New frontiers in developmental biology: a scientific and public event to celebrate the diversity of life

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The Human Frontier Science Program and the French and Japanese Societies of Developmental Biology (SFBD & JSDB) are organizing a congress from November 7 to 10 in Strasbourg, with the aim of bringing together international scientists and the general public around research in this field. On the program: nearly 50 scientific conferences open to the general public at the Palais Universitaire, four days of exhibitions of work by students of the HEAR (Haute école des arts du Rhin), two evenings of video-mapping in the courtyard of the Palais Rohan, mediation actions with students in the region. This scientific event aims to promote research in developmental biology and to show how knowledge is shared between researchers at the international level.

Developmental biology, the study of the organization of the complexity of the plant and animal world

Developmental biology is the study of the organization of life and how its complexity has developed.  Thus, one of the main questions that scientists in this field try to answer is "By what processes does a single cell like the zygote arrive at a sophisticated organism, composed of billions of cells assembled into functional organs? To do this, they try to understand how cells choose a destiny, or how cells communicate and migrate towards each other, and what rules they follow to assemble and form tissues (muscle, nerve...).

Recently, the field has benefited from the development of multiple technical advances such as single-cell analysis, which allows the study of all the molecules produced by a cell at a given time, or bioinformatics, which allows the processing of a large number of different data within integrated models. All of this allows research in the field of developmental biology to be directed towards a very detailed understanding of each mechanism involved in cell fate, making it possible to know what will influence the trajectory of the cell, from its birth to its specialization to form a functional organ.

A better understanding of this field brings the necessary light to understand how humanity has developed and leads to multiple applications, including the treatment of developmental diseases such as autism spectrum disorders, childhood cancers, many motor and intellectual disabilities or fertility disorders.



The complete program is available on the website dedicated to the event: You can find the actions towards the general public here.

Nearly 50 scientific conferences, open to citizens (non-scientists) curious to know how knowledge is created and shared

You are invited! To find the program of the scientific conferences that will take place at the Palais Universitaire from November 7 to 10, follow this link. In order to demystify what a scientific conference is and to show how knowledge is created and shared at the international level, 10 citizens per half-day can come and listen to the scientific conferences, and interact with the researchers. To register for this action, supported by HFSP, interested people can register here.


Two conferences for the general public will be held:

  • November 7, 10:30 am, at the Palais Universitaire: Chris Bowler, the immense microscopic world of the oceans explored by the TARA expeditions (in French)
  • November 10, 6 pm, at the Palais Universitaire, Shigeru Kuratani, how new forms and functions were generated during evolution (in English)

Four days of exhibitions of didactic works created by HEAR students

From November 7 to 10, the "Test tubes and pencils" device, gathering 14 mediation supports created by as many students in their third year at the HEAR, is exhibited in the University Palace. Supervised by Olivier Poncer and Olivier-Marc Nadel, and Aurélie Gasche, these works were each elaborated by a student-scientist tandem.

Two evenings of sound and light shows in video-mapping to highlight the fundamental enigma of developmental biology...

How can a sophisticated organism, composed of billions of cells assembled into functional organs, emerge from a single cell, the zygote? This is the enigma treated by scientists in developmental biology and highlighted by the visual artist and musician Julien Ribot through a musical creation and a "pop" film showing the richness of colors, shapes and dynamic processes related to this field of research.

The video mapping performances will take place on November 9 and 10 from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm in the courtyard of the Palais Rohan, in Strasbourg.

Several actions towards schoolchildren are organized

On the morning of November 7, workshops on developmental biology, organized with the help of the Jardin des Sciences of the University of Strasbourg (JdS), will be held in about 15 primary and secondary school classes in the region. These workshops aim to better understand the scientific process, its rigor and temporality, to increase knowledge in biology, to intrigue, to discover the job of researcher. These workshops are realized thanks to the collaboration of the SFBD, the Jardin des Sciences, the Maison pour la Science Alsace and the Institut de génétique et de biologie moléculaire et cellulaire (IGBMC).

A hundred high school students and their teachers were also invited to imagine themselves as researchers! On November 7 and 8, during the poster sessions of the scientific congress, international researchers presented their work to groups of high school students. The objective is to show how the latest knowledge is shared, to allow students to discover the profession of researcher by interacting directly with scientists, and to practice the language of research: English. This action is organized in partnership with the Maison pour la Science Alsace and the IGBMC.