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Prisca Liberali (FMI)

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About this episode

#30 — Prisca Liberali of the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI) is a pioneer in the field of cellular self-organization and collective behaviors during developmental and regenerative processes. In today’s energetic and inspiring episode of The Microscopists, Peter O’Toole chats to Prisca about her training as a chemist, her research into organoids, her inner drive, and why it sometimes pays to take risks. We also learn more about her love of sport and the outdoors, who she was rooting for in the Eurovision Song Contest, and why she started buying herself Lego during lockdown.

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This is an automated transcript and may not be 100% accurate.

Intro/Outro (00:00:02):
Welcome to The Microscopists, a Bitesize Bio podcast hosted by Peter O’Toole, sponsored by Zeiss Microscopy. Today on The Microscopists.

Peter O’Toole (00:00:19):
Today on The Microscopists I’m joined by Prisca Liberali of the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research and amongst other things, we discuss changing career paths.

Prisca Liberali (00:00:29):
So all of a sudden started a PhD in cell biology. I didn’t know what ER was. I didn’t know. So I started back on textbooks,

Peter O’Toole (00:00:40):
Living in a multi-lingual household,

Prisca Liberali (00:00:42):
But we also have like five languages at home. And so the complexity there increased because everybody’s Swiss. I’m all of a sudden my kids don’t know who to support at European championships.

Peter O’Toole (00:00:55):
The importance of taking risks in research,

Prisca Liberali (00:00:58):
It’s part of changing and, and taking risks. I understand that taking risks sometimes is harder and in especially, but for me it was the key to success

Peter O’Toole (00:01:11):
And why she started buying Lego during lockdown

Prisca Liberali (00:01:16):
Lego for them. So they really love the Lego building part. And that at the beginning, when they were smaller would help them. The certainly food was a bit boring, so I just during COVID. I started buying my own lego,

Peter O’Toole (00:01:29):
All in this episode of The Microscopists. Hi, and welcome to this episode of The Microscopists, I’m Peter O’Toole from the University of York. And today I’m joined by Prisca Liberali from the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research based in Switzerland Prisca, Good Morning.

Prisca Liberali (00:01:48):
Good morning. Good morning.

Peter O’Toole (00:01:52):
Gosh, I don’t usually say good morning or good afternoon. Cause it times it quite times it doesn’t it, I guess that’s why I’ve got my espresso this morning. I got my Swiss espresso cup for you. So my first question for you is what was your first degree in

Prisca Liberali (00:02:10):
My first degree was my first degree in chemistry. So let’s say I did the mastering chemistry and physical chemistry. I started in Rome. I first I was born in Belgium and I lived between Belgium, Luxembourg. Most of my life, I did finished high school in Brussels at the European school because my parents worked at the EU and then I moved to Italy for chemistry. So physical chemistry. It was

Peter O’Toole (00:02:36):
So you did your degree in chemistry and yet, and here you are as a renowned biomedical research scientist, which is quite a change. And it’s not even, I guess, there’s chemistry involved, but a lot of it in your case, I guess, is gene perturbations and obviously microscopy, how on earth did you go from chemistry to world of the life sciences by re biomedical and research?

Prisca Liberali (00:03:02):
Yeah. So while working as a physical chemist that did the masters there, and we had also very interesting results, but I wanted something a bit more complex. And so I was looking in different fields also, and I liked to change and I like to get out of my comfort zone and try something new all the time. And that what happened in the past 20 years. So I started as a chemist and then I met my PhD supervisor. That was Daniela Corda at that time, the biologists cell biologists. And yeah, I fell in love with her and her topic. And then I thought, okay, just let’s move I had my PhD was about to start in chemistry and I just went back home and I told my parents and my friends I saying, I’m gone, I’m going to start something. And in cell biology. And when I started was quite challenging at the beginning, in the sense I had I didn’t have biology even in high school because I would do a lot of physics and chemistry and math and no biology in high school. So all of a sudden I started a PhD in cell biology. I didn’t know what the ER was. I didn’t know. So I started back on textbooks and I became a cell biology on membrane trafficking and at the end, you know, but then was then I missed all the, some of the quantitative aspects, especially for the imaging, because I would look at the images that were beautiful. And so I did a lot of microscopy during my PhD and there I saw I really wanted to go in a more quantitative space. And so there is where the move to Switzerland for the Institute of Molecular Systems biology, where I developed a lot of methods for it to be much more quantitative on the imaging side. And even there, I just didn’t stop. And we moved in, I was using 2d cell cultures and and move the more complex systems. So I multicellular system organoids and then developing your imaging to tackle more. So this is my roots. I don’t know where I would have been five years, but I just liked to change.

Peter O’Toole (00:05:04):
I like the fact that you said chemistry wasn’t complicated enough for you. So can you kind of put down all the chemists in one sentence?

Prisca Liberali (00:05:12):
A certain point there was this discussion on had, would that colleague is like, you know, the complexity in biological science physicists are very reductionist. What the chemist in all this. And I think we are very data-driven. So I had a lot of friends that are chemists that move into biology, very data-driven. And so I think that’s another complexity.

Peter O’Toole (00:05:37):
I actually, I was going to also mention the fact that you didn’t know what, ER, was another thought back in, I guess the late nineties, early noughties ER, was George Clooney and the program over in I’m sure. That was actually, I, I didn’t do biology at A level. And they went on to do biochemistry and yeah, I, I guess I loved the biology part. I found it a challenge, as you said, a challenge and you learn very quickly, but coming in a PhD level, that’s completely different complexity. Cause I had lectures to lecture biology and could catch up to comfort. Like that’s, that’s quite something and not actually Dan Davis was a physicist and did a PhD in immunology so so quite a game, very similar. So I, yeah, I can’t comprehend how you can pick it up so fast, but as a chemist, how did you find the, the randomness of biological results? Because as a chemist, you do, you’ve had A, to B and you get C and it’s pretty much the same every time, once it’s optimized, that’s not the case in biology, you do A to B and you get C, D and F

Prisca Liberali (00:06:50):
And then you redo it, then you do. So I think that the, the biggest change for me on one side that you already see how paper written, so I would read these papers. And there was an introduction by big and then this results that were not huge, huge amount of discussion, huge amount of reviews, written and rewritten. Why chemistry is much simpler. You have introduction, results, a bit of discussion, just simple linear. This is what we did. These are the results, that’s it? The biology would already bring all this ready, just reading the papers. I would just get confused on what that is actually the method. And, and then on the other side is really the experiment and nothing would work, nothing was reproducible. And so I remember when my PhD supervisor, she was like, yeah, but this is, you know, maybe we should quantify differently and it’s not. And I’m like, for me, nothing is quantitative here. I’m counting cells on a cell counter. So seven cell did this. 10 cells did that complete randomness. And so this is why really for my post-op and then moved in, looking at population of cells. So I would then count all the 6,000 cell in a well, found all their phenotype and to be very quantitative. So that was for me like a survival mode because that was the way to, to deal with the heterogeneity. And even now in all our work, we use this. So this is originating the systems both in, within cells, between organoids in a way, something we use to understand how they work and we are not affected.

