese culture in the UK, and Secretary to Tangent Films Ltd – a company specialising in arts and science documentaries, Annabel handles financial transactions and prepares cost budgets as well as accounts and annual reports, making her suitably qualified for this position.
Election statement: “I am interested in the role of EMBL alumni as holders of the Laboratory’s collective history and as ambassadors for the Laboratory’s future. In the past two years I have enjoyed interesting discussions about what the Association can do to benefit the alumni community and some challenging questions about the management of its financial affairs. Our 40th anniversary year was a particularly busy and exciting time, and I am pleased to have played a small part in that. Finance is not a popular discipline with everyone, so this niche gives me an opportunity to make a contribution, which I am looking forward to continue.”
Now: Senior Group Leader, Institute for Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA), Vienna, Austria
EMBL: Predoc, 2001-2005, Developmental Biology
Profile: Julius Brennecke started his scientific career in 2001 as a PhD student in Steve Cohen’s Group at EMBL Heidelberg. Here he discovered that bantam—a genetically identified locus involved in growth control in Drosophila—encodes a microRNA. Ever since, his scientific interest has been focused on the world of small RNAs and their diverse functions during development and genome defence. For his postdoctoral training, Julius worked with Greg Hannon at the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratories (CSHL) in New York where he made key discoveries on the piRNA pathway, a germ line specific small RNA silencing system that suppresses selfish genetic elements in animal gonads. Since 2009, Julius has been leading an independent research group at the IMBA in Vienna, where he continues to investigate the genetic and mechanistic framework of the piRNA pathway in Drosophila. Julius is an elected EMBO Member since 2014 and a recipient of the 2009 EMBL Alumni Association John Kendrew Award.
Election statement: “On multiple levels EMBL has served as a role model for molecular biology research in Europe and worldwide. Many challenges remain and new ones are emerging. The interaction between EMBL and the member states via an active Alumni Association is a great addition to other ongoing efforts. My own motivation in the Association will be to help improve the career outlook for young scientists. Science depends on brilliant minds – to keep attracting those, we need to reverse the trend that the scientific career is increasingly losing its perspective for the future talents.”
Now: Group Leader, Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association, Berlin, Germany
EMBL: Predoc, 2001-2006, Developmental Biology
Profile: Marina Chekulaeva is a group leader at the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology. She joined EMBL in 2001 as a predoc in Anne Ephrussi’s lab to study the mechanisms underlying establishment of cell polarity in Drosophila oocyte. Her PhD work uncovered a novel mechanism of translational repression that is particularly suited to coupling translational control with mRNA transport, a common and ill-understood theme in developmental biology and neurobiology. For her postdoc, Marina worked with Witek Filipowicz (Friedrich Miescher Institute, Switzerland) and Roy Parker (University of Arizona, USA) to dissect the mechanisms of miRNA function. Marina’s postdoc work revealed that miRNA silencing is mediated by novel conserved linear motifs (W-motifs) dispersed throughout the effector protein of miRNA repression complex, GW182, and recruiting deadenylation complexes to inhibit mRNAs. This discovery reconciled literature data and provided a new foundation from which to explore miRNA function. Since 2013, Marina has been leading her own lab at the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology, focusing on the mechanisms of RNA localization and local translation in neurons and its involvement into motor neuron disorders.
Election Statement: "To me, being a part of EMBL always meant a culture of scientific excellence, a sense of empowerment, and an amazing group of friends and colleagues all around the world. I would like to contribute to the EMBL Alumni Association by extending connections between EMBL alumni, spreading the EMBL culture, and promoting young scientists for careers in academic science. I am particularly focused on addressing the gender bias in leadership positions."
Now: Retired in April 2018. Currently Data Protection and Privacy Officer, Treasurer and Volunteer Transcriber Co-ordinator for the Hertford Oral History Group, member of the British Oral History Society, official photographer for the Hertford Choral Society and digging weeds on the allotment. Supporter of annual PDBe Art Exhibition.
