On the 27th-28th of May, the symposium The Next Generation of Biocatalysis in Bern (NGBiocatBern) was held as a virtual event organized by young researchers (Dr. Ana I. Benítez-Mateos and Dr. David Roura Padrosa with the help of Dr. Eimear Hegarty, Valentina Marchini, Lucia Robustini and Stefania Gianolio) for young researchers. The event was funded by the Promotion Fund grant awarded to Ana by the Univeristy of Bern.

40 people joined the symposium from 8 different countries (Switzerland, Spain, Italy, UK, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and Finland). We enjoyed the invited lectures of Prof. Francesca Paradisi (University of Bern), Dr. Markus Jeschek (ETH Zürich), Dr. Patrick Buchholz (University of Stutgart), Dr. Susana Velasco-Lozano (CICbiomaGUNE) and the industrial talk by Dr. Hans Iding (Roche). We had a great time learning about enzymatic biotransformations explained by 26 oral presentations given by PhD students. All of them at the highest scientific level, with 4 “best oral presentation” prizes that were awarded to Carla Cavó-Tusell (University of Girona), Margot Van der Verren (UCLovain), Andoni Rodríguez-Abetxuko (CICnanoGUNE), and Pietro Cannazza (University of Milan). As an innovative activity, the PhD students participated in a series of debates on some of the most trending topics in Biocatalysis (Whole cells vs purified enzymes; bacth reactions vs flow biotransformations; enzyme engineering vs protein discovery). The group defending bacth reactions (Andreas Schneider and Keir Penston), together with the group defending protein engineering (Nicoll Zeballos, Alina Stein and Lauriane Pillet) did their best to win the “group debate” awards.

All the participants had the oportunity to meet new peers in the virtual coffee room and also during the virtual apéro in the virtual beach. In order to bring the participants closer to a swiss environment, they received a conference bag including some swiss specialties such as cheese and chocolate to enjoy the virtual apéro which was sponsored by the Swiss Chemical Society and Roche.

We had a great experience and we hope we can continue this tradition by giving the opportunity to the youngest minds to share their works among peers.

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