Profiles

Manuel Ares

Manuel Ares University of California, Santa Cruz

Manuel Ares received a BS in biology at Cornell University and earned a PhD (1982) from UC San Diego, where he was a graduate student in the lab of Stephen H. Howell; his thesis was on cell cycle-regulated gene expression in Chlamydomonas. Ares went on to do a postdoc at Yale University School of Medicine with Alan Weiner, working on the transcription of human small nuclear RNA (snRNA) genes. During this time, he became interested in the functions of small structural RNAs such as the U snRNAs, 7SL, 7SK and others in gene expression. His research centers on the mechanisms and regulation of splicing.

Ares joined UC Santa Cruz as an assistant professor in the biology department in 1987, became a full professor in 1998, and was the founding chairman of the Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. In 2004 he won the UC Santa Cruz Excellence in Teaching Award. Ares has authored more than 100 research articles, holds two U.S. patents, and at different times has been a full member of three study sections of the National Institutes of Health. He has served on the editorial boards of the journals PLOS Computational Biology, Gene Expression, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and RNA, as well as on the advisory board of the Saccharomyces Genome Database at Stanford. He has served on the Board of Directors of the International RNA Society and served as President of the RNA Society in 2011.

Gil Ast

Gil Ast Tel Aviv University

Dr. Ast received his PhD in Biochemistry from the Weizmann Institute in 1993. He then spent six years at Yale University Medical School as a postdoctoral fellow and research associate.

In 1999 he joined the Tel Aviv University Medical School, since 2008 as a full professor, as chair of the Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry Department from 2009 to 2013, and as head of the graduate school (with over 1000 students) since 2010. He has supervised approximately 50 students (including 14 current students) and has been awarded Best Lecturer of the Faculty of Medicine (2012) and elected for Excellent Lecturer of preclinical studies (2006, 2008) at Tel Aviv University.

Dr. Ast is recognized world-wide as an expert on RNA splicing and its relation to epigenetics and evolution. He has giving invited talks at numerous international conferences, including the 2012 Riboclub Meeting and a keynote address at ISMB/ECCB 2013. He has published over 80 scientific papers, nearly all in top journals and many with hundreds of citations each.

His scientific accomplishments have brought numerous awards including the Yamagiwa-Yoshida Memorial International Cancer Fellowship (2006), an Excellence grant from the Israel Cancer Association, a special prize for scientific achievements by the Rector of Tel Aviv University (2003), Sachter Award (2002), Rekanati Fellow (2002) Leukaemia Research Foundation New Investigator Award (2000), and a Human Frontier Science Program Postdoctoral Fellowship (1996-1998). In 2009 he was elected as a European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Member 2012 and in 2012 he become chair of the Israel Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Society.

Jean D. Beggs

Jean D. Beggs University of Edinburgh

Jean is the Royal Society Darwin Trust Research Professor and Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Edinburgh.

She obtained a BSc Hons in Biochemistry and PhD at Glasgow University. Following a postdoc with the late Professors Ken and Noreen Murray in the Dept of Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, she was awarded a Beit Memorial Fellowship for Medical Research and moved to the Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge. There she completed work to develop yeast two micron plasmid cloning vectors for highly efficient yeast transformation.

She then moved to a lectureship at the Dept of Biochemistry, Imperial College London, where she began her long-term study of yeast splicing machinery. In 1985 she returned to Edinburgh funded by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship and then by a Royal Society Cephalosporin Fund Senior Research Fellowship and, subsequently, the Royal Society Darwin Trust Research Professorship.

She was awarded the Royal Society Gabor Medal in 2003 and the Biochemical Society Novartis Medal and Prize in 2004. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh where she was Vice President for Life Sciences from 2009 til 2012. In 2006 was appointed CBE for services to science. The laboratory is mainly funded by the Wellcome Trust and in 2015 Jean was awarded Wellcome Trust Investigator status.

Douglas L. Black

Douglas L. Black University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Black is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. His B.A. degree is in chemistry from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He received his Ph.D. degree in molecular biochemistry and biophysics at Yale University, working with Joan Steitz. Prior to his appointment at UCLA, he worked with David Baltimore, Donald Rio, and Phil Sharp at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and MIT.

Douglas Black's lab is interested in the regulation of pre-mRNA splicing and the biochemical mechanisms that control changes in splice sites. The sequences of metazoan genomes, with their relatively low gene numbers, have highlighted the question of how protein number can be expanded beyond the gene number for a complex organism. Alternative splicing, which allows the production of multiple mRNAs and hence multiple proteins from a single gene, is a major contributor to protein diversity. However, despite its key role in gene expression, this process is poorly understood mechanistically.

Ben Blencowe

Ben Blencowe University of Toronto

Received his Bachelor of Science from Imperial College London, UK. His PhD from EMBL, Heidelberg, Germany and University of London, UK. He was a postdoc fellow at MIT. His lab's research interests are focused on mechanisms underlying the regulation of gene expression and how these mechanisms go awry in human diseases. Most of research is directed at understanding how alternative splicing is integrated with other layers of gene regulation to control fundamental biological processes, such as cell fate determination.

Christopher B. Burge

Christopher B. Burge Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Chris Burge completed his undergraduate studies at Stanford University (BS, 1990), then worked with a W.H.O.-sponsored project in Nicaragua, and went on to graduate studies in computational biology at Stanford University (PhD 1997).

A faculty member in the Department of Biology from 2002-present, he received tenure in 2006.

He was awarded the Overton Prize for Computational Biology in 2001 and the Schering-Plough Research Institute Award in 2007.

