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The latest advertisement including plenary speakers can be downloaded from here.
ASBMB Medallist Speakers
- ASBMB Lemberg Medallist: John Mattick
Professor John Mattick is the Executive Director of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. He has made several seminal contributions to molecular biology, including delineation of the architecture and function of the fatty acid synthase complex, development of one of the first recombinant DNA-based vaccines, and genetic characterisation of bacterial surface filaments called type IV pili involved in host colonisation. Over the past 20 years, he has pioneered a new view of the genetic programming of humans and other complex organisms by showing that the majority of the genome, previously considered junk, actually specifies a dynamic network of regulatory RNAs that guide differentiation and development. He has showed the extensive transcription of intronic, intergenic and antisense RNAs, their highly dynamic and specific cellular and subcellular expression, their association with chromatin-modifying complexes and their involvement in development and disease. He also discovered ultraconserved elements in the human genome and several classes of small RNAs, and, in conjunction with colleagues, developed new methods for high-resolution transcriptome analysis. John has established the Garvan Institute as one of the world’s leading centres for human genome sequencing and oversaw the launch of Genome.One, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Garvan and one of the world’s first clinically accredited whole genome sequencing companies. John was recently named by the NHMRC as the one of the all-time high achievers in Australian health and medical research.
- ASBMB Merck Research Medallist: Lars Ittner
Professor Lars Ittner is a group leader in the Department of Anatomy of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and Senior Principal Research Fellow at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) in Sydney. He is a neuroscientist and heads the research laboratories of the Dementia Research Unit and the Transgenic Animal Unit of the Mark Wainright Analytical Centre at UNSW. In 2005, Lars moved to Australia to work as a Postdoctoral Fellow with Professor Jürgen Götz at the University of Sydney, where his research focus became neurodegenerative diseases. He made fundamental discoveries about the synaptic functions of one of the hallmark proteins in Alzheimer’s disease, the tau protein. Furthermore, he developed a range of novel transgenic mouse models of neurodegenerative diseases that continue to be used for understanding pathomechanisms and testing of novel treatments. Lars moved to UNSW in 2013, where he was appointed as Professor in the School of Medical Sciences. His current work aims to understand the earliest changes at the synapse of neurons during the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Lars works together with industry partners to translate his findings into therapeutic avenues of the future. He is also part of a large chief investigator team, dedicated to understanding and treating rarer forms of dementia and motor neuron disease.
ANZSCDB Award Speaker
- ANZSCDB President's Medal Lecturer: Peter Currie
Peter Currie received his PhD in Drosophila genetics from Syracuse University, New York, USA. He undertook postdoctoral training in zebrafish development at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK) in London, UK. He has worked as an independent laboratory head at the UK Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh, UK and the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney, Australia where he headed a research programme focused on skeletal muscle development and regeneration. His work is centered on understanding how the small freshwater zebrafish is able to build and regenerate skeletal muscle. In 2016 he was appointed Director of the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He is a recipient of a European Molecular Biology Organization Young Investigators Award and a Wellcome Trust International Research Fellowship and currently is a Principal Research Fellow with the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia. Prof Currie, along with Dr Georgina Hollway, from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and Dr Phong Nguyen of the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University, won the UNSW 2015 Eureka Prize for Scientific Research. They were awarded the prize in recognition of their groundbreaking research into stem cell generation.
ASPS Award Speakers
- ASPS J.G. Wood Lecturer: Tim Colmer
Professor Tim Colmer (BSc. Agric. 1A Hons, UWA; PhD, UC Davis) is a plant physiologist in the School of Agriculture and Environment, Faculty of Science, UWA. His research focus is flooding and salinity tolerance in crops, forages and halophytes. Cellular to eco-physiological processes are studied to achieve an understanding of whole plant adaptation. Flooding research includes anoxia tolerance, internal aeration (aerenchyma and root radial oxygen loss) and underwater photosynthesis. Salinity research is on organic solutes and tissue ion (Na, K, Cl) regulation. Collaborative, multi-disciplinary research involves PhD students and Local, National and International partners. He has supervised 6 postdocs, 32 PhD, 2 MSc and 34 Honours project students. He has served as Faculty Associate Dean for Teaching & Learning (2005-2007), Head of School (2013-15), President of the Australian Society of Plant Scientists (2013-14), Australasian Editor for Annals of Botany (2001-present), and Handling Editor for Journal of Experimental Botany (2011-present).
