Confirmed Speakers

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James Briscoe (The Francis Crick Institute, UK)

James Briscoe is a principal group leader and Associate Research Director at the Francis Crick institute. His research interests include the molecular and cellular mechanisms of graded signalling by morphogens and the role of transcriptional networks in the specification of cell fate. To address these questions his lab uses a range of experimental and computational techniques with model systems that include mouse and chick embryos and embryonic stem cells.

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Aydan Bulut-Karslioglu (Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Gremany)

Aydan Bulut-Karslioglu is a stem cell researcher based at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, Germany. She studied chemical engineering and biology in Turkey. During her PhD in the lab of Prof. Thomas Jenuwein in Freiburg, Germany, she focused on epigenetic regulation of repetitive DNA. In 2013, she joined the lab of Prof. Miguel Ramalho-Santos at UCSF, San Francisco, where she made the breakthrough discovery of mTOR as a major regulator of developmental timing in mouse embryos. She developed an in vitro diapause protocol to put mouse early embryos into dormancy. Since 2018, she is a group leader at the MPIMG in Berlin, where she works on how the environment actively shapes the timing and trajectories of embryonic development.

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Della David (Babraham Institute, UK)

Della David is a senior group leader at the Babraham Institute, Cambridge, UK. After studies in France at the European School of Biotechnology, she moved to Switzerland and obtained her PhD in 2005 from the University of Zürich. For her postdoctoral work (2006-2011), she joined the lab of Cynthia Kenyon at UCSF in the USA, supported with funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation, Larry L. Hillblom Foundation, American Federation for Aging Research and Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research. There, she discovered that widespread protein aggregation occurs during normal ageing in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans. Between 2011 and 2021, she led an independent research group in Germany at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Tübingen and then at the Interfaculty Institute of Biochemistry, University of Tübingen. In 2022, Della relocated her lab to the Babraham Institute. Her group continues to focus on age-dependent protein aggregation with the aim of uncovering endogenous mechanisms to prevent aggregation and promote healthy ageing. A key recent study from her group identified the extracellular proteostasis network in C. elegans. Della has received a Wellcome Discovery Award to expand this area of research.

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María Dominguez Castellano (Instituto de Neurociencias de Alicante, Spain)

María Domínguez is a full professor of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and Director of the Scientific Program "Genetics and Epigenetic Basis of Individuality and Ageing" at the Institute of Neurosciences (IN) in Alicante. She received her PhD in Developmental Biology from the Autonomous University of Madrid in 1993. She worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Zurich (Switzerland) and at the MRC-LMB in Cambridge (UK). In 2000, she obtained a tenured position of CSIC and held the position of Deputy Director for four years. In 2009, she was promoted to full professor. Dominguez's lab uses Drosophila melanogaster to investigate normal growth and cancer dynamics. A major goal is deciphering the factors and processes that allow juvenile organisms to resiliently and homeostatically maintain their correct growth trajectory despite perturbations, as illustrated by perfect bilateral symmetry and low cancer incidence. The lab is also studying how gender and individual genetics influence resilience and homeostasis and how resilience changes during ageing and shapes the ageing process.

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Paul François (Université de Montréal, Canada)

Paul François is a professor of Biophysics and Bioinformatics at Université de Montréal. His research focuses on the theoretical modeling of biological systems, in particular embryonic development and immune recognition. To do so, he is developing and using tools inspired by physics, non-linear dynamics and machine learning.

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Hironobu Fujiwara (RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology)

Hironobu Fujiwara completed his PhD study on the biochemical characterization of basement membrane proteins under the guidance of Dr. Kiyotoshi Sekiguchi at Osaka University. He undertook his post-doctoral research in the same laboratory, with a particular focus on the role of basement membrane in mouse embryonid body development. In 2007, he joined Dr. Fiona Watt's laboratory in Cambridge, where he discovered that the basement membrane of hair follicle stem cells functions as a muscle cell niche. In 2012, he became a principal investigator at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB), which was reorganized into the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research (BDR) in 2018. His current research interest lies in understanding how stem cells and their microenvironment guide skin development and regeneration.

