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Keynote speakers

Jacob Hanna

Jacob Hanna studied Clinical Medicine at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and later on earned his PhD in 2007 on molecular immunology. Next, he performed his postdoctoral research at MIT with Prof. Rudolf Jaenisch. Since 2011 he is Principal Investigator, Department of Molecular Genetics, Faculty of Biochemistry, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. He received numerous award for his groundbreaking stem cell research (Robertson Innovator Award, Kimmel Award, Segal Family Award,...) and was selected among “40 under 40” most innovative young scientists by Cell Journal and by MIT's Technology Review Magazine, for leading international innovators under the age of 35. 

Hanna’s lab investigates the process of cellular reprogramming, in which induced pluripotent stem cells are generated from somatic cells, and they investigate how pluripotency is maintained throughout development in mouse and human. They utilize in their studies a diverse arsenal of biological experimentation methods, high throughput screening, advanced microscopy and genomic analyses.



Donal O'Carroll

Donal obtained his PhD from Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, Vienna in 1999. After 6 years of postdoctoral work at The Rockefeller University, New York, he returned to Europe. He was Group Leader at EMBL Monterotondo from 2007 -2015. Since 2015 he is Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator and Professor of Stem Cell Biology, Associate Director, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine. Since 2007 he is also an Adjunct professor, The Rockefeller University.

His lab is interested in characterizing spermatogonial stem cell (SSC) populations that support fertility as well the regenerative capacity of the testis throughout adult life. Their research explores the contribution of non-coding RNA and RNA modification pathways within germ cell development as well as testicular homeostasis/regeneration.

Nikolaus Rajewsky

Nikolaus Rajewsky obtained his PhD in 1997 in Theoretical Physics from University of Cologne, Germany. Following postdoctoral research in Mathematical Physics (Joel Lebowitz) at  Rutgers University and at Center for Studies in Physics and Biology (Eric Siggia) at The Rockefeller University, he became in 2003 an Assistant Professor for Biology and Mathematics at New York University. Since 2006 he is Full Professor for Systems Biology, Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine and Charite, Berlin and Global Distinguished Professor of Biology, New York University.

A major focus of Rajewsky lab is on post-transcriptional gene regulation by small RNAs and RNA binding proteins. Current research projects are focused on identifying the gene regulatory networks that drive early embryogenesis; the function of microRNAs/piRNAs/RBPs during regeneration of stem cell and molecular mechanisms that maintain totipotency of stem cells. How do RBPs/microRNAs recognize their targets? Can we make a testable theory of models site occupancy, site specificity together with RBP and target mRNA copy number?

Other renowned speakers

Derk ten Berge

Derk ten Berge studied chemistry at Utrecht University (the Netherlands), and subsequently earned his PhD at the Hubrecht Institute for Developmental Biology. His PhD work focused on the role of homeobox genes in embryonic patterning. He was awarded a Human Frontiers Long Term Fellowship and moved to the lab of Prof. Roel Nusse at Stanford University. Afterwards Derk moved back to Europe and is professor at Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

His lab specializes in studying the role of growth factors in regulating stem cell behaviours, and is uncovering to role of Wnt proteins in in the self-renewal and differentiation of embryonic stem cells.

Paul Bertone

Prof. at Cambridge University, UK and unit head at European Bioinformatic Insititute.

Bertone lab specializes in studying embryonic and tissue-specific stem cells, leveraging state-of-the-art genomic technologies to address fundamental aspects of development and disease. They investigate the transcriptional regulatory networks that induce and support naive pluripotency. A second research area entails the analysis of tumour-initiating neural stem cells that drive glioblastoma. 

Jörg Betschinger

Jörg Betschiger studied Biochemistry at University of Tuebingen. He earned his PhD at Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, Vienna. In years 2007-2013, he worked as research associate at Wellcome Trust/MRC Stem Cell Centre, University of Cambridge.  In 2013 he became Junior Group Leader at Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel.