- ASPS Peter Goldacre Award Lecturer: Jonathan Plett
Dr Plett, a Lecturer at Western Sydney University, is a pioneer in decoding the genetic basis enabling plants to form symbiotic relationships with beneficial rather than pathogenic microbes. Mycorrhizal fungi are among the most important microbes that form beneficial symbiotic interactions and are essential for sustainability and productivity of plant life in natural and managed ecosystems world-wide. Outcomes of this research are important for screening new tree and crop lines to find the ‘sweet spot’ in immune defence that enables plants to maximise benefits from mycorrhizal fungi without compromising disease resistance. These results will result in more productive tree plantations and better food security in crops.
International Plenary Speakers
- Christof Englert
Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI) and University of Jena,
Christoph Englert received his PhD from the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Munich and carried out his postdoctoral training in the lab of Dr. Daniel Haber at Massachusetts General Hospital. Returning to Germany, he became a junior group leader in Karlsruhe in 1996 and in 2002 Associate Professor of Physiological Chemistry at the University of Würzburg. Since 2004 he has been a Full Professor at the University of Jena and is also a senior group leader at the Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI). Starting in 2004 he, together with two colleagues, has established the short-lived African killifish Nothobranchius furzeri as a new model for age research. Currently, a number of projects in his lab utilize N. furzeri, allowing the investigation of the age-dependency of regeneration as well as the genetic basis of aging. Work on Nothobranchius at FLI has recently culminated in the high-ranking publication of its genome, which provided a number of novel insights into the biology of aging.
- Manel Esteller IDIBELL, Barcelona, Spain
Manel Esteller graduated in Medicine from the Universidad de Barcelona in 1992, where he also obtained his Ph.D. degree specialising in molecular genetics of endometrial carcinoma, in 1996. He was an Invited Researcher at the School of Biological and Medical Sciences at the University of St. Andrews, (Scotland, UK) during which time his research interests focused on the molecular genetics of inherited breast cancer. From 1997 to 2001, Esteller was a Postdoctoral Fellow and a Research Associate at the Johns Hopkins University and School of Medicine, (Baltimore, USA) where he studied DNA methylation and human cancer. His work was decisive in establishing promoter hypermethylation of tumour suppressor genes as a common hallmark of all human tumours. From 2001 to 2008 Manel Esteller was the Leader of the CNIO Cancer Epigenetics Laboratory in Madrid, where his principal area of research were the alterations in DNA methylation, histone modifications and chromatin in human cancer. Since October 2008, Dr Esteller is the Director of the Cancer Epigenetics and Biology Program (PEBC) of the Bellvitge Institute for Biomedical Research (IDIBELL) in Barcelona, Professor of Genetics in the School of Medicine of the University of Barcelona, and an ICREA Research Professor. Author of more than four-hundred manuscripts in the biomedical field, many of them as Highly Cited articles, he also serves as associated editor for several journals and he has been the recipient, among others, of the Carcinogenesis Award (2005), Swiss Bridge Award (2006), DEbiopharm-EPFL Award (2009), Dr. Josef Steiner Cancer Research Award (2009), World Health Summit Award (2010), the European Research Council Advanced Grant (2014), National Award in Oncology (2014) and the International Award of Catalonia (2016). His current research is devoted to the establishment of the epigenome maps of normal and transformed cells, the study of the interactions between epigenetic modifications and non-coding RNAs, and the development of new epigenetic drugs for cancer therapy.
