Speakers 2021

Anna Akhmanova (Netherlands)

Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Biophysics, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands


Microtubules are dynamic cytoskeletal filaments that control different aspects of cell architecture. Microtubules are intrinsically asymmetric polymers, with fast-growing plus ends, which in cells serve as major sites of microtubule assembly and disassembly, and slow-growing minus ends, which are often stabilized and attached to different cellular structures. In my lab, we use in vitro assays combined with single molecule imaging to dissect how the proteins that bind to microtubule plus- and minus ends control microtubule nucleation and dynamics. In parallel, we employ live cell imaging to study how microtubules contribute to cell polarity, migration, division and differentiation. The combination of in vitro reconstitution assays with experiments in cells allows us to decipher how the specific molecular properties of microtubule regulators contribute to cellular function and how microtubule-targeting anti-cancer drugs affect the cytoskeleton.

Anna Akhmanova studied biochemistry and molecular biology at the Moscow State University. She received her PhD in 1997 at the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands.  In 2001, she has started her own research group at the Department of Cell Biology at the Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Since 2011, Anna Akhmanova is professor of Cell Biology at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Akhmanova studies cytoskeletal organization and trafficking processes, which contribute to cell polarization, differentiation, vertebrate development and human disease. She is an expert on microtubule dynamics and microtubule-based membrane trafficking. Akhmanova is a recipient of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) Spinoza Prize (2018), the highest scientific distinction in the Netherlands. She is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Akhmanova serves as a Deputy Editor of eLife, an Open Access journal in Life Sciences.


Website: https://cellbiology.science.uu.nl/research-groups/anna-akhmanova-cellular-dynamics/

Buzz Baum (UK)

Under Construction...

Ron Diskin (Israel)

Department of Chemical and Structural Biology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rechovot, Israel


Dr. Ron Diskin was born and raised in Jerusalem. He received his B.Sc. in life sciences in 2003 and his M.Sc. in biochemistry in 2004, both magna cum laude from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he also obtained his Ph.D. in 2008, studying signaling pathways using X-ray crystallography. After completing postdoctoral training at the California Institute of Technology, Dr. Diskin joined the faculty of chemistry at the Weizmann Institute of Science as an assistant professor in 2012 and became an associate professor in 2020. 

Dr. Diskin investigates how different proteins interact and form complexes and how such interactions underlie various pathological conditions, such as viral infections. In addition, the Diskin lab studies molecular mechanisms of anti-viral immune responses and develops novel immunotherapeutic approaches.


Website: http://www.weizmann.ac.il/Structural_Biology/diskin/

Benjamin Engel (Germany)

Under Construction...

Casey Greene (USA)

School of Medicine, University of Colorado, Denver, USA


Casey’s lab at the University of Colorado School of Medicine is dedicated to developing computational tools that biologists can use to gain insights from other labs’ data as easily as from their own. The lab’s work is heavily motivated by the interests of its members, and in recent years the lab has also examined the distribution of honors by a major computational biology society, investigated preprints as a means to study the peer review process, and developed methods to promote data sharing. In 2016, Casey established the “Research Parasite Awards” after an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine deemed scientists who analyze other scientists’ data “research parasites.” These honors, accompanied by a cash prize, are awarded to scientists who rigorously reanalyze other people’s data to learn something new. Casey is also the director of the Center for Health AI at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. This newly created center will be made up of faculty dedicated to enhancing research, clinical practice, and education with the use of advanced analytical approaches. Initial recruits to campus made through the center include Sean Davis and Melissa Haendel.

Title: Machine learning approaches to enhance research and equity in computational biology

"Biomedical research disciplines are awash in data. These data, generated by new technologies as well as old approaches, provide the opportunity to systematically extract biological patterns that were previously difficult to observe. I’ll share vignettes focusing on three areas: 1) why large-scale integrative analyses can be beneficial in bioinformatics; 2) how data simulation can help us avoid rediscovering generic findings; and 3) how machine learning can be used to examine the scientists whose contributions we choose to recognize."