His lab research aims at deciphering mechanisms and logics driving cell state transitions using pluripotent stem cells as a paradigm. In particular, we target the identification of modules that regulate cell state changeover, to specify the underlying network dynamics, and to deduce routines conferring network plasticity.

Sebastian Bultmann

Sebastian Bultmann obtained his PhD degree in Cell Biology at the Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich in 2012.  He worked as postdoctoral fellow at LMU in the Department of Human Biology and Bioimaging until 2015. In 2015, he became a junior group leader at the same department.

His lab applies and develops state-of-the-art genome engineering techniques that allow efficient and reliable modification of genomic information. In combination with RNA sequencing and genome-scale DNA methylation profiling his labs aims is to understand the function and regulation of DNA methylation turnover dynamics in stem cells and during differentiation.

Davide Cacchiarelli

Davide Cacchiarelli completed his studies at Università degli Studi di Roma and his PhD at Sapienza Universita di Roma under mentorship of Irene Bozzoni. He received Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship and Human Frontier Science Program Fellow. Next, he performed his postdoctoral research at Stem Cell & Regenerative Biology at Harvard University (with Tarjei Mikkelsen) and has later became staff scientist at Broad Institue of Harvard University and MIT.

Filippo Calzolari

Filippo Calzolari earned his PhD at University of Genoa. He work on his postdoctoral researches at Helmholtz Zentrum München, Institute of Stem Cell Research, and at Ludwig-Maximilian-University of Munich, Department of Physiological Genomics. He is a currently project leader/staff scientist at University of Mainz.

Filippo Calzolari focuses in cellular and molecular mechanisms of neural development, regeneration and tumorigenesis, with an emphasis on progenitor population and clonal dynamics underlying these processes.

Alfredo Castello

Alfredo Castello obtained his PhD degree in Molecular Biology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in 2008. He worked as postdoctoral fellow at CMBSO, Madrid and at EMBL, Heidelberg until 2012. From 2012-2014 he was staff scientist at EMBL and after that, he became Principal investigator at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford.

His lab main aim is determining the repertoire of RBPs involved in virus infection and cell-cycle progression applying the state-of-the-art proteomics and RNA sequencing. His lab is developing novel methods to identify cell-fate master regulators that will be further characterized using molecular and cellular biology methods, from stem cells to animal models.

Jeffrey Chao

Jeffrey Chao completed his studies at Pomona College, Claremont, USA and obtained his PhD at The Scripps Research Institute, USA. From 2005-2012 he was research fellow at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, USA. From 2013 he is junior group leader at Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel.

The main focus of Jeffrey’s lab is to better understand the molecular underpinnings that regulate processes how mRNA is spliced, processed, exported, transported and translated before it is eventually degraded. They are also searching how these complexes function within their cellular context. Their research combines biochemical and structural (X-ray crystallography) techniques with single-molecule imaging of mRNAs in living cells.

Mark Denham

Mark Denham obtained PhD at Monash University Australia. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Lund University. From 2008-2013 he was research fellow at Melbourne Brain Centre at University of Melbourne and continued as a senior research fellow at Karolinska Institute. From 2013 he is professor at Aarhus University and group leader of stem cell laboratory at DANDRITE.

The main focus of Marks lab is to investigate the signaling pathways required for the specification of precise neural cell types from the pluripotent state. Using this approach the research aims of his lab are to identify early cellular changes that underlie the onset of neurodegeneration for diseases. Furthermore, his lab is also interested in how different neural progenitor subtypes survive and function after transplantation in an adult rodent brain. Their overall goals are to develop potential treatment strategies for neurodegenerative disorders in the form of cell replacement therapies and drug development.

Micha Drukker

Micha Drukker recived his PhD degree at Hebrew University, Israel in 2005. Next five years he was postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University and in 2010 he became research associate at Stanford University.  Micha Drukker joined the Institute for Stem Cell Research at the Helmholtz Zentrum München in June 2012. Dr. Drukker is the head of the Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Independent Research Lab and the Human Induced Pluripotent Stem (hiPS) Cell Unit.

