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Plenary Lectures

Opening / FEBS Theodor Bücher Lecture

Jonathan Weissman

Jonathan Weissman

University of California San Francisco, United States

Jonathan Weissman is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco. His development of the technique of Ribosome Profiling, as well as CRISPRi and CRISPRa, giving us the ability to turn on and off any desired gene, are revolutionizing both basic science and medical research. Dr. Weissman received his undergraduate physics degree from Harvard College. After obtaining a PhD in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked with Peter Kim, Dr. Weissman pursued postdoctoral fellowship training in Arthur Horwich's laboratory at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Weissman's numerous honors include the 2008 Raymond and Beverly Sackler International Prize in Biophysics, election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2009, election as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2010, the 2015 Keith R Porter Lecture Award from the American Society of Cell Biology, and the 2015 National Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Discovery.

Click HERE to view Jonathan Weissman's webpage.

FEBS Sir Hans Krebs Lecture

Carol Robinson

Carol Robinson

Oxford University, United Kingdom

Professor Dame Carol Robinson holds the Chair of Dr. Lee’s Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford. She is the first female professor of chemistry at the University of Oxford and was previously the first female professor of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge. She is recognised for pioneering the use of mass spectrometry for her research into the 3D structure of proteins. Her most recent work is concerned with examining how small molecules, specifically lipids, impact on the structure and function of membrane assemblies.

Click HERE to view Carol Robinson's webpage

EMBO Lecture

Patrick Cramer

MPI Gottingen, Germany

Patrick Cramer was born on February 3, 1969 in Stuttgart, Germany. After finishing his studies of chemistry at the Universities of Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Bristol and Cambridge in 1995, Patrick Cramer started his doctoral studies at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Grenoble, France. In 1998 he received his doctorate from the University of Heidelberg. From 1999 - 2001 Patrick Cramer worked as postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University in the laboratory of Roger D. Kornberg who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2006. In 2001 Patrick Cramer became Professor of biochemistry at the Gene Center of the University of Munich (LMU) for which he served as director from 2004 - 2014. In 2014 he was appointed director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany. The laboratory of Patrick Cramer studies the molecular mechanisms of eukaryotic gene transcription by integrated structural biology and the systemic principles of genome regulation with the use of functional genomics and computational biology. In the past, the laboratory of Patrick Cramer has analyzed the structure and function of RNA polymerases, the key cellular enzymes transcribing genes. The long-term aim of Patrick Cramer is to bring together molecular biology and systems biology and to understand the expression and regulation of the genome. For his research work Patrick Cramer has been awarded several prizes, such as the Feldberg Foundation Prize (2011), the Ernst-Jung Award for Medicine (2009) and the Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz Award (2006) by the German Research Foundation (DFG). In 2012 he received the Federal Cross of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany. Patrick Cramer is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and the German Academy for Sciences (Leopoldina).

Click HERE to view Patrick Cramer's webpage.

PABMB Lecture

Marcelo Rubenstein

Marcelo Rubinstein

University of Buenos Aires, Argentina 

Marcelo Rubinstein was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1961. After studying Chemistry at the Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales (FCEyN) of the Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA), he pursued doctoral studies at the Institute for Pharmacological Investigations (CONICET) on dopamine receptors in postsynaptic supersensitivity in animal models of Parkinson’s disease, and obtained his PhD at the UBA. For postdoctoral training, Marcelo moved to the Vollum Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, USA, where he worked with Malcolm J. Low and Richard H. Goodman on transcriptional regulation of pituitary and hypothalamic genes in transgenic mice and dopamine receptor function in mutant mice. During this period Marcelo developed skills in molecular and functional genetics as well as in mouse transgenic and mutant technology. On returning to Buenos Aires, Marcelo started a group at the Instituto de Investigaciones en Ingeniería Genética y Biología Molecular (INGEBI), where he established the first transgenic mouse laboratory in South America. He is currently Director of INGEBI and Associate Professor of FCEyN, UBA. Marcelo has made significant scientific discoveries that have helped unravel novel functions and regulatory mechanisms of genes that participate in brain circuits involved in appetitive behaviors, in particular, the dopamine D2 and D4 receptors and the neuropeptide-coding gene proopiomelanocortin (Pomc), using a combination of molecular, evolutionary and behavioral genetics approaches. Marcelo is the coauthor of 115 publications in peer-reviewed journals, which together have been cited more than 9000 times (h-index of 47). Among his honors and awards, he was an International Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 2002, an International Research Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 1997 to 2013, and promoted to Superior Investigator of CONICET in 2013, and he received the Ranwel Caputo medal from the Argentine Society of Neuroscience in 2013 and the TWAS Prize in Biology from The World Academy of Sciences in 2014. Marcelo Rubinstein has played a pioneer role in introducing transgenic and mutant mouse technology, science and education to Argentina and other South American countries, being the Director of the first and only genetically modified mouse facilities in Argentina (1994) and Chile (2006) and the first mouse germoplasm cryobank (2015).