Peter O’Toole (00:08:34):
So we’ll come onto the organized organoids a little later. I think that’s a really key area to talk about. I think they see that we haven’t talked about on the other podcast, particularly in the importance of organized organoids, but just going back to your career to start with, so you were brought up in Belgium, Luxembourg, and, and through that time you went to Rome, to do your degree and then move to Italy. And now in Switzerland, how have you coped? We moving through so many countries because that’s also a challenge in itself, isn’t it? Yes,

Prisca Liberali (00:09:10):
No. And the plus, so both my parents are Italian and the reason I moved to Italy is because everybody would ask me, oh, are you Italian? Sure. It’s like, did you ever live in Italy? No. So at the age of 18 or 17, at that time, I was still 17. And I would, for me, I was, I felt very Italian, but I never lived there. So it was very important to go and live in Italy for a while. Then I never felt really Italian. And because I, my favorite food is French realist, Belgium, and the pizza is part of someone else, food growing up. So I think the change was, and at that time they were in the phone, no Facebook, no Instagram, no one, no social media. So it was very hard also to keep contact with many of the people in them. So the first change was quite a moving I think with my parents still. Okay. I think for many people who are moving the kids around is so who they lose school halfway, they’re adapting few months, and they even happy to have double the friends they can. So it’s a, I think for me that the moving that moving into the, to Italy for the university was a bit tougher. I was quite young. I was 17 when I was 2000 kilometer from my parents and in a full different country. So that’s, I think the hardest part, but then you get used to pack everything and unpack and change and change houses and change people. And I think it gets harder when you get older. So at 30, when I moved here, it was harder or 28. I think. Well, it’s harder because you get in another space. Some people already have kids, some don’t and the school, but then you are integrating a very local environment. So all of a sudden that school, most of the kids are Swiss. And so we are the foreigner. My husband is Dutch. So we also have like five languages at home. So the complexity there increase because everybody’s Swiss. And all of a sudden, my kids don’t know who to support at European championships that they learned that Italy is the only one to support

Peter O’Toole (00:11:21):
I’m sure your husband disagrees,

Prisca Liberali (00:11:24):
But yeah, and they play well in the combination. So I think it’s hard then they realize that they also get to be six years old. They start questioning who we are, who I am, who is the dad, and how do we fit in a more, you know, in a different city. So I think moving was less hard. And then what the friend of mine always tells me is like, she doesn’t know someone that hates moving so much and still does it, does it because, so I’m always a bit afraid of every move of what they bring. And I like to organize everything and plan everything ahead and say, Hey, this will happen there. But actually every time is completely different than what you expect and like that too.

Peter O’Toole (00:12:08):
So, so here’s a question. Where’s your favorite country? Belgium or Italy,

Prisca Liberali (00:12:13):

Peter O’Toole (00:12:14):
Italy, Italy, or Switzerland.

Prisca Liberali (00:12:18):
It’s tough for holidays. Italy.

Peter O’Toole (00:12:22):
That’s very diplomatic. You either going to lose your Italian passport or lose your job one of the way or the other one that one

Prisca Liberali (00:12:29):
Switzerland is great. We call it our golden cage. You know, there’s a lot of things that work and especially being extremely outdoor, winter skiing, hiking that the lake. So there’s the water. There’s a bit of everything. The kids can go walking alone at school since they’re four years old, it’s everything. The work is great as a scientist. I think there are few countries that are have a work culture and an environment as a scientist in Switzerland, but then that Switzerland the food and the wine is bad. So as soon as I am just back for like four weeks in Italy during summer,

Peter O’Toole (00:13:12):
You can buy Italian wine in Switzerland

Prisca Liberali (00:13:15):
And I drive through, bring it so I can do it, but it just tastes even better than Italy.

Peter O’Toole (00:13:23):
I’m not sure that different glasses I was going to say you’re wearing different glasses, maybe just drinking from different glasses.

Prisca Liberali (00:13:28):
Well, no. And then you’re in a different environment. The social environment, interaction with people, the restaurant is quite different. So I really miss Italy. And I think during COVID time, I missed it even more. But I don’t think it would be, we are happy to move. We are not unmovable from here. It’s just finding a place that can compete. Switzerland is a bit hard. Something,

Peter O’Toole (00:13:55):
If you don’t mind me asking, what did your parents do? Cause obviously they’re Italian moved to Belguim. So I’m just interested to know what was their carreer, what were their jobs? Why do they move

Prisca Liberali (00:14:04):
Policy makers in a way? So they work. My father worked for the commission, so it’s writing laws and you know, that’s that. And my mom worked at the parliament. She was also the cabinet of the European president some years ago. And then she moved to Italy. She was also director for the European parliament in Italy. So there are EU on more of the parliament, one of the European commission for energy. For example, my father worked a lot for energy also in research. So he did, he was

Peter O’Toole (00:14:36):
So there’ll be some science in that background. Sort of,

Prisca Liberali (00:14:40):
It’s more, he’s an engineer, but he also worked for HR. He also worked for different aspects. So he’s, and my mom did a history of art. So she’s more an artist part. She doesn’t know much about biology or chemistry, or think when I started my PhD, I asked her to listen to me for three minutes about my PhD project. So she could say what I do. And so after I started speaking about protein and cells and [Inaudible] and that one minute she asked me, but it’s a protein bigger or smaller than a cell. I said, maybe we stop here. So then so for her, my dad understands, yeah. I also understand more science in general, not really the scientific problem, but publishing world tenure jobs and academic world on jobs. That’s not the easiest world

Peter O’Toole (00:15:37):
I’m actually talking to publishing your track record is stunning. Relentless. I think it would be the correct way to word. It can be early days in PhD and postdoc. You are, you were publishing in very high impact journals. You’re still publishing today in the biggest, in fact journals. I, you know, I always say, you know, we, we’ve got, you were very young to be in such a senior position to be so successful. And you could say, you know, we’ve got you in your prime, but your prime seems to have started a long time ago and it doesn’t seem to be ending. It’s kind of what mo what motive, how’d you do that to keep such high-impact publications over even already over such a long time period. How do you keep that edge, that competitive edge going forward?

