III PhasAGE International Conference in Porto: Advancing the Multiscale Understanding of Protein Aggregation and Biomolecular Condensates in Aging and Disease

Two weeks ago, the i3S played host to the III PhasAGE International Conference, a prestigious 3-day event dedicated to the intricate study of protein aggregation and biomolecular condensates in the context of aging and disease, in the city of Porto. The conference was attended by more than 70 participants hailing from 16 countries coming together to exchange knowledge and explore promising advances in the field.

The scientific conference was preceded by a Biotech Workshop, a half-day event organized on 17 October. This event gathered researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors, to promote discussion on how to get funding for biotech start-ups. 

The central theme of the conference revolved around the multiscale understanding of protein aggregation and biomolecular condensates, with a strong focus on their implications in aging and disease. The scientific program featured 2 keynote and 1 plenary lectures, 12 invited talks, 11 selected short talk presentations, and 20 poster presentations organized into five multidisciplinary sessions:

I) Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases I

II) Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases II

III) ESR Symposium

IV) Advances on Integrative Computational and Experimental Methods to Study Condensates

V) New and Notable

Sandra Ribeiro, the PhasAGE coordinator, welcoming all the participants at the conference.
Peter Tompa, the first keynote of the conference.
Sheena Radford ending the second day of the conference.

From the remarkable line-up of speakers, the conference featured two captivating keynote talks by Peter Tompa and Sheena Radford, both of whom have played pivotal roles within the PhasAGE consortia. Peter Tompa, a core member of the PhasAGE consortium, delivered an insightful keynote lecture by delving into the latest advances in characterizing the liquid-liquid phase separation phenomenon of ALS/FTD-associated proteins in the presence of dipeptide repeats. Sheena Radford, a member of the scientific advisory board of PhasAGE, captivated the audience with her comprehensive exploration of unique structural characteristics of amyloid fibers and its implications in human diseases. 

The final day of the conference featured a plenary talk by João Pedro Magalhães.

The conference also featured a compelling plenary talk by João Pedro Magalhães, a renowned expert in Integrative Genomics of Aging, who provided attendees with a comprehensive overview of the latest breakthroughs and future directions in aging research. These three distinguished speakers left a lasting impact, enriching the conference with their valuable insights and fostering a deeper understanding of the interconnection between computational and structural biology and aging.

The first day of the conference ended with a fantastic boat trip on the Douro River, where participants from the conference and the PhasAGE Winter School event had the chance to relax and socialize while enjoying a delightful dinner surrounded by the stunning views of Porto. Even with storm-rainy weather, this event set the perfect stage for people to share ideas and empower future collaborations. 

The full conference featured a remarkable lineup of invited speakers, including some core members of the PhasAGE consortium. The captivating talks covered a wide spectrum of cutting-edge topics, from the intricacies of protein aggregation and phase separation to the latest advancements in computational and experimental methodologies. Furthermore, the conference highlighted how protein aggregation and phase separation regulate essential biological processes, such as stress granule formation and cell division, offering attendees a thorough understanding of the aging process and disease. 

Photos of the participants and speakers during the conference.

One noteworthy segment of the conference was the enlightening career development talk with Joana Moscoso, a distinguished researcher and entrepreneur deeply committed to making science accessible to all. Joana, the co-founder of Chaperone and Native Scientist, shared her inspirational journey, underscoring the importance of promoting scientific education and knowledge access, especially among young students from migrant communities. Joana’s talk served as a beacon of guidance for aspiring early-stage researchers and young academics, instilling the belief that science knows no bounds.

Joana Moscoso showcasing initiatives aiming to leverage science for society.
Awardees of best poster and best short talk receiving their prizes.

Furthermore, two young researchers were recognized for their outstanding research. The best poster prize was awarded to János Pálinkás from Hungary and the best short-talk prize was awarded to Sheung Chun Ng from Germany.

The III PhasAGE International Conference proved to be a resounding success, bringing together experts from diverse fields to collaborate and explore the complexities of protein aggregation and biomolecular condensates in aging and disease. The conference lived up to its promise of academic excellence with lively debates, inspiring the participants with new knowledge, stimulating interactions, and lasting collaborations.

Group photo with the participants and organizers of the III PhasAGE International Conference.

The full program of the conference is available here

Testimonial #1

The conference gave very good overview of the subject of phase separation, with an outlook on tech-transfer implications, also covering some new, not often touched-upon aspects. It was highly inspiring to attend

Testimonial #2

This conference was super nice! I greatly enjoyed the scientific talks (especially one by Sheena Radford and Sandra Ribeiro!). The food was also amazing, and the discussion during poster sessions or lunches and coffee breaks provided insights into my next scientific projects

Testimonial #3

The Conference was excellent, with varied themes, presentations by researchers at different levels of the scientific career and most important presenting very recent scientific work.

This conference was sponsored by Lumicks, Proquinorte, BioPortugal, Izasa Scientific, and Ejendals.

Chaperone sponsored the awards for the best poster and short talk in the form of a one-to-one career development session.