TE3 goes Virtual

On 17th and 18th June our synBIOcarb Training Event 3 took place virtually in conjunction with the Structural Glycoscience Summer School at the University of Grenoble Alps.

30 students including our synBIOcarb ESRs participated in a series of lectures and practical sessions. The comprehensive programme of activities, devised by Dr Anne Imberty and Simona Notova (ESR6) at CERMAV-CNRS, covered important topics such as Protein X-ray Crystallography, Sugar Building, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Isothermal Titration Calorimetry and Solid-Phase Binding Assays. Students also engaged in live desk based practical work where they experimented with Sugar Molecular Dynamics and using databases such as a Protein-Ligand Interaction Profiler. 

So many enthusiastic participants!

Virtual TE3

Beautiful working environment we missed so much!

TE3 Grenoble Alpes

Productivity in a time of Pandemic

Europe went into lockdown in Spring 2020 but our synBIOcarb ESRs are continuing with their research wherever they can. These two recent papers are associated with our synBIOcarb work and show that even the extreme restrictions of a pandemic can’t stop our thirst for more knowledge in the field of synthetic glycobiology.

Lina Siukstaite (ESR4) in Dr Winfried Romer’s lab at the University of Freiburg contributed to this paper in Frontiers in Physiology. It looks at the effect of the lectin LecA on stretch-activated ion channels, mechanical sensors in the heart. LecA is a virulence factor of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacillus which is a major cause of infection in patients with underlying or immunocompromising conditions.
enGenes Biotech CEO, Dr Juergen Mairhofer, co-authored this paper in ACS Synthetic Biology about the enGenes-X-press Technology. It explains their novel approach for improved recombinant protein production (RPP) using Escherichia coli (E. coli) by decoupling recombinant protein synthesis from cell growth. This technique has profound implications for biotechnology and bioengineering and helps to establish more cost-effective and generic manufacturing processes.

ESRs get virtual with SARS-CoV-2 courses

Our synBIOcarb ESRs at the University of Freiburg, Lina Suikstaite and Francesca Rosato, have been busy participating in these coronavirus online training sessions organised by the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and streamed from Geneva. They have found them an especially thought-provoking and useful course which has informed their project work with topical material during these exceptional times living through the Covid-19 pandemic.

ARTESC engages online with key soft skills

We are extremely grateful to ARTESC’s Gijs Meeusen for providing a number of our ESRs with his new online training course teaching advanced level writing and presenting skills. This six week course is a fabulous opportunity for our researchers to continue developing the skills they began to perfect during our synBIOcarb Training Event 1 (TE1) in Leeds.

15th Bratislava Symposium on Saccharides coming June 2020

UPDATE – March 2020 – This event has been postponed due to global travel restrictions related to the Coronavirus. It may be rescheduled, at best to dates in Autumn 2020 or otherwise in 2021 or 2022. Further updates will be posted when received from the organisers.

The 15th Bratislava Symposium on Saccharides (15th BSS) will be held from June 8 to June 12, 2020, in Smolenice Castle, Slovakia. BSS have been regularly organized since 1978 by the Institute of Chemistry, Center for Glycomics, Slovak Academy of Sciences, the renowned Central-European center for saccharides research.

SynBIOcarb supervisor Dr Jaroslav Katrlik is Chairing the Organising Committee for this excellent event.

The scientific program of the 15th BSS covers principal aspects of recent advances in the areas as Chemistry & Synthesis of Saccharides, Glycobiology & Glycomics, Glycans & Health, Glycoconjugates & Glycomaterials and Structure & Analyses. Keynote speakers confirmed up to date are Alexei Demchenko (University of Missouri–St. Louis, USA), Maria Hrmova (University of Adelaide, Australia, and Huaiyin Normal University, China), Wei Huang (Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, China), Anna Imberty (University of Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, France), Jaroslav Koča (Masaryk University, Czechia), Vladimír Mastihuba (Institute of Chemistry, SAS, Slovakia), Katarína Mikušová (Comenius University, Slovakia), Gordon A. Morris (University of Huddersfield, UK), Veronika Ostatná (Institute of Biophysics, CAS, Czechia), Serge Perez (University of Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, France), Evangelos Topakas (National Technical University of Athens, Greece), Igor Tvaroška (Institute of Chemistry, SAS, Slovakia), Dušan Uhrín (University of Edinburgh, UK), Paula Videira (University NOVA, Portugal) and others. The scientific program will include oral presentations, flash communications and posters. Posters can be introduced also during short one minute lightning talks session and best posters will get award.