EMBL: Joined EMBL as Internal Auditor in 1997 becoming joint Head of EMBL Internal Audit and Head of EMBL-EBI Administration from 1999-2005 and full-time Head of EMBL-EBI Administration from 2005-2018
Profile: I joined EMBL in Heidelberg as the Internal Auditor in September 1997 and then held, from 1999 to 2005, the dual role of Head of EMBL Internal Audit and Head of EMBL-EBI Administration, becoming full-time Head of EMBL-EBI Administration from 2005 onwards. I saw part of my role as being supportive of Alumni activities, and was able help support and attend alumni events in Cambridge and on campus and contribute to workshops on Alumni activities at Administrative Assembly workshops.
I have retained links with EMBL since retirement, including interviewing individuals as part of the collection of oral histories for the EMBL archive. This also fits well with my activities related to the Hertford Oral History Group, a valuable local resource and one where we are looking to publicise and encourage greater exploitation of the available material and ensuring it reaches a broader audience.
Election Statement: "Science, with EMBL as an exemplar, is a collaborative endeavour which includes technical and administrative contributions. It is also an important component of the broader cultural nature of society, and one of the reasons why the EMBL Archive is an important historical record. My contribution to the alumni board would focus on helping integrate non-scientific alumni into on-going networks and the promotion of EMBL, and to help use the alumni network in further building the EMBL Archive."
Now: Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
EMBL: Predoc, 2003-2007, Cell Biology and Biophysics
Profile: Johanna was a PhD student in the group of Claude Antony (electron microscopy facility leader) in EMBL Heidelberg from 2003-2007. During her PhD, she made the first electron tomography reconstruction of an entire yeast cell, an image which is still used on EMBL postcards etc. Since then, she has been a postdoc at the University of Oxford, UK, with long scientific visits at the University of Colorado, Boulder, USA and the MPI-CBG in Dresden, Germany. Currently, Johanna is an Associate Professor at the Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Johanna’s research focuses on human cilia and flagella structure which she studies by doing 3D reconstructions of sperm tails using cryo-electron tomography. We also collaborate with the EMBL proteomics and light microscopy core facilities to dissect sperm tails for proteomic analysis.
Election Statement: "I loved working for EMBL and it is still the best employer I ever had. The scientific upbringing that I received there is invaluable to me, and what I would like to work for is that more Scandinavians took the opportunity and spent time at EMBL. At EMBL, I would like to promote some of the best things from Scandinavia, such as long parental leave and a healthy work-life balance."
Now: Scientist and Project Leader, ZoBio, Leiden, The Netherlands
EMBL: Postdoc, 2014-2018, EMBL Hamburg, Structural Biology and Cell Biology & Biophysics
Profile: After studying life sciences at the Universities of Besançon and Lille, Anne-Sophie Huart pursued her PhD studies under the supervision of Ted Hupp at the University of Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre. During her PhD research in cancer cell biology she discovered and characterised the involvement of Casein Kinase 1 in the p53 tumour suppressor/ MDM2 oncogene pathway. Eager to decipher protein-protein interactions at a molecular level, Anne-Sophie joined EMBL in 2014 with an EIPOD fellowship aiming to structurally and functionally determine the regulation mechanisms of Death-Associated Protein Kinases with Matthias Wilmanns and Carsten Schultz at EMBL in Hamburg and Heidelberg. In parallel to learning protein expression & purification, microscopy and X-ray crystallography, Anne-Sophie served as EMBL Hamburg postdoc representative. During 3 years, she took care of the Hamburg postdoc community and got deeply involved in postdoc affairs, retreat organisation as well as disseminating her research at EMBL as an EMBL School Ambassador. In 2018, she joined the protein engineering and production group at ZoBio, a vibrant biotech company offering fragment-based drug discovery research services. As a scientist and project leader, she applies her skills to innovate and support drug discovery projects in synergy with other researchers in industry and academia.
