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Dr. Peter Hagemann
Peter Hegemann is a Hertie professor for neuroscience and head of Experimental Biophysics at Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin. In 2019 he won a Warren Alpert Foundation Prize for the discovery that lead to the new technology – optogenetics. Hegemann’s research focused almost entirely on the characterization of natural sensory photoreceptors. Hegemann has characterized behavioral and photoelectric responses of the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas, a work that cumulated in the claim that the photoreceptors for these responses a rhodopsins that unify the sensor and ion channel in one protein. He has finally proven this concept by identifying the light gated channel channelrhodopsin, and its functionality in animal cells. His group characterized this protein in molecular detail by a wide range of biophysical techniques which lead to the deciphering of the ion channel mechanism, including gating and ion selection. This work was the basis for the discovery of Optogenetics, a technology where light activated proteins – first of all channelrhodopsin – allow to control selected cells of large networks as the animal brain with unprecedented precision in space and time just by application of light. The Hegemann group also works on light-activated enzymes which further expand the optogenetic applications to important biochemical pathways.
Dr. Skirmantas Kriaučionis
Skirmantas Kriaučionis is an Associate Professor in University of Oxford, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. After graduating from Vytautas Magnus University he got Darwin Trust Scholarship for doctoral studies in the University of Edinburgh. Post-doctoral work he did in Rockefeller University in New York. Since 2010 he has established a group in Oxford, where his work aims do understand the function of DNA modification in genomes of normal and cancer cells.
Marius Bauža is a senior research fellow in O’Keefe group (which received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2014). He has a background in physics (Vilnius University) and engineering (University College London) and for the last several years has used his expertise to study how the brain works. He takes part in developing, testing and using Neuropixels silicon probes. These high-density probes can record neural activity from an unprecedented number of cells and could potentially open a new era of chronic and acute electrophysiology recordings from awake animals. Marius has already used these probes to show that grid cell pattern is more local than previously thought. Patterns of simultaneously recorded grids deform in sync, suggesting that the grid cell system could still act as a universal spatial metric. He is actively participating in studying the neural basis of spatial cognition in the hippocampal and parahippocampal formations. In addition, he is participating in other cutting edge research projects, such as the Honeycomb Maze behavioural test platform.
Dr. Jonas Cicėnas
Jonas Cicėnas currently is a senior scientist/bioinformatician Proteomics Center, Institute of Biochemistry, Vilnius University Life Sciences Center. Jonas Cicėnas’ research interests are focused on cell signaling (protein kinases in particular) and its role both in normal cells as well as in diseases, such as breast, prostate cancer and leukemia. He has 21 years’ experience in cell signaling (kinases), cancer biology, proteomics, bioinformatics and biostatistics. In the past Dr. Cicėnas worked a lot in the field of biomarker discovery and other clinics-related topics of cancer research and published several publications on the prognostic role of protein phosphorylation. He worked in Lithuania, Germany, USA, and Switzerland. He received his PhD in biochemistry in 2004 at the University of Basel. In 2011-2015 Dr. Cicėnas was a biocurator and kinase expert at the CALIPHO group, Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, where the main focus of his research interests was on protein kinases, cancer and proteomics. Jonas Cicėnas is also a founder of MAP Kinase Resource, an online knowledge platform and database dedicated to mitogen-activated protein kinases. He is the editor of the related journal “MAP Kinase” and also writes popular science articles.
