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Symposia Chairs and Topics

Browse introductions to the Symposia topics below; to see the invited speakers in each Symposium, visit the Programme Overview page.

Adriano Aguzzi, Switzerland 
Mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases
It is becoming evident that protein aggregation is a crucial feature of most neurodegenerative diseases. This symposium will explore protein aggregation and related phenomena, their toxic consequences on the central nervous system, and possible therapeutic targets. Monday Sept 5, 15:30-17:30.

Uri Alon, Israel
Systems biology
Systems biology asks how molecular components work together to provide function, and why biological circuits are designed the way they are. At its most beautiful, the field discovers general principles which apply across systems and reveal simplicity inside the complexity of biology. Sunday Sept 4, 9:00-11:00.

Naama Barkai, Israel
Developmental biology
The developmental biology session will discuss how spatial patterns are generated during embryonic development, and in particular how biological diversity (‘noise’?) is buffered — or utilized — in these decision-making processes. Sunday Sept 4, 15:30-17:30.

Yinon Ben-Neriah, Israel 
Mechanisms of proinflammatory diseases
Inflammation has many faces — some are readily visible macroscopically or microscopically and others are obscure, detectable only by molecular analysis. It may affect an entire tissue, one segment of a tissue, or appear focally. The speakers of this symposium will discuss different types of inflammation and factors regulating inflammatory processes. Inflammation is emerging as one of the hallmarks of cancer and a major part of the symposium will be dedicated to the inflammation—cancer association. Monday Sept 5, 9:00-11:00.

Christoph Borchers, Canada 
Personalized medicine
Mass spectrometry is now poised to make major contributions to personalized (or 'precision') medicine. Biomarker validation and verification have long been the bottleneck in the biomarker pipeline — now large-scale quantitation projects can be undertaken because of the development and standardization of highly-multiplexed and accurate quantitative proteomics methods. The symposium will include discussion of multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) and parallel reaction monitoring (PRM) for the simultaneous targeting of large numbers of analytes, as well as immunoMALDI for the quantitation of a smaller number of clinically relevant targeted analytes. Thursday Sept 8, 9:00-11:00.

Vincent M. Christoffels, The Netherlands 
Cardiac regeneration: Programming human heart cells
Adult mammals fail to regenerate their hearts after injury or disease, leading to heart failure and death. However, mammals show regenerative potential shortly after birth, and some vertebrates, such as fish, can regenerate heart muscle throughout life. In addition, replacement of lost muscle by programming (stem) cells is a potential option. Exploration of the mechanisms underlying regeneration and programming is a key goal in regenerative biology. Thursday Sept 8, 9:00-11:00.

John Couchman, Denmark
Extracellular matrix and metalloproteinases
The focus of our session is the sensing of extracellular matrix (ECM) by cells. Increasingly studied as an important component of disease progression, arthritis, tumor—stroma interactions, vascular disease and inflammation are examples of where cell—ECM interactions are key regulators. Two talks in the session consider molecular aspects of signaling ECM receptors — the discoidin domain receptors and the syndecans. The third talk concerns nanostructural aspects of growth factor function, a frequent accompaniment to cell—ECM interactions. Thursday Sept 8, 9:00-11:00.

Sven Diederichs, Germany 
RNA biology, biogenesis and processing
The diverse functions of non-coding RNA molecules pose the central question in RNA biology today. This symposium will highlight the role in health and disease of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) — ncRNAs of length greater than 200 nucleotides and low coding potential, with emerging roles ranging from regulating transcription and chromatin-modifying machinery to even less studied functions in the cytoplasm. Presentations from the invited speakers will focus on lncRNA mechanisms as well as their role in cancer. Short talks will add the topics of RNA biogenesis and transcription as well as RNA modifications. Monday Sept 5, 9:00-11:00.

Miral Dizdaroğlu, United States 
DNA repair and cancer
Evidence accumulated over several decades strongly suggests that DNA damage and defects in DNA repair mechanisms are important factors in the development of human cancers. DNA lesions and DNA repair proteins serve as biomarkers for early detection, prognosis and monitoring therapy. DNA repair mechanisms constitute targets for development of novel strategies and drugs in cancer treatment. The session's speakers will discuss mechanistic aspects of DNA damage and repair, the role of DNA repair in carcinogenesis, and diagnosis and treatment of cancer on the basis of DNA repair. Sunday Sept 4, 9:00-11:00.