Website: https://www.greenelab.com/

Thomas Helleday (UK)

Under Construction...

Kalina Hristova (USA)

Under Construction...

Anthony Hyman (Germany)

Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany


Prof. Dr. Anthony Hyman is Director and Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics. He was born May 27, 1962 in Haifa, Israel and is a citizen of the UK. In 1984, he received his BSc first class in Zoology from the University College in London, where he worked as research Assistant in 1981. From 1985 to 1987 he wrote his PhD on “The establishment of division axes in early C.elegans embryos” under the supervision of Dr. John White at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, MRC in Cambridge, England. From 1988-1992 he carried out his postdoctoral research in the lab of Prof. Tim Mitchison at UCSF, investigating the mechanism of chromosome movement with in vitro approaches. In 1993, he became a Group Leader at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, before he moved to Dresden in 1999 as one of the founding directors of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG), where he remains a Director and Group Leader today. He was Managing Director of the MPI-CBG from 2010-2013. Dr. Hyman has received a number of awards and honors throughout his career. As a postdoc, Dr. Hyman was a Lucille P. Markey Senior Fellow (1991-1992). He has been a member of ASCB since 1996 and EMBO since 2000. In 2002, Hyman was named honorary Professor of Molecular Cell Biology at the Technical University Dresden. He was awarded the EMBO Gold Medal in 2003, and he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2007. In 2011, Dr. Hyman was awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, the most important research award in Germany. Most recently, in 2017, he was honored to receive the Schleiden Medal from the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. This award is given once every two years for outstanding findings in the field of cell biology. Also in 2017 the American Society for Cell Biology presented Lifetime Fellow Recognition to Prof. Dr. Hyman for distinguished contributions to the advancement of cell biology. 

In 2019 Prof. Hyman was awarded the Carl-Zeiss-Lecture for outstanding achievements in Cell Biology by the German society for Cell Biology. Furthermore, in 2020 he was again honored to receive yet another award: The Wiley Foundation Prize in Biomedical Science.


Website: https://hymanlab.org/

Grant Jensen (USA)


Grant Jensen is a Professor of Biochemistry and Dean of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah. He earned his doctorate working on electron microscopy of RNA polymerase and other protein complexes with Dr. Roger Kornberg (who later won the Nobel prize for structural studies of transcription) at Stanford University. Next Grant continued his work in protein electron microscopy as a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell post-doctoral fellow under the supervision of Dr. Kenneth Downing at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. There his interests expanded to include electron tomography of whole cells. Grant began his independent career at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 2002. At Caltech his research has focused on three main areas: the ultrastructure of small cells, the structural biology of HIV, and the further development of cryo-EM technology. Together with his colleagues he has now published nearly 200 papers in these areas (see http://www.jensenlab.caltech.edu/publications.html). His lab has developed a searchable tomography database and populated it with ~50 thousand cryotomograms of over 100 different viral and microbial samples (https://etdb.caltech.edu/). Among his most prominent discoveries has been the structure and function of the bacterial type VI secretion system, a "poison-tipped spring-loaded molecular dagger," and the architecture of the type IV pilus responsible for cell motility. All this work is now summarized in an electronic textbook, the Atlas of Bacterial and Archaeal Cell Structure (https://www.cellstructureatlas.org/). Meanwhile Grant’s teaching has centered on biophysical methods, including the creation of the popular online course Getting started in Cryo-EM (http://cryo-em-course.caltech.edu/). In 2020 Grant moved to BYU to become Dean of their College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.

Thomas Langer (Germany)

X. Shirley Liu (USA)

Under Construction...

Ravi Manjithaya (India)

Under Construction...

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (Germany)

Under Construction...

Andrea Pauli (Austria)

Ana Pombo (Germany)

Oded Rechavi (Israel)

Pamela Ronald (USA)

Joshua Rosenthal (USA)

Thomas Schwarz (USA)

Iva Tolic (Croatia)

Vidita Vaidya (India)

Jessica Whited (USA)