Prof. Matthias W. Hentze
Matthias Hentze is currently the Director of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and Co-Director of the Molecular Medicine Partnership Unit (MMPU) in Heidelberg(Germany). Following medical studies in Germany and the U.K., and his qualification as a medical doctor, he obtained his postdoctoral training at the NIH (USA) in the late eighties, when he and his colleagues discovered “iron-responsive elements” initiating his interests in RNA biology (translation, mRNA stability, NMD, miRNAs) and diseases of iron metabolism (anemias, hemochromatosis, degenerative diseases). Recent work by the Hentze group has uncovered hundreds of new RNA-binding proteins, including many metabolic enzymes. Their current work uncovers new functions for RNA in the direct regulation of protein function (‘riboregulation’) and elucidates connections between metabolism and gene regulation. Prof. Hentze is a co-founder of the MMPU, a joint interdisciplinary and translational research unit of the Medical Faculty of Heidelberg University and the EMBL, which bridges between medicine and molecular biology. Matthias Hentze’s research contributions have been recognized in numerous ways including Germany’s most prestigious scientific award, the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize in 2000, the 2007 Lautenschläger Research Prize of Heidelberg University, and the 2015 Feodor Lynen Medal of the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In 2017, he was awarded the Doctor of Science honoris causa by the Australia National University (ANU) in Canberra. He is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and the Academia Europaea. In 2016, he became the first German scientist elected as a Corresponding Member of the Australian Academy of Science. In 2018, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Matthias Hentze was a co-founder of Anadys Pharmaceuticals (San Diego), and serves on numerous international scientific advisory and editorial boards
Prof. Jean-Marie Lehn
Jean-Marie Lehn became Professor of Chemistry at the Université Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg in 1970 and from 1979 to 2010 he was Professor at the Collège de France in Paris. He is presently Professor at the University of Strasbourg Institute for Advanced Study (USIAS). He shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1987 (with Donald Cram and Charles Pedersen) for his studies on the chemical basis of “molecular recognition” (i.e. the way in which a receptor molecule recognizes and selectively binds a substrate), which also plays a fundamental role in biological processes.
Over the years his work led him to the definition of a new field of chemistry, which he has proposed calling “supramolecular chemistry” as it deals with the complex entities formed by the association of two or more chemical species held together by non-covalent intermolecular forces, whereas molecular chemistry concerns the entities constructed from atoms linked by covalent bonds. Subsequently his work developed into the chemistry of self-organization processes, based on the design of “programmed” chemical systems that undergo spontaneous assembly of suitable components into well-defined supramolecular species, directed by the supramolecular processing of molecular information. More recently, the implementation of dynamic features and of selection in both molecular and supramolecular chemistry led to the development of “constitutional dynamic chemistry”, concerning entities able to undergo reorganization in response to external stimuli, thus leading to the emergence of an “adaptive and evolutive chemistry” towards a chemistry of complex matter.
Author of more than 1000 scientific publications, Lehn is a member of many academies and institutions. He has received numerous international honours and awards.
Distinguished Prof. Aaron Ciechanover
Aaron Ciechanover was born in Haifa, Israel in 1947. He is currently a Distinguished Research Professor in the Faculty of medicine at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. He received his M.Sc. (1971) and M.D. (1973) from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He then completed his national service (1973-1976) as military physician, and continued his studies to obtain a doctorate in biological sciences in the Faculty of Medicine in the Technion (D.Sc.; 1982). There, as a graduate student with Dr. Avram Hershko and in collaboration with Dr. Irwin A. Rose from the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, USA, they discovered that covalent attachment of ubiquitin to a target protein signals it for degradation. They deciphered the mechanism of conjugation, described the general proteolytic functions of the system, and proposed a model according to which this modification serves as a recognition signal for a specific downstream protease. As a post- doctoral fellow with Dr. Harvey Lodish at the M.I.T., he continued his studies on the ubiquitin system and made additional important discoveries. Along the years it has become clear that ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis plays major roles in numerous cellular processes, and aberrations in the system underlie the pathogenetic mechanisms of many diseases, among them certain malignancies and neurodegenerative disorders. Consequently, the system has become an important platform for drug development. Among the numerous prizes Ciechanover received are the 2000 Albert Lasker Award, the 2003 Israel Prize, and the 2004 Nobel Prize (Chemistry; shared with Drs. Hershko and Rose). Among many academies, Ciechanover is member of the Israeli National Academy of Sciences and Humanities, The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Foreign Fellow), the American Philosophical Society, the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) and Medicine (NAM) of the USA (Foreign Associate), the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS; Foreign Member), the Russian Academy of Sciences (Foreign Member), and the German Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina).
