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EMBO Lecture Course

Venice Summer School: The future of evolutionary-developmental systems biology

21 – 25 August 2023 | Venice, Italy

  • Registration Deadline
  • 15 April 2023
  • Abstract Submission Deadline
  • 15 April 2023
  • Chosen Participants Will Be Notified By
  • 30 April 2023
  • Payment Deadline
  • 31 May 2023

Apply now!

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About the Lecture Course

Any adequate theory of evolutionary change must cover both the sources and the consequences of phenotypic variation. On the one hand, we must understand the various processes—genetic, metabolic, physiological, developmental, and behavioral—that generate variation. On the other hand, we must understand the sorting processes that lead to the differential survival of different variants. The latter aspect is covered by traditional evolutionary genetics, with its well-developed set of concepts and models. In contrast, there seems to be no overarching theory or unifying framework able to explain the enormous diversity of processes generating variation. These processes are not only dauntingly complex, but also occur at many different levels of organization—from the molecular to the cellular, tissue, organ, organismic, and even supra-organismic levels (ecological or social). We could conclude from this that no theory of the sources of variation is possible, or we could call for a novel, empirically grounded, organismic systems biology that integrates philosophical, mathematical, and experimental approaches to tackle the issue. We will look at this project from a broad theoretical vantage point to assess the future of evolutionary and developmental systems biology.

Specifically, we will focus on the following five topics:

1. How is genetic causation framed and embedded in the context of the organism?

2. How do we connect the study of cell & developmental biology to evolutionary genetics?

3. How can we model the genotype-phenotype relationship and its role in evolution?

4. What would a modern organism-centered evolutionary biology look like?

5. What role do technology and theory play for progress in evolutionary systems biology?

We have gathered an interdisciplinary teaching panel of empirical investigators together with mathematical modelers and philosophers of biology to discuss the topics listed above. For the first time in the history of our summer school, we will focus entirely on the future of the field, in an attempt to anticipate challenges and to prepare our participants for questions that are likely to have an important impact on their empirical or theoretical research some years into the future. This requires a format that is question-driven, exploratory, and participatory. We combine lectures with small-group discussions where teachers and students search for the commonalities and differences between their respective views. The aim of the summer school is to attract early-stage empirical and theoretical researchers from a large range of disciplines who are interested in evolutionary problems, to equip them with the conceptual tools and critical thinking skills to tackle future challenges and to relate them to their own specific research questions and explanations.

About EMBO Courses and Workshops

EMBO Courses and Workshops are selected for their excellent scientific quality and timelines, provision of good networking activities for all participants and speaker gender diversity (at least 40% of speakers must be from the underrepresented gender).

Organisers are encouraged to implement measures to make the meeting environmentally more sustainable.







  • Registration Deadline
  • 15 April 2023
  • Abstract Submission Deadline
  • 15 April 2023
  • Chosen Participants Will Be Notified By
  • 30 April 2023
  • Payment Deadline
  • 31 May 2023



Registration includes:

  • Accommodation in shared double rooms at the Centro Culturale Don Orione Artigianelli close to the famous Accademia bridge and museum in Venice, at the same location the lectures take place.
  • Breakfast and lunch, coffee breaks, plus a welcome dinner on Monday evening (dinner on the other days of the course is self-provided).


Payment of the registration fee will occur online on this website. Selected participants will receive instructions in due time.

Selection criteria

Applications should include a short academic CV, motivation letter, and a mini-abstract for the elevator pitch (for those who would like to present one).

Applicants will be chosen mainly based on their stated motivation and interest in the topics of the course. The CV will be consulted to ensure that the applicant has the required background to be able to follow the course. The research abstract is not part of the selection procedure.

Abstract guidelines

Abstracts for elevator pitches should be no longer than 100 words and clearly summarize the research project of the participant (which does not have to be directly related to the topic of the course, but if a connection exists, please mention it).

The abstract should be accessible to researchers with a broad range of backgrounds, from experimental biology, to mathematical modeling, to the philosophy of science.

Elevator pitches will be limited to a duration of 2-3 min, and a maximum of 2 slides (only if necessary for the presentation). The aim of the elevator pitch session is to acquaint the participants with each others’ research interests at the beginning of the course.

Travel grants and registration fee waivers

Travel grants and registration fee waivers are available for participants.

Selection of awardees is handled directly by the organizers. EMBO travel grants and registration fee waivers are allocated on the basis of the quality of the submitted abstract.
Applicants do not need to apply separately for these but should indicate on the registration form if they wish to be considered.