He is currently Whitehead Career Development Associate Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering at MIT and is the author of over 50 publications dealing with genomics, RNA splicing, and microRNA regulation in vertebrates and invertebrates.

Thomas Cech

Thomas Cech University of Colorado, Boulder/HHMI

Thomas R. Cech Distinguished Professor, University of Colorado-Boulder; Director, Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Dr. Cech was raised and educated in Iowa (B.A. in chemistry from Grinnell College, 1970). He obtained his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and then engaged in postdoctoral research in the department of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1978 he joined the faculty of the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator in 1988 and Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 1990.

In 1982 Dr. Cech and his research group announced that an RNA molecule from Tetrahymena, a single-celled pond organism, cut and rejoined chemical bonds in the complete absence of proteins. Thus RNA was not restricted to being a passive carrier of genetic information, but could have an active role in cellular metabolism. This discovery of self-splicing RNA provided the first exception to the long-held belief that biological reactions are always catalyzed by proteins. In addition, it has been heralded as providing a new, plausible scenario for the origin of life; because RNA can be both an information-carrying molecule and a catalyst, perhaps the first self-reproducing system consisted of RNA alone.

In January 2000, Dr. Cech moved to Maryland as president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which is the nation's largest private biomedical research organization. In addition, HHMI has an $80 million/year grants program that supports science education at all levels (K-12 through medical school) and international research. In April 2009, Dr. Cech returned to full-time research and teaching at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where he also directs the Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology.

Dr. Cech's work has been recognized by many national and international awards and prizes, including the Heineken Prize of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (1988), the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (1988), the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1989), and the National Medal of Science (1995). In 1987 Dr. Cech was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and also awarded a lifetime professorship by the American Cancer Society.

Benoit Chabot

Benoit Chabot University of Sherbrooke, Canada

Dr. Benoit Chabot is a molecular biologist with a passion for fundamental research. Over 23 years, he has become an expert in the alternative splicing of pre-messenger RNAs, the process responsible for protein diversity in humans and, largely, the complexity of life.

He was one of the first scientists to show how the process of alternative splicing is directed and to anticipate how defects in the protein-building factory within cells contribute to cancer and other diseases. Dr. Chabot's pioneering work in this field has helped to define how cells regulate the complex, protein-building process.

Were trying to understand the fundamental rules of splicing decisions, he explains. He and his colleagues were first to show how SR proteins regulate alternative splicing. Today, Dr. Chabot is one of the world's leading experts on the rules and regulators that control the molecular factories that construct proteins in our cells.

Soo-Chen Cheng

Soo-Chen Cheng Academia Sinica, Taipel, Taiwan

Dr. Soo-Chen Cheng received a Bachelor of Science from National Taiwan University, Taipei, 1977 and her Doctor of Philosophy in Biochemistry, Duke University, 1983.

She was a Postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health Laboratory Molecular Virology, Bethesda, Maryland, 1983-1984. She was a Research fellow and then a senior research fellow at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, 1984-1988. She became an Associate research fellow at Academia Sinica Institute Molecular Biology, Taipei, Taiwan, 1988-1994, research fellow, 1994-2003, distinguished research fellow, since 2003.

Additionally she has held positions as an Adjunct associate professor at Institute Genetics National Yang Ming University, 1989-1990 and an adjunct associate professor at the Institute of Microbioogy. and Immunology, since 1990.

Louise T. Chow

Louise T. Chow University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dr. Chow received a B.S. degree from the Agricultural Chemistry Department of National Taiwan University. Under the guidance of Prof. Norman Davidson, Chow earned her Ph.D. (1973) in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology, where she studied the genome organization of bacteria and bacteriophages by electron microscopic analyses of nucleic acid heteroduplexes.

She received her post-doctoral training at the University of California-San Francisco and Caltech. In 1975 she and husband Thomas R. Broker, Ph.D. joined Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. She was the lead author on the seminal 1977 Cell paper describing the discovery of split genes and RNA splicing in adenovirus. She was tenured as Senior Scientist in 1979.

The Chow - Broker research program on human papillomaviruses began at CSH Lab, developed at the University of Rochester (1984-1993) and continues at UAB. Chow served on NIH Study Sections, the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee, and the NIDCR Council and she reviews for many scientific journals.

She was a recipient of the 1996 American College of Physicians Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Science of Medicine, the UAB Medical Dean's Award (2012), the UAB President's Awards for Excellence in Research (1995 and 2012), and the Distinguished Alumna Award from her Alma Mater (2012).

Nathaniel Comfort

Nathaniel Comfort John Hopkins University

Dr. Nathaniel Comfort is a professor of the history of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research focuses on heredity and health in 20th-century America.

Dr. Comfort received his undergraduate degree in marine biology from the University of California, Berkeley. He earned his M.S. in neurobiology and behavior from Cornell University and his Ph.D. from SUNY Stony Brook.

Dr. Comfort joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2003. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, Dr. Comfort was an associate professor of history and the deputy director at the Center for History of Recent Science at the George Washington University.

He is a member of the History of Science Society and the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology. He serves on the editorial board of History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, and is the author of the 2012 book The Science of Human Perfection: Heredity and Health in Twentieth Century America.

Robert Darnell

Robert Darnell The Rockefeller University/HHMI

James E. Darnell, Jr., M.D. has been Vincent Astor Professor at The Rockefeller University since 1974. His career has included poliovirus research with Harry Eagle at the National Institutes of Health, research with Franois Jacob at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, and academic appointments at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Columbia University. He has mentored over 120 doctoral students and postdoctoral scientists. From the very beginning of his first lab at MIT, Darnell, his students and postdocs have studied RNA, its synthesis, processing, and transcriptional regulation.

