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Genes and the Mechanics of Cell Shape
by Eric F. Wieschaus
(Howard Hughes Medical Institute / Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, USA)
When
4th October 2018
at 5 PM
Who
Lecturer photo

Eric Francis Wieschaus is an American evolutionary developmental biologist and 1995 Nobel Prize-winner. Much of his research has focused on embryogenesis in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, specifically in the patterning that occurs in the early Drosophila embryo. Most of the gene products used by the embryo at these stages are already present in the unfertilized egg and were produced by maternal transcription during oogenesis. A small number of gene products, however, are supplied by transcription in the embryo itself. He has focused on these "zygotically" active genes because he believes the temporal and spatial pattern of their transcription may provide the triggers controlling the normal sequence of embryonic development. Saturation of all the possible mutations on each chromosome by random events to test embryonic lethality was done by Eric Wieschaus.

In 1995, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Edward B. Lewis and Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard as co-recipients, for their work revealing the genetic control of embryonic development.

As of 2018, Wieschaus is the Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology at Princeton. He was formerly Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey  Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Epigenetic Regulation in Development, Aging and Disease States
by Rudolf Jaenisch
(Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, MIT, Cambridge, USA)
When
11th October 2018
at 5 PM
Who
Lecturer photo

Rudolf Jaenisch is a Professor of Biology at MIT and a founding member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He is a pioneer of transgenic science, in which an animal’s genetic makeup is altered. Jaenisch has focused on creating genetically modified mice to study cancer and neurological diseases.

Jaenisch’s first breakthrough occurred in 1974 when he and Beatrice Mintz showed that foreign DNA could be integrated into the DNA of early mouse embryos. They injected retrovirusDNA into early mouse embryos and showed that leukemia DNA sequences had integrated into the mouse genome and also to its offspring. These mice were the first transgenic mammals in history.

His current research focuses on the epigenetic regulation of gene expression, which has led to major advances in creating embryonic stem cells and “induced pluripotent stem" (IPS) cells, as well as their therapeutic applications. In 2007, Jaenisch’s laboratory was one of the first three laboratories world-wide to report reprogramming cells taken from a mouse's tail into IPS cells. Jaenisch has since shown therapeutic benefits of IPS cell-based treatment for sickle-cell anemia and Parkinson's disease in mice. Additional research focuses on the epigenetic mechanisms involved in cancer and brain development.

Jaenisch’s therapeutic cloning research deals exclusively with mice, but he is an advocate for using the same techniques with human cells in order to advance embryonic stem cell research. However, in 2001 Jaenisch made a public case against human reproductive cloning, testifying to a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee and an editorial in Science magazine.

Mechanism of Homology-directed Chromosome Damage Repair in Eukaryotes
by Patrick Sung
(Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, USA)
When
18th October 2018
at 5 PM
Who
Lecturer photo

 

 

 

Patrick Sung is an American professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University In 1981, he got his bachelor of science degree from the University of Liverpool and four years later got his Ph.D. from Oxford University. From 1993 to 1997 he was an assistant professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch and from that year till 2001 served as an associate professor of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio where he also became chairman of its graduate program and even became a professor of its Department of Molecular Medicine. In 2000 he became an editor of the Molecular and Cellular Biology and in 2003 was an associate editor of the Genes to Cells journal. The same year he became professor at both Therapeutic Radiology and Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry departments of Yale University and from that year till 2005 served at the Genes & Developmentseditorial board. From 2003 till 2004 he was Special Emphasis Panels' member.

Title will be specified
by Manolis Kellis
(Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, USA)
When
13th December 2018
at 5 PM
Who
Lecturer photo

Manolis Kellis is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at MIT, a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where he directs the MIT Computational Biology Group (compbio.mit.edu). His group has recently been funded to lead the integrative analysis efforts of the modENCODE project for Drosophila melanogaster, and also for integrative analysis of the NIH Epigenome Roadmap Project. He has received the US Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE) for his NIH R01 work in Computational Genomics, the NSF CAREER award, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the Karl Van Tassel chair in EECS, the Distinguished Alumnus 1964 chair, and the Ruth and Joel Spira Teaching Award in EECS. He was recognized for his research in genomics as one of the top young innovators under the age of 35 by Technology Review Magazine, one of the principal investigators of the future by Genome Technology magazine, and one of three young scientists representing the next generation in biotechnology by the Boston Museum of Science. He obtained his Ph.D. from MIT, where he received the Sprowls award for the best doctorate thesis in computer science, and the first Paris Kanellakis graduate fellowship. Prior to computational biology, he worked on artificial intelligence, sketch and image recognition, robotics, and computational geometry, at MIT and at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. He lived in Greece and France before moving to the US.