Prisca Liberali (00:16:29):
On one part, I think is the changing in the sense of being of me a bit fear less, and sometimes maybe it’s stupid because I change. I started my lab on something and never did before started the lab on organoids, never worked with I. The first thing I did when I started my lab with the startup fund from one grant was to build a microscope that I never did before. I never built a microscope. I hired the guy that said I can do it. And we said, okay, let’s do it together. And I’m like, can you write the software for it? Sure. Well, let’s try it. So together we tried, but the risk was huge. Risk was losing all my startup. That then would be a big thing. I could have been on the safer side and wait that some companies would have a commercial version that is coming out now, but I needed five years ago. So I could have been on the safe side and waited for the commercial one and do it like then while we build that one, I actually didn’t sleep for a few weeks. Cause I was like, what the hell are we doing? And so this was, I think one aspect. And it goes in a lot of things that I do. For example, when I started the lab I, you said, I had to put some high impact paper from my post-doc and for also the transition, but then I started something completely new in the lab. And then the first conference I could have presented all the, but you know, I had that, it’s a cell in a nature method, paper that, that could present would be a talk that would come out easily, would be all shiny and with nice figures. And I decided to present crappy data from the first three months I had in the lab. And I remember standing there in front of everybody and I said, why am I doing this to myself? Why am I in a, but this triggered a lot of discussion, a lot of interesting people actually knowing what I was doing at the lab. Therefore I was invited not for my old work, but for my new work. And I would have discussion with people in the field that were very excited, at seeing crappy data and were like this weird girl, probably at the time, still girl that would come up and, you know, try to, to, to come also from a different field and trying to understand. So I think that was, that always helps me in. And the other part is the motivation. And I have this curiosity and this drive, and sometimes I drive crazy my students, but I come on with them with like new ideas and new things to try. And I tell them when they start in my lab, there’s probably rarely a safe project because it’s probably bored in the HD spectrum is the changing

Peter O’Toole (00:19:31):
Yes. To, to go from your, the field that you’ve plowed that’s that you know, is successful and will continue to be successful for at least a short while longer, instead of just like a, like a good farmer would do. And, and sow a different crop in another small field and see how it grows. And then maybe bring that over. You just wiped out your field. And,

Prisca Liberali (00:19:54):
And then I do things like starting organoids and, you know, starting things and get results that don’t really fit different a bit, but they also don’t really fit. So I’m there and like, okay, let’s do this. And I presented in front of everybody and then the safe part, and I have my best friend from my PhD and he did the same thing for his master. He worked on pre golgi. Then he worked at intro golgi. Then you worked on post golgi I was like, that was the golgi question. I just give him a call. I think on one aspect is being okay in saying, I don’t know, I just stand there and say, I actually don’t know. My husband is a biologist. And sometimes he makes fun of me. And he asked me very basic, not basic simple, but like textbook question about another field that is not mine. I might just not know it. I learn, I read and I have papers here around then. I tried and I don’t know it all. And I think standing there and saying, I don’t know, I will figure out. And so that part, I come with no preconceived idea and how the system should work.

Peter O’Toole (00:21:06):
So do you think that naivety is actually a benefit?

Prisca Liberali (00:21:11):
Yes. But if you study not the naivety, you know, it’s a balance and I have a physical, you know, I have students and physicists that have, it’s important to know the rest, but doesn’t have to make sure that that is the absolute root. So it’s, so I read a lot and I try to keep up and especially when a change and I go to conferences. So for example, another thing I did when I started my lab is applied to conference, changing field. I have a lot of colleagues that only go to the conference. They get invited to, well, sometimes I don’t go to the conference where I get invited because I can’t, and it’s a field that I go and I just go, and I remember the first Organoid conference I applied and I was, I got the poster the second and it was already a complete second conference. I applied and I got a short talk third conference, I got invited. And I was like, so I think it’s part of, of changing and taking risks. I understand that taking risks sometimes is harder and in especially, but for me it was the, the key to success is taking risk. And also now I change, I have a full gastruloid project that there’s early embryo development. And I went back to basic development. I don’t know, I didn’t know what were the three that it was. So go back to developmental books. And, and recently it was again presenting at the full development, early embryo type of conference. And I really had a lot of people went there and I’m like, okay, it’s out of my comfort zone.

Peter O’Toole (00:23:01):
Yeah. And, and a lot of effort to read up on new areas as well to, to build up that background. And you mentioned that your husband teases you with some easy questions and stuff, but you worked, I believe with your husband for short while as well.

Prisca Liberali (00:23:16):
Yeah. Even not that short, it was five, six years into my full post-doc. We met before I joined his lab three years before it was during my PhD, the meanwhile I finished a PhD, he started his lab and then we both do a lot of imaging and quantitative imaging. And and so when it was time to start, my post-doc was the decision was to go somewhere where I might not like it as, as doing something together. And we make, we made few deals on making sure everything was okay because we were already almost married. We were about to get married. And so the Institute was approving it, the university and all that. Everything was clear because that’s, I think it’s and that I would be always on fellowships almost. It was almost all the time on fellowship that helped me for some mental independence, but actually people don’t see this. And so I think that was the hardest. My PhD supervisor was telling me that was a suicidal move for my career. And she was probably a bit, the risk was again, very high. If we would not have worked out, it’s very hard. I went on the job market without a reference letter from my postdoc supervisor because would be a bit ridiculous to have my husband’s reference letter. So what they did at the end of my post-doc, I visited different places. So that’s also I changed quite a bit to make sure that people would see the independence also externally and also for me. So I would start also be in a different field and that also helped. But I went to visit three different labs. So I went in Hans Klavers lab for the work annoyed. For some months, I went to Janelia to then Erik Betzig for and especially there, they have the imaging facility where you can go. And so to try the lattice slide sheet and different light sheet microscope for the organoid, and also to Dana Pe’er’s lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering to then for the analysis and the single cell measurements. So I think that was very important. So then I get, I got, but I had to do it in a different way. So I went in Anna’s lab for two months. I had also small children at the time. My son was four months, five months and it was Janelia. My mom was here. So it’s a, yeah, it’s not always that.

Peter O’Toole (00:25:45):
So you send some pictures kindly. I, I believe this is a picture of you or your husband, son and daughter somewhere nice and sunny. Probably Italy. And certainly doesn’t look like the UK or Switzerland.

Prisca Liberali (00:25:57):
No, no, it’s Switzerland. That is why this is the lake in Zurich. So it was the lake in Zurich few weeks ago. We were just back from holiday. So that’s yeah, my daughter and my husband, we were at the lake and we had dinner there and went swimming at the lake. So it’s a nice, my son is now seven years old and my daughter that is nine years old. So I started the lab when they were one and three.

Peter O’Toole (00:26:24):
I was going to ask you, how did you, yeah. How good was it working with your husband and what do you, when you get home, do you just talk at work or what do you do out of work to distract and to help to balance that, and you know, how balanced is it for your children? Cause obviously you both got successful careers who looked after them. He who what happens there.

