Speaker info

Speaker info

Ada Yonath

Ada Yonath is the Martin S. and Helen Kimmel Professor of Structural Biology and director of the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly of the Weizmann Institute of Science. She received her PhD from the Weizmann Institute and performed postdoctoral research at Carnagie Mellon University and MIT. Prof. Yonath has held group leader positions both in Israel as well as in? the Max Planck Society Institutes in Berlin and Hamburg. Prof. Yonath is one of the pioneers in understanding the structure of the ribosome and ribosomal complexes and was one of the co-discoverers of both ribosomal subunit structures as well as other ribsome complexes in biological systems. For her pioneering work, Prof. Yonath has received numerous awards including the Harvey Prize, the Wolf Prize in Chemistry, the Rothschild Prize, the L’Oreal UNESCO Award for Women in Science, the Albert Einstein World Award for Science and the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Prof. Yonath is also a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, EMBO and many other academies. 


Kim Nasmyth

Kim Nasmyth was head of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford and is Whitley Professor of Biochemistry. His doctoral research was performed in the lab of Murdoch Mitchison at the University of Edinburgh, and he subsequently did his postdoctoral research in Ben Hall’s lab in Seattle. Prof. Nasmyth’s research aims at understanding the cell cycle, in particular the chromosomal dynamics during the cell cycle. Prof. Nasmyth’s lab made numerous discoveries in the field of cell cycle control and dynamics, notably the discovery of the cohesion protein complex, which is crucial for proper chromosomal segregation during cellular division. His awards include the Max Perutz Prize, the Louis Jeantet Prize for Medicine, and the Wittgenstein Prize. Prof. Nasmyth is also a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

Tony Hyman

Tony Hyman is one of the four founding directors of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany. He received his PhD in 1987 from King’s College, University of Cambridge, and did his postdoc at the University of California San Francisco in the lab of Tim Mitchison. Prof. Hyman has a range of topics in cell biology including cell polarity, spindle assembly and positioning, microtubule dynamics and is currently interested in understanding the organization of the cytoplasm, liquid-liquid phase separation and membrane versus non-membrane compartmentalization in the cell. Prof. Hyman’s awards include the EMBO Gold Medal and the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize. Prof. Hyman is also a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of EMBO.


Nissim Benvenisty

Nissim Benvenisty is the Herbert Cohn Chair in Cancer Research and Director of the Stem Cell Unit at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. He received his MD and PhD from the Hebrew University and conducted postdoctoral studies at Harvard Medical School in the lab of Philip Leder. Prof. Benvenisty is a pioneer in the field of stem cell biology, in particular human embryonic stem cell biology. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) and has given testimonies before the US Senate and European Union to advocate stem cell biology, in particular human embryonic stem cell research. His awards include the Foulkes Prize, the Hestrin Prize, the Teva Prize and the Kaye Prize.

Laurent Keller

Laurent Keller is Professor and Director of the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Lausanne. He received his PhD from the University of Lausanne and conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Toulouse as well as at Harvard University. Prof. Keller is a world authority in the study of ant social organization and evolution at the molecular level. He is President of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology; his awards include the Latsis Prize and the Marcel Benoist Prize. 

Helen Saibil

Helen Saibil is Bernal Professor of Structural Biology at the Department of Biological Sciences at Birkbeck College, University of London. She conducted her doctoral work at King’s College London. Professor Saibil studies the operation of macromolecular machines using three-dimensional electron microscopy. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Microscopial Society, Honorary Fellow of the British Biophysical Society, and EMBO member. 

Marileen Dogterom

Marileen Dogterom is Head of the Department of Bionanoscience at Delft University of Technology. She received her PhD in physics from the University of Orsay (Paris Sud) and conducted postdoctoral research at Princeton University and Bell Laboratories. Prof. Dogterom is a world leader in the field of biophysics of the cytoskeleton, is at the forefront of biometrics and a recognized expert in cell biophysics. Her honors include the Fulbright Scholarship, the VICI Award and membership into EMBO. 

