4th Nordic Autophagy Society conference – Tromsø, 2021


The 4th Nordic Autophagy Society (NAS) Conference / 9th Nordic Autophagy Meeting was held in Tromsø, Norway November 10th-12th 2021. This was the first Nordic Autophagy Meeting north of the Arctic Circle! Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Conference had been postponed for nearly 1 ½ years. It had originally been scheduled for June 2020.

Held at the Edge Hotel directly at the Tromsø harbor with a great view of the city and the surrounding arctic landscape, the Conference featured a record-breaking 109 participants coming from 15 different countries. Covid-19 measures were in place, with facemasks worn during mingling. The scientific program comprised 4 Invited Keynote Lectures, 14 Selected Short Talks, and 2 Poster Sessions with in total 48 Poster Presentations. See here for the program.

Day 1:

The Conference was opened by a Keynote from Ian Ganley (University of Dundee, UK), who gave an inspiring talk on mitophagy and its links to Parkinson’s disease. This was followed by an introduction from the Silver Sponsor and Exhibitor Nordic BioSite, and thereafter 5 selected short talks, which commonly were focused on molecular mechanisms of mitophagy and selective autophagy in general.

An engaging Poster session 1 (for 1 ½ hours) was held in the afternoon, before dinner at the hotel.

After the dinner, although the sky was generally cloudy, a few fortunate people (no names disclosed) managed to see Northern Lights right outside the hotel!

Day 2

Part 1: The second day of the Conference was kicked off by Nicholas Ktistakis (Babraham Institute, Cambridge, UK), who presented beautiful and thought-provoking visual data to compare and contrast the mechanisms of autophagosome formation in nonselective versus selective autophagy. Furthermore, a taste from a new, unpublished project was presented. Thereafter followed 4 selected short talks that covered mechanisms, regulation and coordination of autophagy in mammalian cells and yeast.

Part 2: After lunch it was time for the social program. Some went for a city walk to include sights like the bridge and the famous Arctic Cathedral. Others took a guided tour with the cable car to the top of the Fløya mountain. The toughest (or craziest?) participants bought spikes for their shoes (or not!) and heroically climbed the 1203 Sherpa steps (iced and slippery!) to reach the same destination. From there, both parties could enjoy a stunning view over Tromsø and the surrounding arctic landscape, just in time before sunset. All totally worth it!

Part 3: The next scientific session featured the 3rd Keynote lecture, where Marja Jäättelä (Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Denmark) provided an engaging overview of the multifaceted cellular functions of lysosomes and presented novel data on effects of cationic amphiphilic drugs via lysosomes. Thereafter followed 2 short talks on aspects related to the connection between autophagy, lysosomes and endosomes.

Part 4: Poster session 2 was held in the afternoon (for 1 ½ hours). Thereafter, the NAS General Assembly, which is open to all NAS members, was held by the NAS chair Nikolai Engedal. The history and current status of NAS was presented, the NAS Board was re-elected with a new recruitment for Norway (Helene Knævelsrud) and two new recruitments for the Netherlands (Kasper Rouschop and Mario Mauthe), and the location and tentative dates of next year’s Conference were decided (see the bottom of this page for info on that). Day 2 concluded with the Conference Dinner at the hotel, followed by socializing in the lobby area and/or a refreshing walk outside with failed attempts from some participants (no names disclosed) to see Northern Lights (they tried hard, but eventually had to conclude that it was too cloudy that night).

Day 3

Part 1: The third and final day of the Conference featured the 4th Keynote Lecture, where Patricia Boya (CIB Margarita Salas, Madrid, Spain) presented intriguing data on the relationship between autophagy and age-associated retinal defects. This was followed by a short talk on a novel mechanism of autophagic clearance of amyloid aggregates.

Part 2: The scientific part of the Conference was wrapped up by short talks on autophagy-related proteins in virus infection, and virus-induced escape of xenophagy. Thereafter, all participants could vote for the best short talk (one prize sponsored by the NAS-affiliated MDPI journal “Cells”) and the best posters (3 prizes sponsored by the journal “Traffic” and 1 prize sponsored by the newly established journal “Autophagy Reports”). The prize ceremony saw Simona Migliano (Oslo University Hospital, Norway) win the best short talk award, whereas the best poster awards where won by Lauren Johnson and Rodriguez de la Ballina (University of Oslo, Norway), Aida Rodríguez López (The Danish Cancer Society), Nikoline Lander Rasmussen (UiT – the Arctic University of Norway), and Thorbjørn Marciniak Nielsen (The Danish Cancer Society).

Best Short Talk and Best Posters Awards!

From left to right: Nikolai Engedal, Terje Johansen, Best Short Talk winner Simona Migliano (Oslo University Hospital, Norway), and the best poster award winners Thorbjørn Marciniak Nielsen (The Danish Cancer Society), Nikoline Lander Rasmussen (UiT – the Arctic University of Norway), Aida Rodríguez López (The Danish Cancer Society), and Lauren Johnson and Rodriguez de la Ballina (University of Oslo, Norway).

Part 3: The Conference ended with concluding remarks and a thank you to all the people who made the Meeting happen: Nikolai Engedal (Organizer, Conference and NAS chair), Terje Johansen (Local organizer and Conference chair), Gry Evjen (Local organizer committee leader), Eva Sjøttem and Trond Lamark (Local organizing committee), Terje Johnsen’s group members for technical and practical assistance, the NAS Board for scientific advice, the NAS web masters Behzad Khoshnood and Rubén Gómez-Sánchez for web and registration help, the NAS treasurer Anu Kauppinen, the NAS sponsorship team (Nikolai Engedal, Daniel Hofius, Chara Charsou, Karolina Pircs, Merve Kacal), the invited Speakers (Ian Ganley, Nick Ktistakis, Marja Jäättelä, Patricia Boya), and the Sponsors (UiT – the Arctic University of Norway, Silver Sponsor Nordic Biosite, The Dutch Research Council (NWO), Dojindo, Cells, Traffic, and Autophagy Reports)…

…and finally, a great thanks to all the participants for their good spirits and active participation!

Thanks to all 109 participants at the 4th NAS Conference in Tromsø !

NOTE: The 5th Nordic Autophagy Society Conference / 10th Nordic Autophagy Meeting will be held in Denmark, with tentative dates September 14.-16. 2022.