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Ecoles des Houches

Summer school Les Houches 2014

Integrated structural and cell biology from molecules to cells and organisms: Thinking out of the box

Les Houches Summer school, 7th July to 1st August 2014

43 participants attended the 4-weeks summer school, which took place in July at Les Houches in the Chamonix valley. The school aimed at preparing students and young researchers to new coming strategies also based on concepts in physics that open new ways of thinking biology. The participants, 35 doctoral students and 8 post-docs, came from 14 different countries, mainly European but also from China, India, United States and Canada, with 21 different citizenships. Roughly half of the participants have been initially trained in biology, and half in physics, and a few in chemistry. Based on 3 main biological topics, plant growth and flower development, interaction between viruses and host cells, membranes and transporters, the lectures illustrated various integrative approaches, and showed how concepts in physics and mathematics contribute to the understanding of biological processes from the molecular level to cells and organisms. In addition to the lectures and to a few practicals, the participants spontaneously organized late evening sessions on topics they had chosen themselves. Despite the bad weather, a few hiking and climbing sessions were also possible, and contributed to the extremely good ambiance and the interactivity of the students during the lectures. A 4-weeks school is a unique opportunity for an interdisciplinary teaching, and allowed additional explanations during lunch or afternoon breaks, not only from the lecturers but also in between the participants from biologists to physicists and vice-versa. A book will be edited by Oxford University Press, and should be a helpful guide in teaching at the interface between biology and physics.

A few comments from the participants:



Eva Pebay-Peyroula, Hugues Nury, François Parcy, Rob Ruigrok, Yves Gaudin, Christine Ziegler


The total budget of the school was 98 k€. The school received funds from the CNRS, the German-French University, Instruct, FRISBI, GRAL and INRA. The total fees for participants were 1500 € for the 4 weeks. Thanks to the external funding, grants ranging from 300 to 1500 € could be allocated to 34 participants (the other didn’t request financial support).

A few statistics on participants

Working place
Europe: 3 Germany – 1 Denmark – 2 Spain – 21 France –2 UK – 1 Italy – 2 Netherlands – 1 Slovenia – 2 Sweden

Others: 1 Canada – 2 China –3 India – 1 Israel –1 USA

Europe: 1 Bulgaria –2 Germany – 1 Denmark – 3 Spain –12 France – 4 Italy – 1 Liechtenstein – 2 Netherlands – 1 Poland – 1 Portugal – 1 Russia – 1 Slovenia – 1 Ukraine
Others: 1 Canada – 2 China – 1 Colombia –1 Egypt – 4 India – 1 Israel – 1 Lebanon – 1 Mexico

Speakers and Lectures


Public Conference