Anne-Claude Gavin

Anne-Claude Gavin is a senior scientist at EMBL Heidelberg. She received her PhD from the University of Geneva and conducted her postdoctoral training at the University of Geneva and EMBL. Prof. Gavin is a pioneer in systems biology with interests in understanding the role of lipids and lipid dynamics in complex systems, protein-lipid interactions and proteomes in genome-reduced systems. Prof. Gavin has received the Heidelberg Molecular Life Sciences Investigator Award and is a member of the Allen Institute for Brain Science Cell Networks Advisory Council.

Scott Waddell

Scott Waddell is Professor of Neurobiology and a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. He did his PhD at the University of London and his postdoctoral studies in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prof. Waddell studies the neural circuit properties of memory-directed behavior in Drosophila and has recently ventured into neural transposition. He is a member of EMBO and was awarded the Liliane Bettencourt Prize for the Life Sciences. 

Denis Jabaudon

Denis Jabaudon leads a group in the Department of Basic Neurosciences at the University of Geneva. He received his MD from the University of Lausanne and did his PhD in the lab of Beat Gähwiler at the Brain Research Institute of the University of Zurich. He did postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School in the lab of Jeff Macklis where he investigated the developmental molecular controls over the differentiation of distinct subtypes of cortical neurons. His lab’s main research interests are the genetic controls over the developmental connectivity of thalamic and cortical neurons, and gen-circuit interactions during development. His honors include the Bing Prize, the Freedman Award and the Pfizer Research Prize. 

Christoph Tang

Christoph Tang is Professor at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford. The Tang lab seeks to understand the basis of how pathogens colonise specific niches in the body, evade elimination by the immune system, and cause disease. The group studies Neisseria spp., which are leading causes of bacterial meningitis and gonorrhoea, and focuses on how these microbes subvert the host complement system. Work on this fundamental step in pathogenesis has led to structure-function based design of novel vaccine antigens, which are being developed towards clinical trials, and insights into the genetic basis of host susceptibility to meningococcal disease. Furthermore, Dr. Tang examines how sequence variation in genes encoding the adhesive organelles, Type four pili (Tfp), affects interactions with host cells and recognition by the immune system.

The group also investigates the molecular basis of the virulence of the enteric pathogens, Shigella spp. and Yersinia spp. They study the mechanisms involved in the entry of bacteria into non-phagocytic cells, their ability to survive in the intracellular niche, and the response of these important human pathogens to conditions experienced within their natural habitat, the gastrointestinal tract. His honors include the Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award.

Burkhard Becher

Burkhard Becher is a Professor at the Institute for experimental immunology at the University of Zurich. He completed his PhD at the University of Cologne and the McGill University, Montreal. Prof. Becher continued as a post-doctoral researcher at the Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, NH, USA, where he already became Assistant Professor in 2002. Since 2003 he is Professer at the University of Zurich. He received numerous awards, among these the Prof. Max Cloëtta Award and the Robert Bin Prize for Neuroscience.

Research in the Becher lab aims to understand the development of tissue-specific inflammation in particular in the context of interactions of the nervous system with the immune system. Related to these studies of autoimmunity (an undesired process) the lab expanded their interest to apply their tool-set and expertise to study the impact of immunity to combat cancer (a desired process). 

The main research interests can be categorized as such: 

  • Cytokine networks in chronic inflammatory disease with a focus on in vivo modeling of multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, graft-versus host disease 
  • Immune tolerance and lymphoid development 
  • Cancer-immunotherapy: specifically the interaction of immune cells with cancer cells and therapeutic interventions to mount immune responses against tumors

Ludger Klein:

Ludger Klein is Professor at the Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich. Work in the lab of Prof. Klein addresses a central question of vertebrate immunology, namely the establishment of tolerance to self-antigens. Current research in his laboratory aims at elucidating the cellular interactions and molecular pathways that (i) orchestrate the generation of a “useful / functional” T cell repertoire and (ii) are critical to imprint and maintain self-tolerance within the T cell system. To do so, the lab is using genetically manipulated mouse models to dissect T-cell-intrinsic and –extrinsic determinants shaping the T cell pool during repertoire selection in the thymus. Prof. Klein has made a substantial contribution to understanding tolerance induction, and future work hopefully will also lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the development of autoimmune diseases.