Darnell is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous awards, including the 2003 National Medal of Science and the 2002 Albert Lasker Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science. He is the coauthor, with S.E. Luria, of General Virology (Wiley) and the founding author with Harvey Lodish and David Baltimore of Molecular Cell Biology.

Gideon Dreyfuss

Gideon Dreyfuss University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine/HHMI

Dr. Gideon Dreyfuss is the Isaac Norris Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012.[1] He received his Ph.D. in biological chemistry in 1978 from Harvard University. Dr. Dreyfuss is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Xiang-Dong Fu

Xiang-Dong Fu University of California, San Diego

The Fu laboratory is interested in molecular and cell biology of RNA metabolism and regulation in higher eukaryotic cells. Current research interests in the Fu lab include the regulation of alternative splicing, functional RNA elements in mammalian genomes, transcription/splicing coupling, nuclear architecture, and cellular reprogramming.

Mariano A. Garcia-Blanco

Mariano A. Garcia-Blanco University of Texas Medical Branch/Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore

Mariano A. Garcia-Blanco MD, PhD, is Professor and Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston TX, USA, where he is also Mildred Hajek Vacek and John Roman Vacek Distinguished Chair in Honor of President Truman G. Blocker, Jr. He is also Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore. Professor Garcia-Blanco obtained his AB in Biochemical Sciences at Harvard College, and his MD and PhD (in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry) at Yale University. He obtained postdoctoral training in RNA biology with Nobel laureate Phillip A. Sharp at MIT. From 1990 to 2014 he was at Duke University where he was the Charles D. Watts Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, and Medicine, and Director of the Center for RNA Biology at Duke University in the USA. Professor Garcia-Blanco is an internationally recognized expert in RNA biology and is an author of more than 130 scientific publications. Additionally, he co-founded Intronn Inc. (now VIRxSYS, Rockville, MD, USA) to develop a novel trans-splicing RNA therapy, and Veri-Q Inc. (part of Proteome Sciences plc, Cobham, UK), to commercialize reagents for the quality control of chemically synthesized nucleic acids, and more recently Singapore Advanced Biologics Pte Ltd (SABio). Professor Garcia-Blanco has served as a member of Scientific Advisory Board for European Alternative Splicing Network of Excellence (EU), National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council (NIH, USA), and of the Puerto Rico Trust for Science, Research and Technology. He is currently a member of the Council of Scientific Advisers for the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (United Nations). In 2011 he was elected to the Association of American Physicians (AAP), in 2012 fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2013 fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Richard Gelinas

Richard Gelinas Institute for Systems Biology

Dr. Gelinas has worked on problems of gene structure and function for his entire career. At ISB he uses advanced RNA and protein profiling methods to identify biomarkers for diseases of the brain, heart, and lung. He also contributes to studies of the genetic basis of mental disorders such as Alzheimers Disease and bipolar disorder and bone marrow disorders such as Fanconi Anemia.

Prior to coming to the ISB, in the biopharmaceutical industry, Dr. Gelinas and his group used systems tools to identify a chemical signal for inflammation and disease persistence common to rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and some other chronic conditions. An antibody therapeutic against this target (IL-6) is now advancing through human trials. He is optimistic that systems approaches can continue to improve medical diagnosis and speed the development of new therapeutics.

Walter Gilbert

Walter Gilbert Harvard University

Walter (Wally) Gilbert was awarded the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of a method for rapid DNA sequencing. His forty-year academic career at Harvard University was marked by many discoveries, including messenger RNA, genetic repressors, DNA sequencing, and the first expression of insulin in bacteria.

Walter Gilbert is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University. He is currently a managing director at BioVentures Investors, a venture capital fund in Cambridge, MA. He now spends the majority of his time actively engaged in photography and digital artwork, which he shows across the globe. In 2009, he collaborated on a book about the Boston Ballet Company, Behind the Scenes at Boston Ballet, with Boston Globe writer Christine Temin.

In 1978, Walter Gilbert co-founded Biogen, the world’s oldest independent biotechnology company, and served as its chairman and chief executive officer from 1981 to 1985. As CEO, he conducted the company’s Initial Public Offering in 1983.

In 1992, he co-founded Myriad Genetics and continues to serve as its Vice-Chairman. In 1996, he co-founded Paratek Pharmaceuticals and served as Chairman until 2014.

Walter Gilbert serves as a member of the Board of Scientific Governors of The Scripps Research Institute and as chairman of the Harvard Society of Fellows. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a foreign member of the Royal Society, and a recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees.

Brenton R. Graveley

Brenton R. Graveley UConn Health, Farmington, CT

Our research is focused on the regulation of alternative splicing and small RNA mediated gene regulation which are fascinating and important mechanisms by which genes can be regulated. Our long-term goals are to understand how these processes are regulated at a mechanistic level and the logic of these processes in significant biological settings. To achieve these goals, we use a wide variety of approaches that include biochemistry, genetics, imaging, deep sequencing, large-scale RNAi screening and bioinformatics.

Michael R. Green

Michael R. Green National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Dr. Green is an HHMI Investigator (1994-present) and is also a professor and chair of the Department of Molecular, Cell and Cancer Biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) and the director of the UMMS Cancer Center.

