Science & sun in Lausanne

Along with co-organizers from Sweden, Germany, and the States, I was thrilled to take part this week in an inspiring workshop at the Lausanne headquarters for the Centre Européen de Calcul Atomique et Moléculaire (CECAM). Founded 47 years ago to promote fundamental research and applications of computational methods in science, CECAM joined the Swedish e-Science Research CentreBioExcelJournal of General Physiology and Nature Structural & Molecular Biology in sponsoring our three-day program—Ion Transport from Physics to Physiology: the Missing Rungs in the Ladder—on the campus of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in the south of Switzerland.

Our thirty participating scientists—representing 22 institutions in 11 countries—discussed recent successes and (often more interesting) challenges in studying ion channels and transporters at the molecular level. Among other things, an emergent theme was the need for a public database of molecular dynamics simulations, analogous to the Protein Data Bank or—perhaps less obvious, but with likewise important parallels—biomaterial repositories.

Alongside the stimulating science, I was moved by my virgin visit to Lausanne. The EPFL campus was populated by industrious sheep as well as students enjoying the spring sun; downtown, the Olympic Museum gardens offered idyllic views of the French Alps from the north banks of Lake Geneva. Evening at Chalet Suisse was equally memorable for fondue, raclette, and a breathtaking hilltop sunset.

Many thanks to Ignacio, Marianne, Bogdan, and the entire CECAM staff for making our Swiss sojourn so productive and enjoyable.