Peter Fraser, United Kingdom 
Nuclear architecture
The three-dimensional organization of the genome in the eukaryotic cell nucleus is now seen as a conformationally dynamic tissue-specific structure that plays multiple roles in controlling gene expression, DNA replication and repair. This symposium will highlight state-of-the-art studies on chromosome and genome conformation dynamics with a particular focus on single cell studies. Sunday Sept 4, 9:00-11:00.

Jan Glatz, The Netherlands
Novel signaling pathways controlling cardiac function
The heart is a continuously active biological pump that converts chemical energy into mechanical energy. Various signaling pathways are of utmost importance to coordinate energy metabolism and contractile function and to allow the heart to respond to changes in demand. This symposium focuses on the significance of these signaling pathways in both the healthy and diseased heart. Monday Sept 5, 15:30-17:30.

Vasıf Hasırcı, Turkey
Developments in biomaterials and tissue engineering
The biomaterials field has expanded from its focus on metal, ceramic and polymer implants to encompass the introduction of biological molecules and more recently cells into implants, in what is now known as ‘tissue engineering’. Today biomaterials scientists are using molecular biology tools and biochemical testing to study the performance of biomaterials and to improve the quality of their products and their understanding of the interactions between implants and biological systems. In this symposium, well-established scientists will be presenting their experience and recent contributions to the field. It is a new and exciting avenue for biochemists to be involved in. Tuesday Sept 6, 15:30-17:30.

Casper Hoogenraad, The Netherlands
New optical methods for studying neuronal structure and function
This symposium is focused on advanced light microscopy approaches to understand brain structure and function. The speakers will demonstrate how recent optical microscopy methods are fast becoming central to address various neurobiological research questions. The methods covered will range from measuring single-molecule dynamics at synapses, to manipulating polarised organelle transport in cultured neurons, to imaging axon changes in living animals. Sunday Sept 4, 15:30-17:30.

Carola Hunte, Germany
Structural biology: Membrane complexes and supercomplexes
Structural biology offers important insights into the operation of molecular machines and provides in-depth knowledge of biological processes. New advances in experimental methods and technologies fuel research on structure and mechanism of membrane protein complexes and large macromolecular assemblies, the focus of this session. Tuesday Sept 6, 9:00-11:00.

Thomas Jenuwein, Germany
Epigenetics and cancer
Epigenetic mechanisms, such as histone modifications, DNA methylation, nucleosome remodeling and non-coding RNA, regulate eukaryotic development beyond DNA-stored information. In the symposium, these basic principles of epigenetic control in normal and cancer cells will be discussed. In addition, new insights into the modulation and possible reversibilty of perturbed chromatin and DNA marks in cancer by epigenetic therapy will be presented. Monday Sept 5, 9:00-11:00.

Erdal Karaöz, Turkey 
Stem cells and cancer
This symposium will focus on recent advances in understanding stem cells and in applying stem cell therapies. Talks will cover biological properties and clinical applications of human mesenchymal stromal cells (in neuromuscular pathologies as well as cancer); the role of hematopoietic stem cells, cancer stem cells and mesenchymal stromal stem cells in cancer treatment; and the epigenetic control of stem cell fate and function in normal and malignant human prostate. Tuesday Sept 6, 9:00-11:00.

Daniel Louvard, France
Intracellular organization

The symposium will illustrate different features of cellular organization — namely, cellular junctions in endothelial cells, cellular plasticity of epithelial cells, and the relationship between cellular organization and cell signalling. The maintenance of cell homeostasis by specific molecular determinants will be discussed for normal and pathological tissues. Thursday Sept 8, 9:00-11:00.

Alberto Mantovani, Italy
Molecular mechanisms of inflammation
Inflammation is a common denominator of diverse diseases ranging from cancer to cardiovascular disorders. The symposium will address fundamental mechanisms of innate immunity and inflammation including genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of regulation, polarization and resolution. Wednesday Sept 7, 9:00-11:00.