Michael Green is interested in the mechanisms that regulate gene expression in eukaryotes, and the role of gene expression in various human disease states. He also uses transcription-based approaches and functional screens to identify new genes and regulatory pathways involved in cancer. These studies are intended to enhance understanding of how normal cells become cancerous and to reveal potential new targets for therapeutic intervention.

Nouria Hernandez

Nouria Hernandez University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Nouria Hernandez studied at the University of Geneva (diploma in 1980) and received a doctorate from the University of Heidelberg (in 1983). From 1983 to 1986, she then worked at the Yale University. In 1987, she was nominated group leader at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and, in 1988, became professor at the Watson School of Biological Sciences.

In 2004, she moved to Europe and became professor at the University of Lausanne where, between 2005 and 2014, she was also director of the Centre for Integrative Genomics. In 2007, she received the Clo‘tta Prize. Between 2008 and 2014, Nouria Hernandez was also a member of the central committee of the Swiss Academy of Natural Sciences.In August 2015, after being selected by a vote of the University Council (by 26 votes out of 39) in June, the Council of State of Vaud nominated Nouria Hernandez as rector of the University of Lausanne from 1 August 2016. She is the first woman to lead the University of Lausanne.

Ryszard Kole

Ryszard Kole Sarepta Therapeutics

Ryszard Kole, Ph.D. is a Distinguished Scientist at Sarepta Therapeutics, a company developing innovative RNA-based therapeutics. He is a pioneer in the use of oligonucleotides for modulation of splicing and exon skipping and one of the leaders in the field of RNA processing.

Dr. Kole joined Sarepta (previously AVI BioPharma) in 2008 and prior to joining AVI he was Professor of Pharmacology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His work there led to important discoveries related to the mechanism of alternative splicing and, in particular, to the invention of oligonucleotide-induced modulation of pre-mRNA splicing as a therapeutic target. This technology is being tested at Sarepta in a series of clinical trials for treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) a debilitating muscle disorder. Dr. Kole's oligonucleotide splicing modulation technology is not limited to DMD or genetic disorders but is aplatform technology applicable to a variety of indications.

Dr. Kole co-authored over 100 scientific publications and is on several editorial and scientific advisory boards. Dr. Kole received his postdoctoral training in biology and genetics at Yale University, a Ph.D. in natural sciences at the Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and M.Sc. in chemistry at University of Warsaw, Poland.

Magda Konarska

Magda Konarska The Rockefeller University

Since 2015 Dr. Konarska has been Head of the RNA Biology Laboratory at the Centre for New Technologies at the University of Warsaw and Professor Emeritus of Rockefeller University in New York, USA, where she spent 26 years as the head of the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Lab. She specializes in researching the function of RNA in cellular processes and in particular in the pre-mRNA splicing mechanism. She graduated in Genetics from the University of Warsaw and was later awarded the Ph.D. and habilitation degrees at the Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. During her scientific career, she has worked for such institutions as the Center for Cancer Research of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, USA and Rockefeller University in New York. She is a corresponding member of the Polish Academy of Sciences and winner of numerous Polish and international scholarships, grants and research awards. She is the author of 59 publications in international research journals and has been cited more than 5,800 times.

Alberto R. Kornblihtt

Alberto R. Kornblihtt Universidad de Buenos Aires

Dr. Kornblihtt graduated as a biologist (1977) from the School of Sciences (FCEN) of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and obtained a PhD in Biochemistry (UBA, 1980) at the Campomar Foundation, supervised by HŽctor Torres.

He did a post-doc (1981-1984) at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology in Oxford (UK) with Tito Baralle, where he cloned the human fibronectin gene and found its alternative splicing.

He is Plenary Professor at the Department of Physiology, Molecular and Cell Biology (DFBMC) of the FCEN and Director of the Institute of Physiology, Molecular Biology and Neurosciences of the National Research Council (IFIBYNE-UBA-CONICET) of Argentina.

From 2002 to 2017 he was an International Research Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). He is a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA and a member of EMBO. He served the Board of Reviewing Editors of Science (2010-2015). He is also a member of the Argentine National Academies of Sciences and of Exact and Natural Sciences and of the Latin American Academy of Sciences.

He was awarded the Guggenheim fellowship (1991), the Konex Platinum Award (2003 and 2013), a chair from the Fundaci—n Antorchas (2000-2008), the Bicentennial Medal (2010), the Houssay Achieving Award in Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2010), the prize Investigator of the Argentine Nation (2010), granted by the President of Argentina, the Honorary Mention Domingo Faustino Sarmiento of the Argentine Senate (2011), the TWAS prize in Medical Sciences (2012) and the Diamond Konex award as the most relevant scientist of the decade of his country (2013), ex aequo with the theoretical physicist Juan Mart’n Maldacena.

He served the National Committee on Ethics in Science and Technology of Argentina (CECTE). He supervised 19 PhD theses, organized 5 international scientific meetings, including co-chairing the CSHL meeting on mRNA processing in 2017, 2019 and 2021. He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Transcription and acted as President of the Argentine Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SAIB) for the term 2010-2011.

Adrian R. Krainer

Adrian R. Krainer Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Adrian R. Krainer was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. Political unrest, anti-Semitism, and Zionism framed his teenage years. He attended Columbia University to study biochemistry, finding courses with James A. Lewis and Charles R. Cantor, and research with Catherine L. Squires quite stimulating. While at Harvard for graduate school, Krainer worked with Thomas P. Maniatis, developing a system for cell-free RNA splicing, which enabled them to elucidate the mechanisms of human pre-mRNA splicing. He took an independent fellow position at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, mentored by Richard J. Roberts, and began to characterize snRNP and protein components of the splicing machinery, before accepting a faculty position at CSHL in 1989.

