Edition 2021

Conference programme

Plenary lectures

Reini Fernandez de Luco, PhD

Hospital Clinic de Barcelona, Spain

Plenary lecture – Friday, 3:15 – 4:10 PM
More than just a crosstalk, histone marks can be drivers of the changes in splicing observed during the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition

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Professor Reini Fernandez de Luco received a PhD degree in 2007 in Dr. Jorge Ferrer’s laboratory (Hospital Clinic de Barcelona, Spain) conducting research on the role of the transcription factor HNF1a in the nuclear organization of its target genes using in vivo mouse models. During her postdoctoral fellowship Professor Reini Fernandez de Luco was interested in the impact of histone marks in alternative splicing process. Since 2013 she has been holding a position of Group Leader at the Human Genetics Institute (IGH-CNRS) in Montpellier (France). Histone marks have long been suggested to play a role in the regulation of alternative splicing. From such studies, the impact of chromatin in splicing seemed limited, affecting a small number of exons in a modulatory way by just fine -tuning the final splicing outcome. By combining genome-wide transcriptomics and epigenomics machine learning analyses with exon-specific CRISPR epigenetic editing, Professor Reini Fernandez de Luco’s group have found that histone marks are drivers of the changes in alternative splicing of subset of genes with specific functional and/or regulatory characteristics that could be reverted in a therapeutic context, for example in inhibiting EMT-dependent cancer metastasis.

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Jan Guzowski, PhD

Institute of Physical Chemistry PAS, Poland

Plenary lecture – Friday, 6:05 PM – 7:00 PM
3D cell-culture scaffolds generated using microfluidics

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Dr Guzowski is a physicist with interests in soft matter science, droplet microfluidics, granular matter and tissue engineering. He is a leader of Soft Granular Matter and Tissue Engineering Group at Institute of Physical Chemistry PAS (IPC PAS) in Warsaw.

The focus of the group is structure formation in granular materials, in particular those composed of close-packed monodisperse droplets or hydrogel beads generated using microfluidics, and applications of such structures in tissue engineering, 3D cell culture and organ-on-chip technologies.

Dr Guzowski completed his PhD in Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany, followed by postdoc positions at IPC PAS in Warsaw with prof. P. Garstecki and at Princeton University, USA, with prof. H.A. Stone. He is laureate of the First Team programme (2017-2021) of Foundation for Polish Science.

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Łukasz Drewniak, PhD

University of Warsaw, Poland

Plenary lecture – Saturday, 10:00 – 10:55 AM

The use of lignocellulosic waste materials for treatment of heavy metal containing wastewaters – discussions on effectiveness and profitability

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Łukasz Drewniak (Ph.D, D.Sc.) is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology at the Faculty of Biology, University of Warsaw. He specializes in microbiology and environmental biotechnology and has been managing a research team, which conducts projects in the field of the bioremediation of environments contaminated with heavy metals, organic compounds, and the biodegradation of organic waste materials. From the very beginning of his scientific carrier, he was associated with the Faculty of Biology, University of Warsaw. He completed his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences in 2009 and he obtained degree of D.Sc. in 2017 (habilitation).

After obtaining his doctoral degree, he was the leader of 13 scientific projects founded by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (Iuventus Plus), the National Center of Research and Development (PBS, Lider, Gekon), the Foundation for Polish Science (Team Net, Team Tech), PARP (Innovation Voucher), RPO WM, OPI (POIG). He was also a laureate of the START programme in 2009 and 2010. Łukasz Drewniak is one of the leaders in the commercialization of research results and inventions developed at the University of Warsaw. He was awarded for implementation activities by the Minister of Science and Higher Education in 2019. He is also a founder and a main shareholder of the first spin-off company of the University of Warsaw – RDLS Sp. z o.o.

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Andrew Lang, PhD

Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John, Canada

Plenary lecture – Saturday, 12:15 – 1:10 PM
Gene transfer agents: bacteria tame phage and put them to work

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Andrew Lang is a Professor at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John, Canada. He completed his PhD at the University of British Columbia in 2000. Professor Andrew Lang’s current research concerns gene transfer agents and this is the topic that is going to be widly discussed during our Symposium. Gene transfer agents (GTAs) are bacteriophage-like particles produced by some prokaryotes that exclusively package small fragments of cellular DNA. Production of GTA particles by the alphaproteobacterium Rhodobacter capsulatus occurs in a small subset of the population, with these cells lysing to release particles that can then transfer the packaged DNA to other cells in the population. The production and release of GTAs in R. capsulatus is controlled by multiple cellular regulatory systems and coordinated with the ability of non-producing cells to become competent to receive DNA from the released GTA particles. His research group study various aspects of GTA biology, from structure and evolution to the mechanisms for regulating their production.

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Felix Mueller-Planitz, PhD

Stanford University, US

Plenary lecture – Saturday, 3:20 – 4:15 PM
The biogenesis and function of the nucleosome landscape

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Felix Müller-Planitz received his Ph.D. from Stanford University for mechanistic work on DNA topoisomerase II using biochemical and biophysical methods, in particular transient kinetic approaches. For his Postdoc, he switched fields and joined Prof. Becker’s lab at the LMU in Munich, where he got exposed to the world of chromatin that continues to be his home to date.