Prisca Liberali (00:26:49):
Okay. So yeah, this is the, so working together was great. We work really well together. We have a very difference, but clearly a certain point independent it’s his lab, it’s not mine. And clearly I could be a lab manager, but in his lab where it was not what they wanted and what would have been good for anybody. And so the, the moving was there. So for example,uI had the two children at the end of my postdoc and merely waiting to transition. And so I went through the, I have the job in Basel,uwith my son that was few months. And I was there. The paper of my post-op was accepted when my son was born. So it was chaos, but clearly there working together really helped in supporting each other. I would go in the lab finish, it would be here home. So it was really very easy at that time. The parents flew in once in a while to help. But clearly when I, when I went on the job market I had the, not for here in Zurich, but the one in Basel was really great. And so I had the long weekend to think, should I take a job five minutes away from home? Or shall I take a job one hour 40? And I took the 1 40 clearly because how I am I go for the crazy part. And,uand there at that point,uI took the job in Basel, but I decided to start one year after. So my son would be one year and a half and I would have more time to finish some things. And in the meanwhile we found someone that lives with us at home is a woman that’s over 60. So it’s like a grandmother that is no one’s mom. And that helps. And she’s extremely helpful also for the household mainly. So then on my free time is really dedicated to the kids and having two jobs that are like this one, they’re very demanding, but they also give so much flexibility because we rarely something that we need to go and there’s no operation. There’s no, this flexibility, this job gives is quite incredible. Especially if we both do it in a one, especially when they’re small, we’d go to work a bit later and come back later. The other one, so that helps for the, the, the balance. The problem for example, was with the trip, especially starting the lab, traveling to conference was very important. So my husband has been very supportive and has traveled much less the first year of my lab to be able to,uto accommodate the small children. And then having this person at home also gives a lot of stability. We speak about, about work at home, but not details. This is something we weren’t also during the period, I would be a postdoc. I could not come home and saying, oh, this person was so annoying today because it’s also he’s then the boss of this place. So, and he could not pay, ah, yeah. We try to keep away the speaking about people in the lab I have would have friends, I would discuss,ucannot stand this, you know, this all the normal lab atmosphere, but then, and people in the lab would just really like it. They really realize that for me, they wouldn’t have, as I told them, they wouldn’t ever tell me anything. I don’t know. Oh, he doesn’t answer my email o mine neither It would be a different treatment. Or if they would have a period where they would be,uhow can I get his attention or something? I would, you know, the discussion, even if there were chats in the lab, I would not repeat them only if they wanted, can you give a word or so that I think always helped the initial part being separate. It was really, I think, worked pretty well clearly for the kids. They are nerds. Yes. You know, they like, they know the difference between viruses and bacteria. Very young. They have type of sentence that use it for people outside. They’re like, okay, this is a bit nerdy. They built robots. And

Peter O’Toole (00:31:03):
Yeah, I remember some of my children teaching them little bits of fun facts and then telling them never to repeat it to their friends when they go away, because that won’t go down well, especially when they take a torch and put it in their cheeks and their cheek glows red. I said, don’t explain the fact that that’s just a red light penetrating through. Just let them think. Look, you can see my blood. That’s fine. Just, just go with it.

Prisca Liberali (00:31:28):
And then, so once I think few years I go, I give a Tech talk and Basel, and then my daughter came along and she was like, mama, why are all these people listening to you? And so I think that that’s helped at the beginning was a bit hard because Switzerland is very conservative country. So a lot of moms in my daughter’s school would not work full-time. And so she would not understand. It’s like, why are you going? And why do you work five days or plus, you know, and they were two or three. And but now she realized she can find mom on YouTube. Same thing she doesn’t really get mom is on YouTube Or mom actually has some students that really rely on her and that and that’s what I told her. It’s like, is your teacher there every day? And they’re like, oh yes. And also my students like to have me there every day. And I asked her, do you love to go to her sport? She’s very sportive. And she said, yes, I would go there all the time. And the same for me, I found something I like, and it’s a part of it is the science part of it is the mentoring. I really like mentoring young, stupid, younger cadet mix. And

Peter O’Toole (00:32:42):
So you mentioned your daughter likes sports, so you’re an outdoor sports person yourself. What sorts of, again, thinking on the life balance, what do you do outside of work? What are your hobbies?

Prisca Liberali (00:32:55):
So it’s the summer. I need to spend some time on a sailing boat that is like first day out of work, I just go and spend time on a sailing boat for a week or 10 days. This year was 10 days. So big sailing boat, not too huge, but like where we can sleep on. And we, this year we were in Sardinia or Italy, but last year we were in Greece and to being on a sailing boat and it’s quiet. There’s just, it’s there. I love it. Then my husband does a lot of kitesurf I can stand on. Yeah. So here it was this year we were entering Bonifacio. So that was entering the Harbor in Bonifacio between Sardinas, which was in Corsica. And that is great. So that’s my son, my husband and my, and my daughter were just there. And yeah, I really recharge all the batteries there and I think it’s great. And then I grew up doing a lot of horseback riding and now is anything that can be done. So winter, a lot of skiing. We ski a lot.

Peter O’Toole (00:34:00):
I’ve got to get out of the way at this one. So where are you here in this skiing picture?

Prisca Liberali (00:34:05):
It’s the Eiger North mountain. So that is next to Interlaken. And then you go, that is on top of the, like the highest [inaudible]. So this, the highest train station in Europe there. So that is the Eiger north. So there are a lot of climbers there. So that’s we were there for

Peter O’Toole (00:34:27):
That’s a lot of children,

Prisca Liberali (00:34:28):
But mine are the green on the right and the right and the left one, the middle, we, I was with my cousin and their family. So, and so there’s a lot of skiing, hiking. We went wakeboarding the picture there was after wakeboarding on the lake and anything that can be done, outdoor, it’s really something I like. And that’s mainly what they do when the weather is nice. And then what else I do. I like, I liked to play with the kids and to do things with them. I think the letter I got for my birthday from my son was like, really? And mom, thank you. I really have a lot of fun with you. And so that’s something I liked. So even when they do their Lego, I build my own Lego. That’s what they do.

Peter O’Toole (00:35:17):
You build your own Lego. Yeah. So I

Prisca Liberali (00:35:20):

Peter O’Toole (00:35:22):
Do you build, do you buy your children Lego and then build it for them? Or are you buying yourself Lego so they’re building theirs and you’re building your own.

Prisca Liberali (00:35:30):
Yes. The second one. So I buy, build Lego for them. So they really love the Lego building part. And then they built a lot and that at the beginning, when they were smaller would help them. The certain point was a bit boring. So I just, during COVID I started buying my own legal, I realized there’s a full spectrum of Lego there that goes from full bouquet of flowers that you can build off Lego and the, or vans volkswagon van or CTS is a Lego architecture.