Election Statement: "EMBL is a place where science is blooming. More than being inspired, what struck me the most are the strong links created between researchers - I believe people are the intrinsic force behind EMBL’s achievements. I became a postdoc representative for a few years as it was my desire to support this community by inciting new bonds and collaborations. We all have our own EMBL network from our time at EMBL and my aim as an EAA board member will be to stimulate the expansion of such networks in order to encourage further exchange within the alumni community."
Now: Lecturer, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, UK (and Visitor, University of Cambridge, UK)
EMBL: Predoc, 1993-1997, Genome Biology (formerly Gene Expression)
Profile: After graduating in Madrid, Isabel did her PhD with Iain Mattaj. In 1998, Isabel joined the group of Daniel St Johnston at the University of Cambridge in the UK as an EMBO- and HFSP-funded postdoc, before becoming a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow in the same lab. She became a Group Leader at the University of Cambridge in 2005, and then moved to Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in 2017. Isabel's lab is interested in understanding the biophysical function of forces and cytoskeletal proteins in germline development, as well as studying these processes in other cells/tissues in a collaborative manner. Isabel is a co-founder of the charity DrosAfrica, with the mission of setting up an African research community using Drosophila as a model system. Isabel is a recipient of the Suffrage Science Award in 2019.
Election Statement: "I love EMBL! I had a wonderful scientific and personal time there. After my PhD, I carried on interacting with people at EMBL, as well as with many alumni all over the world. Many challenges are currently emerging in science, and I believe the interaction between EMBL and the member states via an active alumni association is an important part of being more prepared when facing those challenges. I believe that people are the key to the success of any scientific institution and I will do my best in making the EMBL alumni family even more connected. I also have an opportunity to bring to EMBL the network I have built in Africa (through DrosAfrica) and China (through my position at QMUL) to help globalise EMBL’s reach in these fast-developing regions."
Now: Professor, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Geneva, Switzerland
EMBL: Group Leader, 2006-2016, EMBL Grenoble
Profile: Ramesh Pillai has had a long-standing interest in RNA biology research. He carried out his PhD work in the laboratory of Daniel Schuemperli at the University of Bern, Switzerland. This research identified that the U7 snRNP, a factor involved in formation of histone mRNA 3’ ends, carries a unique heptameric Sm/Lsm protein ring that is distinct from spliceosomal snRNPs. Postdoctoral research at the FMI Basel, in the laboratory of Witold Filipowicz, uncovered a role for small RNAs called microRNAs in translation control in mammalian cells. He began his independent research career at the EMBL Grenoble Outstation in 2006, where his group investigated germline small RNAs called piRNAs that are essential for silencing transposable elements in animal germlines. In early 2016, Ramesh took up a Professorship at the University of Geneva, where his group is continuing research on small RNAs. The group also initiated new research into how genomes use RNA modifications to control gene expression to regulate mammalian developmental transitions. Ramesh continues to collaborate with his former EMBL colleagues and participates in the RNA module of the Predoc Course held annually at Heidelberg.
Election Statement: "The EAA provides a great opportunity to promote interactions between the alumni spread out in the member states and enable them to maintain strong links with EMBL. At the same time, many alumni reside outside of the borders of EMBL member states. I will work to strengthen the networking opportunities for everyone and support the spread of the EMBL spirit of doing collaborative research."
Britta Schläger: Interim Deputy Treasurer
Now: Head of kobris – company specialising in project management, Sandhausen
EMBL: Research Technician, Genome Biology, 1989-1998
Profile: Before joining EMBL in 1989, Britta trained as biological technical assistant at the Rhenish Academy of Cologne (RAK). She then worked as Research Associate for four years in the laboratory of Renée K. Margolis at the Downstate Medical Center, SUNY, in Brooklyn before joining Matthias Hentze’s lab in the Gene Expression Unit (now Genome Biology) as Research Assistant.