The Mueller-Planitz lab studies core components of chromatin – the nucleosomes and the machinery that places them in the genome. Nucleosomes are crucial to human health. Aging, for instance, disrupts the nucleosome landscape, destabilizing the genome, and mutations in nucleosomes are drivers of cancers. Nucleosomes serve both as barriers that restrict access to the genome and as a medium to accumulate epigenetic marks. Correspondingly, the locations of nucleosomes in the genome are precisely controlled by so called nucleosome remodeling complexes. Remodelers move, assemble, or eject nucleosomes in an ATP-dependent fashion. Some also even the spacing between nucleosomes, setting a characteristic nucleosome-to-nucleosome distance. These ‘spacing remodelers’ thereby generate arrays of nucleosomes with a surprising regularity, and these arrays are conserved throughout eukaryotes. Their function however remains elusive.

The overarching aim of the Mueller-Planitz lab is to elucidate the biogenesis of the nucleosome landscape and dissect its biological function. To achieve this goal, his lab bridges methodologies of molecular biology, genetics, genomics, biophysics, structural biology, and enzymology. They develop cutting-edge technology to visualize individual nucleosome patterns in single cells and to dissect the mechanism of nucleosome remodeling genome-wide in vivo and in vitro.

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Prof. Anna Bajer

University of Warsaw, Poland

Plenary lecture – Sunday, 11:10 AM – 12:05 PM
Summer with mosquitoes and ticks, and then? Babesiosis, borreliosis and dirofilariasis

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Anna Bajer is Head of the Department of Eco-epidemiology of Parasitic Diseases. In recent years there is a growing impact of parasitic diseases of environmental and zoonotic origin on human and animal health. To control this trend, there is a need for increase in ecological and epidemiological studies. In our lab we plan and perform a range of eco-epidemiological studies on ticks (Ixodes ricinus, Dermacentor reticulatus, Haemaphysalis concinna) and vector-borne diseases (babesiosis, borreliosis, bartonellosis, dirofilariasis); on factors influencing parasite communities in rodents, model free-living hosts (i.e. helminths and haemoparasite community); and on reservoir of intestinal microparasites (Cryptosporidium, Giardia). We are interested also in molecular diversity and molecular phylogeny of micro- and macroparasites of medical and veterinary significance. Recently we have also explored vertical route of transmission of vector-borne parasites, form female to offspring, in both environmental and laboratory studies.

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Philip Tagari, PhD

Amgen Inc, US

Plenary lecture – Sunday, 3:00 – 3:55 PM
Application of Machine Learning/Deep Learning/Artificial Intelligence to Drug Discovery

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Philip Tagari is currently Vice President of Research (Therapeutic Discovery) at Amgen Inc, the world’s largest independent biotechnology company. His global laboratories (US, Canada, Germany, China, India) are responsible for biologics discovery, scaffold engineering, optimization and early manufacturability assessment; medicinal, oligonucleotide and peptide chemistry; protein conjugates (Ab-RNAi, peptibodies) and reagents; assay development, screening, enzymological and pharmacological characterization and profiling (in vitro), as well as structural biology, biophysics, analytical chemistry, data sciences, materials logistics and automation. His teams have advanced over 30 innovative molecules into clinical development in recent years, including AMG 510 (first-in-class KRASG12C inhibitor) and AMG701 (half-life extended bispecific T-cell engager).

Additionally, he is an active member of Amgen Ventures and has participated in numerous research collaborations as well as the integration of Immunex, Tularik, Abgenix, Micromet and Nuevolution into the Amgen laboratories. He is board Chair for Amgen Biopharmaceutical Research and Development (Shanghai) Co., Ltd, a board member of MATWIN (Maturation & Accelerating Translation With Industry) in France and a Director of CQDM (Consortium Quebecois sur la Decouverte du Medicament; Quebec Consortium for Drug Discovery).
Prior to joining Amgen in 1998, Philip was a Research Fellow at Merck Frosst (Canada) Inc, where he contributed to several programs in eicosanoid and inflammatory biology, culminating in the discovery of odanacatib and rofecoxib, as well as the clinically active leukotriene D4 receptor antagonist MK-571 and the leukotriene biosynthesis inhibitor MK-591. Philip is a graduate of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge University (UK), and performed research at McGill and Oxford Universities on automated image analysis, quantitative immunohistochemistry and neurotransmitter measurements in neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular research.

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Prof. Jan Cools

KU Leuven, Belgium

Workshop – Saturday, 6:00 – 6:45 PM
How to publish your article?

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Jan Cools obtained his PhD degree in 2001 from the KU Leuven with a study on chromosomal defects in leukemia. From 2001 to 2003 he continued his research on the genetic causes of leukemia at Harvard Medical School (Boston, USA). After his return to Belgium, he was promoted to assistant professor in 2005 and to full professor in 2009 at KU Leuven. Jan is a group leader of VIB since 2008.

His research team studies the genetic complexity of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and uses that information to develop novel models of leukemia and novel treatment strategies.

Jan has served as a board member of the European Hematology Association and has been the editor-in-chief of the open access journal Haematologica from 2012 to 2017. He is currently editor-in-chief of HemaSphere, a new open access hematology journal of the European Hematology Association.

During the workshop you will have a chance to listen and learn about how to publish in peer-reviewed journals, as our speaker has more than 10 years of experience in being Editor in Chief.

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