The research aim of the Drukker lab is characterize lineage-committed progenitors that emerge from human ESCs, to discover the patterns of fate choices and to analyze the molecular programs controlling pluripotent cell fate decisions, with special emphasis to post-trancriptional regulatory level.

Simon Elsässer

Simon Elsässer joined the graduate program at Rockefeller University in 2007 and performed his thesis research in David Allis’ lab on the biochemistry. Graduating in 2012, he moved to the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, where he was an EMBO Fellow, Herchel Smith Fellow and Junior Research Fellow of Wolfson College, working with Jason Chin. Since 2015, he is a Science for Life Laboratory Fellow and Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) at Karolinska Institutet.

Elsässer laboratory is applying new synthetic and chemical biology methods to understand chromatin structure and function. They are developing tools to engineer proteins in living stem cells based on genetic code expansion and unnatural amino acid mutagenesis.



Elke Glasmacher

Elke Glasmacher obtained her diploma at University of Cologne, Germany in 2006 and her PhD in Molecular Immunology at Ludwig Maximilian University, Germany in 2010. Upon short postdoc at Helmholtz Zentrum München, Elke in 2011 moved to USA and was research fellow at Genentech Inc. Today she is heading Molecular Immunology group at Helmholtz Zentrum in Munchen, Germany.

Her laboratory wants to identify and describe novel mechanisms that are important for T helper differentiation and plasticity and include all levels of gene regulation: ‘from DNA to RNA, from RNA to protein’. The laboratory performs experiments in-vivo as well as in-vitro and combines a variety of molecular techniques.

Martin Leeb

Martin finished his PhD thesis (2009) at the Institute of Molecular Pathology, Vienna. After that he was research associate at Wellcome TrustCentre for Stem Cell Research, University of Cambridge. Martin Leeb is now group leader and assistant professor at the Mfpl of the University of Vienna.

Leebs group investigates the molecular mechanisms of cell fate determination in mammals using high throughput screening platforms combined with defined cell culture systems. His lab aim is understanding of the molecular mechanisms that determine cellular identity during the course of embryonic development. Future efforts in his laboratory will focus on the in depth functional analysis of selected candidate genes and pathways.

Christian Muchardt

Christian Muchardt earned his PhD in Microbiology-Biotechnology at INSA Toulouse in 1992. He was postdoctoral fellow at the Institut Pasteur – Paris. From 2006 Christian Muchard is heading unit of Epigenetic Regulation at the Institut Pasteur. He was also Président du Comité de Site “Fernbach-Animalerie” at Institute Pasteur from 2006-2009. In 2012 he became deputy director of the Departement of Developmental and Stem Cell Biology. Today Christian Muchardt is Head of Research Unit at Institut Pasteur and Director of Research at CNRS.

The general objective of the lab is to explore the crosstalk between the transcription machinery, the coding and non-coding RNA it produces, and the chromatin in the context of cancer and multiple sclerosis. Important contributions have focused on the role of chromatin remodeling machineries in cellular transformation.

Jernej Murn

Jernej Murn was working on his PhD research at Laboratory for Functional Genomics, CEA, France, and at University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Now he is working as Research Fellow in Pediatrics at Boston Children's Hospital.

He is a member of Shi Lab and they are interested in studying histone methylation as a steady yet revocable process, as well as other components of epigenetic regulatory mechanisms. Jernej Murn investigates the mechanistic bases of RBPs in regulating cell homeostasis in health and disease. His particular focus is on the chromatin-dependent roles of RBPs and their associated non-coding RNAs.