- Adam Frost University of California
San Francisco, USA
Adam Frost is an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, California, USA. He obtained his MD and PhD at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. At Yale, he worked with Vinzenz M. Unger and Pietro De Camilli, where his long-standing interest in the structural biology of membranes and membrane-associated processes developed. Adam then worked as a post-doctoral fellow with Jonathan S. Weissman at the University of California, San Francisco where he developed a unique synergy between systematic genetics, biochemistry, and structural biology. in 2011 he started his independent lab at the University of Utah before returning to the University of California, San Francisco in 2014. Now, the Frost lab is animated by the idea that structural biology should be discovery biology, that efforts to see the cell’s machinery directly will teach us how living matter works. The Frost lab studies molecular machines that are too fragile to purify, too large or too flexible to crystallize, or that depend on lipids for their form and function. To derive unique insights into cell biology and human disease, they integrate atomic structure determination by cryo-EM with genetics, biochemistry, and diverse imaging techniques in collaboration with labs all over the world. Recent examples include their discovery of the Ribosome-associated Quality control Complex, or RQC, and the unexpected process of CAT tail elongation that is fundamental to protein quality control. The Frost lab has also discovered new structures and functions for ESCRT pathway components that maintain nuclear envelope integrity and endosomal recycling, respectively. Further information about these and other projects can be found at frostlab.org.
- Michael Hall University of Basel, Switzerland
ASBMB Grimwade Keynote Plenary Lecture
Michael N. Hall was born (1953) in Puerto Rico and grew up in South America (Venezuela and Peru). He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Pasteur Institute (Paris, France) and the University of California, San Francisco. He joined the Biozentrum of the University of Basel (Switzerland) in 1987 where he is currently Professor and former Chair of Biochemistry. Hall is a pioneer in the fields of TOR signaling and cell growth control. In 1991, Hall and colleagues discovered TOR (Target of Rapamycin) and subsequently elucidated its role as a central controller of cell growth and metabolism. TOR is a highly conserved, nutrient- and insulin-activated protein kinase. The discovery of TOR led to a fundamental change in how one thinks of cell growth. It is not a spontaneous process that just happens when building blocks (nutrients) are available, but rather a highly regulated, plastic process controlled by TOR-dependent signaling pathways. As a central controller of cell growth and metabolism, TOR plays a key role in development and aging, and is implicated in disorders such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Hall is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, has received numerous awards, including the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine (2009), the Marcel Benoist Prize for Sciences or Humanities (2012), the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2014), and the Canada Gairdner International Award (2015), and has served on several editorial and scientific advisory boards.
- Bob Hancock University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
R.E.W. (Bob) Hancock OC, OBC, FRSC. He is a UBC Killam Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, an Associate Faculty Member of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and a Canada Research Chair in Health and Genomics. His research interests include small cationic peptides as novel antimicrobials and modulators of innate immunity, the development of novel treatments for antibiotic resistant infections, the systems biology of innate immunity, inflammatory diseases and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and antibiotic uptake and resistance. He has published more than 695 papers and reviews, has 64 patents awarded, and is an ISI highly cited author in Microbiology with more than 74,000 citations and an h-index of 141. He has won several awards including the ICAAC Aventis Antimicrobial Research Award, the leading award for research on antimicrobials, and Canada’s three top prizes for Health Research, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. He was a co-founder of Migenix, Inimex Pharmaceuticals, ABT Innovations, Sepset Biotherapeutics, and the Centre for Drug Research and Development.
- Cathie Martin John Innes Centre,
Cathie is a group leader at the John Innes Centre and Professor at the University of East Anglia. Her interests span from fundamental to applied plant science. She researches into the relationship between diet and health and how crops can be fortified to improve diets and address the global challenge of escalating chronic disease. This work has involved linking leading clinical and epidemiological researchers with plant breeders and metabolic engineers to develop scientific understanding of how diet can help to maintain health, promote healthy ageing and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Cathie is also involved in genetic screens to identify crops which lack toxins that cause nutritional diseases, and has recently initiated a collaborative project with China to research on Chinese Medicinal Plants.
