We are happy to announce that the first speakers confirmed
their participation in the 2014 Crossroads in Biology. A full list will
be published soon. For speakers from the previous Crossroads (2012) see
Keynote Speaker (2012):
Martin Chalfie (Columbia University, USA)
Martin Chalfie is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Biological
Sciences and former chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at
Columbia University. In 2008 he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
with Osamu Shimomura and Roger Y. Tsien for his introduction of Green
Fluorescent Protein (GFP) as a biological marker.
Chalfie was born in Chicago, Illinois. He obtained both his A.B. and
Ph.D. from Harvard University and then did postdoctoral research with
Sydney Brenner at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge,
England. He joined the faculty of University as an Assistant Professor
in 1982 and has been there ever since.
He uses the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to investigate nerve
cell development and function, concentrating primarily on genes used in
mechanosensory neurons. His research has been directed toward answering
two quite different biological questions: How do different types of
nerve cells acquire and maintain their unique characteristics? and How
do sensory cells respond to mechanical signals? In the course of his
studies, he has introduced several novel biological methods in addition
to his work with GFP.
Dr. Chalfie is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the
Institute of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the
Institute of Medicine, and the Royal Society of Chemistry (Hon.). He
shared the 2006 Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in
Basic Medical Science from Brandeis University and the 2008 E. B.
Wilson Medal from the American Society for Cell Biology with Roger
Guest Lecture (2012):
Ingo Potrykus (ETH Zürich, Switzerland)
Ingo Potrykus started his scientific career at the Max-Plank-Institute
for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, where he received his PhD in
Plant Genetics in 1968. As an associate professor he worked at the
Institute of Plant Physiology in Stuttgart-Hohenheim (1970-1974)
followed by positions as research group leader at the
Max-Planck-Institute for Genetics (Ladenburg-Heidelberg, 1974-1976) and
Friedrich Miescher-Institute (Basel, 1976-1986). He habilitated in
Botany at the University of Basel in 1982 and was appointed to a full
professorship in Plant Sciences at the Swiss Federal Institute of
Technology Zuerich (1986-1999), from which he retired in 1999.
Dr. Potrykus dedicated his research to the improvement of yield
stability and food quality of rice, wheat, sorghum and cassava. He
focused on biotechnological solutions to fight malnutrition in
developing countries. In collaboration with Dr. Peter Beyer (University
of Freiburg) his research culminated in the development of ‘Golden
Rice’ as a sustainable contribution to reduce vitamin A-malnutrition.
As chairman of the ‘Humanitarian Golden Rice Board & Network‘ he is
engaged in the advancement of ‘Golden Rice’ to promote its availability
free of costs for developing countries.
In addition to various science awards and two honorary doctoral
degrees of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and of the
University of Freiburg, Dr. Potrykus was elected “The Most Influential
Scientist” in the area of Agricultural, Industrial and Environmental
Biotechnology for the decade 1995-2005 by peers of Nature Biotechnology
Session: Cell Signaling and Repair (2012)
Monica Bettencourt-Dias (Gulbenkian Institute, Portugal)
Monica Bettencourt Dias received her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular
Biology in 2001 from the University College London, where she worked in
the group of Jeremy Brockes on the mechanisms of heart regeneration in
salamanders. For her post-doctorial studies she moved to the lab of
Prof. David Glover at the University of Cambridge. Performing a genome
wide screen for cell cycle regulators in Drosophila, she was able to
identify several novel genes involved in cell proliferation. Among the
identified genes were kinases involved in centrosome biogenesis and
cell polarity. Ever since, her research has focused on the
interconnection of cell cycle regulation and cell polarity. In 2006 she
moved back to her home country Portugal to start her own group at the
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciências.
Her research group is working on the biogenesis and function of
centrioles and the role of these microtubule-based structures in cell
cycle regulation and cell polarity. Combining the model organism
Drosophila with cell culture models for human diseases and
bioinformatics, the group aims to understand how centrioles are
regulated and how deregulation leads to a variety of human diseases
such as cancer and cystic kidneys. She is a member of the EMBO young
investigator program since 2009 and received a starting grant from the
European Research Council in 2010.
Apart from her work as a research scientist, Monica Bettencourt-Dias
has a strong interest in communicating science to the public. During
her time as a post-doc, she obtained a diploma in Science Communication
from the Birkbeck College, London and is regularly organizing
communication events for scientists and public.