Click HERE to view Marcelo Rubenstein's webpage

Tang Prize / IUBMB Lecture 

Feng Zhang

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, United States

Feng Zhang is a Core Member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, an Investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, and an Associate Professor (with tenure) in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. He was born in China and moved to Des Moines, Iowa in 1993. His introduction to engineering biological tools for mammalian systems began as a sophomore in high school when he had the opportunity to intern in the gene therapy lab of John Levy in Des Moines, Iowa. He obtained an A.B. in Chemistry and Physics from Harvard University in 2004 during which time he conducted research with Xiaowei Zhuang. As a PhD student in the Chemistry Department at Stanford University, Zhang worked with Karl Deisseroth to develop optogenetics technologies for dissecting brain circuits, using light-sensitive proteins from microbes to enable control of neuronal activity in living organisms with light. After finishing his Ph.D. in 2009, Zhang joined the Harvard Society of Fellows as a Junior Fellow (2009-2010), focusing on developing gene editing tools based on transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs). In 2011, Zhang began his own laboratory at the Broad and McGovern Institutes, where he and his team pioneered the use of microbial CRISPR-Cas systems for gene editing in eukaryotic cells. His lab continues to play a critical role in the development of gene editing technologies and applications that are accelerating research around the world. Zhang has been widely recognized for his contributions to the development of optogenetics and genome editing technologies, including receiving the Canada Gairdner International Award, the Tang Prize, the Perl/UNC Prize in Neuroscience, the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award, and the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award in Biotechnology and Medicine.

Click HERE to view Feng Zhang's webpage.

FEBS Letters Award Lecture

Jan Löwe

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, United Kingdom

 Jan Löwe's group focuses on the structure and function of key proteins in the cytoskeleton of bacteria and eukaryotic cohesin, using tools of modern cell and structural biology. Among the molecules he is studying, many of which act as filament-driven motors, are the complex structures involved in bacterial cell division and bacterial DNA segregation. Jan completed his PhD at the Max-Planck Institute in Martinsried with Robert Huber. He then joined the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology as an EMBO long-term fellow in 1996, becoming a group leader in 1998. He won a Leverhulme Prize for Biochemistry in 2002, the EMBO Gold Medal in 2007 and has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2008 and of Germany's Leopoldina in 2013. Jan Löwe was awarded the FEBS Letters Award 2016, jointly with Kim Nasmyth (University of Oxford, UK).

Click HERE to view Jan
Löwe's webpage.

FEBS Journal Award Lecture

Sebastian Bittner 

University Hospital of Regensburg, Germany

Sebastian Bittner has been awarded The FEBS Journal Richard Perham Prize 2017 (read the announcement here).  Sebastian studied biology at the University of Regensburg, and received his Master's degree in 2013. He started his PhD project in 2014 in the lab of Dr. Dr. Martin Ehrenschwender at the Institute of Microbiology and Hygiene at the University Hospital of Regensburg and, having recently submitted his dissertation, is now awaiting his thesis defence. Martin Ehrenschwender's research group studies members of the Tumor-Necrosis-Factor Receptor superfamily, which consists of more than 25 receptor–ligand pairs and has a plethora of roles in processes like inflammation, immunity and infection but also cancer. Sebastian's PhD work focused on Death Receptor 3 (DR3) and its ligand TL1A,  investigating basic molecular mechanisms of receptor activation and assessing the role of DR3 signaling on human regulatory T-cells. In addition to showing a role in prosurvival pathways, he and his colleagues described for the first time DR3 as necroptosis inductor, thereby identifying a DR3-triggered regulated cell death pathway in addition to apoptosis. This extends the pathophysiological role of the TL1A–DR3 axis and provides an essential foundation for future therapeutic exploitation of this ligand–receptor pair.