Angela Kramer

Angela Kramer University of Geneva, Switzerland

Currently Professor Emereitus at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. She received her MS in Biology and Doctorate in Molecular Biology from Ruprecht-Karls-UniversitŠt Heidelberg. Her lab group studies splicing proteins that recognise the 3Õ splice site at the onset of spliceosome assembly. Our main focus is human splicing factor SF1, which interacts with U2AF65 and specifically recognises the intron branch site. Following the observation that SF1 is not a constitutive splicing factor, we have used in vivo cross-linking and immunoprecipitation (CLIP) and identified pre-mRNAs, whose alternative splicing is regulated by SF1.

Reinhard Lührmann

Reinhard Lührmann Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry

Born on May 15, 1949 in Osnabrück. Study of chemistry at the University of Münster, diploma (1973), PhD with Prof. Gassen at the University of Münster (1973-1975), postdoctoral fellow with Prof. H.G. Wittmann at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin (1976-1980), head of a Max Planck junior research group, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (1981-1988), German Habilitation in biochemistry and molecular biology at the Free University of Berlin (1982), Professor for Physiological Chemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Marburg (1988-1999), Director and Scientific Member at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Honorary Professor at the University of Marburg (since 2000).

Kristen W. Lynch

Kristen W. Lynch Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Kristen W. Lynch, PhD, has been appointed chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, following eight years as a tenured faculty member in the department.Lynch, who is a professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, also holds a secondary appointment in the department of Genetics and has expertise in RNA biology and immunology. Her laboratory focuses on understanding the biochemical mechanisms and regulatory networks that control alternative gene splicing in response to antigens. (Antigens are toxins and foreign substances, such as bacteria, viruses, and cells of transplanted organs, that stimulate the production of antibodies to protect an organism.)

She received her doctorate from Harvard University in 1996 and completed her postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco. Lynch joined the Penn faculty as an associate professor in the department of Biochemistry and Biophysics in 2009, having been recruited from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where she chaired the biological chemistry graduate program.

She is the author of more than 50 scientific papers in the leading journals in her field and the recipient of numerous awards and honors in recognition of her scientific achievements, including a National Science Foundation Career Award. Lynch founded and directs the campus-wide RNA Group, a central forum for investigators in and around Penn interested in RNA-related topics. Lynch has served as a director of the RNA Society, an international scientific organization; is an editor for Molecular and Cellular Biology; and has co-chaired several international meetings in the field of RNA processing.

Tom Maniatis

Tom Maniatis Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY - The laboratory of Tom Maniatis is interested in understanding fundamental mechanisms of transcription and RNA splicing in the nervous system, and how these mechanisms bear on neuronal connectivity and neurodegenerative diseases. Interest in neuronal connectivity arose from their discovery of a remarkable organization of a large cluster of genes encoding cell surface cadherin-like proteins called protocadherins. The laboratory is also using embryonic stem cell differentiation and deep sequencing methods to study transcription, RNA splicing, protein-RNA interactions, and microRNAs in ALS disease models. This involves studies of SOD1, FUS and TDP43 mouse models, and human patient derived iPS cells. Their current focus is in understanding the role of astrocyte/motor neuron interactions in ALS disease mechanisms. In addition, they are interested in the role of the immune system in ALS, and are investigating the role of microglia in ALS disease mechanisms.

James L. Manley

James L. Manley Columbia University

Dr. Manley's laboratory studies several aspects of gene expression in animal cells. These include transcription of mRNA encoding genes, mRNA splicing, and mRNA polyadenylation. All three of these processes occur in the cell nucleus and require numerous protein (and in the case of splicing, RNA) factors that assemble into massive multi-subunit complexes. Important goals are to understand how the complexes assemble and function, to learn how these important molecules act to regulate gene expression and how they themselves are controlled, and to understand how these processes contribute to cell growth, development and disease. These studies involve a large number of experimental approaches, including a variety of in vitro assays, biochemical fractionation and protein purification, structural analyses, and genetic studies using a variety of gene targeting approaches in yeast, mammalian cell culture and mice. Dr. Manley's lab and others have shown that these three processes, transcription, splicing and polyadenylation, are all linked, or coupled, in interesting ways.

Iain Mattaj

Iain Mattaj EMBL, Heidelberg Germany

Ian William Mattaj is a British scientist and honorary professor at Heidelberg University in Germany, As of 2016 he is the director General of the Europena Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) a position he has held since 2005. Marraj has made a number of important con­tri­bu­tions to our knowledge concerning how RNA and proteins are transported between the cell?nucleus and cytoplasm. These findings stemmed from his early work on the im­port and export of ribonucleoproteins particles — RNA–pro­tein?com­plexes — at the cell nucleus.

Iain subsequently uncovered the role of enzymes known as GT­Pases in the regulation of mitosis — the division of the cell nucleus into two daughter nuclei. Under the influence of Ran, a GT­Pase?signaling?protein, the cell cytoskeleton remodels to form the mitotic?spindle — a crucial structure in mitosis. By dissecting Ran’s role in facilitating mitosis, Iain is enabling researchers to create improved cell regeneration therapies.

