At the beginning of October 2015, the workshop “Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance” organized by Edith Heard, Ruth Lehmann and the Company of Biologists took place in Wiston House, West Sussex, United Kingdom. 20 invited speakers, all leading experts in the field, presented their thoughts about transgenerational epigenetic inheritance and their research towards describing and understanding these effects. In addition, 10 early career scientists (young PIs, postdocs and PhD students) selected from applications got the possibility to take part in the meeting and also to present their work in a talk. Luckily, I had the opportunity to join the workshop as one of only four participating PhD students.
The presentations covered various aspects of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance: Not only discussions of possible biological mechanisms, but also philosophical perspectives and conceptual thoughts about the topic. It was especially interesting to listen to such a broad variety of talks covering different aspects of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance in various model organisms.
For me, working on chromatin-based epigenetic memory in Drosophila melanogaster, it was very interesting to learn about the latest studies focusing on other potential mechanisms including small RNAs or even prions in various organisms ranging from yeast to Caenorhabditis elegans, plants and mammals.
I have really enjoyed the workshop. It was great to have had the opportunity to join such a small conference as a PhD student and also to get the chance to present the ideas and first results of my PhD work to leading experts in the field. The discussions about my project and beyond were very fruitful. I now have a different, much broader view on transgenerational epigenetic inheritance.
In my opinion, this workshop format provides a unique opportunity, especially for early career scientists, to interact with experienced experts in a certain field. I would definitively apply for a similar workshop again, if it covers a topic related to my work.
Maybe there is also a workshop planned about your research interests. I think it will be worth applying.