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Plenary Lectures

Opening Plenary Lecture

Recent studies of the mechanism of neurotransmitter release

James E. Rothman

James E. Rothman

Yale University School of Medicine, United States

Professor Rothman has elucidated many of the basic principles governing protein traffic in the cell, including the fusion of membranes by SNARE proteins.  His current research concerns the dynamics of proteins in the Golgi apparatus, a central sorting hub for the distribution of proteins; and the biophysical and biochemical basis of sub-millisecond release of neurotransmitters at synapses, central for cognition in the brain.  His work has been recognized by many international awards, most notably the Lasker Award for Basic Medical Science (2002), the Kavli Prize for Neuroscience (2010) and the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (2013).

FEBS Sir Hans Krebs Lecture

Higher-order organization of the proteome explored by mass spectrometry

Carol Robinson

Albert J.R. Heck

Utrecht University and The Netherlands Proteomics Centre, The Netherlands

Albert J.R. Heck (1964) is professor at the Science Faculty of Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Heck’s group focuses on the development and applications of advanced mass spectrometry based technologies and instruments for proteomics and structural biology. His contributions to proteomics technologies include the efficient enrichment of phosphopeptides, novel proteases for digestions and novel fragmentation methods for protein and peptide sequencing. Heck’s proteomics research focuses for a large part on cancer, stem cells and immunology. Complementary to the proteomics efforts, the group of Albert Heck is also known for its specific expertise in the mass spectrometric analysis of intact proteins and protein complexes. He has therefore developed dedicated instruments, with most recently a new modified Orbitrap with extended mass range that can be used for native mass spectrometry and top-down (glyco)proteomics. His research in mass spectrometry based structural biology focuses on virus assembly, therapeutic antibodies, transcription complexes, circadian rhythms and CRISPR-related protein assemblies. Heck has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Descartes Huygens Award, HUPO Proteomics Discovery Award, EuPA Pioneer in Proteomics Award, the Franklin and Field Award of the American Chemical Society, and the Spinoza Award of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.

FEBS Theodor Bücher Lecture

Mitochondria in cellular protein homeostasis

Agnieszka Chacinska

Agnieszka Chacinska

Centre of New Technologies, University of Warsaw, Poland

Agnieszka Chacinska graduated in Biology, University of Warsaw, and in 2000 received a doctoral degree in biochemistry at the Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. From 2001 to 2009 she worked at the University of Freiburg, as a postdoc and head of a research group. Since 2009 she has been based at the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw, Poland, where she was the group leader of the Laboratory of Mitochondrial Biogenesis. In 2014 she was awarded the title of full professor by the President of Republic of Poland. In 2017 Agnieszka Chacinska and her group moved to the Centre of New Technologies, University of Warsaw, where she is a Director. Prof. Chacinska is the recipient of multiple awards and prestigious grants, including the Welcome Grant of the Foundation for Polish Science. She is a member of EMBO and the Polish Academy of Sciences. Prof. Agnieszka Chacinska is interested in biogenesis, transport and degradation of mitochondrial proteins and their failure resulting in pathologies. Her research explores links between transport of mitochondrial proteins and cellular protein homeostasis that involve crosstalk between various cellular compartments and processes such as mitochondrial import, cellular protein degradation and protein synthesis.

FEBS Datta Lecture

Enzyme inhibitors as tools for molecular recognition, imaging and specific drug delivery

Jan Konvalinka

Charles University and Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Czech Republic

Jan Konvalinka is associated professor at the Department of Biochemistry of the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Charles University in Prague. He also leads a research group at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Academy of Science of the Czech Republic. In his research he studies proteolytic enzymes as key regulators of physiological processes. These enzymes play a crucial role not only in food digestion but also in tightly controlled processes like apoptosis and the cell cycle. Konvalinka’s group analyses the role of proteases in viral replication and in cancer development. Together with his co-workers he developed some of the first substrates and inhibitors of HIV protease, contributed to the understanding of the substrate specificity of retroviral proteases, and provided structural and biochemical characterization of proteolytic enzymes implicated in neurotoxicity and prostate cancer development. Recently, his group introduced a set of interesting chemical biology tools for imaging, isolation and quantification of biomolecules. Konvalinka has been a recipient of a number of international scholarships and grants including Howard Hughes Medical Institutes International Research Scholar and enjoys extensive support from industry.