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Martin Hetzer (Institute of Science and Technology Austria, Austria)

Martin W. Hetzer has been President of the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology with a research group at ISTA since January 2023. He also holds a Jesse and Caryl Philips Professorship and prior to joining ISTA, served as Senior Vice President and Chief Science Officer at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla.
Dr. Hetzer received his Ph.D. in biochemistry and genetics from the University of Vienna, Austria, and completed his postdoctoral work at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, before joining the faculty at the Salk as an Assistant Professor in 2004 and becoming Full Professor in 2011. His research focuses on fundamental aspects of organismal aging with a special focus on the heart and central nervous system. His laboratory has made important contributions in the area of cancer research and cell differentiation. Dr. Hetzer is the recipient of numerous awards including a Pew Scholar Award, an Early Life Scientist Award from the American Society of Cell Biology, a Senior Scholar Award for Aging from the Ellison Medical Foundation, a Senior Scholar Award from the American Cancer Society, a Royal Society Research Merit Award, the Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging, and most recently the NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award.

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Tsuyoshi Hirashima (Mechanobiology Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore)

Tsuyoshi Hirashima is a principal investigator at the Mechanobiology Institute (MBI), National University of Singapore (NUS), and is also an assistant professor in the Department of Physiology at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, NUS. He receieved his Ph.D. in mathematical biology from Kyushu University in 2011, where he focused on mathematical modeling of tissue morphogenesis. He then moved to Kyoto University as a postdoc fellow through JSPS, where he gained hands-on experience in cell and developmental biology experiments. In 2014, he joined faculty of Kyoto University as an assistant professor, later advancing to the position of senior lecturer in 2017 and becoming an associate professor at the Hakubi Center in 2021. In 2022, he joined MBI to further pursue his scientific and personal interests. Currently, his lab explores how collective cell behavior emerges and connects to biological functions in tissue development, homeostasis, and reproduction, utilizing live cell imaging and mathematical modeling.

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Steve Horvath (Altos Labs, USA)

Dr. Horvath is a biogerontologist, whose research lies at the intersection of several fields including epigenetic biomarkers of aging, preclinical and clinical studies, genomics, epidemiology, and comparative biology. Dr. Horvath is a principal investigator at Altos Labs. He and his UCLA colleagues published the first epigenetic clock for saliva in 2011. In 2013, he published the first pan-tissue clock, also known as the Horvath clock. Recently, he presented a universal clock that applies to all mammals. The recipient of several awards, he has been on Clarivate’s annual list of the world’s most influential scientific researchers every year since 2018.

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Daniel Jarosz (Stanford University, USA)

Dan Jarosz is an Associate Professor of Chemical and Systems Biology and of Developmental Biology at Stanford University. He is also a member of the Stanford Cancer Institute, Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute, the ChEM-H chemical biology initiative. Dan received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Washington’s Early Entrance Program in Seattle. He then moved to MIT for a PhD in Biochemistry with Graham Walker, where his thesis work focused on molecular mechanisms of stress-induced mutagenesis. Dan’s postdoctoral training as a Damon Runyon fellow with Susan Lindquist at the Whitehead Institute centered on the molecular chaperone Hsp90 and its relationship to the capacity of genetic variation to produce new phenotypes. He also discovered a new and widespread form of protein-based epigenetic inheritance. For the past 10 years Dan has been on the Stanford faculty where his research program focuses on how environmental change influences adaptation on a systems level. Dan’s work employs multidisciplinary approaches ranging from chemical biology to systems-level quantitative genetics and uses models as diverse as baker’s yeast, human cancers, and the African turquoise killifish. In addition to receiving an NSF-CAREER Award he has been named an NIH New Innovator and received fellowships from the Searle, Glenn, Packard, Kimmel, and Vallee Foundations as well as the Louis Pasteur Award from the Belgian Brewing Society. In 2020 he was a visiting professor at the ETH Zürich. Dan also directs Foundations in Experimental Biology, the flagship course for biosciences PhD students at Stanford and serves on the executive committee of the Faculty Senate. In his free time, Dan enjoys spending time in nature with his family.

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Leanne Jones (University of California, San Francisco, USA)

Dr. Jones is a Professor in the Departments of Anatomy and Medicine, Division of Geriatrics at the University of California- San Francisco. In addition, she is the inaugural Director of the Bakar Aging Research Institute at UCSF. Dr. Jones received her Ph.D. degree in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from Harvard University, followed by postdoctoral fellowships in the laboratories of Philip Ingham (University of Sheffield) and Margaret Fuller (Stanford University School of Medicine). Her lab is interested in uncovering fundamental, conserved mechanisms by which stem cell behavior is regulated, by studying adult stem cells in the fruit fly gonads, brain, and intestine, as well as in the mammalian intestine. Recent work has focused on how stem cell behavior is modulated in response to aging and chronic and acute changes in metabolism.