Peter O’Toole (00:36:02):
We got some examples

Prisca Liberali (00:36:04):
I can figure I’m here on the thing that let’s see, this is my volkswagon van,

Peter O’Toole (00:36:14):
Your not going to go camping in that are you?

Prisca Liberali (00:36:14):
But after building it, we said, okay, let’s at least try it one weekend. And the thing we miss here is still, I have this that I need to finish is the, like my bricks. So you can put lights in it and you can light it up and have really like the front lights, backlight, retro. And so this is my next project. That’s when it started raining. [inaudible]

Peter O’Toole (00:36:40):
I do you know what? It’s a really nice looking bit of Lego as well. Do not think I’m going to give up building Lego because look at what mom’s building. I can’t do

Prisca Liberali (00:36:51):
No, no, they get to it. So that’s what the Volkswagen, I would just go home and especially with, do sometimes go to the lab and then she would be doing it. So she started also managing this and my daughter now it gets harder and harder Legos also for herself. So she said really a challenge. They said, then she helps me. And I think they, they really like to see that it’s something. I also like that it’s okay. It’s part of the game. And

Peter O’Toole (00:37:21):
How many Lego objects do you have? Structures. Buildings.

Prisca Liberali (00:37:26):
Yeah. I can here you see some Legos that, so we have all the Harry Potter collection, you know, from the train station on the back or the Castles. We have few cities, a lot of older spaceship and all the Lego technic is probably one on the back. You see a sailing boat there. This is a lego technique, sailing boats. I don’t know. I should get the San Francisco, CT that just managed to get of it.

Peter O’Toole (00:38:00):
So you haven’t got them. I don’t know if you’ve familiar with Ricardo Henriques as his work. So he builds Lego pumps for peristaltic pumps for imaging purposes. You haven’t started using the Lego in the lab yet? No,

Peter O’Toole (00:38:17):
But we built our own micro, so it’s not a fully we’re not with Lego, but we have it with we buy pieces, we have a workshop. And so, yeah, we built that and now we are building our third microscope in the lab and that’s a bought pieces because there it’s like imaging that goes through for up to two weeks. So the folk, everything has to be really, we don’t manage. Maybe we should try.

Peter O’Toole (00:38:50):
What are the questionnaires from what you said earlier, you commute one hour 40 to work, still Commute to work. How do you commit your car?

Prisca Liberali (00:39:02):
I have first a Vesper. I’m Italian like me. I think the Vespa from home. So then I’m in nine minutes to the train station and then I take the train and then, then I walk or travel or depending when, when I’m in Basel. And then when I’m back, back with the Vespa.

Peter O’Toole (00:39:23):
So do you work on the train?

Prisca Liberali (00:39:25):
It’s like in a way it’s quite annoying, but I think with the community, it’s easier that one of the two is very close to work. So my husband is five minutes from work. So if something happened, he he’s really the, the one that is close by and the other one commutes. But because the problem is getting to the train station, getting on the train, then if he’s spent 40 minutes or an hour on the train, doesn’t change incredibly. It’s even better. Sometimes you really have the time to open the computer, start something and finish it. Just, the organization needs to be quite good that I’m on the train. And this is why also we have help here because if I would miss a train, I could not pick up the kids at school. And the, the, everything would get very complicated. So having someone at home was quite essential with the community and the traveling, because if then my husband is at the conference, they call me from school someone got hurt. That’s happens with mine quite often. You need someone that picks them up and at least then I have this person can go and pick them up. Meanwhile, I’m coming back. And so I often have often, for example, if I take an eight o’clock train, they’re not very often, there’s a train that goes directly to the Institute, but when it’s there, it’s an hour 15 on the train. So I think my vespa I’m an hour 15 on the train. And then I walk five minutes. It’s not the day that are working well are pretty good. I take the train of eight and nine 15 in the lab. I take, I leave the lab at 4 37, 4 47. I’m on the train six, I’m here at the train station, 6 15, 6 20 i’m home.

Peter O’Toole (00:41:09):
And you’ve got those two hours of work on the train to actually either do your background reading or to be writing and or reviewing

Prisca Liberali (00:41:19):
Emails and, or then it’s. And then, but then often than the time at work, the nine 30 to four is that lots of meetings one after the other to make sure I manage to see everybody, I have older things. So it’s a calender organization, but now I’m doing it since six years. So

Peter O’Toole (00:41:39):
With me, I said at the start, you’re working on organoids, which is, I would say, not in its infancy necessarily, but it’s still a relatively new field of organoids. And especially, there’s a lot of challenges in imaging with organoids as well. So for the viewer listener, who’s not familiar with what organoid is what is it fairly briefly? What is it? And why is it so important? What is the advantage of an organoid compared to just looking at cells on a cell culture place?

Prisca Liberali (00:42:10):
Yeah. And compared to in vivo. So I think that it’s, so the organoids or structure that are grown from IPS cells or adult not can be human, but mouse adults themselves and in different processes. And every organoid is a little different, but can kind of recapitulate or development, or regeneration, and create multi cellular structure that have the cell type composition often also the structure and the functionality of some tissues. Clearly we are not in vivo. So what an intestinal organoid would recapitulate is the property of the intestine epithelium, not of the mesenchymal, not of the immune cells and how they react. I mean, we will, that is another complexity that we would be adding, but clearly we have all the cell types and the structure with the [Inaudible] axis, they are much more accessible for imaging than in vivo, but clearly there are 3d structure. That’s not embedded in a matrix. And so, and they grow in very, you know, for a very long period of time, there are the different markers. So it’s the complexity there. The other advantage is the perturbation space. We performed that 3000 compounds screen image space for the organoids. This is something that you cannot make 3000 not cosmos. So I think that is really a clear advantage. And what we are interested in the lab is really what we call this design principle of multi cellular system, because you have a lot of properties that the higher order scale properties of the tissue that comes together only when you put together certain cell type in a certain organization and the organoid are perfect, because you can have this multi-scale, you have a very strong molecular understanding of the process because you can see yourselves, the cellular dynamics, but the multi cellular structures, how cell cell interaction create this emergent properties.

Peter O’Toole (00:44:09):
Okay. So what I find challenging today, I, the gene bit, that’s your area, imaging organoid imaging is not an easy picture. It’s not a simple snapshot picture. How do you screen 3000 organoid?

