Ascona Workshop: Spatial and temporal statistical modeling in molecular biology

8-13 September 2024 at Congressi Stefano Franscini on Monte Verità in Ascona, CH

Start date


Organizers: Niko Beerenwinkel (ETH), Valentina Boeva (ETH), Peter Bühlmann (ETH), Wolfgang Huber (EMBL)


Living systems operate in space and time, and recent developments in technologies, including spatial omics of tissues and organs, cell-scale structural biology, and planet-scale molecular sampling, are creating exciting new challenges for mathematical modeling, statistical inference and data science. This workshop has two main objectives:

  • to bring together scientists close to data generation and scientists with advanced modeling and theoretical perspectives, and
  • to explore conceptual and methodological analogies between different data types and spatiotemporal scales.

At the micrometer scale, it is now becoming possible to bridge from individual macromolecules to whole cells using light and electron microscopy and tomography, merging structural biology with cell biology; at the millimeter scale, we can image hundreds of biomolecules in tissues and organ(oid)s using multiplexed immunohistochemistry, fluorescence hybridization or spatially resolved mass spectrometry; at kilo- and megameter scale, systematic sampling of soil, sediment, (waste) water, air, or of model organisms characterizes species diversity, and molecular and genetic variation.

This progress in data acquisition creates novel elementary challenges including data size, exploration and visualization, calibration and harmonization. There are also new conceptual and theoretical challenges to develop suitable mathematical descriptions and models of the underlying biological systems. How can they optimally and practically be fit to the data? How can we use the results to understand the underlying dynamics of the biological systems? What are the important variables (“coarse graining”)? Can we use our models for prediction? How can such insights be used for interventions (e.g., maintenance of health, therapy against disease, bioengineering to improve crop yield, regulation to keep an ecosystem intact)?

These questions will be explored by an interdisciplinary group of speakers and participants.

Keynote Speakers

  • Peer Bork, EMBL
  • Maria Cristina Gambetta, Univ. of Lausanne
  • Shila Ghazanfar, Univ. of Sydney
  • Stephanie Hicks, Johns Hopkins University
  • Dmitry Kobak, Univ. of Tübingen
  • Anna Kreshuk, EMBL
  • Andreas Moor, ETH
  • Emma Schymanski, Univ. of Luxemburg
  • Ewa Szczurek, Univ. of Warsaw
  • Virginie Uhlmann, Univ. of Zürich
  • Lara Urban, Technical University Munich / Helmholtz Center

How to participate

Pre-registration is now open via this application form. Following pre-registration, abstracts will be selected by the program committee. Successful applicants will then be invited to register by mid-May. Pre-registration is non-binding, but is required for participating in the workshop.


Deadline for pre-registration: 22 April 2024, 23:59 CEST
Notification and invitation to register: before 20 May 2024
Deadline for registration: 17 June 2024
Workshop: 8-13 September 2024 (Sunday evening till Friday noon)


Congressi Stefano Franscini, Monte Verità, Ascona, Switzerland

Registration fees (not due until final registration)

Academia 300 CHF
Industry 900 CHF

Important: Accommodation and full board will be available at the conference venue, and charged separately. Usually, most but not all conference attendees use this option. The venue is in Ascona, a lively tourist town, and in walking distance to many additional accommodation options.