Scientific EventsCOS-Symposia

Our international COS Symposia Series aims to gather top-level scientists working in forefront topics of organismal biology. The Symposia are held bi-annually and typically  attract more than 300 people. Particular attention is given to the selection of speakers, who are not only recognized leaders and pioneers in their fields but also enthusiastic presenters, able to communicate science to a broader audience of young and senior scientists.


2024: Life in Context

July 22-23, 2024

Location: Ludwig von Bertalanffy lecture hall, COS, Im Neuenheimer Feld 230, 69120 Heidelberg

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2022: Building functionality - the relevance of form across biological scales

Background COS-Symposium 2022

Oct. 13-14, 2022

„How structure, shape & architecture guide functionality is a fundamental open question in biology that expands through all biological scales: From the structure of the DNA to the morphology of organs. In this symposium, we aim to highlight common and differential features emerging from the molecular, cellular, tissue and organ architecture in the animal and plant kingdoms. We will also discuss how to engineer biological models to generate novel functions.“

Speakers: Monica Bettencourt-Dias (Oeiras, Portugal), Kerstin Goepfrich (Heidelberg, Germany), Julie Gray (Sheffield, UK), Lazaro Centanin (Heidelberg, Germany), Linnea Hesse (Freiburg, Germany), Gáspár Jékely (Exeter, UK), Edwige Moyroud (Cambridge, UK), Toshihiko Fujimori (Okazaki, Japan), Manu Prakash (Stanford, USA), Verena Ruprecht (Barcelona, Spain)

Genetics 2019: Old Questions and New Frontiers

Symposium 2019 banner

June 6-7, 2019

Genes determine form and function of all organisms. Since the discovery of genetics by Gregor Mendel circa 1866, researchers from all over the world have been working to unravel how genes control the development, physiology, and behaviour of living things. Thanks to a number of technological breakthroughs in the last ten years, modern-day genetic research has enjoyed a Renaissance. 

New methods of genome sequencing have allowed us to decipher the genes of numerous species, and highly precise gene scissors now make it possible to replace individual sequences in the code of life. Because of environmental destruction and climate change, more and more species are under threat or being forced out by more robust species. To monitor and mitigate these ever-faster changes, we need a deep understanding of the genetic foundations of adaptation and evolution. 

This year’s COS Symposium covers the entire spectrum of modern genetics and aims to build a bridge from the genetic network that controls the function of individual cells to the genetic diversity in natural populations. Speakers will also explore approaches to the analysis and treatment of diseases and the enormous challenges posed by computer-assisted analysis of genetic data. 

Detlef Weigel, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tuebingen, will deliver a public evening lecture entitled “Climate in Transition – Plants in Transition” to provide insights into modern genome research. 

This year’s COS Symposium will be held on June 6 and 7 in the lecture hall of the building located at Im Neuenheimer Feld 360. 

Speakers: Brenda Andrews (Toronto), Eileen Furlong (Heidelberg), Stacy Harmer (Davis), Martin Jonikas (Princeton), Claudia Köhler (Uppsala), Trudy Mackay (Raleigh), Ortrun Mittelsten Scheid (Vienna), Duncan Odom (Heidelberg), Elaine Ostrander (Bethesda), Nikolaus Rajewsky (Berlin), Korbinian Schneeberge (Cologne), Diethard Tautz (Plön), Detlef Weigel (Tübingen)

Genetics 2019: Public lecture

Climate in Transition - Plants in Transition

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Detlef Weigel, Max Planck Institut for Developmental Biology, Tübingen
Date: Thursday, June 6, 2019, 6:00 - 7:00 PM
Place: Lecture Hall, Im Neuenheimer Feld 360, 69120 Heidelberg

We are living through a dramatic change in the world‘s climate. But what does that mean for wild plants and animals? Do they stand any chance at all of adapting to changing environmental conditions in so short a time?

In his lecture, Detlef Weigel will first explain the basics of evolutionary research, including why evolution is always about compromise in order to balance contradictory demands. He will then move on to his own work and discuss predicting if and how plants might survive in the climate of the future. Finally, Mr Weigel will briefly discuss how new methods of genome editing may make it possible to modify crops to withstand the rapid change in our climate.

One important conclusion is that species should not be viewed as a rigid entity, but that their genetic diversity – and the limits of their intra-species diversity – must be taken into account.