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Please click on the Bio button for a biosketch and photograph of each speaker.
ASBMB Education Plenary
- Martin Westwell, Chief Executive, SACE Board of South Australia
Martin Westwell is the Chief Executive of the SACE Board, South Australia's Curriculum Authority and Professor of the Science of Learning at Flinders University. Before joining the SACE Board in 2018 Martin was a Chief Investigator in the ARC Science of Learning Research Centre. In 2018 Martin was awarded the Gold Medal from the Australian Council of Educational Leaders for the most outstanding contribution to educational leadership. While education has always been a significant part of Martin’s career, before moving to Australia in 2007 he held a number of research positions in biological chemistry and neuroscience at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford.
International Plenary Speakers
- Siobhan Brady, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
Siobhan Brady received her PhD at the University of Toronto in 2005, and was a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at Duke University from 2005 – 2008. In 2009 she began an Assistant Professor Position and became an Associate Professor in 2015 at the University of California, Davis in the Department of Plant Biology and in the Genome Center. In 2016 she was named as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Research Scholar. Research in the Brady lab focuses on the global regulation of gene expression and its contribution to root morphology and development in Arabidopsis thaliana, Solanum species, Sorghum bicolor and maize.
- Jamie Cate, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA
Dr. Cate has had a longstanding interest in understanding how the ribosome translates the genetic code into proteins. His lab studies human translation, focusing on the role of human translation initiation factor eIF3 and on ribosome stalling mechanisms. Using biochemical and structural biology, his lab has revealed fundamental mechanisms of human translation initiation, including the discovery of a 5’-m7G mRNA cap-binding activity in human eIF3 and eIF3-mediated regulation of specific mRNAs. His lab also revealed a new molecular mechanism of action for small molecules that can selectively stall protein synthesis on the human ribosome, in collaboration with Pfizer. Dr. Cate received his Ph.D. from the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University. After a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Research Fund Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California, Santa Cruz, he joined the faculty of MIT as an Associate Member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He is now Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. His research has been recognized with a Searle Scholar Award, AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, and the Irving Sigal Young Investigator Award from The Protein Society. He is also a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
- Jennifer Doudna, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA
As an internationally renowned professor of Chemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology at U.C. Berkeley, Doudna and her colleagues rocked the research world in 2012 by describing a simple way of editing the DNA of any organism using an RNA-guided protein found in bacteria. This technology, called CRISPR-Cas9, has opened the floodgates of possibility for human and non-human applications of gene editing, including assisting researchers in the fight against HIV, sickle cell disease and muscular dystrophy. Doudna is an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Instituteand a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Inventors and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is the co-author with Sam Sternberg of "A Crack in Creation", a personal account of her research and the societal and ethical implications of gene editing.
- Niko Geldner, Université de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
Niko Geldner studied biology at the Universities of Mainz, Bordeaux 2 and Tübingen. He did his PhD in the lab of Gerd Juergens, working Arabidopsis embryogenesis and auxin transport. He then went as an EMBO and HFSP fellow to Joanne Chory at the Salk Insitute in La Jolla, California, working on endosomal trafficking of the BRI1 recepter and developing the WAVE sub-cellular compartment markers. In 2007 he started as an Assistant Professor at the University of Lausanne and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2012 and Full Professor in 2018. He was awarded a starting and consolidator grant of the European Research Council (ERC) in 2007 and 2013. In 2011 he became an EMBO Young Investigator and was elected EMBO member in 2017.
- Wolfgang Haak, Max Planck Institute, Germany
- Tony Hunter, Salk Institute, California, USA
Tony Hunter received his BA and PhD from the University of Cambridge, England, and completed postdoctoral training at the Salk Institute. In 1979, he discovered a new class of protein kinases that phosphorylates tyrosine residues in proteins, and demonstrated that dysregulated tyrosine phosphorylation by activated tyrosine kinases causes malignant transformation. His work and that others has shown that aberrant tyrosine phosphorylation is causal in several types of human cancer, and this has led to successful development of inhibitors that target disease-causing tyrosine kinases (TKIs), such as Gleevec, a BCR-ABL inhibitor used for treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia. Currently, 38 TKIs are approved for clinical use in the treatment of cancer and other diseases. Most recently, he has been studying histidine phosphorylation of proteins, and has generated monoclonal antibodies specific for the 1- and 3- phosphohistidine isoforms, and used these to uncover a role for histidine phosphorylation in liver cancer.
- Cynthia Kenyon, Calico Life Sciences LLC, South San Francisco, CA, USA
Cynthia Kenyon is Vice President, Aging Research, at Calico and world expert on the genetics of aging. In 1993, Cynthia’s discovery that a single-gene mutation could double the lifespan of the roundworm C. elegans has led to a new understanding of the genetics of aging. She has received many honors and awards for her findings. Cynthia graduated valedictorian in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of Georgia in 1976. She received her PhD from MIT in 1981, and then did postdoctoral studies with Nobel laureate Sydney Brenner at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK. From 1986 she was at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was the Herbert Boyer Distinguished Professor and an American Cancer Society Professor. In 2014 she joined Calico. She is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine and she is a past president of the Genetics Society of America.
