Editorial Witold Filipowicz - The Messenger No. 2

Dear colleagues,

The NCCR has entered its second year of activity and has just had its first Annual Retreat in Kandersteg, which brought together ~100 RNA aficionados, among them 12 newly invited “associate” groups. The meeting was a great success. Together with the Swiss RNA Workshop, following a day later in Bern, it documented well the strength of Swiss RNA science and also the vitality of the field. RNA continues to surprise us with more and more secrets. Thousands of long non-coding RNAs, bacterial immunity CRISPR-Cas systems, and massive mRNA base modifications are just a few recent examples. These are complemented by development of sophisticated new technologies, such as single cell transcriptomics, ribosome footprinting or cryo-EM, making it possible to study RNA-related phenomena at unprecedented depth and resolution. Finally, first drug candidates inspired by RNA research are in advanced clinical trials. What a treat for an RNA field dinosaur like myself!

What about the future? Clearly, the NCCR has to remain open and prepared to meet new challenges and opportunities. It should also be dynamic, offering access to new mem- bers at the cost of others, to comply best with its mission of “RNA and Disease”. Should the network become more focused on selected important topics or rather welcome a large spectrum of RNA research, which meets excellence and the mission criteria? I am certainly in favor of the latter. Individual groups should remain focused in their research, but the network should remain broad, offering exchange of ideas and promoting even most unexpected collaborations.