Dierk Niessing

Dierk Niessing obtained PhD at the Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry Göttingen, in 2000. From 2000-2002 he was postdoctoral fellow at the Rockefeller University New York, and for next three years he was postdoctoral fellow at SGX-Parmarceuticals, San Diego. In 2005, he became leader of Helmholtz-University-University Young Investigators Group at the Gene Center LMU. In years 2009-2015, he was Tenured Principal Investigator at the Institute of Structural Biology, Helmholtz Zentrum. Since 2010, he is Deputy Director of the Institute of Structural Biology and professor at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.

Niessing research groups’ goal is to understand the molecular principles underlying cargo recognition by transport complexes, complex assembly and activation, and eventually complex disassembly after the transport. Moreover, their long-term goal is to understand how core factors of large multiprotein complexes interact to (1) detect their cargo, (2) assemble into functional complexes in response to cargo recognition and (3) translocate their cargo through the cytoplasm. We aim to extend our understanding to transport processes in higher eukaryotes.

Jovica Ninkovic

Jovica Ninkovic studied in Belgrade and completed his PhD in Munich. Currently he is group leader and deputy director of Institute of Stem Cell Research Helmholtz Zentrum München.

His investigations aim is to determine the regulation specification of glutamatergic and inhibitory GABAergic neurons in the brain. He is examining whether a single neural stem cell is capable to generate both glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons in the adult olfactory bulb. Second, address the role Ngn2 and Tbr2 in specification of the glutamatergic short axon cells in this system. Third, identify fate determinants acting up-stream of these determinants prior to the neuroblast stage.

Paulo Amaral

Paulo Amaral is a post-doctoral research associate at the Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, in the group of Professor Tony Kouzarides. He concluded his PhD under Professor John Mattick in 2011, on the regulation and functions of noncoding RNAs in embryonic stem cell differentiation and vertebrate development

His current research focuses on the evolution of noncoding RNAs and on their roles in the control of genome expression in pluripotent and cancer cells, with emphasis on chromatin regulation.

Alvaro Rada-Iglesias

Alvaro Rada-Iglesias obtained PhD at Claes Wadelius’ lab at Uppsala University, in 2007. Next year he worked as researcher at Linnaeus Centre for Bioinformatics, Uppsala University. From 2009-2013 he was postdoctoral fellow at Joanna Wysocka’s lab at Stanford University. Now he is Group Leader of Developmental Genomics Laboratory at University of Cologne.

The team led by Alvaro Rada-Iglesias is researching how gene expression is regulated during  embryogenesis and how its misregulation might lead to human disease. The goal is to investigate these sequences for non-coding mutations, in order to decode the genetic basis of human disease and congenital disorders.

Boris Rogelj

Boris Rogelj obtained his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Ljubljana in 1999. From 2000-2003 he worked on molecular basis of learning and memory as a postdoctoral fellow at the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, University College London. From 2003-2011 he was a senior postdoctoral researcher and senior research associate at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, where he was involved in seminal discoveries connecting RNA-binding proteins (RBP) TDP-43 and FUS to neurological diseases. From 2012, he is a group leader at Dept. of Biotechnology, Jozef Stefan Institute, and associate professor at University of Ljubljana, Faculty for Chemistry and Chemical Technology. His current research primarily focuses on the disease related roles of RBPs that are associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. He is looking into protein-RNA interactions, RNA toxicity and nucleocytoplasmic redistribution and aggregation of RBPs.

Michael Sattler

In 1995 he completed his doctorate at J.W. Goethe University in Frankfurt, and afterwards he went to Chicago to do research under Dr. Stephen W. Fesik (Abbott Laboratories). In 1997 he became group leader at the European Laboratory for Molecular Biology (EMBL) in Heidelberg. Since 2007, Michael is director of Institute of Structural Biology at Helmholtz Zentrum in Munich, research Center for Environmental Health, and director of Bavarian NMR Center, and Professor of Biomolecular NMR-Spectroscopy at TU Munich.

A main focus in the Sattler group is to understand the structural basis of protein-RNA interactions that are functionally important for various aspects of gene expression, such as the regulation of (alternative) pre-mRNA splicing and gene silencing by non-coding RNAs (siRNAs, miRNAs). Another area of research is structural investigations of proteins and protein complexes involved in peroxisomal biogenesis and disease-linked cellular pathways.