Well-being Is a Skill: Perspectives From Affective and Contemplative Neuroscience
by Richard J. Davidson
(Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA)
When
14th March 2019
at 5 PM
Who
Lecturer photo

Davidson is best known for his groundbreaking work studying emotion and the brain. A friend and confidante of the Dalai Lama, he is a highly sought after expert and speaker, leading conversations on well-being on international stages such as the World Economic Forum, where he serves on the Global Council on Mental Health. Time Magazine named Davidson one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2006.

Title will be specified
by Emmanuelle Charpentier
(Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin, Germany)
When
21st March 2019
at 5 PM
Who
Lecturer photo

Emmanuelle Marie Charpentier (born 11 December 1968) is a French professor and researcher in microbiologygenetics and biochemistry.Since 2015 she has been a Director of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology.

Charpentier worked as a university teaching assistant at Curie from 1993 to 1995 and as a postdoctoral fellow at the Institut Pasteur from 1995 to 1996. She moved to the US and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Rockefeller University in New York from 1996 to 1997. She worked as an assistant research scientist at the New York University Medical Center from 1997 to 1999 and in 1999 held the position of Research Associate at the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and at the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine in New York from 1999 to 2002.

After five years in the United States, she returned to Europe and became lab head and a guest professor at the Institute of Microbiology and Genetics, University of Vienna from 2002 to 2004. From 2004 to 2006 she was lab head and an assistant professor at the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology. In 2006 she became private docent (Microbiology) and received her habilitation at the Centre of Molecular Biology. From 2006 to 2009 she worked as lab head and Associate Professor at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories.

Charpentier moved to Sweden and became lab head and associate professor at the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS), at Umeå University. She held these positions from 2009 till 2014, and was promoted to lab head as Visiting Professor in 2014. She moved to Germany to act as department head and W3 Professor at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig and the Hannover Medical School from 2013 until 2015. In 2014 she became an Alexander von Humboldt Professor.

In 2015 Charpentier accepted an offer from the German Max Planck Society to become a scientific member of the society and a director at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin. Charpentier retained her position as Visiting Professor at Umeå University until the end of 2017, where a new donation from the Kempe Foundations and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation has given her the opportunity to offer more young researchers positions within research groups of the MIMS Laboratory.

Charpentier is best known for her role in deciphering the molecular mechanisms of the bacterial CRISPR/Cas9 immune system and repurposing it into a tool for genome editing. In particular she uncovered a novel mechanism for the maturation of a non-coding RNA which is pivotal in the function of CRISPR/Cas9. In collaboration with Jennifer Doudna's laboratory, Charpentier's laboratory showed that Cas9 could be used to make cuts in any DNA sequence desired. The method they developed involved the combination of Cas9 with easily created synthetic "guide RNA" molecules. Researchers worldwide have employed this method successfully to edit the DNA sequences of plants, animals, and laboratory cell lines.

Title will be specified in July 2018
by Fraser Stoddard
(Department of Chemistry, Northwestern University, USA)
When
16th May 2019
at 5 PM
Who
Lecturer photo

Sir James Fraser Stoddart FRS FRSE FRSC(born 24 May 1942) is a Scottish-born chemist who is Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry and head of the Stoddart Mechanostereochemistry Group in the Department of Chemistry at Northwestern University in the United States. He works in the area of supramolecular chemistry and nanotechnology. Stoddart has developed highly efficient syntheses of mechanically-interlocked molecular architectures such as molecular Borromean ringscatenanes and rotaxanes utilizing molecular recognition and molecular self-assembly processes. He has demonstrated that these topologies can be employed as molecular switches. His group has even applied these structures in the fabrication of nanoelectronic devices and nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS). His efforts have been recognized by numerous awards including the 2007 King Faisal International Prize in Science. He shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with Ben Feringa and Jean-Pierre Sauvage in 2016 for the design and synthesis of molecular machines.