Gunter Meister, Germany 
MicroRNAs and noncoding RNAs
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important regulators of gene expression and have been implicated in a variety of different cellular processes. Consequently, miRNAs together with other non-coding RNAs such as lincRNAs have been implicated in various diseases including neurodegenerative disorders and cancer. Furthermore, noncoding RNAs are emerging more and more as potential targets for therapeutic intervention. This symposium will cover mechanistic aspects of miRNA and lincRNA function. The interplay with RNA-binding proteins and other cellular pathways will be discussed in model systems including mammals and plants. Tuesday Sept 6, 9:00-11:00.

Catarina Oliveira, Portugal 
Aging is a physiological process that can be be affected by genetic factors as well as the interaction of the organism with the environment. Accordingly, aging can be understood as a plastic process, raising the possibility of manipulation by biology and medicine. In this symposium, under an integrative perspective, molecular mechanisms of aging and age-related increased susceptibility to disease will be addressed, aiming to open new strategies for extending lifespan. Tuesday Sept 6, 15:30-17:30.

Anne Osbourn, United Kingdom
Plant biochemistry and molecular biology
Plants are globally cultivated at extremely low cost, harvested on the giga-tonne scale, and routinely used to produce the widest range of biostuffs, from food to fine chemicals, fibres, wood, oils, sugar and drugs. Plants are genetically facile and genetically modified (GM) plants are currently grown on the >100 million hectare scale. This symposium will focus on advances in our ability to read, interpret and harness the information hidden in plant genomes for medicinal and agricultural applications. Thursday Sept 8, 9:00-11:00.

Tomris Özben, Turkey 
Chemical and biochemical aspects of oxidative stress and redox regulation 
A focus of this symposium is the understanding and modulation of oxidative stress pathways for medical benefit. The talks will include discussion of the recent redefinition of free radicals — widely recognized two to three decades ago as absolute evils causing damage to biologically important molecules — as positive actors on the organism’s defense against biotic and abiotic stresses; antioxidant/redox modulation of multidrug resistance to enhance cancer therapies; and the glyoxalase system that counters dicarbonyl stress linked to high-caloric diets. Wednesday Sept 7, 15:30-17:30.

Akhilesh Reddy, United Kingdom
Cell cycle and circadian clocks
In this symposium, we will focus on mechanisms and outputs of the cellular circadian (24 hour) clock. In particular, we will look at how core metabolic pathways (e.g. the pentose phosphate pathway) interact with the clockwork. In addition, we will delve into the reciprocal connectivity between the clockwork and cell cycle machinery — an emerging area of interest considering the known associations of dysfunctional clocks and cancer. Wednesday Sept 7, 15:30-17:30.

Pier Giorgio Righetti, Italy
Functional genomics and proteomics
Proteomics complements other functional genomics approaches, including microarray-based expression profiles, systematic phenotypic profiles and small-molecule-based arrays. Integration of these datasets through bioinformatics will yield a comprehensive database of gene function that will serve as a powerful reference of protein properties and functions, and a useful tool for the individual researcher to build and test hypotheses. In this symposium the accent will be, among others, on detection of low-abundance proteins in biological fluids for biomarker discovery, on recent attempts in production of new antivenoms against snake bites and on chromatin regulation of germline identity. Wednesday Sept 7, 9:00-11:00.

Gerhard Schütz, Austria
Single molecule techniques: Applications in biology
Biological processes are built upon the concerted action of individual molecules. Directly watching the contributions of each player hence offers new levels of understanding to cell biology. In the symposium, experts will present their specific approaches towards biology from the single molecule perspective. Wednesday Sept 7, 9:00-11:00.