Renée Schroeder

Renée Schroeder obtained her PhD in Biochemistry, University of Vienna and was later appointed as a EMBO fellowship and performed her Postdoctoral research first at CGM, CNRS, France, second at New York State Dept. of Health. In 1993 she successfully made her habilitation in Genetics at Institute of Microbiology and Genetics, University of Vienna. From 1995 she is group leader at the same Institute.

Schroeders team is interested in discovering many regulatory elements that are part of the RNA regulon and in identifying their interacting partners and their targets. To achieve this goal they adapted the classical SELEX procedure to be used in combination with genome sequences and deep sequencing. Another focus in her laboratory deals with proteins that promote RNA folding: RNA chaperones. As model example they study the structural dynamics of both RNA and protein.

Stefan Stricker

Stefan Stricker obtained his PhD in Vienna, before going for his post-doctoral research to Cambridge University and later to University College London. Since 2013, Stefan is group leader at Ludwig Maximilian University and Helmholtz Zentrum München, Institute of Stem Cell Research.

His lab project aims to investigate, which of the myriad of epigenetic marks have significant functional relevance in mediating stem cell or disease phenotypes. Their team goal is to answear these questions: Which epigenetic marks trigger these phenotypes? Where are they located and how do they work? How are they deposited by other epigenetic mechanisms?

Jernej Ule

Jernej Ule obtained his BSc in Molecular Biology from University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 1999, and PhD in Molecular Neuroscience from Rockefeller University, New York, in 2004. After two-year postdoctoral work at Rockefeller University, he started his research group at the Structural Studies department of MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge in August 2006. In April 2013, he moved with his group to the UCL Institute of Neurology as a Professor of Molecular Neuroscience.

Currently, his lab studies the structure and function of regulatory RNPs in brain tissue, neurons and glia. Their aim is to determine how the structure of regulatory RNPs instructs their function in brain development and neurologic diseases. Second to understand how regulatory RNPs respond to cellular signals that affect neurons during at the initial stages of neurodegenerative diseases. Third to define how mutations can modify protein-RNA interactions to either drive evolution of mammalian brain, or cause neurologic diseases.

Julian Venables

Dr. Venables obtained his PhD from Leicester University in 1998. In next 8 years he was working on postdoctoral research at Edinburgh University and Newcastle University. From 2007-2010 he worked research professional at Sherbrook University, Canada, where he was one of three supervisors of team. He was working as postdoctoral research and Consultant at Montpellier University, France till 2012. He is Principal Investigator, Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University from 2012. Lately, Julian Venables has been active science editor and has funded Science-Sense company.

His research interests are alternative splicing mechanisms and function. Second, role of alternative splicing in normal development (brain and muscle) and disease especially in epithelial to mesenchymal transition, stem cell differentiation and cancer. Third, application of genomewide technologies: RNA-Seq, splicing microarrays, high-throughput RT-PCR and computing to alternative splicing. And also evolution of alternative splicing and the fixation of regulated alternative splices of functional importance.

Jianlong Wang

Jianlong Wang obtained PhD at University of Massachusetts in 2000. He worked as postdoctoral research fellow at Biochemistry and Biophysics, Lineberger Comp. Cancer Center until 2001. For next 5 years he was Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Stem Cell Biology,Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. From 2009-2013 he worked as Assistant Professor at Department of Developmental and Regenerative Biology, Black Family Stem Cell Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he became Professor.

Wang lab studies pluripotency protein-protein interaction and transcriptional regulatory networks that govern stem cell pluripotency and somatic cell reprogramming. Insights from these studies will facilitate efficient derivation/generation and optimal propagation of embryonic/induced pluripotent stem cells (ESCs/iPSCs) for their safe application in disease therapeutics and regenerative medicine.

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