The Human Side of Liposomes, Exosomes, and Virosomes

Our thematic meeting was insightful, inspiring, and full of opportunities to talk. Most people I talked to like the fact that we were allowed a lot of free time.  For example, lunch happened over a 2 hour period and we were scheduled a free hour before dinner. Monte Verita is also a great place to encourage interactions as it has a lot of open spaces where people can talk, open their computers/electronic devices or grab a napkin (or a paper place mat) and start scribbling stuff.

We sat on round tables with 8 people for all of our meals (breakfast was available on the terrace during the sunny days). That also allowed for a lot of very nice conversations. I recall having a great breakfast with Ana Bouchet a couple of mornings.

I didn’t know most people at the meeting as I am a relative newbie in the exosome field. Tony Hyman and Suzanne Eaton worked at EMBL/Heidelberg when I was a predoc there, but I didn’t know them personally. The first interactions happened at the Locarno train stations, where I met Sarah Veatch. I ended up in the wrong hotel and saw Oksanna Sergeeva (from Lausanne) there. I met my fellow blogger Andrea Catte (Norwich) and his roommate the first evening over the reception. Andrea saw a friend of his, Luca Monticelli from Lyon so we ended up sitting together for dinner. We then met Nikhil Gandasi and M. Omar Hmeadi from Uppsala.

The line to get coffee was another place to meet people. I met Rasmus Herlo from Copenhagen there. During the poster session I met Joel Chopineau from Montpellier and Roy Ziblat from Harvard.

Of course, the system of having roommates that you don’t know could be terrifying or highly rewarding. I happened to have a great roommate, Giulia Rossi from Genova. We shared a lot of the same common interests and schedules.

I tend to sit around the same place during a conference. In this case, the conference room at Monte Verita has double desks and 4 columns of double desks. I always sit on front because I don’t hear very well from the back of the room. During the first day I met Jean-Marie Ruysschaert from Brussels. He was kind enough to share with me a lot of his experience and insights when a question lingered about a particular topic. Philip Bastiens also sat around my desk and always had really insightful and out of the box thoughts to share. Raya Sorkin also sat around the front. She gave an excellent talk and she came to talk to me during the poster session. Andrea’s roommate always asked very good questions and we usually followed up the conversation on our way out of the conference room to get coffee or lunch. Sarah Keller and Luca Monticelli allowed me to overhear their discussion about phase diagrams, aided by scribbles on place mats.

I cannot forget to mention Albert, who remained quiet for the most time, although expressed his dissagreement at times in a quite vocal way.

The meeting organizers allowed free time during Wednesday afternoon. We decided to go hiking around Monte Verita. Helen Saibil joined Giulia, Luca, Joel, and I for a lovely afternoon.

Any Biophysical Society meeting cannot be complete without the ‘dance’. We improvised to have a good time on the poster session room (and everyone taking down their posters helped clear the room for dancing) and Roy Ziblat put together a great playlist.

We danced and laughed until midnight. I was sorry to leave such a great place and fantastic group of people…until the next time when Biophysical Society brings us back together.


-Marina Ramirez-Alvarado


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