International Symposium organized by the Students of the Graduate School of Life Sciences

    Speakers 2014

    Marie Dacke, PhD

    Marie Dacke works on nocturnal and diurnal navigational systems at Lund University (Sweden). In 2013 she won the IG Nobel Prize “for discovering that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the Milky Way”.

    Reference: Dung Beetles Use the Milky Way for Orientation


    Lund University,

    Prof. Ehud Gazit, PhD

    The research focus of Prof. Gazit is protein folding and misfolding in disease. This includes not only amyloid formation in Alzheimer's disease but also abnormal folding in Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease which is associated with predisposition for benign and malignant tumours.


    Tel Aviv University,

    Brian Luke, PhD

    The lab of Brian Luke works on telomere maintenance. His research focuses on two aspects of telomere biology. First, using various genetic assays his goal is to unravel the function of the novel telomere maintenance component TERRA. TERRA is a non-coding RNA, which co-localise at chromosome ends. Secondly, his research aim is to shed light on the mechanism and function of telomere loop formation. Both research aims are highly relevant for genome stability and have direct connection to human health.

    Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg,

    Prof. Lene Juel Rasmussen, PhD


    Lene Juel Rasmussen is Professor at the University of Copenhagen and Managing Director of its newly established Center for Healthy Aging, residing within the faculty of Health Sciences. Her research aims to unravel the complex molecular basics of aging and the development of aging associated diseases. Within this context, her research group focuses on the molecular understanding of mitochondrial dysfunction and how cells achieve to preserve mitochondrial and nuclear DNA integrity as well as DNA repair.

    University of Copenhagen,

    Prof. Zaverio M. Ruggeri, MD

    Prof. Ruggeri has been pioneering the field of cardiovascular disease when he elucidated the mechanism of initiation of platelet thrombus formation through interaction of the adhesive protein, von Willebrand factor (vWF), and the platelet receptor, glycoprotein (GP) Ib. One of the milestones on this journey was the crystallization of the interaction between vWF and the Fab fragment NMC-4, a monoclonal antibody that blocks the interaction between GPIb and vWF.

    The Scripps Research Institute,
    La Jolla,

    Carmen Buchrieser, PhD


    Prof. Carmen Buchrieser is head of a research group working on intracellular pathogens at the Institut Pasteur. She has a long-standing research interest in the pathogenesis of infections caused by Legionella. By combining phylogenetic and evolutionary analysis with functional studies on the diversity of Legionella spp., she aims to understand the relationship between virulence and genetic diversity, the role diversity plays in infection and environmental adaption, and to investigate the function of newly identified putative virulence factors. Studying the evolution of virulence would help us to get a deeper understanding of the events and mechanisms that led to the emergence of human pathogenic strains from protozoan parasites.

    Institut Pasteur,

    Prof. Yves Barde, MD


    Prof. Barde is the former Director of the Max Planck Institute in Martinsried, near Munich and still an external member of the Max-Planck Society, he has been Director of the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel for 12 years until he finally took up a position as Sêr Cymru Research Chair in Neurobiology at the Cardiff School of Biosciences in 2013. His best known contribution relates to the discovery, characterization and cloning of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This work revealed a structural relatedness to nerve growth factor (NGF), at that time the only characterized growth factor preventing the death of neurons in the developing peripheral nervous system. This finding helped identifying additional members of what turned out to be a small gene family designated the “neurotrophins”. The Barde group is working on mechanisms and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and now also extensively uses mouse embryonic stem cells which they reproducibly differentiated in vitro into homogenous populations of neural progenitors, closely resembling those found in the developing cerebral cortex of rodents. This novel cellular assay opened new possibilities to investigate mechanisms of interest during the development of the vertebrate nervous system, including neurotrophin signalling in neurons.

    Cardiff School of Biosciences,