Invited Speakers

Rafal Ciosk

University of Oslo · Department of Biosciences, Oslo, Norway
The laboratory of Rafal Ciosk is interested in elucidating how the interactions between mRNAs and RNA-binding proteins and regulatory RNAs determine mRNA fates, and how posttranscriptional mechanisms control fundamental biological processes. They use the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as main experimental model and combine genetics and genomics with molecular biology, through biochemistry and structural biology.

Gáspár Jékely

University of Exeter, Living Systems Institute, United Kingdom

Gáspár Jékely investigates the nervous system of the ciliated larvae of marine animals, among them Platynereis dumerilii, as main model species, using an integrative approach combining molecular biology, neurobiology, behavior, marine ecology and evolution. Gáspár’s objective is to understand the anatomy and function of neuronal circuits that regulate the planktonic migration of ciliated zooplankton larvae. His primary goal is to develop the first detailed systems-level understanding of the nervous system of a marine ciliated larva.


Angela Nieto

Instituto de Neurociencias, Developmental Neurobiology Unit, Alicante, Spain

Angela Nieto is studying cell movements and plasticity during the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) of embryonic development. She found that pathological activation of the EMT in the adult leads to several prominent pathologies, in particular to the acquisition of invasive and migratory properties. In the last ten years, Angela extended her studies to pathologies related to bone development and homeostasis and also organ degeneration. The lab uses the zebrafish as a fundamental model system, but also work with chicken and mouse as additional experimental models.

Andrea Pauli

Research Institute of Molecular Pathology at the Vienna Biocenter, Vienna, Austria

The long-term vision of Andrea Pauli is to unravel new concepts and molecular principles governing one of the most dramatic developmental transitions, the oocyte-to-embryo transition. The Pauli lab is employing genetic, molecular, cellular, biochemical and genomics approaches in zebrafish embryos to identify new molecular players and gain mechanistic insights into sperm-egg interaction and fusion. They are interested also in investigating translational regulation during embryogenesis and how the short, secreted protein Toddler/Apela regulates gastrulation movements.


Eszter Pósfai

Princeton Universiity, Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton, USA

Eszter Pósfai is studying the molecular mechanisms by which single cells acquire distinct fates during development, and communicate with each other and the environment to reproducibly form an embryo with the correct proportions and spatial patterns of different cell types. By understanding how cellular states are controlled in the preimplantation mouse embryo, she aims to stably reproduce these states in vitro, in form of novel embryo-derived stem cell types.

James Sharpe

EMBL Barcelona, Spain

James Sharpe is studying the process of vertebrate limb development using a multi-disciplinary approach, combining experimental systems, various 3D mesoscopic imaging technologies and computer modelling. He found evidence supporting the idea that digit patterning is achieved by a Turing reaction-diffusion system, and that this particular molecular system has been conserved during evolution from fish to mammals. In addition to this specific model system, James is also interested in the theoretical principles by which gene regulatory networks can create controlled spatial patterns in multicellular contexts, both in a purely theoretical context, and also in its application to synthetic biology. The other major goal of his lab is to continue developing and improving 3D (Optical Projection Tomography) and 4D imaging technology including the development of time-lapse imaging of mouse limb development in vitro (OPTiSPIM).

András Simon

Karolinska Institutet, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Stockholm, Sweden

András Simon primarily studies aquatic salamanders, newts, which possess the largest spectrum of regenerative abilities among adult vertebrates. The lab is investigating how adult neurogenesis and brain regeneration takes place. They focus on dopamine neurons in the midbrain, in particular on the role of neurotransmitter signaling in neurogenesis during normal physiological conditions and after neuronal ablation. András also tries to understand how skeletal muscle contributes to new tissues during limb regeneration.  He identified a Pax7+ stem cell population in salamander skeletal muscle and tries to understand how these cells take part in limb regeneration.

Marie-Hélène Verlhac

Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology, College de France, Paris, France

Marie-Helen Verlhac co-heads (with Marie-Emilie Terret) a group at the College de France, Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology (CRIB), in France, researching the mechanistic basis of oocyte morphogenesis, primarily (although not exclusively) in the mouse model. Marie-Helene’s highly multi-disciplined work has provided profound insight into how the first meiotic spindle is asymmetrically positioned during oocyte maturation, in the absence of centrosomes, in a coordinated mechanism requiring highly dynamic regulation of both cytoplasmic actin and cortical actin networks.

Berenika Plusa

University of Manchester, Division of Developmental Biology and Medicine, United Kingdom

Berenika Plusa is interested in processes leading to the acquisition of lineage identity and cell commitment during early mammalian development, as well as in various aspects of regulative abilities of early mammalian embryos. In particular, her research is focused on temporal control of cell fate decisions and the role of cell architecture and cell-cell communication in this process.