Speakers

2013_leaning_smallLuis Amaral (Northwestern University) a native of Portugal, conducts and directs research that provides insight into the emergence, evolution, and stability of complex social and biological systems. His research aims to address some of the most pressing challenges facing human societies and the world’s ecosystems, including the mitigation of errors in healthcare settings, the characterization of the conditions fostering innovation and creativity, or the growth limits imposed by sustainability.  Amaral has received a CAREER award from the National Institutes of Health, was named a Distinguished Young Scholars in Medical Research by the W. M. Keck Foundation, and has been selected as an Early Career Scientist by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

.

martineMartine Ben Amar (UPMC, Paris) is  Professor of University Pierre and Marie Curie and a Researcher  in  Laboratoire de Physique Statistique de l’’Ecole Normale Supérieure  (Paris). She is also  a member of  “Institut de Cancérologie de l’UPMC”.  After a PhD and Habilitation in Atomic Physics, she joined the research group of Yves Pomeau in Ecole Normale Supérieure and begun to work on pattern formation and interfacial instabilities: crystal growth, viscous fingering, fracture, crumpling, membranes :elastic or lipidic. She is now interested in nonlinear elasticity: morphogenesis and embryogenesis and also  on cancer physics.

 

nikolay-dokholyan-2012Nikolay Dokholyan (UNC, Chapel Hill) received his PhD in Physics in 1999 at Boston University under the supervision of Dr. H. Eugene Stanley. His graduate work spanned the area of statistical mechanics and its applications in biological macromolecules. Upon graduation, Dr. Dokholyan joined Dr. Eugene Shakhnovich at Harvard University in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology as a NIH Fellow. His work was focused on protein folding, design, and evolution. Dr. Dokholyan joined the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor in 2002, was promoted to Associate Professor in 2008, and to Full Professor in 2011. Dr. Dokholyan has served as the Director of the Center for Computational and Systems Biology and the Graduate Director of the Program in Molecular and Cellular Biophysics at UNC. Dr. Dokholyan has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles and 19 book chapters. Dr. Dokholyan was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2013. In 2014, Dr. Dokholyan was named the Michael Hooker Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Over the past decade, Dr. Dokholyan’s work has followed two principal directions: (i) development of methodologies to understand and engineer molecular structure and function, and (ii) application of these methodologies to understand the etiologies of human diseases toward the development of therapeutic strategies. Dr. Dokholyan has developed computational platforms for modeling and design of molecular structure and drug discovery, and has made critical strides in elucidating the molecular mechanisms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and cystic fibrosis.

.

jack-griffithJack Griffith (UNC, Chapel Hill) obtained a Ph.D in biophysics at Caltech and was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford with Arthur Kornberg. He moved to the University of North Carolina in 1979 where he is a Kenan Professor in the Lineberger Cancer Center.  At Caltech he developed the EM methods for visualizing bare DNA bound by proteins and used this to visualize replicating DNA complexes with the Kornberg group.  He obtained the first images of chromatin in which the amount of DNA in the nucleosome and linker could be determined.  At UNC his group combined EM and biochemistry to examine the nature of triplet repeat disease DNA, and the architecture of moving replication forks.  In 1999 he demonstrated that the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes are arranged into a loop. His contributions have been acknowledged by the Herbert A. Sober award from the ASBMB, the Grand Gold Medal of Comenius University and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

.

Jeff Holly (University of Bristol) graduated from the University of London with a degree in Physics but then completed a PhD on the role of hormones in blood pressure regulation. He is now Professor of Clinical Science at the University of Bristol. His main research interests are in the role of hormones in chronic diseases. He has published over 350 papers and books and was awarded the Society Medal from the British Society for Endocrinology in 1993. He is currently President of the International Society for IGF Research and Editor-in-Chief of Frontiers in Endocrinology. For the last 20 years his research has focussed on the major epithelial cancers, particularly breast and prostate, with an emphasis on the role of hormones as mediators of the effects of lifestyle and nutrition on these cancers. He has published widely on aspects from cell biology through clinical patho-physiology to population epidemiology.

 

suiSui Huang (Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle) obtained his degrees in medicine, molecular biology and physical chemistry from the University of Zurich for work on interferon and did postdoctoral research at the Children’s Hospital, Boston, on shape-dependent cell cycle control. He was faculty at Harvard Medical School and University of Calgary before joining the Institute for Systems Biology in 2011 (Seattle).  After more than a decade of research on endothelial cell fate control and tumor angiogenesis, Dr. Huang now works on the fundamental nature of multi-cellularity and cancer (which is a consequence of the latter) using systems biology.  In his quest for a formal “theory” of multi-cellularity, from which the natural inevitability of cancer may be derived, he has demonstrated that cell types are attractor states of gene regulatory networks. Dr. Huang’s lab currently studies cell fate decisions and transitions in terms of first principles of complex dynamical systems and embedded in cell population dynamics – a much neglected level of integration between genotype and phenotype.  One goal is to understand how such dynamics imposes the robust time-asymmetry of development and disease, notably, in cancer progression.

.

timliedl2016Tim Liedl (LMU, Munich) is Professor for experimental physics at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität (LMU). He received his diploma in physics in 2004 in the group of Wolfgang J. Parak where he worked on the development of hydrophilic coatings for fluorescent semiconductor nanoparticles. In 2007 he obtained his Ph.D. in the group of Friedrich C. Simmel studying DNA-based nanodevices and switches which are driven by chemical oscillations. For his postdoctoral research he visited William M. Shih’s laboratory at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute / Harvard Medical School where they developed three-dimensional DNA-origami and created, inspired by the art of Kenneth Snelson, DNA tensegrity structures.The research of Tim Liedl is multi-disciplinary and exploratory positioned at the interface between nanoscience, photonics, synthetic biology and cell-biology. Over the last years his focus has moved into self-assembly of nanophotonic nanostructures with the goal to create functional devices and eventually active plasmonic materials. Tim Liedl is further interested in the application of DNA-based nanostructures as autonomous forces sensors and programmable nanoagents in biological environments.