He serves on the Advisory Editorial Board of The EMBO Journal. [Mattaj was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1999 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Melissa J. Moore

Melissa J. Moore University of Massachusetts Medical School

Moore Lab is broadly interested in post-transcriptional gene regulation in eukaryotes via mechanisms involving RNA and RNA-protein (RNP) complexes. Their research centers on pre-mRNA processing and large RNA-protein (RNP) complexes. They study their basic structures and functions as well as their contributions to human disease. Current areas of investigation include: (1) single molecule analysis of spliceosome assembly; (2) messenger RNP (mRNP) structure and function; (3) RNP egress by nuclear envelope budding; and (4) development of novel therapeutic approaches targeting RNA-based processes. Enabling these studies, Moore Lab's research spans the disciplines of cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, chemical biology, biophysics and bioinformatics.

Stephen Mount

Stephen Mount University of Maryland

Stephen M. Mount is a molecular geneticist interested in splice site selection during pre-mRNA splicing in eukaryotes. His laboratory takes a genetic approach to this problem using Arabidopsis thaliana and Drosophila melanogaster. He is in the Dept. of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Maryland. He is also affiliated with the Center for Bioinformatics and Compuational Biology, with the Dept. of Biology and with graduate programs in Molecular and Cell Biology (MOCB) and Behavior, Ecology, Evolution and Systematics (BEES). He organized a multi-lab meeting on Genetics with Eukaryotic Model Organisms (GEMS) and my laboratory participates in the Arabidopsis thaliana Research Initiative at the University of Maryland (AtRIUM).

Siddhartha Mukherjee

Siddhartha Mukherjee Columbia University Medical Center

Siddhartha Mukherjee is the author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction, and The Laws of Medicine. He is the editor of Best Science Writing 2013.

Siddhartha Mukherjee’s THE GENE: An Intimate History is his latest work – the story of the quest to decipher the master-code of instructions that makes and defines humans, that governs our form, function, and fate and determines the future of our children.

Mukherjee is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician and researcher. A Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, and Harvard Medical School. He has published articles in Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine, The New York Times, and Cell. He lives in New York with his wife and daughters.

Mukherjee is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician and researcher. A Rhodes Scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford, and Harvard Medical School. He has published articles in Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine, The New York Times, and Cell. He lives in New York with his wife and daughters.

Kiyoshi Nagai

Kiyoshi Nagai MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge

Kiyoshi Nagai is a structural biologist who studies the complex molecular machine known as the spliceosome. In eukaryotic cells, the protein-coding sequences of most genes are interrupted by noncoding segments called introns. After introns are removed from precursor messenger RNAs (mRNAs), the flanking coding segments — exons — are spliced together to form mature mRNAs by the spliceosome.If this splicing process fails, diseases can result. Kiyoshi is combining X-ray crystallography and electron cryomicroscopy (cryoEM) with biochemical and genetic techniques in an effort to increase our knowledge of this critical process in eukaryotic gene expression.

Karla M. Neugebauer

Karla M. Neugebauer Yale University

Karla M. Neugebauer is a Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and of Cell Biology at Yale University. Her laboratory research focus includes coordination of transcription and splicing, Cajal bodies and the macromolecular assembly of RNPs, mRNP formation, composition and function. The RNA Society announced in 2017 that Neugebauer was selected for the RNA Society’s Mid-Career Award for her innovative impact on the linkage between splicing and transcription, and the biogenesis of snRNPs. She has been a member of the RNA Society since 2004 and served as the co-chair of the RNA Society Junior Scientist Committee, a member of the Board of Directors, and chaired plenary sessions at the RNA Society annual meetings.

Her laboratory research involves how cells express an astonishing variety of mRNA transcripts from a limited pool of genes. Across tissues and even among individuals, mRNAs produced from the same gene differ at their 5’ and 3’ ends as well as throughout the transcript body, enabling the expression of numerous protein products per gene. Transcript diversity is due to regulation of transcription and splicing, which we investigate in vivo.

The Neugebauer laboratory has established experimental systems in budding yeast, zebrafish embryos, and mammalian tissue culture cells to explore transcription and splicing regulation in a variety of biological contexts and with a diversity of tools, from imaging to genome-wide approaches. These observations have provided novel insights into transcription and splicing mechanisms as well as principles of cellular organization that facilitate efficient gene expression.

Timothy Nilsen

Timothy Nilsen Case Western Reserve University

Timothy Nilsen is Professor Emeritus at Case Western University. He earned a B.S. in Biology from Fordham University; an M.A. in Developmental Biology from City College, CUNY; and his PhD from SUNY Albany in Molecular Biology. He was also a postdoc in the molecular biology department at SUNY Albany.

Dr. Nilsen was a Boroughs Wellcome Scholar in Molecular Parasitology from 1990-1995. In 2006, he became a Fellow of the American Academy of Sciences. He is also Editor of the RNA Journal.

The Nilsen lab is currently studying several aspects of post-transcriptional gene regulation: identification and mechanistic characterization of splicing silencers; mechanism of trans-splicing in a parasitic nematode; mechanism whereby miRNAs regulate translation; and mechanism by which the exon junction complex enhances translation.

Stu Orkin

Stu Orkin Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dr. Orkin received his MD in 1972 from Harvard Medical School, followed by postdoctoral research at the National Institutes of Health and clinical training in pediatrics and hematology-oncology at Children's Hospital Boston and DFCI, where he joined the faculty in 1978. Dr. Orkin is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Over the past decade, his laboratory has defined critical nuclear regulators of hematopoiesis.

