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Lindau Meeting 2023: “It was unlike any other scientific event”

For each Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, the FNR runs a Call for promising young researchers with a connection to Luxembourg to attend. Vanessa Klapp was one of three young researchers selected for the 2023 Lindau Meeting, dedicated to physiology & medicine. We speak to Vanessa about the experience of attending the event, getting advice from Nobel Laureates and meeting other young scientists.

Find out more about FNR Calls for Lindau Meetings

You had the opportunity to hear from and/or meet Nobel Prize winners and hundreds of other young researchers, can you describe the overall experience?

“It was a very special and unique once-in-a-lifetime experience. The atmosphere during this week in Lindau was unlike any other scientific event that I have attended so far, the participants were all very open and engaging and the environment created a very exceptional source of inspiration and connection.

“I met many fantastic and like-minded young scientists that I could connect with, not only on a professional but also personal level. Moreover, I had the chance to engage in stimulating discussions with several Nobel Laureates, during a Nobel Laureate Lunch, Partner Dinners, Open Exchange Formats or Social Events.”

Caption: Vanessa Klapp at the Lindau Meeting

What was your impression of the Nobel Prize Winners?

“The Nobel Laureates that I have had the chance to talk to at the Lindau Meeting were all incredibly friendly, down-to-earth and approachable. It was a very special and humbling experience to have this great honour of getting to meet the actual human beings behind all these incredible scientific achievements.”

Caption: Vanessa with biologist Aaron Ciechanover, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2004 for characterising the method that cells use to degrade and recycle proteins using ubiquitin.

What were your highlights of the scientific programme?

“The week in Lindau was built on a very intense schedule with a vast scientific programme full of personal highlights, which makes it hard to make a selection. Overall, one of my favourite scientific events were the so-called Agora Talks with a more interactive audience.

“Besides the scientific subjects, I personally found it to be very insightful to hear the Nobel Laureate’s outlook on more general topics linked to a career in science, which was particularly valuable at this early stage of my career. I also truly enjoyed the exchange with Harold Varmus during the Nobel Lunch in a more casual environment with the opportunity to hear from his personal experiences and perspective on several scientific questions.”

Caption: Vanessa with Jules A. Hoffmann, a Luxembourg-born French biologist, co-recipient, with American immunologist Bruce A. Beutler and Canadian immunologist and cell biologist Ralph M. Steinman, of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries relating to the activation of innate immunity (the first line of defense against infection).

Were there any current topics that came up from several Laureates or researchers in attendance?

“Some of the most prevailing and highly discussed scientific topics included global warming and artificial intelligence in the context of medical research. Besides these, diversity and women in research also came up on multiple occasions.”

Caption: Vanessa with William G. Kaelin Jr., MD, who won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with two other physician-scientists for unraveling a molecular mechanism that not only is crucial to survival, but is entwined with cancer and other diseases.

Did you find any inspiration at the meeting, for your work or outside?

“The meeting overall provided a very inspirational setting with a lot of valuable input. Personally, I found some great inspiration for my research in the field of translational cancer immunology towards precision medicine. I have met a few other young researchers working in similar fields and it was very insightful to connect and share our experiences and discuss science.

“Also outside of work, the Lindau Meeting created a great source of inspiration on how to build a career in science and how to deal with potential setbacks that every researcher can encounter on their path to be successful as a scientist.”

Caption: Vanessa with Harold Varmus [co-recipient of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovery of the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes] and fellow young researcher participants at the Lindau Meeting.

I am a PhD student in the Tumor Stroma Interactions (TSI) group at the Department of Cancer Research at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH). In my research, I focus on developing improved patient-derived models for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) in a translational approach towards personalised treatments for CLL. These novel preclinical models will enable testing several immunotherapeutic combinations aiming at reactivating the exhausted immune system and screen new therapies in complex models recapitulating the tumour and its microenvironment. This is particularly important to investigate therapeutic approaches within the complexity and heterogeneity found in CLL patients.
Vanessa Klapp PhD researcher Tumor Stroma Interactions (TSI) group at the Department of Cancer Research at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH).

All photos by Vanessa Klapp