After leaving EMBL, Britta worked as data annotator for Anadys Pharmaceuticals. Since 2004, she is a freelancer and head of her own company, kobris, supporting scientists and physicians in many organisational aspects of their projects: from grants and financial controlling to events, outreach and recruitment.
Election statement: “EMBL has fascinated me tremendously and continues to do so. I am very proud of being part of the EMBL alumni community and wish to show my heartfelt appreciation by supporting the EMBL Alumni Association with dedication and loyalty in my areas of expertise: project management, financing and communications. Furthermore, I really enjoy working with colleagues in ths community and look forward to the opportunity of expanding my networks while making a difference.
Now: Founder and CEO, Lipotype and Emeritus Director, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany
EMBL: Group Leader and Head of Unit, 1975-2000, Cell Biology and Biophysics
Profile: Kai received his MD degree from the University of Helsinki in 1964. He then conducted postdoctoral research with A.G. Bearn at the Rockefeller University in New York. In 1967, Kai accepted a PI position from the Finnish Medical Research Council at the University of Helsinki. In 1975, he became a Group Leader at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany and there he started the Cell Biology Programme, which became the focal point for molecular cell biology in Europe. In 2001 Kai moved to Dresden to build up the new Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics. This Institute is today an internationally recognised center in its area of research. His recent research has focused on cell membrane organisation and function. He has pioneered the concept of lipid rafts as a membrane organising principle, based on the phase-separating capabilities of sphingolipids and cholesterol in cell membranes. Lipid research is now experiencing a renaissance and is bound to play an exciting role for understanding how lipids contribute to cellular function. Recently, he founded a startup 'Lipotype' to create a lipidomics platform that measures health and disease.
Election Statement: "EMBL has inspired generations of researchers to work together to solve exciting problems of molecular biology. This spirit is what excites us as EMBL alumni and the message that we want to spread is that working together pays off and is fun - most of the time. In a world where innovation is becoming more important than ever, this is what I have been working for all my life."
Ernst Hans Karl Stelzer
Ernst Hans Karl Stelzer
Now: Professor, Physical Biology and Advanced Light Microscopy, and Dean of Studies, Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
EMBL: Predoc, 1983-1987, Physical Instrumentation; Project Leader, 1987-1989, Physical Instrumentation; Group Leader, 1989-2011, Cell Biology and Biophysics
Profile: Ernst came to EMBL as one of the first Predocs in 1983. From 1987-2011, he was a scientist in various Programmes/Units, most lately in the Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit. He organised the first EMBO course on microscopy in 1989 in Heidelberg, moved them abroad (Lisbon, Ghent, …, Singapore) in the 1990s and participated in numerous EMBO workshops, courses and conferences. He worked in physics, optics, and biophysics as well as cell, molecular, plant and developmental biology for several decades. He contributed to conventional, confocal, 4Pi and theta microscopy, optical tweezers and levitation, laser ablation and invented light sheet fluorescence microscopy (LSFM, SPIM, DSLM) in the early 2000s. His publications continue to influence many scientific areas. He is particularly interested in developing three-dimensional microscopies that enable observations under near-natural conditions as a function of time and applying them to cutting edge research. Many of his former Diploma and PhD students as well as Postdocs continue to pursue successful academic careers of their own. By now, he published more than 270 papers and was granted several patents that resulted in commercially available instruments. Honours include the LSFM-Protagonist “Method of the Year 2014” and the EMBL Alumni Association's Lennart Philipson Award in 2016.
Election Statement: "My 28 years at EMBL played an important role in the development of my personality. I met wonderful people, had fascinating discussions and did whatever I regarded important. However, I also became acquainted with misconduct, met many who made it as well as many who dropped out of the system. I also experienced the different European, Asian and American implementations of schools, universities and elite education systems on an exceptionally close level. I am extremely grateful for my life at and with EMBL and look forward to contributing to the community of current as well as former employees with a critical but always favourable view."