Rick Padgett

Rick Padgett Cleveland Clinic

The Padgett Laboratory focuses on mechanisms of post-transcriptional RNA processing, particularly pre-mRNA splicing. Over the last few years, both acquired and inherited mutations in various splicing components have been linked to human diseases. We are currently involved in two collaborative projects to define the mechanistic consequences of some of these mutations. The first project focuses on frequent somatic mutations of any of several splicing factors that are found in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome or acute myeloid leukemia. We are examining the biochemical effects of these mutations on the splicing process as well as studying the alterations in gene expression and alternative splicing caused by these mutations. Our goal is to learn how these mutations contribute to cancer and how these effects might be reversed. The second project aims to understand the biochemical and functional effects of inherited mutations in a small RNA (RNU4ATAC) required for the splicing of a subset of genes. These mutations cause a severe developmental disorder characterized by growth retardation, microcephaly and skeletal deformities. Our goal is to identify the target genes whose splicing defects lead to these outcomes. A third, more basic, project in our lab concerns the transcription and splicing of very large mammalian genes. We have recently shown that transcription proceeds rapidly and efficiently through these genes and that splicing of the very long introns found in such genes is also efficient. Current work is focused on defining the genetic signals that promote the correct splicing of giant introns.

Phillip A. Sharp

Phillip A. Sharp Massachusetts Institute of Technology

A world leader of research in molecular biology and biochemistry, Dr. Phillip A. Sharp is Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Much of Dr. Sharp's scientific work has been conducted at MIT's Center for Cancer Research (now the Koch Institute), which he joined in 1974 and directed from 1985 to 1991. He subsequently led the Department of Biology from 1991 to 1999 before assuming the directorship of the McGovern Institute from 2000-2004. His research interests have centered on the molecular biology of gene expression relevant to cancer and the mechanisms of RNA splicing. His landmark achievement was the discovery of RNA splicing in 1977. This work provided one of the first indications of the startling phenomenon of “discontinuous genes” in mammalian cells. The discovery that genes contain nonsense segments that are edited out by cells in the course of utilizing genetic information is important in understanding the genetic causes of cancer and other diseases. This discovery, which fundamentally changed scientists' understanding of the structure of genes, earned Dr. Sharp the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. His lab has now turned its attention to understanding how RNA molecules act as switches to turn genes on and off (RNA interference). These newly discovered processes have revolutionized cell biology and could potentially generate a new class of therapeutics.

Dr. Sharp has authored over 385 scientific papers. He has received numerous awards and honorary degrees, and has served on many advisory boards for the government, academic institutions, scientific societies, and companies. His awards include the Gairdner Foundation International Award, General Motors Research Foundation Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. Prize for Cancer Research, the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, the National Medal of Science and the inaugural Double Helix Medal from CSHL. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and is a Foreign Fellow of the Royal Society, UK.

A native of Kentucky, Dr. Sharp earned a B.A. degree from Union College, KY in 1966, and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1969. He did his postdoctoral training at the California Institute of Technology, where he studied the molecular biology of plasmids from bacteria in Professor Norman Davidson's laboratory. Prior to joining MIT, he was Senior Scientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

In 1978 Dr. Sharp co-founded Biogen (now Biogen Idec) and in 2002 he co-founded Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, an early-stage therapeutics company.

Mila Pollock

Mila Pollock Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Ludmila (Mila) Pollock is the Executive Director of the Library & Archives at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL). She has led the Library & Archives since 1999, as well as the Genentech Center since 2006. The CSHL Library is a state-of-the-art library whose mission is to serve the research needs of the international scientific community at CSHL. The CSHL Archives is internationally recognized for building and promoting extensive collections of original documents pertaining to the history of molecular biology and genetics. Under Mila Pollock's leadership, the CSHL Library & Archives has been awarded more than $2 million in grant support. Mila has conceived and spearheaded numerous special projects, including the acclaimed CSHL Oral History Project: “Talking Science” (http://oralhistory.cshl.edu), for which she interviewed more than 200 prominent international scientists in molecular biology, genetics, and biotechnology. Mila initiated the History of Science series of international meetings at CSHL, each of which is focused on the origins and development, as well as, current research in a specific field in life sciences. She follows her mission to preserve and distribute knowledge of the history and future of science and medicine through national and international talks, special projects, and exhibitions.

Charles Query

Charles Query Albert Einstein College of Medicine

The Query laboratory at Albert Einstein College of Medicine is interested in mechanisms by which the spliceosome assembles and functions. We have focused on interactions that assemble splicing complexes around one of the chemical substrates ¨C the pre-mRNA branch site ¨C and on subsequent structural dynamics about this site. These studies are providing insights into the "mechanics" of a large RNP machine, the roles of helicases, and RNA-protein interactions.

Nikolaus Rajewsky

Nikolaus Rajewsky Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine

In 1997, Nikolaus received his PhD in theoretical physics at the University of Cologne. After working in Joel Lebowitz’s lab at Rutgers University on statistical mechanics, he joined Eric Siggia’s group at Rockefeller University where, in 1999, his attention turned to biological problems. He began work on transcriptional gene regulation in E. coli and later on in metazoans. In 2003 he became an Assistant Professor of Biology and Mathematics in the Biology Department at New York University, co-associated with the Courant Institute for Mathematical Sciences, where his work on small RNAs – in particular microRNAs – began. In 2006 he became a full professor of Systems Biology at the Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, associated with the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Medical University). He conceived and directs the Berlin Institute for Systems Biology.

Nikolaus is an Editor for Developmental Biology and serves on the editorial boards of BMC Systems Biology and Bioinformatics. In 2008, he received the IUBMB medal for outstanding contributions to Biochemistry and the anniversary prize of the German Society for Biochemistry, awarded by FEBS. Nikolaus is also ‘Global Distinguished Professor of Biology’ at New York University. In January 2010, Nikolaus received the Science Award of the Governing Mayor of Berlin.

