Meet the Keynote Speakers

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Bernhard Hube

Field of expertise:
Molecular mycology and fungal infection biology

Current position:
Professor and Chair for Microbial Pathogenicity at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Germany and Head of the Department of Microbial Pathogenicity Mechanisms at the Hans Knoell Institute, Jena, Germany

Speaker bio:
Bernhard Hube earned his PhD in Microbiology at the University of Goettingen (1991) and spent his postdoctoral time at the University of Aberdeen (1992 – 1995) and the University of Hamburg (1995 – 2000). In 2000 he became Research Group leader and Head of Division “Mycology”, at the Robert Koch Institute, Berlin. In 2006 he was appointed Professor and Chair for Microbial Pathogenicity at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, and in 2007 Head of the Department of Microbial Pathogenicity Mechanisms at the Hans Knoell Institute in Jena, Germany. He has co-authored > 200 publications dealing the molecular and infection biology of human pathogenic fungi, in particular Candida species. His recent research focuses on the first peptide toxin discovered in human pathogenic fungi.

Title of their presentation:
From commensalism to pathogenicity: interactions of Candida albicans with the host

About the presentation:
The fungus Candida albicans is both, a commensal and an opportunistic pathogen of man. The adaptation of this fungus to the human host is the result of an ancient, mostly commensal, relationship and has led to the development of distinct fungal strategies to survive and proliferate in diverse host niches. On the other hand, the host has adapted and evolved general and specific mechanisms to prevent invasion and infection by any type of microbes, including C. albicans. This co-evolution scenario has not only led to the emergence of distinct microbial virulence factors, which facilitate establishment in the host and pathogenicity, but also to “avirulence factors” (well known in the plant pathology field) or “immune modulators” (in the field of human immunology), which, once expressed, trigger microbial clearance by host immune responses.

Read more about Bernhard Hube here.


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Toby Kiers

Field of expertise:
Evolution of Symbiosis

Current position: 
University Research Chair, Professor of Mutualistic Interactions

Speaker bio: 
Toby Kiers investigates how cooperation between species evolves and persists. Her recent work focuses on resource trading in nature and how complex ‘biological markets’ can emerge among plants and microbes. She is interested in when and why organisms defect from cooperation, and how cheating strategies emerge in nature. Kiers received her doctoral degree from University of California, Davis in 2005. She is now a University Research Chair and Professor of Mutualistic Interactions at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam.

Title of their presentation: 
Tracking Trade in the Rhizosphere

About the presentation:
A major goal of our lab is to understand the rules governing trade strategies in the symbiosis between arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and land plants. This partnership, which evolved 450 MYA, has tremendous effects on nutrient cycling, transferring up to five billion tons of carbon per year. We are developing tools to allow us to track trade across small spatial scales.

Read more about Toby Kiers.

Read our interview with Toby Kiers.


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Sang Yup Lee

Field of expertise:
Metabolic engineering, systems & synthetic biology, industrial biotechnology

Current position:
Distinguished Professor and Dean

Speaker bio:
Dr. Sang Yup Lee is Distinguished Professor and Dean of KAIST Institute at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. He is currently Fellow of AAAS, AAM, AIChE, AIMBE, SIMB, TWAS, and member of Korean Academy of Science and Technology, National Academy of Engineering of Korea, and National Academy of Inventors USA. As of 2018, he is one of 13 people in the world elected as Foreign Associate of both National Academy of Engineering USA and National Academy of Sciences USA. He is currently co-chair of the Global Future Council on Biotechnology, World Economic Forum. He received many awards.

Title of their presentation:
Systems metabolic engineering for developing microbial strains for chemicals production

About the presentation:
Bio-based production of chemicals and materials from renewable resources requires development of microbial strains having high production performance. The strategies of systems metabolic engineering for developing such high performance strains will be described. Examples on developing different strains capable of producing various chemicals and materials will be showcased.

Read more about KAIST Institute at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.


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Andy Waters

Field of expertise:
Malaria parasite molecular cell biology and transmission

Current position: 
Professor & Director of Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology, University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Speaker bio: 
Professor Andy Waters is a Wellcome Principal Research Fellow and Director of the Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology (WTCMP) at the University of Glasgow.  He has 30 years of experience in malaria research, mainly spent working with the rodent malaria model, Plasmodium berghei.  He has played a central role in the development of genetic manipulation of malaria parasites and helped develop the initial systems for this purpose publishing over 150 original research articles.  The current research of the laboratory centres around a transcription factor (AP2-G) that is the master regulator for the production of transmission forms of malaria parasites.

Title of their presentation: 
The pluripotent malaria parasite: ready to go in any direction  

About the presentation:
The current research of the laboratory centres around a transcription factor (AP2-G) that until recently thought to be the master regulator for the production of transmission forms of malaria parasites.  The parasite population in an infection integrates environmental cues to determine the timing, extent and quality of commitment to transmission.  The vast majority of the processes employed by the parasite to achieve this control remain unknown and their full elucidation remain the goal of the laboratory.  We have uncovered one aspect of the control that lies upstream of the action of AP2-G.  This mechanism involves control of mRNA translation at the level of a subset of the asexual transcriptome.  A specific RNA binding protein is responsible for productive engagement of specific mRNA species that between them control the rate of progression through the blood stage asexual cycle as well as the ability to produce male or female transmission forms (gametocytes).  Point mutation analysis of the RNA protein implicates protein acetylation as a key post-translational regulatory of commitment to sexual development.  It is likely that this knowledge will provide significant insights into several pathological processes of both malaria and other parasite diseases.  

Read more about Andy Waters.