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Symposia Chairs and Topics

Synthetic Biology
Sunday, 10 September, 2017
Chair:  Sven Panke (CH)

Synthetic biology has emerged as a forceful attempt to introduce the design principles of classical engineering disciplines into the process of constructing biocatalysts. Of course, these principles, while powerful, need to be adapted to the realities of complex biology and lack of fundamental understanding. In this session we take stock of recent advances in synthetic biology across various areas of application, from biological computing to CO2 fixation
DNA Damage and Repair
Sunday, 10 September, 2017

Chair: Wim Vermeulen (NL) 

DNA damage, induced by both endogenous cellular metabolism and environmental DNA damaging agents, continuously threaten the integrity of the genome. Genomic instability is linked to oncogenic transformation and persisting DNA lesions are associated to aging. An intricate network of DNA damage response (DDR) mechanisms counteracts the consequences of genomic insults. In this session several aspects of the DDR, ranging from structural analysis to clinical consequences of affected DDR, will be presented and discussed.

Protein Dynamics and Interactions
Sunday, 10 September, 2017

Chair: Ozlem Keskin (TR)

Protein-protein interactions (PPI) result in a repertoire of multiple functions; hence, knowledge of PPIs  serves to understand how biological processes take place. Given that proteins are not static, protein dynamics are essential to recognize the structure-interaction-function relationship. In this session, we will focus on how dynamics/interactions interwind with a special focus on  human disease and mutations.

Proteomic Approaches in Cell Biology
Sunday, 10 September, 2017
Chair: Bernhard Küster (DE)

Over the past decade, proteomic approaches have transformed cell biology. Mass Spectrometry based techniques have become the de-facto standard for the systematic analysis of protein-protein interactions, the characterization of cellular signal transduction pathways as well as the investigation of how therapeutic drugs exert their function. This symposium features lectures by eminent scientists in the field on all these three areas
Molecular Basis of Diseases
Sunday, 10 September, 2017

Chair: Ludger Schöls (DE)

Progress in genetics, biochemistry and disease modeling largely improves our understanding of the molecular basis of human disorders. This knowledge is increasingly translated into new avenues for treatment aiming to modify the course of disease. The session will present three examples where molecular research provided fundamental insight into pathogenesis of disease and resulted in successful translational medicine including mitochondrial disorders, epilepsies and motor neuron diseases.

Across Membranes: Receptors, Channels and Transporters
Monday, 11 September, 2017
Chair:  Christopher Tate (UK)     Chair:  Ofer Yifrach (IL)

Signaling across biological membranes is a fundamental process essential for cellular homoeostasis that is performed by a wide array of different integral membrane proteins comprising receptors, ion channels and transporters. Despite widely divergent amino acid sequences and architectures, there are highly conserved mechanisms utilized by integral membrane proteins to perform their functions. The two sessions will focus on specific transporters, ion channels and receptors to highlight both the diversity of functional forms and the conservation of mechanism within these families.

CRISPR and RNA Processing and Regulation
Monday, 11 September, 2017
Chair:  Juan Valcarcel (ES)    Chair:  Oded Rechavi (IL)

RNA-based gene regulation is revealing itself as key to understanding cellular function, organismal development and homeostasis. It is also central to the etiology of genetic and non-genetic diseases and opens novel therapeutic opportunities. The session will cover exciting new developments in this field, from the still mostly uncharted world of non-coding RNAs to the elaborate mechanisms that integrate post-transcriptional control of mRNA expression.

Mechanisms for Protein Homeostasis
Monday, 11 September, 2017
Chair:  Ann Bertolotti (UK)    Chair:  Anat Ben-Zvi (IL)

The cellular proteome is constantly challenged by mutations, expressed polymorphisms and intrinsic errors in gene expression or protein production, as well as acute effects of environmental and metabolic stresses. To combat this, cells rely on highly conserved protein folding and clearance pathways that support folding or mediate removal of metastable proteins. This complex network of molecular machines determines the health of the proteome under physiological condition and dysfunction of this network may underly age related diseases.
Organelle Biogenesis and Dynamics
Monday, 11, September, 2017
Chair:  Doron Rapoport (DE)    Chair:  Maya Schuldiner (IL)

The sessions on "organelle biogenesis and dynamics" will include lectures on recent advances in our understanding of organelles such as the endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria and peroxisomes. Specifically we will focus on how proteins are targeted to these organelles, the quality control mechanisms that organelles harbor and how organelles communicate with each other in the cellular context.