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Tomoya Kitajima (RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Japan)

Tomoya Kitajima received his Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo for his discovery of shugoshin, a conserved protein for chromosome segregation. In 2004, he went on to work as a research associate at the same university. In 2007, he joined Jan Ellenberg’s group at EMBL Heidelberg, Germany, as a postdoctoral fellow. In 2012, he joined the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) as a team leader of the Laboratory for Chromosome Segregation, to study chromosome segregation in oocytes and how it leads to aging-associated egg aneuploidy. He continues to head the team in BDR. He serves as one of the BDR deputy directors since April 2019.

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Gioele La Manno (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland)

Professor Gioele La Manno is a computational and developmental biologist studying the developmental dynamics of the nervous system. Since 2018 he has led the Laboratory of Brain Development and Biological Data Science within the Brain Mind Institute at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) and in 2023 was appointed Tenure Track Assistant Professor.

Professor La Manno obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology at the University of Palermo in Italy, then his Master’s Degree in Biomedicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, where he started his scientific career as a trainee of Professor Sten Linnarsson. He made his first scientific contributions related to the development of single-cell RNA sequencing technologies, and their application of single-cell RNA-seq to study the developing mammalian nervous system. A particularly influential contribution to the field of single-cell genomics has been the development of the RNA Velocity analysis framework (Nature 2018). RNA Velocity makes it possible to directly measure—in static snapshot data—the dynamic, time-resolved component of gene expression.

He recently made advances in the field of lipidomics and co-discovered lipid-based states. Currently, his lab focuses on the role of gene-lipids interactions in brain formation and teratogenesis. The long-term goal of his research is to understand how different biochemical drivers and teratogens affect fate commitment and differentiation taking place during nervous system development.

As a recognition his scientific contributions Professor La Manno was awarded the Vasco Sanz Prize, the EMPIRIS Award, the SIB Resource innovation award, and the Dimitris N. Chorafas prize.

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Inigo Martincorena (Wellcome Sanger Institute, UK)

Inigo studied his undergraduate studies in Biology and Biochemistry in Spain. He did his PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2012, and has been a group leader at the Sanger Institute (Cambridge) since 2016. His work over the last 10 years has focused on the study of somatic mutation and selection in normal tissues.

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Mariko Okada (Institute for Protein Research, Osaka University, Japan)

Mariko Okada has been pursuing research on cell fate regulation using a systems biology approach by combining experimental and computational methods. Focusing on quantitative input-output relationships in signaling networks and transcriptional regulation in cell proliferation, differentiation, and senescence, she has uncovered the molecular mechanisms underlying the characteristic dynamics that cause changes in cell fate. Her group is also developing computational tools to integrate a variety of information to develop in silico patient-specific models for predicting human disease prognosis and drug response using natural language processing (NLP) and other methods.

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Nancy Papalopulu (The University of Manchester, UK)

Nancy Papalopulu did her PhD at the National Institute for Medical Research, London with Dr. Robb Krumlauf and a post-doc at the Salk Institute for Biomedical Research, US with Dr. Chris Kintner. She was a Group Leader at the Gurdon Institute, Cambridge, UK (1997-2007) and moved to the University of Manchester to take up a Professorship in Developmental Neuroscience in 2007. She is a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator, an elected member of EMBO and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. Nancy’s work combines experimentation with theoretical modeling to study transcription factor protein expression dynamics with live imaging, at the single cell level but in a tissue environment. Her work aims to understand how such dynamics exert spatial and temporal control of fundamental cell state transitions during vertebrate neural development.

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Alberto Pradilla Dieste (Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, UK)

Alberto Pradilla-Dieste is a postdoctoral researcher in David Fernandez-Antoran´s laboratory, at the Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge. He received his PhD in Endocrinology from the University of Santiago the Compostela (Spain) in 2023, where he focused on the alterations produced in pituitary caused after stem cell malfunction. Currently his research interest is the application of directed and specific treatments for squamous cell carcinomas. The development of this research is possible thanks to Epithelioids, a human 3D culture generated by the laboratory of David Fernandez-Antoran that mimics epithelial tissue biology and structure.

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Jonathan Rodenfels (Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Germany)

Jonathan Rodenfels is Max Planck Research Group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Dresden, Germany. He received his undergrad degree in Biochemistry from the University of Bayreuth in 2008 and his PhD from the MPI-CBG and TU Dresden in 2014. After working as a postdoc at Yale University with Prof. Karla Neugebauer he joined the MPI-CBG as a group leader in 2021. Since 2021, Jonathan is a group leader at MPI-CBG working on the energetics of biological systems. Current research in the Rodenfels group focuses on understanding how cellular metabolism and flows of energy and matter shape the behavior of out of equilibrium biological systems such as cells and developing organisms.