Prisca Liberali (00:44:26):
The area it’s so we develop a full automated pipeline that can do this. So it’s the robotics is the clearing because the imaging is a, an with the high content microscope where we can then start doing the problem. There is also then the segmentation. So we have a lot of AI and machine learning to learn for the segmentation of the organoids. Clearly the intestinal organoids are still relatively small compared to the big brain organoids. And so I think that will even increase the challenges with time. We get there. I think

Peter O’Toole (00:45:05):
That’s it. You say clearing, but you also do live cell imaging as well.

Prisca Liberali (00:45:10):
Yeah, so the compound screen was on fixed samples otherwise, but there, this is why we built a new microscope and the building, the new microscope is not because we need to crazy new imaging technique is for different aspects. For example, the organoids have an efficiency of 3%. So to have 10 , you need to start from imaging 300 different organoid. I don’t know. It’s like you need to have. And so that is a bit the problem. So we need an, and many of these live imaging, you have a single specimen. How many videos do you need to take to have a decent one but here? We can start with in parallel. So it’s like a chamber that is specifically designed to do a multi position image. The other aspect that was important for us is that matrix these structure all over the place, they are not on a single plate. So we have a, there was more of the software side to align per position, the light sheet. Yeah. The aspect is to have an environmental control that can have this structure grow with no contamination and with no of operation and with changes for two weeks and is the data acquisition and data size on the terabytes. So you can imagine a three weeks old movie,

Peter O’Toole (00:46:34):
I have many cells typically in a two week old organoid.

Prisca Liberali (00:46:39):

Peter O’Toole (00:46:39):
So it just, I just, I was good to tease out because I think most people listening, watching will have at least seen a single cell to give a sense of how much you can study within a single cell. But now you’re looking at thousands and you’re not, it’s no good just looking at one play. You need to look at the, at least half the 3d structure,

Prisca Liberali (00:47:01):
The full 3d button. Now we are designing a different one where we hope to get the thing. At least we can get the bottom. If we image from the body, we can see.

Peter O’Toole (00:47:09):
So what’s your favorite imaging technique?

Prisca Liberali (00:47:13):
It’s really the combination. So what we do is that we do the high content imaging for something like 30,000 Organoid and at time course. So we, at that point have the average behavior of organoid of the time, because if you have 40% of the organoid in a certain state, they want, and then 40 in the other one. So this is probably the population that grew in a certain way, but then you don’t know the dynamics and the dynamical part. And so, you know, where you can overlay the dynamical information on this trajectory, inferred from a hundred thousand organoid on the fixed. And multiplexed, so it’s really this interface between the two that, and then with the light sheet,

Peter O’Toole (00:48:00):
This is expensive Science could just, I’m just thinking about the cost of the reagents. If you’re using pluripotent stem cells, to start with the reagents to culture, those are not the cheapest reagents to culture them up for two weeks with such a high attrition rate, because they don’t all succeed. You go wait two weeks to see what succeeds you’re going to. It is eye wateringly expensive

Prisca Liberali (00:48:24):
And the matre gel is something insane because you have also matrix that is very expensive. Then we do a lot of with the human organoids and with human organoids, the medium are absolutely insane. So the expenses, and if you imagine a time course, so one aspect is the light sheet and the other one is also a time course. You have displays that. And, and sometimes you do a full time course and the staining didn’t work at all. Let’s do it again. And, and you need to start from mouse to make this Oregonoid. So you also need to host mouse, but it’s also not cheap and you need to host betabyte of data, but also not cheap. So it’s very expensive and a lot of grants, I write a lot of grants.

Peter O’Toole (00:49:11):
I said that, that was the next question. So when you’re writing grants, so obviously not the cheapest grants, do you worry about the total cost or do you just write in the cost that it’s really gonna be to do the work?

Prisca Liberali (00:49:26):
I don’t put the total because it’s, it’s a combination of things, but if I put the exact cost, the problem with Switzerland is that salaries are expensive. So when, you know, also for ERC panels, people are like this seriously Swiss salaries and the compare Italian salaries. And with the NDRC in Switz, in Italy you make a full lab in Switzerland, you make a small group. So I normally put them all, but I try to be, so one aspect I always had in writing grants is that people complain I’m too ambitious and that some things are not feasible while actually then we manage and then we do it. So it’s just that some of the things we describe and I realize also with posts of that apply, can you really do 400,000 organoid in a time course? And you know, they think it’s absolutely insane. We actually do it. So I think that is the biggest problem I have is not only on how much it really costs, but what can we do that to some people don’t really realize that we can actually do it. It’s not the consortium is just the lab

Peter O’Toole (00:50:34):
That’s because most people can’t, it’s quite mindblowing to go through that amount of imaging and the complexity of dealing with it. It sounds almost unbelievable to image so much, but then as a referee, I’d be thinking, how are you going to analyze it?

Prisca Liberali (00:50:56):
Yeah, everybody in the lab programs, this is my first PhD student. She had been to learn to program for the sequencing. And then there was much of bioten. Now we get go just bioten arc. So generally that was the biggest problem they need to even, you know, sometimes they make a type on the file name and they have like 200,000 files that they need to change the names just for correcting that they need to learn just to move the data, just to move the data. They need to learn how to program. And I have a full-time IT support just for the lab, but that is how we do. And then we try to build workflows. So one of our workflow is called Drogon, like a dragon from Game of Thrones. And and this is, let’s say a web based interface with also people that cannot program very well that have a lot of standardized step in the preprocessing. And then analysis is a big part of their work. So

Peter O’Toole (00:52:05):
How stressful, do you find grant writing itself and do you have a feel for your success rate?

Prisca Liberali (00:52:12):
Yeah. High, the underground is very high. It’s probably maybe one fellowship of a postdoc and didn’t get,

Peter O’Toole (00:52:25):
So despite the criticisms of the people saying, well, you can’t do 400,000 images, or this is really expensive to Swiss salaries and not appreciating that. I think that’s a lot of credit back to the panel that are then, then taking that feedback and understanding it to a greater depth. Maybe

Prisca Liberali (00:52:42):
I think something that works for me that worked in the situation is that many of these panels for junior group leader require an interview and an interview. I can actually show them that I’ve been already doing it. It’s not me writing. I will do this and that. So I knew for example, light sheet grant people, I already build the light sheet and it was almost finished. And then I was saying, oh yeah. And I have a light sheet that can do the imaging of organoids for two weeks. And then we can track single cells. Bladdy blah. And I realized no one would believe me. I don’t know if there’s some gender in there too, but it was people I realized people are. So the first thing I did when a and the ERC is really very much against having video in your presentation because they have very different format and their computer has an old window and maybe the plugin is not there. So they were really against what they said. That there’s no way I don’t show a video. So what they did well. So go with the same video in 10 different formats the day before trying all of them to have one that would work on their computer. And the first thing I did at my ERC he interview was to show saying, because this is how an Organoid grow and I showed the video of an Organoid growing from a single cell for two weeks. And I realized already, they’re the face of everybody we’re changing that. Okay. All their doubt of the in feasibility to challenging work. And so that, that thing was something that was quite useful for me having the interviews where I could actually show the data and show the preliminary data

Peter O’Toole (00:54:22):
And you know how to market your concept quite well, which, which is a different skill again, isn’t it? It’s that knowing how to put the convincers?