The Symposium will be traditionally held at the Congress Center of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in the Smolenice Castle (situated 50 km north-east of Bratislava) at the foot of Small Carpathian Mountains, the prominent wine region of Slovakia. The participants can be accommodated at the conference venue. The social events will include also welcome dinner on Monday evening, sightseeing tour and Symposium Dinner on Wednesday afternoon and farewell party on Thursday evening. Attractive interiors of the Castle and beautiful natural surroundings provide a special atmosphere for scientific discussions, relaxation and meeting friends. The friendly informal atmosphere together with high scientific standard of the Symposium make BSS popular among scientists from various fields interested in glycosciences. The meetings also provide an unique opportunity for young researchers to make their presentations and to establish the first international contacts.

For more information go to https://www.saccharides.sav.sk/

Festive Collaborations at TE2 in Graz

In December 2019 our full cohort of 15 synBIOcarb ESRs enjoyed a rewarding week in Graz during the festive season at our second Training Event. The week was a great success thanks to some fantastic organisation by our excellent hosts, the Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology.

This meeting coincided with a visit from our EC Project Officer for his Mid-Term Check. It provided a great opportunity for our ESRs to present themselves as well as to update supervisors on the progress of their projects and discuss future collaborations with synBIOcarb partners.

Scientific training included a one day project exercise working in teams of 2-3 developing designs to target sick cells and deliver a drug to heal or kill them.

There was also time to enjoy rooftop lunches together and a trip to the Christmas Markets in Graz Old Town!

2019 European Researcher Night

Two of our synBIOcarb ESRs, Juvissan Ariza and Paras Kundalia, based in the Institute of Chemistry at the Slovak academy of Sciences participated in the H2020 MSCA European Researcher Night (NIGHT) in Bratislava on 27th September 2019.

They explained the basics of the world of sugars to children and their families such as where they are found in nature, why they play an important part in daily life and their role in cancer. The NIGHT gave then opportunity to demonstrate biochemistry experiments to a wide audience and to improve their dissemination skills communicating their science to a public audience.

The event included some exceptional talks, such as the ‘Experience of Space Exploration’ from former astronaut Mary Ellen Weber and ‘The future of Artificial Intelligence’ from teenage honorary IBM consultant Tanmay Bakshi who is a teenage honorary IBM consultant. Listening to these talks not only inspired them to pursue high impact research but also encouraged them to be involved in future NIGHTS.

SynBIOcarb First Training Event – UK

Our newly recruited synBIOcarb ESRs and their supervisors met for the first time together for a four day training event hosted by the University of Leeds. Two of our synBIOcarb project partners, Glycoselect and the University of Orleans, were also able to participate.

The trip began with a day out in North Yorkshire, taking in the delights of Brimham Rocks, Betty’s Tearoom and the Bolton Abbey Estate. All in all a fantastic start for the ESRs to get to know each other!

During the formal sessions our ESRs experienced some exceptional training including how to present to large audiences from performance coach Jane Oakshott MBE, how to communicate your science from Artesc, how to manage research and research ethics from Alastair Hay OBE. They were able to spend time thinking about their personal development as a first step towards preparing their career development plans and we were very delighted to have Professor Birte Svensson from the Technical University of Denmark join as an external mentor. She shared her expertise with our young researchers and gave some valuable starting guidance during an informal group discussion session.

After such a successful start to the synBIOcarb training programme our researchers are beginning to drive their project work forward and everyone is now looking forward to the next training event hosted by the Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology where they will receive more in depth science training and guidance on scientific writing techniques.

Synthetic Glycobiology Issue of Interface Focus

A special issue of the Royal Society journal Interface Focus dedicated to synthetic glycobiology has been published. The issue was organised by synBIOcarb supervisors Bruce Turnbull, Anne Imberty and Ola Blixt and includes contributions from speakers at the Royal Society International Meeting on Synthetic Glycobiology that took place in October 2018. The issue includes 11 papers and reviews from researchers based in Europe, Japan and the USA including some of the other synBIOcarb supervisors: Ralf Richter, Birgit Wiltschi, Jan Tkac and Winfried Römer.

synBIOcarb coordinator Bruce Turnbull was also interviewed for the Royal Society Publishing Blog to mark the release of the special issue.