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The First IIAS-PKU Workshop ‘Strategies & Design Principles in Cellular Complex Systems’ was Successfully Held 

 

   The First IIAS-PKU Workshop ‘Strategies & Design Principles in Cellular Complex Systems’ was held in Jerusalem, Israel during March 23rd to 26th, 2014. This workshop is jointly organized by the Center for Quantitative Biology, Peking University (PKU) and Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University (HBU). Many professors from PKU and Israel attended the workshop, including Chao Tang, Yuhai Tu and Yiyan Huang from PKU, Uri Alon and Naama Barkai from Weizmann Institute, Michal Linial, Sigal Ben-Yehuda and Nir Friedman from HBU. Nine PKU students and tens of Israel students participated in the workshop.
   The IIAS-PKU workshop provides a rich and exciting program. The brilliant talks given by established scholars and the exciting brainstorming conducted by the students intermingled during the 4-day workshop. The speakers’ talks covered a wide range of topics: from the fate decision in bacteria and yeast to the evolution and primates psychology. Discussions were active and friendly through out, exchanging ideas and comments. After his wonderful talk on general principles in evolution, Uri Alon played guitar with humorous songs written by himself based on his research experience. His music was greeted with cheers and enthusiastic applause.
   The brainstorming during the intervals of talks was an important part of the workshop. Students from PKU and Israel were mixed together in five groups. The groups first proposed questions and possible solutions for some unsolved biological problems, then gradually shaped them into a reasonable research plan during free discussions. The topics for brainstorming ranged from the microenvironment of tumors to the collective behavior in biology, which provided the students a brief and yet realistic experience of initializing a research project. Professors also participated in brainstorming discussions, providing suggestions and help. At the end of the workshop, all project proposals were presented.
   Besides the academic events, the charm of rich culture in Jerusalem also deeply impressed the guests from PKU: such as the Sabbath when meals are not allowed, the old and exaggerated world maps kept by Israel National library, the Wailing Wall where people are preying to, and the strangers on the street who are curious about us and gave us local food for free…. Together they revealed the unique history of this ancient city. The rich activities promoted communication among all participants and helped to establish personal friendships. This workshop is a good beginning for further academic exchanges and collaborations.