Maria Pia Cosma (Center for Genomic Regulation, Spain)
Dr. Maria Pia Cosma received her PhD from the Frederico II University,
Naples, in “Cellular and Molecular Genetics”. Dr. Cosma worked as a
post-doc fellow at IMP in Vienna and an Associate Investigator at TIGEM
Institute in Naples. She is currently a Senior Group Leader and ICREA
Research professor at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in
Barcelona. She is Marie Curie Excellence Awardee, 2005, ERC stGrant
awardee, 2009 and HFSP Grant awardee, 2010. She received the honor of
Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 2007. She became EMBO Member
research group is focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms of
somatic cell reprogramming and determining whether Wnt signaling is
involved in regeneration mechanisms in higher vertebrates.
Gregory Pazour (University of Massachusetts, USA)
Dr. Pazour received his PhD in biochemistry at the University of
Minnesota. He did post doctoral work with Dr. George Witman at the
Worcester Foundation on the assembly mechanisms of eukaryotic cilia.
This work demonstrated that defects in primary cilia cause cystic
kidney disease. Dr. Pazour is currently an Associate Professor of
Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
laboratory is working to understand the function of the mammalian
primary cilium and the assembly mechanisms by which these complex
organelles are assembled. In particular, the laboratory is interested
in the role of the intraflagellar transport system in the sorting and
transport of membrane proteins that will be localized to the ciliary
Session: Evolution and Genetic Inheritance (2012)
Ulrich Kutschera (University Kassel, Germany)
Ulrich Kutschera received his PhD in 1985 in Plant Physiology at the
Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg. From 1985 until 1988 he worked as a
Post-Doctoral fellow and later as a Research Associate at the Stanford
University and at the Michigan State University. In 1988, he went to
the Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Bonn and in 1992 he was appointed
to a C4 Professorship for Plant Physiology at the University of Kassel.
In 2002 he became the head of the division Evolutionary Biology of
German Biologists (Vdbiol) and Vice president of Vdbiol (2002 - 2007).
He has also been a visiting professor at the Stanford University since
His research is focused on the Evolutionary biology of plants and
other organisms; plant development; cell-wall structure and function.
Additionally he is working on growth-promoting mythelobacteria and
molecular sysematics and evolution of aquatic annelids. He has a major
interest in the history and philosophy of the life sciences and has
made a major contribution in the public understanding of science.
Download: From the scala naturae to the symbiogenetic and dynamic tree of life
Diethard Tautz (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Germany)
Diethard Tautz obtained his PhD in Tübingen in 1983. After postdoc
positions at the Department of Genetics in Cambridge (1983-1985) and
the Max-Planck Institute in Tübingen (1985-1988), he started an own
group at the Department of Genetics in Munich (1988-1990) and became
then Professor at the Department of Zoology in Munich (1991-1998). From
1998 to 2006 he held the chair for "Evolutionary Genetics" at the
Department of Genetics in Cologne and he is now director at the
Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön/Germany.
research interests have focussed on studying the evolution of
developmental processes, as well as on genome evolution, population
genetics and speciation. His current interests focus specifically on
understanding the genetic basis of adaptations in natural populations
of the house mouse.
Session: Functional Diversity of RNA (2012)
Elisa Izaurralde (Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Germany)
Dr. Elisa Izaurralde leads the Department of Biochemistry at the Max
Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany. Her
research focuses on the molecular mechanisms that regulate gene
expression at the post-transcriptional level, with particular emphasis
on mRNA surveillance, turnover and silencing in animal cells.
Elisa Izaurralde was elected to membership of the European Molecular
Biology Organization in 2000. She is a recipient of the Friedrich
Miescher Award of the Swiss Society for Biochemistry, of the Young
Scientist Award of the European Life Science Organization (ELSO) and of
the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation
(DFG). She serves on several scientific editorial and advisory panels.
Nick J. Proudfoot (Oxford University, UK)
Professor Nicholas Proudfoot FRS had the good fortune to be at the
Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge when much of its famous
science was in progress (eg work of Fred Sanger and Cezar Milstein). He
worked on mRNA sequencing and discovered the AAUAAA poly(A) signal as a
graduate student with George Brownlee. As a postdoctoral fellow at LMB
he began a study to clone and sequence globin genes. This led him to
take a postdoc position in the USA with Tom Maniatis (California
Institute of Technology USA and Harvard University, 1979-1981), during
which time he cloned and sequenced various globin genes discovering
globin pseudogenes and structural details about the evolution of the α
and β globin gene families in man.
