Here are the reports from New Investigators who were granted to attend ICAW/EEMGS meeting in Maastricht, May 2022:

This year’s Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society meeting was held in Maastricht, May 23-26, 2022, where scientists in the field had the opportunity to present their latest findings, exchange ideas with colleagues, and discuss their recent results. I was able to attend thanks to a travel grant awarded by the Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society. The charming city of Maastricht proved to be an excellent choice of organisers, and their hospitality, warmth, and class were felt throughout our stay. Strolling through the narrow streets of the old city and discovering art and history in the most unexpected places was as exciting as discovering new facts and theories in the interesting maze of natural sciences. Special attention was given to the young scientists who had the privilege to present their work in pitch and poster presentations and receive a response to their work from the most prominent scientists in the field. For a young scientist like me who is at the beginning of his career, it was really inspiring to listen to the outstanding speakers where I had the chance to learn about possible approaches in laboratory experiments and how to implement new findings into existing systems. I must admit that the number of new ideas increased during this meeting in a time-dependent manner, but the most important aspect of this conference was the bridging between fellow scientists from all over the world. On the last day, I was awarded for the best pitch presentation, which made this meeting very special and I will remember it for a lifetime.

Deni Kostelac

With this letter, I want to express my gratitude to the EEMGS travel grant committee for enabling me to attend the joined 12th ICAW and 50th EEMGS meeting in Maastricht, Netherlands from May 23rd to 26th.

As a new PostDoc and due to the pandemic, it was the first in-person EEMGS meeting I attended and the meeting not only allowed me to listen to and learn in many different sessions about various topics within the field of mutagenicity and genotoxicity but also network with experts of this field.

On Sunday evening, one day before the actual meeting, we, as New Investigators, had a fantastic event in form of a pub quiz – this was a great opportunity to meet fellow young researchers informally, get to know them, and simply have a fun evening. At this point, I would like to thank the QuizMasters and the on-site organization once more.

At the conference, where current research foci within the field of mutagenicity, genotoxicity, DNA damage/ repair, and genome integrity were discussed in talks and posters, I was also able to actively participate by presenting a short talk on my current research at the New Investigator session, which was equally fun and scary. Discussing my work with different experts in their fields helped me a lot to change perspective, rethink old data and get new ideas for upcoming projects.

The following conference dinner was one of many opportunities to network with experienced researchers and New Investigators likewise. It was a great chance to spend a relaxed evening with old colleagues, cooperation partners, and new acquaintances.

What I liked most about the conference was, that next to experts also Ph.D. students, PostDocs, and other young scientists were able to present their research in the form of talks or posters. Everyone was equally treated and appreciated. It was also very interesting for me to hear about industrial and regulatory research, as I am coming from a purely academic institute and work differs surprisingly much.

Again, I am very thankful to have been part of this conference, where I was able to learn and network so much. The meeting was very thriving and inspiring for new investigators like me.

Merle Marie Nicolai

The 14th International Comet Assay Workshop that was held in Maastricht, Netherlands, was one of the most fruitful gatherings I have had the opportunity to visit. Excellent lectures by renowned researchers provided information on both the new applications of the comet assay and new methodologies that improve the classical version of the assay. The open discussion on the factors influencing the interpretation of the results was especially useful and interesting. It was a great idea that the organizers provided an opportunity for young researchers to chair sessions, give lectures, and present their posters as pitch presentations. Although there were researchers from all over the world, some of whom met there for the first time, one gets the impression that this community is extremely strong and well connected. Also, the conference was shown to be very useful for making new connections and networking. Once again, I would like to thank the organisers for awarding me new investigators travel grant and for the great scientific and social content of the conference.

Jovana Kostić-Vuković

It has been such an honour for me to participate at the 14th International Comet Assay Workshop and 50th Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society meeting. Since I am a young researcher with less than a year of working experience, having oral presentation was such an amazing opportunity for me. I’ve gained some new skills related to the usage of comet assay and really enjoyed working on 3D cell models. Also, I’ve met many interesting people from whom I can learn a lot and maybe engage in some common project. In addition, I’ve made some new friends and enjoyed everything Maastricht has to offer. I am really looking forward to the next meeting in Malaga.

Katarina Matković

The EEMGS / ICAW 2022 meeting in Maastricht was a great opportunity to draw on the knowledge of other scientists in the field of comet assay and environmental mutagens. All of the presented topics were very interesting and enriched our knowledge not only in the field of comet assay. The view of experts on this issue has been very enriching. The pitch presentation was also a very valuable experience and we are thankful for the opportunity to share our research.

The Hands-on training course has helped us develop our professional skills with comet assay and 3D models in a very friendly atmosphere. We have learned so many new approaches to provide these techniques that we are already trying to include them between our regularly used methods.

Thank you for providing a travel grand that helped us cover the travel costs and for the opportunity to actively participate in this meeting.

Michaela Blažíčková and Lucia Bálintová

The Joint ICAW and EEMGS meeting 2022 was held in Maastricht, the Netherlands from the 21st to the 26th of May. It started during the weekend, with the Hands-on training course, which was focused on 3D models and high throughput comet assays. It was an amazing opportunity to learn by doing and to discover cutting-edge ways to perform the comet assay.

On Monday morning, we participated in the Adverse Outcome Pathways workshop where all were involved in a debate, showing the complexity of this new way of organizing information about biological interactions and toxicity mechanisms leading to adverse effects.