Integrated Structural Biology for Innovative Translational Research
Monday, 11 September, 2017
Chair:  Lucia Banti (IT)

This session focuses on the potential of structural biology research and the contribution it can provide to several fields of biomedicine and biotechnology. It will provide a timely and insightful perspective on the integrated use of a wide range of powerful biophysical techniques to address fundamental questions on biomolecular structure and function, also by presenting recent achievements in the most advanced structural biology technologies. The synergistic combination of the most innovative approaches of NMR spectroscopy, X-ray technologies, cryo-electron microscopy, and other biophysical techniques available through the iNEXT consortium highlights the key role of integrating structural data for innovative translational research.
 Molecular Machines in Action
Tuesday, 12 September, 2017
Chair:  Jose Valpuesta (ES)

Most cellular processes are executed by sets of molecular machines that work in a coordinated manner, thus acting like an assembly line and making the process a more efficient one. One such assembly line is the one formed by molecular chaperones, a group of proteins involved in cell homeostasis through two opposite functions: protein folding and degradation. These two processes are carried out through the transient formation of complexes between different chaperones and cochaperones. Our goal is the structural characterization of some of these complexes, using as a main tool electron microscopy and image processing techniques, with the aim of understanding the structural mechanisms by which these complexes function.
Chromatin Structure and Epigenetic Modifications
Tuesday, 12 September, 2017
Chair:  Giacomo Cavalli (FR)    Chair:  Amos Tanay (IL)

Epigenetic mechanisms are working at multiple levels and scales to ensure proper control of gene activity and to stabilize regulatory and developmental decisions. In this session we will focus on the mechanisms that allow chromatin and chromosomes to encode epigenetic states, and on processes that interpret such states to ensure proper repression and activation of target genes. New developments in mapping and perturbing key epigenetic components, such as enhancers, polycomb repressive domains and long-range chromosomal contacts will be presented and discussed.

Redox Regulation of Biological Activities
Tuesday, 12 September, 2017
Chair:  Kostas Tokatlidis (UK)

Redox regulation of cellular processes is emerging as a fundamental principle underpinning cellular architecture, physiology and dysfunction. Much progress has been made in uncovering new molecular players in these processes, and efforts are now developed in identifying the crucial protein-protein interactions and compartment-specific determinants that are critical for a complete dissection of these elaborate and poorly understood pathways. New chemical and genetic tools to identify the critical species involved have allowed rapid recent progress that will be described in this session. Talks will present exciting progress in discoveries of new components and mechanisms as well as how these are linked to the function of cells and organisms under normal growth or stress conditions linked to disease and ageing.
Molecular Neuroscience
Tuesday, 12 September, 2017
Leszek Kaczmarek (PL)   Chair:  Oren Schuldiner (IL)

In the Molecular Neuroscience session various current research topics will be presented covering especially molecular underpinnings of dynamic neuron-to-neuron communication via plasticity of synaptic contacts, allowing neuronal networks to produce adaptive and maladaptive behaviors.
Protein Folding and Misfolding
Tuesday, 12 September, 2017
Sheena Radford (UK)

Scientific content of my session: Amyloid diseases are a major threat to the health of the human population. Treatments are much needed, but understanding how and why proteins aggregate and how aggregation compromises cellular function remain major challenges. This session will discuss recent developments in mechanistic studies of protein aggregation in vitro and in vivo, with a focus on how aggregation occurs and how aggregation can be modulated by molecular chaperones, other peptides/proteins and small molecules.
Systems Biology
Tuesday, 12 September, 2017
Uri Alon (IL)

To make sense of biological complexity we need mathematical principles that can explain why biology is built the way it is, and how different systems are united around shared principles. Mathematical principles can make surprising predictions that guide our intuition into new areas of exploration. Our session will present work on such principles with special focus on human disease and variability.
Cancer Biology
Wednesday, 13 September, 2017
Chair: María Soengas (ES)   Chair:  Zeev Ronai (IL)

The session will highlight recent advances in cancer biology - aspects involved in its development, therapy-resistance and metastatic propensity. The role of new genetic and epigenetic pathways in cancer biology and the identification of new therapeutic targets and their validation are among topics that will be discussed.  The impact of the immune system and gut microbiome on treatment response, new models to study tumor metastasis, and the role of aging in cancer will be discussed
Translational Control and mRNA Localization
Wednesday, 13 September, 2017
Chair:  Ralph-Peter Jansen (Germany)   Chair:  Yaron Shav-Tal (IL)