FEBS 2018 Plenary Lecture

Fighting pathogens by symbiotic plant peptides

Eva Kondorosi

Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary

Eva Kondorosi received her PhD at the Eötvös University in Budapest, and was a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute (Köln) and visiting scholar at the Sussex, Harvard and Cornell Universities. She was a research director at the CNRS Institut des Science Végétales, and then director of the BAYGEN Institute in Hungary. Currently she directs the Symbiosis and Functional Genomics Unit at the Biological Research Centre in Szeged. Her primary research field is Rhizobium–legume symbiosis. She contributed in many ways to elucidation of the molecular mechanism of nodule organogenesis and demonstrated the importance of the endoreduplication cycles in the differentiation of symbiotic plant cells and in plant development. Her recent work focuses on plant-controlled irreversible differentiation of endosymbiotic bacteria. Her group discovered ~800 novel peptide-coding genes that are responsible for terminal differentiation of the endosymbionts. Besides elucidating the function of these peptides in symbiosis, the strong antimicrobial activities of certain peptides have opened an innovative research line, developing new peptide antibiotics to kill pathogenic microbes. For her original discoveries she received several awards and has been elected to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Sciences USA, French Agricultural Academy, Academia Europaea, Leopoldina and EMBO.

IUBMB Lecture

CRISPR-Cas genome editors: structures, mechanisms and applications

Martin Jinek

University of Zurich, Switzerland

Martin Jinek is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Zurich. His research explores two main topics: RNA biology and CRISPR-Cas systems and their development as a genome editing technology. Originally from the Czech Republic, Martin Jinek studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge (UK). In 2006, he received his PhD from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg (Germany) where he conducted his doctoral research in the lab of Prof. Elena Conti. He then moved to the University of California in Berkeley for postdoctoral research with Prof. Jennifer Doudna, where his work led to the discovery of the biochemical function of the RNA-guided endonuclease Cas9 and made fundamental contributions towards developing the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. Since starting his independent research group at the University of Zurich in 2013, Martin Jinek has studied the molecular mechanisms of CRISPR-Cas genome editor nucleases in atomic detail. In recognition of his work, he has received several awards, including an ERC Starting Grant (2013), the EMBL John Kendrew Young Scientist Award (2014) and the Friedrich Miescher Award of the Swiss Society for Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (2015). He is an EMBO Young Investigator and in 2017 became an International Research Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

PABMB Lecture

Diet, mitochondria and energy metabolism

Alicia Kowaltowski

Alicia Kowaltowski

University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Alicia Kowaltowski was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1974. She completed her medical training (1997) and PhD (1999) at the State University of Campinas, Brazil, having done part of her doctoral work in the University of Maryland in Baltimore, USA. Her post-doctoral training was concluded in 2000 at the Oregon Graduate Institute, USA. She was then hired by the Department of Biochemistry, University of São Paulo, Brazil, where she is currently a Full Professor and former President of the Graduate Studies Committee. She was Vice-President for Education for the Society for Free Radical Biology & Medicine and Treasurer for the Brazilian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SBBq), and chaired the Gordon Research Conference on Oxygen Radicals in 2014. She specializes in the understanding of the relationships between energy metabolism, mitochondrial ion transport and redox state and is the author of more than 120 peer-reviewed international publications, which have accumulated over 7000 citations, with an H-factor of 43. She is a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow (2006) and recipient of the CAPES-Elsevier Award (2014).