Additional travel grants are available for EMBC Associate Member States Chile, India, Singapore and Taiwan.

Special travel grants and registration fee waivers

A limited number of travel grants and registration fee waivers are available for scientists working in Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovenia and Turkey. Grants are allocated on the basis of the quality of the submitted abstract.

A maximum of 700 Euros per participant are available to cover registration fees, travel, and accommodation (no additional subsistence costs can be covered). To apply, please indicate the itemized amount requested in the travel grants section of the registration form.

Child care grants

EMBO Courses and Workshops offers grants to offset additional childcare costs incurred by participants or speakers when participating at any EMBO Courses and Workshop funded meeting. Eligible costs include fees for a caregiver or child-care facility, travel costs for a caregiver, or travel costs for taking the child to the meeting etc. Please indicate on the registration form whether you would like to be considered for the grant. Please also describe how you intend to use the childcare grant and specify the sum that you will need.

Code of conduct

Anti-harassment and non-discrimination policy

This EMBO meeting shall maintain an environment free of harassment and discriminatory behaviour for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, ethnicity, beliefs (religious or otherwise) or manner of articulation.

Harassment and discrimination of attendees in any form, either in person or online is not tolerated.

Attendees are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and all communication and behavior should conform to a respectful environment for all.






2022-11/donorione1.jpg 2022-11/giudecca.jpg 2022-11/donorione2.jpg
Image by Luca Livraghi

Centro Culturale Don Orione Artigianelli

Rio Terà Foscarini, 909/A
30123 Dorsoduro,
Venice, Italy


Phone: + 39 041 522 4077

Fax: +39 041 528 6214


The Cultural Centre Don Orione Artigianelli is located inside an old monastery in the centre of Venice. Accommodation, coffee breaks, and breakfast/lunch are included in the registration fee, and will be provided in the building complex where the lectures are held. The monastery is organized around a central courtyard where coffee breaks and small group discussions will take place. All rooms are spacious, bright and overlook the gardens or cloisters. They are equipped with air conditioning, WI-FI, private bathroom with shower, safe, hairdryer, and telephone. Buffet breakfast is provided at the Centro, and lunch will be served at the Restaurant San Trovaso, which is associated with the centre. The building has been recently restored and equipped with the latest technology to host conferences and meetings.



By plane from Marco Polo Airport in Venice:

The most scenic and stylish way to approach Venice is to take the water bus (vaporetto) operated by Alilaguna (blue line) and get off at Zattere (takes about 1.5 hours, but is well worth it). Walk along the wide street in front of you for about 150 meters. You will find the entrance to the Centro at No. 909/a to your left (in front of the S. Agnese church).

The faster and cheaper option is to take the ATVO bus, or ACTV bus No. 5, from the airport to Piazzale Roma.

From Piazzale Roma, you can take the water bus (vaporetto) lines No. 1 or 2 in direction of S. Marco along the Canal Grande. Get off at Accademia. Keep to the left and take the Rio Terà Foscarini on your right. After 200 meters, you will find the entrance of Don Orione at No. 909/a to your right (in front of the S. Agnese church).

By plane from San Giuseppe Airport in Treviso:

Take the ATVO bus from the airport to Piazzale Roma. From there, follow the instructions above.

By train from Venezia S. Lucia station:

Leave the station by turning right and crossing a small canal to the Piazzale Roma. From there, follow the instructions above.

By car:

After crossing the Ponte della Libertà into Venice, you can park at the Tronchetto Interparking. From there, take water bus (vaporetto) line No. 2 in direction of S. Zaccaria and get off at Zattere. Walk along the wide street in front of you for about 150 meters. You will find the entrance to the Centro at No. 909/a to your left in front of the S. Agnese church.

Alternatively, park at the Piazzale Roma parking. From Piazzale Roma to Don Orione, follow the instructions above.

If you don’t have too much luggage and are not daunted by the challenge of navigating the labyrinthine streets of Venice, we also recommend walking from Piazzale Roma to Don Orione. It only takes about 20 min and its extremely scenic. At your own risk of getting lost though!

About the Area

Venice is a car-free city. The entire city centre is walkable within a reasonable amount of time. Don Orione is about 15 min walk from San Marco, with many of Venice’s main sights in close distance. The city is very quiet and safe. Be aware that most restaurants and bars close quite early. Dinner prices at restaurants are rather steep, but the organisers know an affordable pizzeria, and there are a number of student bars around the Campo Santa Margarita that should help you avoid financial ruin.

Do take some time before or after the meeting to explore Venice. It is a unique and spectacular place!

Molecular Systems Biology