Prisca Liberali (00:54:32):
Yes, that is also sometimes hard because if I change field and I don’t know all the knowledge, it’s hard. It’s not that I go there and I know the full literature of 20 years and sometimes people in the panel know it better than I am embarrassed.

Peter O’Toole (00:54:51):
So I’m going to switch tack and ask you some quick fire questions. Are you an early bird or nighttime

Prisca Liberali (00:54:59):
Night had to change with the kids if I could night.

Peter O’Toole (00:55:05):
Okay. Thinking it’d been at night, Night Owl tea or coffee

Prisca Liberali (00:55:10):
Coffee, I have now I’m drinking the tea just because otherwise my caffeine level and even changing ginger shots,

Peter O’Toole (00:55:16):
Ginger shots. Yes. What are ginger shots.

Prisca Liberali (00:55:20):
So ginger with some lemon, and then you have a little ginger like shots. It’s like a coffee, but there’s no caffeine. So you get some energy through the ginger and lemon and everything. And so I don’t have less caffeine.

Peter O’Toole (00:55:34):
Do you buy that or do you make that

Prisca Liberali (00:55:35):
A, normally a buy it at the train station, my mental place and then have two for my day. So I get some ginger shots on top of coffee, afternoon coffee.

Peter O’Toole (00:55:48):
I’ve not come across that. So I’m gonna look that up actually, because that sounds really quite, it sounds probably a bit healthier than the espresso early in the morning, wine or beer,

Prisca Liberali (00:56:00):

Peter O’Toole (00:56:00):
As long as it’s Italian.

Prisca Liberali (00:56:04):
Yeah. I, I, I’m changing. What’s more White to now lately last year and a half Red

Peter O’Toole (00:56:09):
Especially from Italy, red.

Prisca Liberali (00:56:12):
I know white from Switzerland.

Peter O’Toole (00:56:15):
What favorite food

Prisca Liberali (00:56:18):
Pasta with bologne

Peter O’Toole (00:56:20):
Okay. So not French fries, not, not French food.

Prisca Liberali (00:56:24):
No, no Belgian. Yeah. Let’s say the Belgian food is my comfort food. I’d say the, the goal for the French fries. So this is my but if I have to cook something, it’s probably pasta with bologne

Peter O’Toole (00:56:38):
What’s your favorite movie?

Prisca Liberali (00:56:41):
The eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

Peter O’Toole (00:56:45):
Say that again?

Speaker 3 (00:56:49):
Eternal the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. I think that was the photo is a movie where someone would start getting deleting their memories of a relationship that would go bad and then while they started doing this, they realize that in a way, memory are important to grow. You don’t want to erase everything. And then done was something is moving two years ago, maybe something.

Peter O’Toole (00:57:14):
Yeah. What would you rather read a book or watch TV,

Prisca Liberali (00:57:20):
Read a book, but I do more TV. So in holidays, I know when I’m overloaded, the first thing that drops is reading books. And I know it’s an alarm sign that I need to calm down a bit.

Peter O’Toole (00:57:36):
What do you watch on TV? Did you watch anything that anyone would be? You don’t watch that? D what is your trash?

Prisca Liberali (00:57:46):
There’s a lot of, but yeah, I still watch Grey’s anatomy since 20/18 years. I’ve been as soon I’m waiting and know when the next Grey’s anatomy’s out. And I’ve been looking at Grey’s anatomy for many years. I watch Netflix a lot or Disney plus a bit more because it’s the national geographic. And there are a lot, also there some aspects. I like,

Peter O’Toole (00:58:12):
What music do you listen to

Prisca Liberali (00:58:15):
Normally like, like lately on this Måneskin, that won, the Italian, the European

Peter O’Toole (00:58:25):
Eurovision song contest

Prisca Liberali (00:58:27):
In then some radio. And now, again with the kids they are taking over and what, so it’s a lot of actual pop and that’s coming, but

Peter O’Toole (00:58:38):
What did you watch the Eurovision song contest then? It that something you do every year?

Prisca Liberali (00:58:43):
Nope, not every year. This year. I think we watched a part and I thought also for the kids getting older, so with all the different countries and everything, and Måneskin was in there and it’s group alike. And so we did, we watched it

Peter O’Toole (00:59:03):
Lucy Collinson, who can probably know for the Clem and 3d EM work. And she’s, she’s an avid Eurovision fan. So actually she’s been to see, she’d been to the events as well. She’ll always have a party. So actually that night I did watch Eurovision this year. I think it was actually really good. I gotta say, I can’t believe I’m starting to enjoy it well, but yeah, so I was constantly tweeting back and forth with Lucy about the different acts that were on it.

Prisca Liberali (00:59:29):
It was actually very good. So I started watching. I’m not I’m I would more watch European football championship. I’m more football fan of our sports.

Peter O’Toole (00:59:40):
I love the Euros until the final.

Prisca Liberali (00:59:44):
Yeah. I love the final. I was really

Peter O’Toole (00:59:48):
I’ve got to say, I think you deserve to win.

Prisca Liberali (00:59:51):
I agree.

Peter O’Toole (00:59:52):
You were the better team on the day for sure.

Prisca Liberali (00:59:55):
But it was tough. I pretty much, it would have been hard for me not to bring me,

Peter O’Toole (01:00:00):
We heard earlier on about some of your inspirations, but who would you most like to meet? It doesn’t have to be a scientist. Who would you like most like to meet and chat with Difficult questions? Sorry.

Prisca Liberali (01:00:15):
Yes. I think some of early model of pattern formation in development, there’s a lot of models that come that for example, Turing, I would love to have a chat with Turing. Yeah. It’s there models that you’re still discussing and models that were built on very little data and some observation. So I think that would be something that, that would love someone out on the other side, the core, super quantitative side, like [inaudible] that would just start measuring it. And he started getting old the pattern, you know, in, in a way, if you imagine that the periodic table is not very different from what we do now in biology, they would be measuring a lot. They would find pattern and then they would create that periodic table. And love was, you started doing this, if you just measure a lot before the reaction, after the reaction and measure and measure and trying to find patterns. So also love was there. I would not mind, but for sure, something like early female scientist, you know, seeing probably the internal drive internal you know, I could hear it being in these rooms. I complained that I’m in a room full of guys just don’t know what to her probably she would not even realize that that could be something else.