Now: Senior Research Group Leader, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany
EMBL: Predoc, 1995-2000, Developmental Biology
Profile: Pavel studied Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. He then did his PhD at EMBL in the laboratory of Anne Ephrussi studying the establisment of polarity in the the Drosophila oocyte. During his post-doctoral time at the University of California in Berkeley at the laboratory of Gerald M. Rubin, he established image-based genome scale resources for patterns of gene expression in Drosophila embryos. Since 2005 he leads an independent research group at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Dresden where he became senior research group leader in 2013. In 2016, he was elected EMBO member.
His independent laboratory at MPI-CBG studies patterns of gene expression during development by combining molecular, imaging and image analysis techniques. The group has lead a significant technological development aiming towards more complete quantitative description of gene expression patterns using light sheet microscopy. The emphasis on open access resulted in establishment of major resources such as OpenSPIM and Fiji. Presently, the Tomancak lab is particularly interested in studying the evolution of morphogenesis during early development using quantitative comparative approaches in several invertebrate species.
Election Statement: "EMBL scientific culture is something special. As one of the first PhD students from Central and Eastern Europe, I was immediately enchanted by the openness and the spirit of fruitful collaboration and friendship that defines EMBL. I have been benefiting from the network established during my time at EMBL ever since. I would like to contribute towards spreading the unique aspects of the EMBL culture, in particular towards the East. MPI-CBG is of course a great start and a shining example of that. But why stop there? Based on my recent experiences with science politics in my home country, the Czech Republic, I conclude that they need our help and the EAA can contribute."
Now: Head of the Electron Microscopy Facility and Core Speaker of all Facilities at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras, Portugal; Co-chair of the European Space Agency Topical Team for Celestial Dust Toxicity; and President-Elect of the Portuguese Microscopy Society (2020-2021)
EMBL: Postdoc, 2009-2013, Cell Biology and Biophysics, and Diving Club
Profile: Being a farm girl from a very small community in Canada, I never thought I would end up married to a Swiss scientist and living in Portugal running an Electron Microscopy Facility. My path here began with a PhD from the University of British Columbia in 2007. A 2.5-month programme at the International Space University truly solidified my enthusiasm for space exploration which lead to a 2-year postdoc at NASA Ames Research Center studying the toxicity of lunar dust. I learned about EMBL from an EMBL alumna and the opportunity to cross the ocean and return to electron microscopy was enough to draw me away from my love of space. I spent 3.5 years at EMBL in Heidelberg working on a very challenging project to image the meiotic spindle from Xenopus laevis. The project was not quite the success we had hoped for, but that experience equipped me with the diversity of skills I needed to design, build and run my own facility. Today I am the proud leader of a small, extremely gifted team of electron microscopists who have helped me advance the electron microscopy infrastructure for the entire country of Portugal. We buy the equipment we can afford and we MacGyver the rest. It is not always easy, but it has been a fun journey and I am proud of what we have done together. And although I love electron microscopy, I could never really let go of the space connection, so I am currently involved with a few topical teams for the European Space Agency and I am even a lecturer at the International Space University. Once a space geek, always a space geek.
Election Statement: "I really enjoyed being at EMBL, working with state-of-the-art equipment and surrounded by people with the attitude of “nothing is impossible, you just need to think harder”. But having moved to a country, like Portugal, where funding is sparse and sporadic, I see the other side of the challenge in science where the attitude is the same, but the resources are missing. I hope I could bring to the board ideas on how to build more connections between the EMBL infrastructure and the member states to help support science from countries with reduced funding opportunities. I also hope I can be a positive role model exemplifying to young scientists that a successful career in science means more than just becoming a PI. And lastly, as the result of a horse-riding accident, I am now officially “a disabled person”. I hate that title, but perhaps even here I can be a role model. I suffered a spinal cord injury and as a result I walk funny and slowly, yet it has not stopped me from being an active member of the scientific community – it just takes a bit more planning, perseverance, as well as a sense of humour (and personal forgiveness) when all goes wrong."