Professor Proudfoot joined the University of Oxford in 1981, as
Lecturer, then Professor at Sir William Dunn School of Pathology. He
was elected an EMBO member in 1982, a Fellow and Tutor in Biochemistry,
Brasenose College from 1982-2003, the Brownlee-Abraham Chair of
Molecular Biology in 2003 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2005.
As an academic at Oxford, he has combined a university teaching
career with running a research group. His research initially focused on
poly(A) signals, their genetics and biology. From these studies his lab
discovered that mRNA processing is coupled to transcription which led
to detailed analysis of the mechanism and biological significance of
During his 25 years at Oxford he has seen his research field expand
from a relatively small focus into an interconnecting series of topics
widely considered to be central to gene expression. In particular he
has organized five RNA 3’ end workshops at Oxford (1989, 1993, 1997,
2005 and 2009) which have provided a forum for this expanding research
Session: Neurobiology in Health and Disease (2012)
Pico Caroni (Friedrich Miescher Institute, Switzerland)
Pico Caroni obtained his PhD in Biochemistry at the Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. After a postdoctoral
fellow at the University of California at San Francisco (1982-1985) he
became an Assistant Professor at the Brain Research Institute at the
University of Zurich (1985-1989). He is currently a senior group leader
at the Friedrich Meisher Institute in Basel and since 2007 holds a
position as a Professor in Neurobiology at the University of Basel.
Among his achievements, Professor Caroni was honored with an ETH
Dissertation Medal for Excellence in 1977 and 1982, a START fellowship
in 1989 and a Pfizer Prize for Basic Research in Cardiology in 1998. He
was elected an EMBO member in 1999 and was the former chair of EMBO
Meetings and Courses Committee (2003-2009). Currently, he holds the
chair of the Program Committee FENS Forum 2010.
Pico Caroni and his lab investigate the mechanisms of how learning
and experience influence circuit structure and how structural
plasticity impacts behavior. Along with this line of research, they are
particularly interested in the hippocampal and cerebral circuits and
looking closely into the assembly and function of these circuits from
development through to adulthood.
Lisa M. Monteggia (UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, USA)
Lisa Monteggia received her PhD in Neuroscience in 1999 and then moved
to Yale University as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Eric Nestler. In
2002 she established her research laboratory at UT Southwestern Medical
Center. She is currently an Associate Professor and holds the Ginny and
John Eulich Professorship at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Her research interests focus on the molecular and cellular basis of
neural plasticity as it pertains to psychiatric disorders. She utilizes
a multidisciplinary approach to elucidate how specific genes as well as
epigenetic processes may contribute to psychiatric disorders and their
treatment, specifically focusing on Depression and Rett Syndrome/Autism
Paolo Sassone-Corsi (University of California, Irvine, USA)
Paolo Sassone-Corsi has pioneered the fields of cellular signaling and
gene expression during the past two decades, discovering control
pathways and molecular connections governing essential cellular
responses. Most recently, he has uncovered revealing links between
epigenetics and cellular metabolism. These fundamental findings have
far-reaching implications for human physiology and disease.
After a PhD in Genetics (summa cum laude) at the University of
Naples, Italy, PSC moved to France as post-doctoral fellow with Pierre
Chambon (1980-85). Then moved to The Salk Institute (La Jolla, CA) as
visiting researcher with Inder M. Verma (1985-88). In 1989 established
his research team at the CNRS in Strasbourg, France, where held the
position of Directeur de Recherche.
Since 2006 PSC is Donald Bren Fellow and Distinguished
Professor at the University of California, Irvine, where he is also
Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Director of the ‘Center for
Epigenetics and Metabolism’. PSC is also External Member of the
Max-Planck Institute (Germany). He has been recognized with several
awards and prizes, among which: the EMBO Gold Medal (1994), the Rosen
Prize (1996), the Grand Prix Liliane Bettencourt (1997), the Segerfalk
Award (2001), the Edwin N. Astwood Award (2004), the Umesono Memorial
Award (2004), the CNRS Silver Medal (2004), the Athalie Clarke
Achievement Award (2010), the Roy O. Greep Award (2011) and the Ipsen