Peter O’Toole (01:01:51):
That’s a good answer. And on that, thinking about it in the past, where do you see the biggest challenge in the future or the next big thing in the future? Science-Wise

Prisca Liberali (01:02:03):
Yeah, I think bridging biological schemes, I think it is to bring biology to a more conceptual science on some aspect finding, you know, clearly every process we have their specific mechanism, but they have also more mechanisms. So for example, this is how I would study biology at the beginning. It would take the textbook. So apoptosis is signal some protein that are activity death. This is what they need to know about the typology for awhile. Then you’ll go deeper. But I think conceptualize science, some biological process and that’s, you know, and bridging biological scales, understanding how emergent property arise from individual molecules. And I think there is some work that has been done already, quite a lot on complexes and protein, protein church, and faith separation right now, and understanding how non linearity in protein complexes emerge, how non linearity emerged from interaction from cells that goes from us on the mechanical parts and mechanics to feedback. And this will be challenging both conceptually because we need to think in different ways and not bridging. And I think now many scientists are bridging fuel biological skin. So we’re like, let us settle some, some tissues, some sales tissue organism, but really to bridge it quite well. And if you imagine a lot of developmental biologists and classical screen, they would go from a gene to the organism. They would have small flies, big flies, weird flies, and then they would know which gene, but these are actually just settles in between actual sales in between and for imaging person. It’s clear. We have been looking at single cell for very long, but while for developmental biology, the single cell is a weird entity. So I think that would mean that we’ll have to bridge fields. I think that’s probably would go on the way we teach and also undergrads. And I think that would be the biggest technically, how can we have super resolution inside the cell tracking it for two weeks?

Peter O’Toole (01:04:24):
It’s getting there. Things are moving that way, but yeah, there’s big challenge.

Prisca Liberali (01:04:29):
Yeah. That would be the challenging and, and where a new will. And the challenge will also to bring together some super resolution imaging people with the full organism imaging that are normally feel that all meet.

Peter O’Toole (01:04:42):
Yeah. How about life cellar? Yeah. Transcriptomics livecell, spatial transcriptomics in a livecell. Now that would be mind blowing. That’s that’s definitely not there yet. Yes, but that’d be quite cool. And we have been talking for over an hour day. So I’m going to ask you one more question, which is what is your favorite work joke?

Prisca Liberali (01:05:09):
So I have one a that’s my favorite work joke. I have a recruiting joke that’s I could tell or because I recruiting joke. So a certain point it’s like person is dies and goes to the doors of paradise. And then the person tells St Peter tells him or her that, you know, you have been so great in your life that you can actually go wherever you want. You can just choose. So you can have a day where you take a tour around and decide where to go. So they start and they go to hell. That’s a huge party. Huge, huge party in music. A lot of sounds, yes, people are a bit sick on the set, but I was like, huge, party music. And then it goes to heaven and it’s all calm. Everybody has to hammock and they are reading and this classical music to the person’s rethinking. And it’s like, I want to have this boring life all the time. And then, you know, tell them not go to hell. And then he goes on to, okay, let’s go to hell. I decide that he wakes up and he’s covered in shit. And then it’s like, what? Where’s the party? Oh, that was recruiting day.

Peter O’Toole (01:06:31):
That’s the

Prisca Liberali (01:06:38):
Recruiting. And then you go back and do the actual truth. And that is when you go for jobs and let go. So the reality is that jokes always hard. There’s like this this friend of mine that is a medical doctor and she’s getting more senior. And so, and she has really terrible jokes. Her jokes are not funny, but then one day she calls me and she’s like, I’m really getting to senior in here. I going in a room. I make a joke and actually people laugh. The joke was terrible. So I think with jokes, I stopped making jobs during the talks because there’s always this balance of people being blind and just clapping.

Peter O’Toole (01:07:18):
And I, I think it’s very good to put humor in talks. I think keeps people like it keeps, keep people alert, mix it up a bit. And they remember it. I think people remember it. There’s a bit of humor in there. They remember what, what proceeded it and what followed it. I think it helps it stick in people’s minds. Yeah.

Prisca Liberali (01:07:36):
And it’s very hard now to do it in in a virtual setting, it’s getting harder and harder because doing a joke during a talk, you need the bit to read the audience and see how it is. And maybe it’s the good moment to do it while virtually that is all empty cameras. And

Peter O’Toole (01:07:55):
Especially if you pre record it, it’s, it’s it’s with no faces, no response. You don’t even know the content if they’re sitting forward listening or whether they are, you know, it’s hard to get that engagement. You just got to remember what it was like when it was physical. And

Prisca Liberali (01:08:13):
It’s also not the joke. I think that part of the prerecorded at one of the worst it’s normally then you are at a conference. You listen to the talk of other people. So even if you have your slides and the exactly the talk can sound extremely different depending on the audience, what other people said. And then you re referenced that before you also, as you know, Pete said before, this is very interesting because we also see this in our case, it’s a bit different. It’s very different. And now you prerecord, you have no idea. Who’s speaking before off to you. And it’s not the same

Peter O’Toole (01:08:47):
With the Royal Microscopical society meetings. And with Elmi this year, we did as many as possible live because I think it’s better for the speaker button. They can see chat going on at the side. They can get a feel for it, but they can still do nods and interlink and interlace their talk with the others. Just gives it a more, even for the listener, the viewer, it’s more exciting knowing that it could go wrong, but it’s real. It’s not perfect. I think that’s nice.

Prisca Liberali (01:09:15):
And it’s actually because the prerecorded, you normally have to even listen to yourself. So you need to prerecord it, spend the time I’m recorded. Well, and normally it goes wrong. The kids come in and so you need to restart. And then you just, there you listen to yourself to answer three questions at the end. So

Peter O’Toole (01:09:34):
Yeah. And it’s never good listening to listening to your own voice, never comfortable Prisca, thank you very much for joining me today. And I, it’s been really inspiring to hear everything. I loved the fact that you chop and change so much and take big steps. And I hope that continues. I don’t want you to stop doing organoid research and light sheet microscopy, but, you know, I want the next big thing as well. So keep changing with the times. It’s been really great listening to you today and everyone who’s watched or listened to the microscopy today. I hope you’ve enjoyed it equally. There’s been some great comments that we’ve heard about Eric Betzig, Lucy Collinson, Ricardo Henriquez with his Lego building. There’s a lot in common with other, so please do go back to and listen to those and don’t forget to subscribe to whichever your favorite channel is and Prisca. Thank you very much for joining me today.

Prisca Liberali (01:10:29):
Thank you. Have a nice day.

Intro/Outro (01:10:32):
Thank you for listening to The Microscopists, a Bitesizebio podcast sponsored by Zeiss microscopy to view all audio and video recordings from this series, please visit


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