- Cristina Lo Celso, Imperial College London, London, UK
Dr Lo Celso graduated from Torino University in Italy. She obtained her PhD from UCL, working with Fiona Watt at the CRUK London Research Institute, where she studied epidermal stem cells. She started performing intravital microscopy of the haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) niche during her postdoctoral training at Harvard University with David Scadden. In 2009 she started her independent research group at Imperial College London, where she is now a reader in the department of Life Sciences, and network lead of the Imperial Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Network. Dr Lo Celso recently established a satellite laboratory at the Sir Francis Crick Institute. Her research aims to understand the mechanisms regulating HSC function during steady state and during stress, such as infections, leukaemia and transplantation. Her interdisciplinary approach combines mouse bone marrow intravital microscopy techniques, computational image analysis, molecular profiling and mathematical modelling of the HSC niche. Dr Lo Celso is the first woman to receive the Foulkes Medal award (2017). She received the ISEH New Investigator award in 2017, presented the DGZ Carl Zeiss Lecture 2018 and was awarded the Royal Microscopial Society Life Sciences medal 2019.
- Jodi Nunnari, University of California, Davis, USA
Jodi Nunnari is a pioneer in the field of mitochondrial biology. She was the first to describe the organelle as a dynamic network in homeostatic balance and decipher the mechanisms of the machines responsible for mitochondrial division and fusion. Nunnari was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and studied chemistry at the College of Wooster before attaining a Ph.D. in pharmacology from Vanderbilt University. She was a postdoctoral fellow with Peter Walter at the University of California, San Francisco and joined the faculty at the University of California, Davis in The College of Biological Science in The Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology in 1996. Nunnari was named Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Cell Biology in 2015, becoming the first woman to serve in this position. She is a member of the the American Society for Cell Biology, and served as the Society’s president in 2018. In 2017, Nunnari was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences..
- Roy Parker, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
Roy Parker is an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Cech-Leinwand Endowed Chair of Biochemistry and Distinguished Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco and completed his Postdoctoral work at the University of Massachusetts, Worcester. He has been on the editorial boards of MCB, Science, Cell, RNA, and Nucleic Acids Research. He was the President of the RNA Society (2010), and has been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2010) and the National Academy of Sciences (2012).
- Daniel St Johnston, Gurdon Institute, Cambridge, UK
Daniel St Johnston did his Ph. D. at Harvard, where he cloned the dorsal-ventral patterning gene decapentaplegic. He then spent three years as a postdoc with Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard at the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen, before moving to the Wellcome /Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute at the University of Cambridge, where he is now a Wellcome Principal Research Fellow and Professor of Developmental Genetics. He is a member of EMBO (1997), a Fellow of the Royal Society (2005) and the Academy of Medical Sciences (2004) and was awarded the EMBO Gold Medal in 2000. He spent his early career analysing the first asymmetries in development that polarize the body axes in Drosophila. This has led him to investigate how cells become polarised, how polarity controls the organisation of the cytoskeleton and how the polarised cytoskeleton is used to target components to the correct place in the cell. Much of his current work uses advanced imaging approaches and genetics to study the development of apical-basal polarity in epithelial cells with the aim of understanding how cortical polarity factors control spindle ortientation, polarized secretion and the positioning of intercellular junctions in absorptive and secretory epithelia.
- Emma Teeling, Gurdon University College, Dublin, Ireland
Prof. Emma Teeling is an international leader in the cross-cutting fields of mammalian phylogenetics and comparative genomics, with particular expertise in bat biology. She established the Laboratory of Molecular Evolution and Mammalian Phylogenetics in 2005, is the Founding Director of the Centre for Irish Bat Research at University College Dublin (UCD) and is the Head of Zoology, UCD (2018-present). She has been awarded prestigious grants- European Research Council (ERC) Starting grant (2013-2018), a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), President of Ireland Young Researcher Award (2006-2012) and recently an Irish Research Council (IRC) Laureate Award (2018-2022). Her record of leadership and research excellence is demonstrated by her publication record of >100 internationally peer-reviewed papers, 6 book chapters, 4 invited subject reviews. A number of these publications have over-turned conventional paradigms in mammalian biology and therefore have been published in high profile journals such as Nature (n=1), Science (n=4), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (n=3), Nature Communications (n=1), Nature Ecology and Evolution (n=2), and Science Advances (n=2). Her high standing in the international community is highlighted by a total citation record of 8555; prestigious international keynote lectures; invited high profile collaborations such as Genome 10K; Directorship of Bat1K; high profile invited public presentations (e.g. TEDx talk; ~ 537,957 views; EU Parliament; World Economic Forum, Davos; BBC’s Science Club with Dara Ó Briain); nomination to prestigious academic boards and institutes (e.g. Irish Research Council Board, 2015; Member of Royal Irish Academy, 2016); and, she has been awarded Chevalier des Palmes Académiques, 2017 by the French Government for her research.
- Lisette Waits, University of Idaho, Idaho, USA
Lisette Waits is a Distinguished Professor and Department Head in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences at the University of Idaho. She has a BS in Genetics from University of Georgia and PhD in Genetics from University of Utah where she studied the phylogenetics and population genetics of grizzly bears. She has been a leader in the fields of conservation genetics and molecular ecology with particular focus on developing methods for noninvasive genetic monitoring of wildlife and landscape genetics. Her research has focused on using genetic methods to study over 30 different wildlife species in North America, Central America, South America, Europe and Asia, and she has published over 230 papers. She is an elected fellow of The Wildlife Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She currently serves on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Conservation Genetics North American Working Group and the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conservation Genetics Working Group.