Origin-of-Life Conference: Annual Meeting 2022

From 2–4 November 2022, oLife hosted an international conference on all aspects of Origin-of-Life research. The conference brought together a wide range of scientific disciplines, from astronomy to chemistry to biology. Apart from the keynote speakers, we were especially happy with the short talks given by scientists from abroad and all former and current oLife fellows.

Keynote speakers:

Lena Noack, FU Berlin
Oliver Trapp, LMU München
Laura Villanueva, NIOZ Texel
Bill Martin, HHU Düsseldorf
Christophe Danelon, TU Delft
Nathalie Katsonis, RU Groningen


Theme sessions:

Session 1: Planetary origins of life
Session 2: Chemical routes towards life
Session 3: Membranes and compartmentalization
Session 4: Evolution of cells
Session 5: Synthetic approaches towards life-like systems

Career Day 2022

oLife hosted an open-for-all career orientation day on June 3, 2022. From 12:15 to 17:00, four speakers told their professional path.

This year we focused on inspiring career pathways in non-profit organizations with speakers from research funding agencies, research programme administration, research policy-making and research core facilities:

Speaker 1: Amanda Jane Ozin Hofsaess – European Commission Research Programme Administrator
Speaker 2: Magnus Lundgren – Head of Unit for the SciLifeLab Ancient DNA
Speaker 3: Mark Kas – Head of Research Strategy and Partnerships, FSE, Uni Groningen
Speaker 4: Filippo Fiorentini – Peer Review Officer at AIRC Foundation for Cancer Research

Annual Meeting 2021

The oLife Fellowship programme has held its Annual Meeting 2021 on 11 & 12 November 2021. For this occasion, we have had the pleasure to have four invited plenary speakers whose talks were publicly accessible via Zoom. One of the speakers, Nick Lane, attended physically the meeting (for which we are grateful as it allowed to have a lot of interesting discussions!) and also agreed in recording his talk. You’ll find the talk for download here. (Due to technical issue Nick’s slides are not visible at the beginning, but don’t worry – it concerns just a few minutes!)

Certificate of attendance: participants who would like to get a certificate are asked to write to . Please indicate your full name, affilitation and the lecture for which you would like to get the certificate. Requests will be processed until 31st of December 2021.

About the oLife Fellowship Programme

We have recruited 18 post-doctoral fellows for bottom-up, interdisciplinary research concerning the origin and evolution of life, and its distribution in the universe. These are fundamental questions for humanity. Key questions revolve for instance around the formation of biomolecules, the emergence of life on planetary surfaces, the evolution of cellular functions, extra-terrestrial life and how life will cope with human-induced challenges.

The fellows work each in an own interdisciplinary research project. In addition, they follow training in academic & professional skills and promote themselves interdisciplinary research between the fellows, cross-networking with other origins & evolution of life-initiatives, as well as communication about the oLife programme.

Learn more

Social media

Read about our activities and what’s going on in origins of life-studies in our Twitter and LinkedIn channels.

About the research

The origin and nature of life and its distribution in the universe are fundamental questions for humanity. How did biomolecules form? How did life emerge? How did cellular functions evolve? Is there life elsewhere? Will life cope with human-induced challenges? To successfully address these challenging research questions, collaboration is needed between multiple disciplines: (bio)chemistry, (bio)physics, molecular biology, computational science, systems biology, evolutionary biology, ecology, astrophysics and geoscience. Using a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach, we aim to break new grounds in four Scientific Research Areas:

Planetary preconditions and boundary conditions of Life, and its origins here on Earth

Defining properties and synthesis of Life, from the molecular to the biosphere level

Modelling, predicting and steering of Life

Distribution of Life across the universe

Participating institutes

The oLife Fellowship Programme is a joint initiative by seven world-leading research institutes of three universities in The Netherlands (University of Groningen, Leiden University, Eindhoven University of Technology):

  • TU/e Institute for Complex Molecular Systems
  • Groningen Biomolecular Sciences & Biotechnology Institute
  • Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences
  • Kapteyn Astronomical Institute
  • Leiden Institute of Chemistry
  • Stratingh Institute for Chemistry
  • Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials
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Within oLife, we have a pool of 19 advisors. This gives you the opportunity to work directly with top-level academics who have won prestigious prizes and grants, such as the Nobel Prize, ERC Advanced Grant and NWO TOP grant.

Many advisors have vast experience as institute directors or board members, are members of esteemed platforms such as the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) or the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), and/or have much experience with European training or networking programmes.

Apart from their high quality scientific and managerial experience, all oLife advisors have their own research group and are experienced in supervising researchers, both on PhD and post-doc level.

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The COFUND project oLife has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 847675.