Click HERE to view Sebastian Bittner's webpage.

2017 FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award Lecture

Ottoline Leyser

Cambridge University, United Kingdon

Leyser, Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at Cambridge University, UK, has been awarded the 2017 FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award in recognition of her work on the evolutionary, developmental and biochemical mechanisms that enable plants to respond and adapt to environmental changes. Her focus on understanding how plants respond to their environment led to her discovery of the mechanism of action of the plant hormone auxin and the identification of a second group of plant hormones known as strigolactones. Her current work is using computational modelling as well as an array of traditional techniques to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the interaction of these two hormone systems. Ottoline Leyser received her BA and PhD in Genetics from the University of Cambridge. Following postdoctoral research at Indiana University and the University of Cambridge, and a lectureship then professorship at the University of York, she moved to the newly opened Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge in 2011 and became Director in 2013. She is also the Chair of the British Society for Developmental Biology and of the Royal Society’s Science Policy Advisory Group. Her achievements have been recognized by election to EMBO, the Royal Society, the US National Academy of Sciences and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. She was awarded a damehood in the UK’s New Year’s Honours 2017, and has received numerous prizes, including the Society of Experimental Biology’s President’s Medal, the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award, the International Plant Growth Substance Association’s Silver Medal, and the UK Genetics Society Medal.

Click HERE to view Ottoline Leyser's webpage.

2016 FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award Lecture

Fiona Watt

King's College, United Kingdom

Fiona Watt, Director of the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at King’s College London, was awarded the 2016 FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award in recognition of her work uncovering the mechanisms that control mammalian epidermal stem cell renewal and differentiation, and for discovering how these processes are deregulated in cancer, wound healing and inflammatory skin disorders. Fiona Watt has made numerous fundamental discoveries, most recently about how the epidermis interacts with different classes of dermal fibroblasts, and how these normal signalling mechanisms go awry in cancer and skin disease. She was one of the first to discover that processes such as inflammation, physical forces and epigenetics influence skin stem cell behaviour. Fiona Watt obtained her first degree from Cambridge University and her DPhil, in cell biology, from the University of Oxford. She was a postdoc at MIT, where she first began studying differentiation and tissue organization in mammalian epidermis. She established her first research group at the Kennedy Institute for Rheumatology and then spent 20 years at the CRUK London Research Institute (now part of the Francis Crick Institute). She helped to establish the CRUK Cambridge Research Institute and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research and in 2012 she moved to King's College London to found the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine. Fiona Watt is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. She is internationally recognized for her work on stem cells and their interactions with the niche in healthy and diseased skin and she leads the UK Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Initiative. 

Click HERE to view Fiona Watt's webpage.

Closing / FEBS Datta Lecture

Robert J. Lefkowitz 
Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

Duke University, United States

Robert J. Lefkowitz, MD is James B. Duke Professor of Medicine and Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry at the Duke University Medical Center. He has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1976. Dr. Lefkowitz began his research career in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, when there was no clear consensus that receptors even existed. His group spent 15 years developing techniques for radioligand binding, solubilization, purification, and reconstitution of the four adrenergic receptors known at the time. In 1986, Dr. Lefkowitz transformed the understanding of what had become known as G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), when he and his colleagues cloned the gene and cDNA for the β 2 adrenergic receptor, and recognized its sequence homology with rhodopsin, thus establishing them as the first members of a new family of proteins, the Seven Transmembrane Receptors (7TMRs). This superfamily is now known to be the largest, most diverse, and most therapeutically accessible. Since then, Dr. Lefkowitz has continued to revolutionize the GPCR field through discovery and cloning of the G protein coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) and β-arrestins; and discovery of “biased” signaling through β-arrestins or G proteins. Most recently, he has been applying the tools of structural biology to understand biased signaling at atomic level resolution. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the National Medal of Science, the Shaw Prize, the Albany Prize, and the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was elected to the USA National Academy of Sciences in 1988, the Institute of Medicine in 1994, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1988.

Click HERE to view Robert J. Lefkowitz's webpage.

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