.

mlMichel Labouesse (UPMC, Paris), trained in math/physics, favoured genetic analysis when choosing biology. He received his PhD in Genetics in 1983 from Université Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris, after working with Piotr Slonimski, falling in love with the intricacies of the nucleo-mitochondrial genetic interactions. A series of seminars by Sydney Brenner convinced him to switch to C. elegans and he joined the energetic and pioneering team led by Bob Horvitz at MIT. From there on he stayed with worms initially working on epithelial cell fate specification in the ectoderm, then moving on to analyse epithelial morphogenesis. He joined the IGBMC in Strasbourg (France) in 1992 as a Group Leader, where he served as head of the Development and Stem Cell Department for seven years. In 2014 he became Director of the Institut de Biologie Paris-Seine (IBPS) at Sorbonne University. He is an EMBO member and currently holds an Advanced ERC Grant. The current interests of his lab are to identify the principles governing organogenesis in a broad sense, with a strong emphasis on defining how mechanical forces shape epithelial organs at the interface between physics and biology. In particular, to reach a mesoscopic understanding of morphogenesis, his laboratory is investigating how mechanical inputs influence cellular processes such as polarised junction remodelling, polarised trafficking cell shape maintenance. To do so, his laboratory is combining genetic analysis with imaging, biophysical methods and modelling.

.

Fred MacKintosh (Rice University) received his PhD in Theoretical Physics from Princeton University. Following a postdoc at Exxon Corporate Research, he joined the faculty of Physics at the University of Michigan. Starting in 2001, he joined the Department of Physics at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. Since mid-2016, he became Abercrombie Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Rice University, as well as Professor of Chemistry and of Physics and Astronomy. He is also a member of the Center for Theoretical Biophysics. MacKintosh’s research focuses on the basic physics of soft matter and biological systems. Particular current topics include cell and extracellular matrix mechanics, as well as the fundamentals of far from equilibrium behavior in living systems.

.

Leonid Mirny (MIT, Cambridge) received his Ph.D. in Biophysics from Harvard University. After a few years as a Junior Fellow at Harvard Society of Fellows, he joined MIT Health Sciences and Technology Division, and the Department of Physics. Leonid Mirny teaches classes in Statistical Physics in Biology, Quantitative Genomics, and a freshman seminar in Quantitative Biology. Mirny lab combines quantitative, typically physics-rooted, approaches with analysis of genomics data to address fundamental problems in biology, most recently they focused on two problems: (i) higher-order chromatin structure; (2) evolution of cancer during neoplastic progression. Studies of the Mirny lab on chromosomes aim to characterize 3D architecture of the genome and processes that lead to its organization and reorganization in the cell cycle and development. Works of the Mirny lab on cancer aim at understanding the role of multiple “passenger” genetic events, such as individual mutations and chromosomal alterations, in cancer progression. Leonid Mirny is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, an Associate Faculty of the Broad Institute, and an Associate Member of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

.

screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-11-56-37Guido Tiana (Univesity of Milan) graduated at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, worked at the Danish Technical University and at Harvard University, and is now Associate Professor at the Department of Physics of the University of Milano. He studies the physics of complex systems of biological interest, mainly biopolymers like proteins, DNA and chromatin, with tools which come from the realm of statistical mechanics and of computational physics. His obsession is that of modeling biopolymers in a way which is  simple, as typical models that physicists love, but at the same time seriously in agreement with the experimental data.

 

jeff_outside_croppedJeffrey S. Urbach (Georgetown University) holds the Interdisciplinary Chair in Science and is Professor of Physics and Department Chair at Georgetown University.  Prof. Urbach completed his B.A. in Physics at Amherst College, his Ph.D. at Stanford University, and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin. He joined the Physics Department at Georgetown University as an Assistant Professor in 1996 and was promoted to Professor of Physics in 2006. He served as the founding co-Director of the Program on Science in the Public Interest from its founding until 2011 and as the founding Director of the Institute for Soft Matter Synthesis and Metrology. In 2009-10, he served as a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the Department of Energy.  Prof. Urbach’s research interests include the properties of soft material, complex dynamical systems, and biophysics. He has received a Sloan Foundation fellowship and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

.

Alessandro Vespignani (Northeastern University) is currently Sternberg Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University. Prof. Vespignani received his undergraduate degree and Ph.D., both in physics and both from the University of Rome “La Sapienza,” in 1990 and 1994 respectively. He completed his postdoctoral research at Yale University and Leiden University. Prof. Vespignani worked at the International Center for Theoretical Physics (UNESCO) in Trieste and at the University of Paris-Sud in France as a member of the National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS) before moving to Indiana University in 2004. Before joining Northeastern University Vespignani was J.H.Rudy Professor of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University and serving as the Director of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research and the Associate Director of the Pervasive Technology Institute. Vespignani is elected fellow of the American Physical Society, member of the Academy of Europe, and fellow of the Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences at Harvard University. He is serving in the board/leadership of a variety of professional association and journals and the Institute for Scientific Interchange Foundation. Vespignani has worked in a number of areas of non-equilibrium particle systems, statistical physics and computational sciences, including characterization of non-equilibrium phase transitions, fractal growth and self-organized criticality. Recently Vespignani’s research activity focuses on the interdisciplinary application of statistical and numerical simulation methods in the analysis of epidemic and spreading phenomena and the study of biological, social and technological networks.