Dr. Augustas Pivoriūnas
Augustas Pivoriūnas graduated from Vilnius University Medical Faculty in 1998 (M.D.) and received Ph.D. (2004) in Biochemistry from the Institute of Biochemistry in Vilnius. As a holder of Marie Curie fellowship (Contract Nr: HPMT-GH-00-00130-04) he spent 2 years (2002-2004) at the Department of Medical Microbiology, Linköping University, Sweden. He joined the Department of Experimental Medicine at the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Medicine in Vilnius as research scientist in 2005. From 2010 to 2019 he served as a senior research scientist at the State Research Institute Centre for Innovative Medicine (SRICIM) in Vilnius and from 2012 he was appointed as a Head of the Department of Stem Cell Biology. From 2014 he also serves as a Deputy director for Scientific Affairs at the SRICIM and from 2019 holds position of Chief research fellow. Teaching activities: lecture courses (Tissue engineering and Bioregenerative technologies) at the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University and Vytautas Magnus University. From 2014 Augustas Pivoriūnas is the President of the Lithuanian Association of Stem Cell Researchers. Augustas Pivoriūnas is a co-founder and shareholder of the joint stock company Exosomica. Augustas Pivoriūnas leads an active group of scientists and PhD students and his research interests focus primarily on extracellular vesicles (EVs) derived from different types of adult stem cells and their applications in basic research and cell-based therapies. In recent years he studies neuroprotective effects of EVs derived from human dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) using in vitro and in vivo models of neurodegenerative diseases. His group was among the first to demonstrate that EVs can rescue human dopaminergic neurons from 6- hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-induced apoptosis in vitro (Cytotherapy. 2015 Jul;17(7):932-9). More recently, his group together with partners from the University of Latvia demonstrated for the first time that intranasal administration of EVs derived from the DPSCs can effectively suppress 6-OHDA-induced gait impairments and normalize tyrosine hydroxylase expression in the striatum and in the substantia nigra of experimental rats (Stem Cells Transl Med. 2019 May;8(5):490-499).
Dr. Luca Mazzitelli
Luca Mazzitelli studied plant biotechnology at University of Napoli Federico II and ventured to Scotland for his PhD in plant sciences at University of Dundee and Scottish Crop Research Institute where he characterized the molecular mechanism of bud dormancy in raspberry plant.
Luca joined Qiagen in 2010 as PCR Array sales specialist covering Italy and Commercial Partners. His focus was to achieve sales targets and to provide also post-sales technical support to his customers. Over the past four years Luca developed Qiagen’s NGS franchise as a sales specialist, which is a background he now lends to 10X Genomics.
Luca works now as Science & Technology advisor supporting Distributors in EMEA area
Prof. Joan Taylor
Prof Taylor has led the development of a totally implantable artificial pancreas for the treatment of insulin dependent diabetes and the setting up of an exercise physiology lab in DMU for the study of exercise physiology in diabetes patients.
Dr. Tomaš Paleniček
Dr Tomáš Páleníček has worked as a neuroscientist and psychiatrist at the National Institute of Mental Health, Czech Republic since 2001. In his PhD studies, he focused on animal models of psychosis, studying the neurobiology of schizophrenia. However, he has always been interested in psychoactive substances. During his career, he has been a principle investigator on several projects examining psychedelics in animals, later joining in the human ketamine research, and finally becoming a principle investigator of the first healthy volunteer trials on psilocybin and cannabis in the Czech Republic. Today, he is a leader of preclinical and clinical research teams focusing on the research into psychedelics. Recently he has also co-founded a “PSYRES foundation” which has the intention to support the psychedelic research in the Czech Republic.
Dr. Alina Urnikytė
Dr. Alina Urnikytė a researcher in the filed of population genetics at the institute of Biomedical Sciences of the Faculty of Medicine of Vilnius University. She obtained her bachelors degree in biotechnology (UVIC, Spain) and masters degree in medical genetics (Vilnius University). During her PhD she reinforced the knowledge and skills in the field during the traineeship in Evolutionary Population Genetics Lab of the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. Latest research of the scientist helped answer questions about whether the Lithuanian genome is different from the genome of other peoples of Europe and the rest of the world, about whom we are closer to, peoples from the East or the North, and about how our genes have been affected by changing living conditions.