Yehuda Shoenfeld, Israel 
Biochemical mechanisms in tolerance and autoimmunity
In this session we will discuss the biochemical, immunological and genetic pathway that determines why Mr or Ms X will develop an autoimmune disease and why specifically one (or more) of the 80 well-known autoimmune diseases. Emphasis will be placed on one classical example: the involvement of the kidney in lupus. The talks will cover not only how lupus is induced but also how to modulate it once it has emerged, as well as a potential treatment method involving phosphorylcholine. Thus the audience will be exposed to cutting-edge autoimmunity: autoimmune diseases and new approaches to immuno-manipulating them. Tuesday Sept 6, 9:00-11:00.

Dominique Soldati-Favre, Switzerland
Host−pathogen interactions
This symposium is at the interface between cell biology and cellular microbiology and will focus on recent advances in the fascinating arena of host—pathogen interactions. A spectrum of pathogenic viruses, bacteria and protozoa have adapted to an intracellular lifestyle with the help of weapons that hijack and disarm the host cells. In response, host cells have co-evolved more sophisticated defense mechanisms. 'The Red Queen Hypothesis' refers to the evolutionary arms race where prey and predator constantly evolve together to reach some sort of uneasy balance. Sunday Sept 4th, 9:00-11:00.

Christian Speck, United Kingdom 
DNA replication and recombination: Novel aspects
How is DNA replication started? How is the epigenetic code replicated during DNA synthesis? How can DNA damage be dealt with? Exciting genetic and biochemical techniques and high-resolution electron microscopy approaches provide unprecedented insights into DNA replication, chromatin assembly and DNA damage tolerance. Sunday Sept 4, 9:00-11:00.

Peter Tompa, Hungary
Computational biology
The ultimate test of understanding in molecular sciences is our ability to develop predictive models. With the recent avalanche of high-throughput data, this is becoming an ever more formidable challenge, which can only be met by tools that are capable of handling and analyzing “omics” data on millions of genes and gene products. Our primary device towards this goal is computational biology, of which we will see eminent examples in this symposium. The three lectures and two short talks will provide insight into how computers and computational approaches can be used to understand genes and proteins in cellular function and disease. Monday Sept 5, 9:00-11:00.

Sharon Tooze, United Kingdom 
Autophagy: Regulation mechanisms
Autophagy (self-eating) plays an important role in many aspects of development, human health and disease. This symposium will address new mechanistic findings about the process of autophagy, including selective autophagy of mitochondria (called mitophagy) and the physiological role of autophagy in development. Tuesday Sept 6, 9:00-11.00.

Gunnar von Heijne, Sweden
Mechanisms and regulation of protein translocation
How are proteins translocated across cellular membranes? How do nascent chains behave as they emerge from the ribosome exit tunnel? New biochemical techniques and novel structural approaches are providing detailed insights into the molecular mechanisms of cotranslational protein translocation and folding. Wednesday Sept 7, 9:00-11-00.

Paul Wilmes, Luxembourg 
Human microbiome (microbiota)
Recent advances in high-throughput and high-resolution molecular analyses, the “meta-omics”, are allowing unprecedented deep insights into the structure and function of microbial communities, including those constituting the human microbiome. A key question in the human microbiome field now centres around how certain microbiota compositions are related to human health and disease, and what the underlying molecular mechanisms are which govern host—microbe interactions. The symposium will highlight and discuss recent approaches for the high-resolution molecular characterisation of microbial consortia and how the resulting knowledge may be used to unravel new molecular mechanisms. Wednesday Sept 7, 9:00-11:00. 

Ahmet Yıldız, United States of America
Proteins in action
Many proteins function as biological nanomachines because they convert chemical energy into mechanical energy with high precision and efficiency. In the past two decades, breathtaking technological developments have allowed researchers to study these proteins in action at the level of single molecules. The invited speakers will cover some of the major advances in the field, including engineered super helicases that can achieve DNA multiplication at room temperature, how cytoskeletal flow affects the movement of proteins in a living cell, and how cells regulate dynein and kinesin motors as they transport intracellular cargos along the microtubule filaments. Monday Sept 5, 9:00-11:00.

Journals from FEBS: FEBS has twin commitments to high-quality publications and the promotion of molecular biosciences. As a charitable academic organization, FEBS uses income from the journals to fund its diverse activities, including support for the FEBS Congress.
IFCC: IFCC auspices have been given to this event.