Progress Toward the Discovery of New Antibiotics with Efficacy Against Multi-drug Resistant Bacterial Pathogens
by Andrew G. Myers
(Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA)
When
23rd May 2019
at 5 PM
Who
Lecturer photo

Andrew G. Myers graduated from MIT in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He was introduced to chemical research as an undergraduate in the laboratory of Professor William R. Roush, and went on to study with Professor E.J. Corey from 1981-1986 at Harvard University, both as a graduate student and then briefly as a postdoctoral researcher. Myers began his independent academic career at Caltech (1986), where he was Assistant, Associate, and then Full Professor (1994). In 1998, he moved to the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, served as Chair of the Department from 2007-2010, and is currently Amory Houghton Professor of Chemistry.

Professor Myers' research program involves the synthesis and study of complex molecules of importance in biology and human medicine. His group has developed laboratory synthetic routes to a broad array of complex natural products, including the ene-diyne antibiotics neocarzinostatin chromophore, dynemicin A, N1999A2, and kedarcidin chromophore, undertakings greatly complicated by the chemical instability of all members of the class. His laboratory developed the first practical synthetic route to the tetracycline antibiotics, allowing for the synthesis of more than three thousand fully synthetic analogs (compounds inaccessible by semi-synthesis: chemical modification of natural products) by a scalable process. A portfolio of clinical candidates for the treatment of infectious diseases, all fully synthetic tetracycline analogs, are currently in development at Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals, a company founded by Myers. In addition, the Myers' laboratory has developed short, practical and scalable synthetic routes to the saframycin, cytochalasin, stephacidin B-avrainvillamide, and trioxacarin classes of natural antiproliferative agents, in each case by the modular assembly of simple components of similar synthetic complexity. His group has reported synthetic routes to the natural products epoxybasmenone, cyanocycline, terpestacin, salinosporamides, and cortistatins A, J, K, and L. Increasingly, the Myers' laboratory is dedicated to the development of highly convergent synthetic pathways that (1) provide practical, scalable solutions for the construction of molecular classes multiplicatively expanded by (2) incorporation of modular variations.

Myers and his students have also developed numerous reagents and procedures of general utility in the construction of complex molecules. These include the development of methodology for the preparation of highly enantiomerically enriched ketones, aldehydes, alcohols, carboxylic acids, organofluorine compounds, α-amino acids, and molecules containing quaternary carbon centers using pseudoephenamine and pseudoephedrine as chiral auxiliaries, a method for the reductive deoxygenation of alcohols that does not involve metal hydride reagents, methods for the stereoselective synthesis of alkenes from sulfonyl hydrazones, a stereospecific synthesis of allenes from propargylic alcohols, a 1,3-reductive transposition of allylic alcohols, a silicon-directed aldol addition reaction, a method for the reductive coupling of aldehydes and allylic alcohols, the discovery of the powerful reductant lithium amidotrihydroborate, the use α-amino aldehydes in synthesis, methods for the synthesis and transformation of diazo compounds, a highly diversifiable method for the synthesis of isoquinolines, as well as others. In addition they have identified and studied transformations of fundamental importance in chemistry such as the allene-ene-yne→α,3-dehydrotoluene, 1,6-didehydrotolu-ene[10]-annulene→1,5-naphthalenediyl, and neocarzinostatin biradical-forming cycloaromatization reactions, as well as the decarboxylative palladiation reaction.

Wnt Signaling and the Generation of New Cells in the Liver
by Roel Nusse
(Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Developmental Biology, Stanford University, School of Medicine, Stanford, USA)
When
30th May 2019
at 5 PM
Who
Lecturer photo

Dr. Roel Nusse is the Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research and a Professor of Developmental Biology at Stanford University School of Medicine, the Chair of the Department of Developmental Biology at Stanford University, a program director of Stanford’s Cancer Stem Cell Research Program and a member of Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. The Nusse Laboratory at Stanford studies the function of Wnt signaling molecules during the proliferation and differentiation of stem cells, with an aim toward understanding the regulation of growth, development and integrity of a wide variety of animal tissues. Dr. Nusse discovered the first Wnt gene (Wnt1) in 1982 as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Harold Varmus at University of California, San Francisco. His work led to the establishment of the Wnt signaling field, which is now one of the key biological pathways in organism development, stem cell maintenance, and tissue repair. Following his postdoctoral training, Dr. Nusse joined the Netherlands Cancer Institute and carried out much of the foundational work on Wnt signaling in fruit flies. He joined the Developmental Biology department at Stanford University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1990. Dr. Nusse holds a Ph.D. and B.S. from the University of Amsterdam. Dr. Nusse is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the European Molecular Biology Organization, and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. He has received numerous awards including the Peter Debeye Prize from the University of Maastricht, a Fulbright Scholarship, and most recently the 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.