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Andreas Sagner (Institute of Biochemistry at FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany)

Andreas Sagner is a group leader at the Institute of Biochemistry at FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg. He has a long-standing interest in the molecular mechanisms that control tissue patterning and the emergence of cell type diversity during development. Andreas is by training a biologist, who received his Diploma from the University of Leipzig in 2007. His PhD work focussed on the characterization of the emergence of global patterns of planar polarity in the Drosophila wing in the group of Suzanne Eaton at the Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden. In 2014 he moved to London to join the group of James Briscoe, first at the National Institute for Medical Research and later at the Francis Crick Institute, as postdoctoral fellow, where he investigated the gene regulatory networks and transcriptional dynamics that orchestrate the establishment of neuronal diversity in the developing spinal cord. In 2020 he joined the University of Manchester as a Presidential Fellow before establishing his own group based on funding by a DFG Emmy-Noether Fellowship in Erlangen in 2021. Currently, the work in his group focusses on how temporal patterning contributes to the establishment of neuronal diversity in the developing nervous system.

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Katsuyuki Shiroguchi (RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Japan)

Katsuyuki Shiroguchi is a Team Leader in RIKEN BDR, Japan.
He started his research career in biophysics studying the mechanism of molecular motors by observing the single molecule dynamics under a microscope. Later, he shifted to genomics research and developed digital RNA sequencing using his original DNA molecular barcodes.
His current focus is on single cell analysis to better understand multicellular systems by combining imaging, sequencing, machine learning, and robotics. His targets include organoids, immune system, and cancer.

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Motomasa Tanaka (RIKEN Center for Brain Science, Japan)

Motomasa Tanaka is a Team Leader of the Laboratory for Protein Conformation Diseases in RIKEN Center for Brain Science (CBS). He received his Ph.D. in Molecular Engineering from Kyoto University in 1999. He completed his postdoctoral training at RIKEN Brain Science Institute (BSI) and University of California-San Francisco (UCSF). After the engagement as a PRESTO scientist (Japan Science and Technology Agency), he has headed his own laboratory in RIKEN BSI/CBS since 2006. His laboratory investigates the molecular basis of protein misfolding/aggregation and aberrant mRNA translation, and develops novel bioanalytical techniques/platforms to better understand proteostasis impairments that are associated with neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases.

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Sa Kan Yoo (RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research, Japan)

Sa Kan Yoo graduated in medicine from Kobe University. He worked on Ror-Wnt signaling at Dr. Yasuhiro Minami’s lab while he was not working on the wards. He obtained PhD at Anna Huttenlocher lab of University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he worked on wound responses in zebrafish. He joined Iswar Hariharan’s lab of University of California-Berkeley as a postdoc and investigated mechanisms of tissue repair and oncogenic stress using Drosophila and zebrafish. He was appointed a team leader at BDR in 2018.
Dr. Yoo’s laboratory focuses on mechanisms of dynamic tissue homeostasis.

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Shosei Yoshida (National Institute for Basic Biology, Japan)

Shosei Yoshida’s interest is in germ cells, transmitting genome and other heritable information to the next and subsequent generations through eggs and sperm.

Using mice, Shosei has been investigating cellular identity and fate dynamics of sperm stem cells (SSCs), by developing intravital live-imaging and pulse labelling-based cell fate tracing assays combined with mathematical modeling.

Shosei’s discoveries include the reversible potential of differentiation-primed SSCs returning back to the self-renewing pool both in homeostasis and regeneration, active SSC migration in between differentiating progeny in a vasculature-associated open niche, and the mechanism of SSC density homeostasis by competing mitogens. Shosei is extending his research targets to broader germline events from a perspective of clonal cellular lineage evolution for a deeper understanding of genetic and epigenetic inheritance across generations.

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Hikari Yoshitane (Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science, Japan)

Hikari Yoshitane is a Project Leader of the Circadian Clock Project in Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science, and also serves as an Associate Professor in Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo.

He is a chronobiologist, a researcher for the circadian rhythm or the circadian clock. He started studying the circadian clock under the supervision of Prof. Yoshitaka Fukada in the University of Tokyo. He received his Ph.D in 2009 and continued his research as an Assistant Professor in the Fukada lab to 2021. His main research interest is to understand the molecular mechanisms of how the circadian clock oscillates with 24-hours period. He is also interested in cellular input signals into the circadian clock and physiological outputs from the clock. This research should help develop novel medical treatment strategies for many circadian clock-related diseases including aging.