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Speaker Biographies

Johan Auwerx is Professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he directs the Laboratory for Integrated and Systems Physiology (LISP). Prof. Auwerx has been using molecular physiology and systems genetics to understand metabolism in health, aging and disease. His work was instrumental for the development of agonists of nuclear receptors - a particular class of transcription factors - into drugs, which now are used to treat high blood lipid levels, fatty liver, and type 2 diabetes. In 2000, he published in FEBS Letters a pivotal paper showing that PPARδ is involved in the regulation of cholesterol metabolism in db/db mice and that PPARδ ligands could potentially have therapeutic value.

Roland Beckmann is Section Head and full Professor at the Gene Center, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich. His research focuses on understanding molecular mechanisms of gene expression regulation, mRNA surveillance and ribosome quality control, co-translational targeting and translocation of proteins to and across a target membrane and assembly of the 40S and 60S ribosomal subunits using cryo-EM. His lab has determined the solution structures of the inactive and active 80S ribosome-Sec61 complex at medium resolution, and, more recently, the structure of a targeting complex consisting of an active ribosome and SRP. His 2016 FEBS Letters paper on the folding of small protein domains within the ribosome exit tunnel gained a lot of attention.


Johannes Bos became professor in Physiological Chemistry at the University of Utrecht in 1991. His research is aimed at understanding the regulation and function of Ras-like small GTPases. In particular, he investigates the role of the Ras-like GTPase Rap1 in integrin-mediated cell adhesion and in E-cadherin-mediated cell junction formation. In 2015, Johannes Bos published in FEBS Letters a pivotal study showing that the guanine nucleotide exchange factor Epac1 controls VE-cadherin-mediated cell junction formation and induces reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton.


Gerhard Dahl is Professor in the Physiology & Biophysics Department at the University of Miami. His research aims to understand the mechanisms of intercellular communication through gap junctions and calcium waves. Prof. Dahl published multiple excellent research studies in FEBS Letters. Among them a seminal article showing that Pannexin membrane channels are mechanosensitive conduits for ATP.


Antonella De Matteis leads the Programme of Cell Biology and Disease Mechanisms at the Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine (TIGEM) and is professor of Biology at the Federico II University in Naples. Her main research interests cover the interplay between cell signalling and membrane trafficking at the Golgi complex. A particular focus of her activity is on the study of the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying Mendelian disorders of membrane trafficking. Prof. De Matteis was guest editor for a very successful FEBS Letters Special Issue on the Golgi complex published in 2009.


Michel Goedert is Head of the Division of Neurobiology at Cambridge Neuroscience. His research has shown that the intraneuronal filaments found in Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease are made of either microtubule-associated protein tau or alpha-synuclein. His current work is aimed at developing experimental animal models of tauopathies and alpha-synucleinopathies and at identifying disease modifiers. Goedert was the first to identify alpha- and beta-synuclein in the human brain in a FEBS Letters paper published in 1994.


Barry Halliwell is Tan Chin Tuan Centennial Professor, Senior Advisor to the President of the National University of Singapore, and Chairman of the Biomedical Research Council. The Thomson Reuters lists Professor Halliwell as one of the world’s most highly-cited researchers in Biology and Biochemistry. He has published a number of seminal studies in FEBS Letters, including a study on the mechanism and measurement of DNA damage by oxygen-derived species in mammalian systems, which is one of the journal’s most-cited papers. His research focuses on the role of free radicals and antioxidants in human disease, particularly Alzheimer's disease and other brain disorders. Professor Halliwell is a member of several editorial boards, including FEBS Letters.


Manajit Hayer-Hartl is an Independent Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in the Department of Cellular Biochemistry (Munich, Germany). Her research focuses on the structural and mechanistic analysis of molecular chaperones involved in protein folding, assembly and conformational maintenance. These interests have led to studies around the machinery needed for the biogenesis and functional activation of the photosynthetic CO2-fixing enzyme Ribulose-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase (RuBisCO).


Rob Knight is Professor in UC San Diego’s Departments of Pediatrics and Computer Science & Engineering, founding Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation and co-founder of the Earth Microbiome Project. In 2015, he received the Vilceck Prize in Creative Promise for the Life Sciences. The experimental and computational techniques used and developed in his lab allow high-throughput microbiome science. His research aims to enhance our understanding of the global diversity of microbes and how lifestyle and diet affect the human microbiome and, subsequently, our susceptibility to disease. In 2014, Prof. Knight published a seminal study in FEBS Letters on human gut microbes associated with obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.


Joan Massagué is Director of the Sloan Kettering Institute. He is also a professor at the Weill-Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. Prof. Massagué ranks among the world’s most distinguished cancer researchers owing to his pioneering work on the transforming growth factor beta (TGFb) signaling pathway and its role in cancer. Current research in his laboratory investigates how TGFb signals control pluripotency and differentiation in stem cells, and homeostasis in mature cells. In addition, through work on genes and pathways driving cancer metastasis, his research aims to pave the way for novel cancer therapies. Prof. Massagué’s scientific contributions have been internationally recognized with numerous prestigious awards. He was guest editor of the FEBS Letters Special Issue Sorting the TGFb labyrinth, published in 2012.