After that, oral communications started and several topics were covered, such as human biomonitoring, ecotoxicology, technical innovations, nutrition, and genotoxicity testing. It was an incredible opportunity to get a grasp of comet assays hot topics, improve communication skills and to put a face to the name of all participants, specially during the social programme, which included a Pub Quiz, a conference dinner, and a very special city tour. Definitely, I cannot wait to the next meeting.

Miguel Collía Martín

I was thrilled that I had the opportunity to take part in the 50th EEMGS (Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society) meeting.

After a long trip from Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), I arrived in Maastricht with my colleagues Anja Haverić and Tamara Ćetković. We came two days earlier, so we took a chance to explore the venue. My first impressions were that Maastricht is a picturesque city with beautiful architecture and friendly people. It is not so big and it is quite easy to get around. Also, almost everybody speaks English which is helpful.

On the Sunday evening, the night before the meeting, we joined the Pub Quiz organized by New Investigators EEMGS. I had a chance to meet many scientists form different countries. We discussed about various research topics and possible collaborations. Personally, sharing my experience on specific issues was really helpful to see it from a different perspective.

The organization of the meeting was outstanding. Every session was on the schedule. Moreover the programme was created as a combination of experienced scientists and young PhD researchers. Many renowned scientists presented their latest research. It was really pleasure to listen the lectures and engage in discussion. Along with climate change our environment is constantly threatend by various mutagens. In that light, I presented the results of our laboratory research on a concerning topic with the title „Could DNA damage in Ligustrum vulgare leaves also indicate soil pollution?“ as a part of the Ecotoxicology section with a pitch and poster presentation.

I would point out that social activities contributed to the communications outside our inner circles of colleagues. I particularly liked the competition of deciphering puzzles and riddles by understanding better the town’s history and famous historical characters.

Lastly, I would thank EEMGS for awarding me the NI travel award. I see it as great opportunity for young scientists to create a new connections and potential collaborations. I am looking forward seeing you all again on the next venue.

Mujo Hasanović

Attending the joint ICAW/EEMGS made me remember why I want to keep being part of this scientific community. The network I have built throughout these past years is very valuable to me, and this meeting reasserted it. It made me realise again why I decided to start a scientific career and why I want to keep integrating in the genotoxicity group. The congress allowed me to know people in the same situation, share the same concerns, and strengthen the relationships. These are essential aspects when building a network and can only be achieved during in person meetings. Also, it was an outstanding opportunity to lay the foundations for future collaborations, improve the communication skills, and learn the state-of-the-art from the experts on the field. I only want to congratulate the organizers for the success ICAW/EEMGS 2022 was, and I cannot wait to meet the group again in Spain next year.

Julen Sanz Serrano

Attending the ICAW and EEMGS meeting thanks to the EEMGES New Investigators Travel Grants was a great opportunity to meet the experts from different research fields who apply the comet test in their studies. The conference was well designed and divided into thematic units that deal with current issues such as human biomonitoring, development within genotoxicity and ecogenotoxicity testing, technical innovations within comet assay methodology, etc. The lectures within sessions were very informative and many of the presented methodologies and results inspired us for further studies. Even though all sessions were very interesting, we would like to emphasize that the open discussion panel with the focus on comet data interpretation was of significant importance to us. Hence, this debate led us to consider issues such as hedgehogs, new statistical analysis, etc. in future studies. Additionally, the Technical innovations of the comet assay session was very informative, since the researchers were presented the new approaches such as testing on 3D cell line models that has the great importance in different research fields especially considering the 3R principle. We would also like to acknowledge EEMGS for providing the opportunity to members of New Investigators to gain experience such as being a chair of the sessions at the conference. And finally, many thanks for the Best Early Carrier Oral Presentation award.

Stoimir Kolarević, Margareta Kračun-Kolarević and Jovana Jovanović Marić

I would like to thank EEMGS for giving me the chance to attend the joint ICAW/EEMGS Meeting between 23rd – 26th May 2022 in Maastricht, the Netherlands. This was my first in-person meeting after the pandemic and I had the opportunity to present my research as an oral presentation.
The scientific program started with a plenary lecture by Birgit Mertens about genotoxicity testing. Following this, I had the chance to present my findings on the use of comet assay as a human biomonitoring tool within the Human Biomonitoring session. The next day started with the New Investigator EEMGS session, which was organized by the EEMGS new investigators interest group. I am proud to be part of the executive committee of this group. We have organized various activities for early career scientists during last year. However, due to the pandemic, we could meet for the first time in person in Masstricht. After the lunch, I attended the session of Nutrition & Nutraceuticals, which started with a great talk by Doris Marko about the interplay between gut microbiome and mycotoxins.
Beside the scientific programme, the conference dinner and dance party was a great opportunity for casual networking, which was absolutely needed after the two years of pandemic life. So many colleagues and I, we danced the night away! On the 3rd day of the meeting, there were several interesting talks about the recent progress in genotoxicity testing. I had the opportunity to chair a session together with Andrew Collins, which was a very valuable experience for me.
In the afternoon, we had the chance to discover the beauty of Maastricht with a fun interactive city game. This was one of the highlights of the meeting and I collected some unforgettable memories with my team members. On the last day of the meeting, I listened to several interesting talks on environmental toxicology and the use of the comet assay for environmental biomonitoring.
For me, it was an inspiring event for my research and personal development. I made valuable connections and collected great memories. Many thanks to EEMGS for this opportunity!

Ezgi Eylül Bankoglu

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