EMBO Lecture

Keeping genomes stable through chromatin

Susanne Gasser

Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland

Prof. Susan M. Gasser is the director of the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, a position she assumed in 2004. In parallel, she holds a professorship at the University of Basel. Before joining the FMI, Susan Gasser was Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Geneva, and for the preceding 15 years, led a research group at the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research in Epalinges/Lausanne, Switzerland. Trained in biology and biophysics at the University of Chicago, she obtained her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Basel, having established an in vitro system for mitochondrial protein import. As a postdoctoral fellow, she identified topoisomerase II as a structural component of metaphase chromosomes and a role for AT-rich sequences in long-range chromatin organization. Susan Gasser's laboratory studies how nuclear organization impinges on mechanisms of repair and replication fork stability and on epigenetic inheritance of cell fate decisions. She exploits the genetics of model organisms in her studies, as well as quantitative live fluorescence imaging. She has authored more than 250 primary articles and reviews, and has received a number of awards for her work, including election to the Académie de France, EMBO and the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences. She received the INSERM International Prize in 2011, the FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award in 2012, the Otto Naegeli Award and Gregor Mendel Medal in 2006, and the Weizmann Institute Women in Science award in 2013, as well as two honorary doctorates. She has been a member of many scientific review panels for institutes across Europe, including the Swiss National Research Council, the EC Presidents Science and Technology Advisory Council, the Swiss Council of Science and Innovation, and the EMBO Council, which she chaired.

FEBS 2018 Plenary Lecture

Communication between cells in the filaments of nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria

Robert Haselkorn

The University of Chicago, United States

Robert Haselkorn is F. L. Pritzker Distinguished Service Professor (Emeritus) at the Department of Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology, The University of Chicago. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He was also elected to the American Philosophical Society. At the University of Chicago, for many years he was leader of two groups called „Amber“ group and „Green“ group. That was the time when amber mutations (in bacterial viruses) were very much in the center of interest in molecular genetics. Now he is more involved in „green“ science concentrating on nitrogen fixation in cyanobacterium Anabaena.

FEBS 2018 Plenary Lecture

Seven rules of civilization

Miroslav Bárta

Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic

Miroslav Bárta is Egyptologist and archaeologist. After studying prehistoric and early historic archaeology and Egyptology at Charles University in Prague, he continued his PhD studies in Prague and Hamburg, and in 2003 accomplished his habilitation. Following spells at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), Freie Universität (Berlin), and as deputy director of the Czech national centre of Egyptology, since 2009 he has been a professor of Egyptology at the Charles University, Prague. In 2014 he served as Marilyn and William K. Simpson chair at American University in Cairo. His work has been recognized with awards from the Swiss Egyptological Fondation Michaela Schiff Giorgini and Charles University (including the Donatio Universitatis Carolinae), and his recent Czech monograph Příběh civilizace (Story of Civilisation) (Academia 2016) was chosen as the best publication and the best scientific publication of the year. In Egyptology, Bárta specializes in the archaeology and history of the third millennium BC. Bárta has also been largely involved in the comparative study of complex civilisations and their dynamics from a multidisciplinary perspective. He is author or co-author of more than twenty monographs and collective volumes and more than a hundred of scientific papers, and is a frequent lecturer both at home and abroad.

Closing Plenary Lecture

Patterns of gene expression in animal development

Pavel Tomancak

University in Brno, Czech Republic

Pavel Tomancak studied Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. He then did his PhD at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in the field of Drosophila developmental genetics. During his post-doctoral time at the University of California in Berkeley at the laboratory of Gerald M. Rubin, he established image-based genome scale resources for patterns of gene expression in Drosophila embryos. Since 2005 he has led an independent research group at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Dresden where he became a permanent research group leader in 2013. His laboratory continues to study patterns of gene expression during development by combining molecular, imaging and image analysis techniques. The group has led a significant technological development aiming towards more complete quantitative description of gene expression patterns using light sheet microscopy. The emphasis on open access resulted in establishment of major resources such as OpenSPIM (http://openspim.org) and Fiji (http://fiji.sc). The Tomancak lab is expanding the systematic analysis of gene expression patterns to other Drosophila tissues and employing the comparative approach in other Drosophilids and invertebrate species.

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Three additional plenary lectures
 for the 43rd FEBS Congress are expected to be announced in early 2018, following selection of the winners of the 2018 FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award, the FEBS Letters Award, and The FEBS Journal Richard Perham Prize.

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