Noboru Mizushima’s illustrious research career on autophagy in yeast and mammals began during his post-doctoral studies in the laboratory of Prof. Yoshinori Ohsumi (laureate of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Medicine). His laboratory at the University of Tokyo continues to investigate the mechanisms of autophagy, develop methods for monitoring autophagy, and elucidate the pathophysiological roles of autophagy in mammals. Among his publications in FEBS Letters is the highly-cited study on the generation of an Atg5-inducible cell line for functional studies of autophagy and a In a Nutshell article describing the discovery of the autophagic machinery and the growth of autophagy-related research. Prof. Mizushima has received numerous prestigious awards. He was the recipient of the 2007 FEBS Letters Young Scientist Award. He served on the FEBS Letters Editorial Board.


Shuh Narumiya is the Chair of the Department of Drug Discovery Medicine, and the Director of the Medical Innovation Center at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine. Prof. Narumiya’s research has been fundamental in elucidating the molecular biology, pharmacology, physiology and pathophysiology of prostaglandin receptors. In addition, his work on the small GTPase Rho and its effectors has advanced the knowledge on Rho signal transduction and functions. FEBS Letters has published several articles from the Narumiya lab, including the highly-cited study showing that p160ROCK acts downstream of Rho. Prof. Narumiya is the recipient of numerous prestigious international awards.


Laura Norton earned her Ph.D. at the Babraham Institute, investigating phospholipase D signaling in immune cells. She did her post-doctoral training at the Paterson Institute of Cancer Research and at the Babraham Institute. Dr. Norton is currently the Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) manager and LIBRA (Leading Innovative Measure to Reach Gender Balance in Research) GEP (Gender Equality Plan) team leader at Babraham. The Athena SWAN charter, established by the British Equality Challenge Unit in 2005, encourages and recognizes commitment to advancing the careers of women in STEM (science, engineering, technology, and mathematics) in higher education and research. LIBRA, a European project awarded within the H2020 EU call for Promoting Gender Equality in Research and Innovation, aims to increase the participation of women in leadership positions in the life sciences.


Masaru Okabe is Professor Emeritus at Osaka University, and became Director of the Animal Resource Center for Infectious Diseases at the Research Institute for Microbial Diseases, Osaka University, in 2002. His general research area is reproduction, with a specific interest in the mechanism of sperm-egg interaction. He is also known as the scientist who demonstrated that GFP is usable in mouse by producing the first “green mice” in the world. That study was published in FEBS Letters in 1997 and is the most highly cited article in the history of the journal.


Annalisa Pastore is Professor in the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at Kings College London. By utilizing Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy, complementary biophysical, biochemical and bioinformatics techniques, her lab studies the structure and function of proteins linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s chorea and Machado-Joseph disease. Furthermore, her research is aimed at understanding mitochondrial pathologies linked to misfunctioning of iron metabolism. Prof. Pastore published multiple excellent studies in FEBS Letters. Among them a highly cited study analysing the aggregation behaviour of polyglutamine involved in various genetic neurodegenerative diseases.


Gregory Petsko is Arthur J. Mahon Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Tauber Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry, Emeritus at Brandeis University. The primary mission of his lab is to find a treatment or preventive therapy for one or more of the major neurodegenerative diseases. Prof. Petsko is originally a protein crystallographer and has published important studies in protein dynamics, such as in his 1986 FEBS Letters paper on amino-aromatic interactions in proteins.


Catherine Robin started her own laboratory at the Erasmus Stem Cell Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Rotterdam in 2006, where she and her team managed by combining time-lapse confocal imaging and novel dissection techniques to visualize the de novo emergence of the first hematopoietic stem cells inside the mouse embryonic aorta. In 2013, she started as Associate Professor at the Hubrecht Institute and was awarded an ERC Consolidator Investigator award. Current work in her research lab is focused on understanding the successive cellular and molecular steps leading to the production and expansion of hematopoietic stem cells during embryonic development. Prof. Robin was a guest editor of the FEBS Letters Special Issue Shedding light on Hematopoietic Stem Cells: formation, regulation and utilization, published in 2016.


James Rothman is Sterling Professor of Cell Biology and Professor of Chemistry at Yale University, the Chairman of the Department of Cell Biology at Yale School of Medicine, and the Director of the Nanobiology Institute at the Yale West Campus. In 2013, he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, together with Randy Schekman and Thomas Sudhof, for his work in vesicle trafficking. His thought-provoking papers in FEBS Letters elicit great interest among our readers. He is currently a FEBS Letters Editorial Board Member and author of the Scientists’ Forum column “Jim’s View”.

