A. Malachová

St. Anne's University Hospital Brno - International Clinical Research Center (CZECH REPUBLIC)
A continual need for extending knowledge and skills in genetics is generally acknowledged. Genetics – one of the fastest growing fields of science, whose roots lead directly to Brno, Czech Republic and Gregor Johann Mendel – and the world’s top scientists in discussion with students and young researchers: these are key attributes of the prestigious Mendel Lectures series, which has been held for eight years at the Mendel Museum in Brno.

The primary objective by leading world geneticists was an attempt to bring science back to the Abbey in Old Brno. The Mendel Lectures are the brainchild of a team of experts from several European institutions (Anna and Kim Nasmyth from the United Kingdom and Jan Motlík of Academy of Sciences in Czech Republic). The seminar series will mainly focus on the currently growing fields which combine modern methods of biophysics, computational modelling, imaging, biochemistry, and molecular biology with “more classical” disciplines such as microbiology, cell biology, physiology, genetics, toxicology, developmental and evolutionary biology and medicine.

The Mendel Lectures grew from the inaugural conference in 2002, Brno, ‘EMBO Workshop, Genetics after the Genome’. The first series of Mendel Lectures was in 2003, when it was devoted to the 50th anniversary of the discovery of DNA and was focused on the historical context of genetics. Subsequent series have addressed more topical scientific findings. Since then, Brno has been visited by 50 scientists, including Nobel Prize winners (for example Jules A. Hoffman, Kurt Wüthrich). The lectures held in the refectory of the Augustinian Abbey – the very place where Mendel, the founder of genetics, worked almost 200 years ago – are attended annually by almost one thousand undergraduates, PhD students and scientists, who meet leading figures of science for whom otherwise they would have to travel the world.

The Mendel lectures take place in Mendel Museum Brno (the capacity is limited to 100 persons) and live broadcast to University Campus Brno (without any capacity limitations). The lectures lasts for 2 hours and have been since the beginning very well attended with an average audience of one hundred and twenty and the entry is free for everybody. Masaryk University has become the patron of the Mendel Lectures. The Lectures are now supported financially by several institutions, including Masaryk University, the Vienna VFG, the Regional Authority of South Moravia, the City of Brno, IMP Vienna, the Augustinian Abbey in Old Brno and the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. Since 2015 the Mendel Lectures have been supported by the International Clinical Research Center of St. Anne´s University Hospital Brno and its project ICRC-ERA-HumanBridge funded by the European Union.

The purpose of the new seminar series is to invite to Brno renowned speakers from abroad to establish and develop professional contacts, create a Seminar Series of excellence, which will inspire and motivate both scientists and students, and finally, will promote mutual contacts and interaction between individual labs/departments working at University Campus Bohunice and St. Anne´s University Hospital Brno. The idea of these meetings are an enriching experience for the audience in human as well as scientific terms, and that they provide those attending with inspiration for their future careers in science.