The directed intracellular transport of translationally silenced transcripts (mRNA localisation) and their subsequent translational activation at subcellular sites constitutes a powerful RNA-mediated mechanism for gene regulation. This essential process is conserved from unicellular fungi to mammals and critically contributes to diverse processes such as embryogenesis, stem cell differentiation, neurogenesis, and synaptic function.
Protein Degradation
Wednesday, 13 September, 2017
Chair:  David Komander (UK)

Protein ubiquitination affects virtually all cellular pathways as a result of its ability to regulate protein half-life and change the interactions landscape. A three-step enzymatic cascade is responsible for attachment of ubiquitin, ubiquitin-binding domains recognize the modification, and dedicated hydrolases, deubiquitinating enzymes, reverse the modification. A new layer of complexity has emerged recently, in that ubiquitin is phosphorylated and acetylated, expanding its functions further. This session focuses on mechanism and functions of all components of the ubiquitin system, providing an overview of the latest developments in ubiquitin research.

Structural Computational Biology
sday, 13 September, 2017
Chair:  Patrick Aloy (ES)

Modern molecular and cell biology no longer focus on single macromolecules but now look into complexes, pathways or chromatin structure. In the past, genome-sequencing initiatives provided a near complete list of the components present in an organism, and post-genomic projects now aim to catalog the relationships between them. However, many findings from high-throughput technologies, from interaction discovery to Hi-C experiments, often lack molecular details: they tell us who is close to whom, but not how the different elements are physically connected. A full understanding of how molecules interact can be attained only from high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) structures, since these provide crucial atomic details about binding. In this session, we shall explore different computational strategies to integrate biological data, from many different sources, and close the gap between the number of known macromolecular interactions and those for which a 3D structure is available.
Wednesday, 13 September, 2017
Chair:  Anne Simonsen (Norway)

Macroautophagy involves sequestration of cytoplasmic material into autophagosomes and their targeting to the lysosome for degradation. This process is tightly regulated by several kinase complexes, autophagy-related (ATG) proteins and ATG-interacting proteins, but also involves vesicular trafficking from different subcellular compartments to the forming autophagosome. These topics will be discussed in this session.
The Structural Organization of the Cell
Wednesday, 13 September, 2017
Chair:  Ida van der Klei (NL)  

Eukaryotic cells are characterized by the presence of cell organelles. The abundance and morphology of these organelles strongly depend on the species, tissue and environmental factors. For instance, heart cells that consume massive amounts of ATP are packed with mitochondria, the power houses of cells. In this session we focus on structure/function relationships in eukaryotic cells. We will discuss processes that mediate organelle shape and positioning as well as the advanced microscopy techniques to visualize the intracellular architecture.

Intrinsically Disordered Proteins
Thursday, 14 September, 2017
Chair:  Monika Fuxreiter (HU)

Intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) that lack a well-defined conformation expand the classical understanding of how structure determines function. IDRs are abundant in eukaryotic proteomes and play roles in regulatory processes. Recently, IDRs have been distinguished in biological phase transition. Fuzziness determines the material states and dynamics of higher-order assemblies as well as controls the conversion into pathological aggregates.

Medicinal Chemistry
Thursday, 14 September, 2017
Chair:  Gerhard Klebe (DE)

Molecular recognition of a ligand at a protein binding site is prerequisite for enzymatic substrate turn-over, ligand-induced receptor signaling or drug action in pharmacology. Affinity and selectivity of a ligand toward a given protein is determined by structural and electrostatic complementary, a negative Gibbs free energy and appropriate binding kinetics. Correlation of thermodynamic, kinetic and structural data allows us to establish general principles about enthalpic and entropic signatures leading to complex formation, altered water-complex patterns and selectivity determining features.
The Human Microbiome
Thursday, 14 September, 2017
Chair:  Erika Isolauri (FI)

The greatest health challenge of our time is reversing the increase of non-communicable diseases. Recent epidemiological, experimental and clinical studies demonstrate that aberrant gut microbiota composition, dysbiosis, early in life is relevant to the risk of allergic, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, as well as obesity. Pregnancy and early infancy are according to the current understanding the most critical stages and targets for interventions aiming to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases in future generations.

Metabolism and Signaling
Thursday, 14 September, 2017
Chair:  Matthias Heinemann (NL)

While traditionally research on metabolism and signaling has been carried out in separate fields, in recent years there is emerging evidence that these two cellular systems are highly intertwined, and influence each other. The prime aim of this session will be to highlight connections between metabolism and signaling.

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