- Hanna Mikkola University of California
Los Angeles, USA
Hanna received M.D. and Ph.D. degrees in 1997 from University of Helsinki where she defined genetic defects in a congenital bleeding disorder with Aarno Palotie and Leena Peltonen-Palotie. Hanna started her post-doctoral training in Stefan Karlsson's laboratory in Lund University, where she developed lentiviral gene transfer tools for hematopoietic stem cells. In 2000, Hanna joined Stuart Orkin's group at Harvard Medical School to study hematopoietic transcription factors and HSC development. Hanna became faculty at Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology at UCLA in 2005. Her lab aims to understand how stem cells in the hematopoietic and cardiovascular system are specified during embryogenesis, and how these processes could be recapitulated in culture. In addition to mentoring her team, Hanna teaches stem cell biology for undergraduate students. When not in the lab, Hanna is spending time with her horses and dog Giulia.
- Clotilde Théry Institut Curie, Paris, France
Dr. Clotilde Théry is an INSERM director of research (DR2) working at Institut Curie, where she heads a team entitled "Exosomes and tumor growth", created in 2007 within the "Immunity and Cancer" INSERM Unit U932. Since 1998, C. Théry’s scientific interests have focused on the study of exosomes (and more recently extracellular vesicles in general), secreted by immune and tumor cells, and their roles in communications between tumors and the immune system. Her goals are to understand the physiological functions of EV secretion during an in vivo immune response, and during tumor growth.
C. Théry has published more than 90 articles in international peer-reviewed journals, (especially in immunology, cell biology and cancer), she has organized symposia and sessions dedicated to exosomes in international meetings. She has been instrumental in the creation of the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV), for which she has been elected Secretary General in 2012 and 2014, and, since 2012, she is co-Editor-in-Chief of the Society’s journal, Journal of Extracellular Vesicles.
- Jian-Kang Zhu Chinese Academy of Sciences,
Director of the Shanghai Center for Plant Stress Biology, CAS, China and Distinguished Professor of Plant Biology, Departments of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture and Biochemistry, Purdue University, USA. Dr. Zhu earned his bachelor's degree in soils and agricultural chemistry from Beijing Agricultural University; his master's degree in botany from the University of California, Riverside, and his doctorate in plant physiology from Purdue.
Detecting and responding to environmental perturbations are important for all living organisms. One of the most important distinguishing features of plants is that they are sessile and thus have to endure environmental challenges. My group are interested in understanding the genetic and epigenetic basis of plant resistance to environmental stresses and in identifying key genes for modifying the responses of crops to environmental stresses which ultimately will lead to major contributions to agriculture and the environment. Plant agriculture must change fundamentally by mid-century, when 9 billion people are expected to inhabit the planet, consuming 70–100% more food than is currently available. Water is the primary limiting factor in global agriculture, yet water availability and quality are diminishing for crops as cities grow and as irrigation and land-clearing salinize the soil and the underlying water tables. The problems of water deficit, salt, and other abiotic stresses are exacerbated by global warming and climate change. The looming gap between water supply and demand creates a need for major advances in crop adaptation to drought and salt stresses through increased water-use efficiency and tolerance to saline soil. Our research is aimed at improving our understanding of drought, cold and heat, and salt stress signaling pathways and resistance mechanisms. Increasing evidence suggests that plant adaptation to these abiotic stresses, in addition to being under genetic control, is also under epigenetic regulation. Accordingly, we are interested in epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation and their roles in abiotic stress resistance. Furthermore, we are interested in developing and applying gene editing technologies for functional genomics research and crop improvement. We use a combination of genetic, biochemical, genomic and proteomic approaches to analyze various levels of gene regulation (chromatin level/epigenetic, transcriptional, posttranscriptional, and protein activity) and to understand stress signaling and stress resistance. Our long-term goals are to elucidate the sensing and signaling pathways used by plants in responding to environmental stresses and to identify and utilize key genes for improving the stress resistance of crops.