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International Plenary Speakers
Photographs and biographies will be added as they become available
- Gary Brouchard – McGill University, Quebec, Canada
- Paula Cannon – University of Southern California, USA
- Ellen Lumpkin – Columbia University, New York, USA
- Christof Niehrs – Institute of Molecular Biology Mainz (IMB), Germany
- Anna Philpott, University of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK
- Elizabeth Robertson, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
Since 2004 I have been a Professor of Developmental Biology at the University of Oxford. I originally trained with Martin Evans in Cambridge where, working together with Allan Bradley, we were the first to show that embryonic stem cells reliably colonized the mouse germ line. I started my own lab at Columbia University, New York in the late 1980s where we published the first example of germ line transmission of an induced mutation engineered via homologous recombination in ES cells. After moving to Harvard in the early 1990’s we worked extensively on the TGFb growth factor nodal, uncovering numerous roles for this signaling pathway in axis specification and definitive endoderm formation in the early mouse embryo. Most recently we have been working on key down-stream transcription factors, attempting to provide new mechanistic insights into how these networks execute different functions according to their cellular context in the embryo.
- Randy Schekman, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Randy Wayne Schekman is a Nobel Prize-winning American professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley. For the past four decades, Randy Schekman has been characterizing the traffic drivers that shuttle cellular proteins as they move in membrane-bound sacs, or vesicles, within a cell. His detailed elucidation of cellular travel patterns has provided fundamental knowledge about cells and has enhanced understanding of diseases that arise when bottlenecks impede some of the protein flow. Schekman shared the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with James Rothman and Thomas C. Südhof for their ground-breaking work on cell membrane vesicle trafficking. Schekman is former editor-in-chief of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and in 2011, he was announced as the editor of eLife.
- Keiko Torii, University of Washington, Washington, USA
- Michael Udvardi, Noble Research Institute, Oklahoma, USA
Michael Udvardi is the Chief Scientific Officer of the Noble Research Institute in Ardmore, Oklahoma, USA. Dr. Udvardi earned his Ph.D. in plant biochemistry from the Australian National University in 1989. He is primarily interested in how plants obtain nitrogen for growth, either as mineral nitrogen from the soil or from atmospheric di-nitrogen via symbiotic nitrogen fixation in bacteria. He has contributed to our understanding of symbiotic nitrogen fixation in legumes, especially of transport and metabolism in root nodules, using biochemical, molecular, genetic, and genomic methods. He was amongst the first to characterize ammonium and nitrate transporters in plants. Recently, his group has expanded its work on plant nitrogen to include associative nitrogen fixation, as well as nitrogen recycling during shoot senescence, in perennial plants. His group also has interests in plant acclimation and adaptation to abiotic stress, including drought and salinity. He was part of a large international team that sequenced and analyzed the Medicago truncatula genome and is now involved in efforts to sequence the related alfalfa (Medicago sativa) genome. He is also part of an international team that is trying to develop synthetic nitrogen-fixing symbioses in plants. Dr. Udvardi has published over 160 papers in refereed scientific journals. He was Elected Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science in 2012 for his contributions to our understanding of legume biology, especially symbiotic nitrogen fixation.
- Tobias Walther – Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
- Valerie Weaver , University of California, San Francisco, USA
Dr. Weaver is currently the Director of the Center for Bioengineering and Tissue Regeneration in the Department of Surgery, and is a Professor in the Departments of Surgery, Anatomy and Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at UCSF in San Francisco, CA. Her education took place in Canada, with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Waterloo, an Honors Bachelor’s and PhD degree in Biochemistry from the University of Ottawa with a two year postdoctoral training at the Institute for Biological Sciences, National Research Council of Canada and a 5 year postdoctoral tenure at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at UC Berkeley with Dr. Mina J Bissell. Dr. Weaver was recruited to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where she joined the faculty in the Department of Pathology as an Assistant Professor and was appointed a full member of the Institute for Medicine and Engineering. In mid-2006 she relocated to UCSF in San Francisco as an Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery with a joint appointment in Anatomy to take on the Directorship of the Center for Bioengineering & Tissue regeneration. She was invited to join the UCSF Cancer Center and Stem Cell Programs in 2007 and was cross appointed to the newly formed Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences in 2008 and was promoted to full Professor in 2010. Dr. Weaver has over 20 years of experience in leading interdisciplinary research in oncology, including leadership of significant program projects including the Bay Area Physical Sciences and Oncology program and the UCSF Tumor Microenvironment Brain Program that merge approaches in the physical/engineering sciences with cancer cell biology and emphasize the role of the tumor microenvironment. Dr. Weaver has been recognized for her research and leadership through receipt of several awards including the DOD BCRP Scholar award in 2005 and the DOD BCRP Scholar expansion award in 20013 for exceptional creativity in breast cancer research and the ASCB WICB Midcareer award for sustained excellence in cell biology research in 2014. Most recently she was elected as the chair of the AACR TMEN working group in 2015. Her research program focuses on the contribution of force, cell-intrinsic as well as extracellular matrix, to breast, pancreatic and glioblastoma tumor development and treatment.
- Nieng Yan, Princeton University, New Jersey, USA
Dr. Nieng Yan received her B.S. degree from the Department of Biological Sciences & Biotechnology, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, in 2000. She then pursued her PhD in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University under the supervision of Prof. Yigong Shi between 2000 and 2004. She was the regional winner of the Young Scientist Award (North America) co-sponsored by Science/AAAS and GE Healthcare in 2005 for her thesis on the structural and mechanistic study of programmed cell death. She continued her postdoctoral training at Princeton University, focusing on the structural characterization of intramembrane proteases. In 2007, she joined the faculty of School of Medicine, Tsinghua University. Her lab has been mainly focusing on the structural and functional study of membrane transport proteins exemplified by the glucose transporters and Nav/Cav channels. In 2012 and 2013, she was promoted to tenured professor and Bayer Endowed Chair Professor, respectively. She returned to Princeton University as the founding Shirley M. Tilghman Professor of Molecular Biology in 2017. Dr. Yan was an HHMI international early career scientist in 2012-2017, Cheung Kong Scholar, the recipient of the 2015 Protein Society Young Investigator Award and the 2015 Beverley & Raymond Sackler International Prize in Biophysics, and the Alexander M. Cruickshank lecturer at the GRC on membrane transport proteins in 2016.