Alexander Ruban is a Professor in Biophysics at the Queen Mary University of London. His research has made major contributions towards understanding the molecular design of the photosynthetic machinery and led to the discovery of the photoprotective molecular switch in the photosystem II antenna, which protects the photosynthetic membrane from photo-oxidative damage. Prof. Ruban’s work continues to shed light on the mechanisms of light harvesting by photosynthetic membranes. He has published several research reports in FEBS Letters, including a highly-cited Hypothesis for the mechanism of non-photochemical quenching within the photosystem II light-harvesting antenna. He has received The Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award and the title Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB).


Michael Rudnicki is a Senior Scientist and the Director of the Regenerative Medicine Program and the Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research at the Ottawa Health Research Institute, and a Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Ottawa. Prof. Rudnicki is the Scientific Director of the Canadian Stem Cell Network and the International Regulome Consortium. His laboratory works to understand the molecular mechanisms that regulate the determination, proliferation, and differentiation of stem cells during embryonic development and during adult tissue regeneration. In 2002 Prof. Rudnicki and Prof. Lynn Megeney published in FEBS Letters a paper showing the presence of stem cells in the postnatal myocardium.


Maya Schuldiner conducted her postdoctoral research in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at the University of California in San Francisco until 2008, when she joined the faculty of the Weizmann Institute of Science. Her lab is dedicated to uncovering novel functions for yeast organellar proteins by employing a wide variety of high throughput screening techniques complemented by cell biological, genetic and biochemical follow ups. For her work, Prof. Schuldiner has received the EMBO young investigator award and has been chosen as one of the most promising young scientists (“40 under 40”) by Cell. Prof. Schuldiner has very recently authored a paper in FEBS Letters identifying the first member of the human SND pathway able to support substrate-specific protein targeting to the ER.


Theresia Stradal is Professor in the Institute for Zoology of the Technische Universität Braunschweig and head of the Cell Biology department at the Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung (HZI). Her research focuses on the complex interplay between bacterial pathogens and host cells. By gaining insight into the virulence mechanism of pathogens used to manipulate host cell defence strategies on a cellular and molecular level, her lab contributes to the development of novel anti-infectiva. In 2006, Prof. Stradal received the FEBS Letters Young Scientist Award for her outstanding paper on cell migration.


David Stuart is a Medical Research Council Professor of Structural Biology at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford. He is best known for his studies on the structural and functional relationship of viral proteins using X-ray crystallography, in particular for determining the structures of foot-and-mouth disease virus, bluetongue virus and the membrane-containing phages PRD1 (the first structure of an enveloped virus) and PM2. He is also Life Sciences Director at Diamond Light Source, the United Kingdom’s synchrotron light source. Professor Stuart is the winner of the 2018 FEBS Letters Award for his outstanding paper “Structure of glycosylated NPC1 luminal domain C reveals insights into NPC2 and Ebola virus interactions”.


Renée Tsolis is Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California. Her group’s research aims to reveal the molecular strategies used by intracellular bacterial pathogens, such as Brucella abortus and Salmonella enterica, to avoid clearance by the host’s immune response and mediate persistent infections. Furthermore, her lab investigates how host cells detect and respond to bacterial intruders. Prof. Tsolis is a FEBS Letters Editorial Board member.


Hans Westerhoff is Professor of Systems Biology at Manchester University and also Professor of Microbial Physiology (Free University Amsterdam, VUA) and Professor of Mathematical Biochemistry (University of Amsterdam, UvA) at the BioCentrum Amsterdam. He heads a translational research group on Systems Biology in the Manchester Interdisciplinary BioCentre (MIB) and the BioCentrum Anmsterdam. His research focuses on how the interactions of macromolecules can lead to biological functioning, and integrates quantitative experimentation with mathematical analyses. In 2001, he published in FEBS Letters a historical paper showing that in metabolic pathways there is no quantitative relationship between mRNA levels and function, i.e. that metabolic regulation is not hierarchical.


Dieter Wolf was Professor, Chair, and Director of the Institute of Biochemistry and Dean of the Faculty of Chemistry at the Universität Stuttgart. He has led seminal research on proteinases and intracellular proteolysis in yeast. His FEBS Letters publications reported the first indication of the involvement of the proteasome in cell cycle regulation and the discovery of the N-end rule E3 ubiquitin ligase Ubr1, which directs the polyubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of misfolded cytoplasmic proteins in yeast. His study on the isolation of autophagocytosis mutants in yeast is one of the most highly-cited papers in FEBS Letters.


Yosef Yarden is the Director of the Dwek Institute for Cancer Therapy Research of the Moross Integrated Cancer Center and the Head of the Department of Biological Regulation at the Weizmann Institute of Science. His research has been instrumental in elucidating the roles of growth factors and their receptors in cancer and has led to the development of several successful anti-cancer drugs. He has authored several Reviews in FEBS Letters, among them the highly-cited Minireview on the ErbB signaling network in embroygenesis and oncogenesis. An internationally renowned pioneer in cancer research, Prof. Yarden has received numerous awards, including the MERIT award of the U.S. National Cancer Institute (2005), the EMET Prize in Biochemistry (2007), and the Israel Prize in Life Science Research (2017).



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