Dr. Rajewsky uses both computational and experimental molecular biology methods to study gene regulation in animals. A focus of his work is on small non-coding RNAs such as microRNAs. His latest awards include the IUBMB medal and the Anniversary price of the German Biochemistry Society. The new BIMSB received 12 million Euros in funding. Dr. Rajewsky’s research has been published and featured in numerous journals, including Nature, Science, Cell, Nature Genetics and Nature Biotechnology.

Richard J. Roberts

Richard J. Roberts Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Dr. Richard J. Roberts is the Chief Scientific Officer at New England Biolabs, Beverly, Massachusetts.

He received a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry in 1968 from Sheffield University and then moved as a postdoctoral fellow to Harvard. From 1972 to 1992, he worked at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, eventually becoming Assistant Director for Research under Dr. J.D. Watson. He began work on the newly discovered Type II restriction enzymes in 1972 and these enzymes have been a major research theme.

Studies of transcription in Adenovirus-2 led to the discovery of split genes and mRNA splicing in 1977, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1993. During the sequencing of the Adenovirus-2 genome computational tools became essential and his laboratory pioneered the application of computers in this area.

DNA methyltransferases, as components of restriction-modification systems are also of active interest and the first crystal structures for the HhaI methyltransferase led to the discovery of base flipping. Bioinformatic studies of microbial genomes to find new restriction systems are a major research focus as is the elucidation of DNA methyltransferase recognition sequences using SMRT sequencing.

Michael Rosbash

Michael Rosbash Brandeis University

Michael Rosbash was born in Kansas City, Missouri. Initially, he was interested in mathematics but an undergraduate biology course at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and a summer of working in Norman Davidson’s lab steered him towards biological research.

Rosbash graduated from Caltech in 1965 with a degree in chemistry, spent a year at the Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique in Paris on the Fulbright Scholarship, and obtained a doctoral degree in biophysics in 1970 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under Sheldon Penman. After spending three years on a postdoctoral fellowship in genetics at the University of Edinburgh, Rosbash joined the Brandeis University faculty in 1974.

Rosbash’s research initially focused on the metabolism and processing of mRNA; mRNA is the molecular link between DNA and protein. After arriving at Brandeis, Rosbash collaborated with co-worker Jeffrey Hall and investigated the genetic influences on circadian rhythms of the internal biological clock. They used Drosophila melanogaster to study patterns of activity and rest. In 1984, Rosbash and Hall cloned the first Drosophila clock gene, period. Following work done by post-doctoral fellow, Paul Hardin, in discovering that period mRNA and its associated protein (PER) had fluctuating levels during the circadian cycle, in 1990 they proposed a Transcription Translation Negative Feedback Loop (TTFL) model as the basis of the circadian clock. Following this proposal, they looked into the elements that make up other parts of the clock. In May 1998, Rosbash et al. found a homolog for mammalian Clock that performed the same function of activating the transcription of per and tim that they proceeded to call dClock. Also in May 1998, Rosbash et al. discovered in Drosophila the clock gene cycle, a homolog of the mammalian bmal1 gene.In November 1998, Rosbash et al. discovered the cryb Drosophila mutant, which lead to the conclusion that cryptochrome protein is involved in circadian photoreception.

Phillip A. Sharp

Phillip A. Sharp Massachusetts Institute of Technology

A world leader of research in molecular biology and biochemistry, Dr. Phillip A. Sharp is Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Much of Dr. Sharp's scientific work has been conducted at MIT's Center for Cancer Research (now the Koch Institute), which he joined in 1974 and directed from 1985 to 1991. He subsequently led the Department of Biology from 1991 to 1999 before assuming the directorship of the McGovern Institute from 2000-2004. His research interests have centered on the molecular biology of gene expression relevant to cancer and the mechanisms of RNA splicing. His landmark achievement was the discovery of RNA splicing in 1977. This work provided one of the first indications of the startling phenomenon of “discontinuous genes” in mammalian cells. The discovery that genes contain nonsense segments that are edited out by cells in the course of utilizing genetic information is important in understanding the genetic causes of cancer and other diseases. This discovery, which fundamentally changed scientists' understanding of the structure of genes, earned Dr. Sharp the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. His lab has now turned its attention to understanding how RNA molecules act as switches to turn genes on and off (RNA interference). These newly discovered processes have revolutionized cell biology and could potentially generate a new class of therapeutics.

Dr. Sharp has authored over 385 scientific papers. He has received numerous awards and honorary degrees, and has served on many advisory boards for the government, academic institutions, scientific societies, and companies. His awards include the Gairdner Foundation International Award, General Motors Research Foundation Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. Prize for Cancer Research, the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, the National Medal of Science and the inaugural Double Helix Medal from CSHL. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and is a Foreign Fellow of the Royal Society, UK.

A native of Kentucky, Dr. Sharp earned a B.A. degree from Union College, KY in 1966, and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1969. He did his postdoctoral training at the California Institute of Technology, where he studied the molecular biology of plasmids from bacteria in Professor Norman Davidson's laboratory. Prior to joining MIT, he was Senior Scientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

In 1978 Dr. Sharp co-founded Biogen (now Biogen Idec) and in 2002 he co-founded Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, an early-stage therapeutics company.

Yigong Shi

Yigong Shi Tsinghua University, Beijing

Dr. Yigong Shi is a University Professor and Dean of the School of Life Sciences at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. Shi was born in Zhengzhou, China in 1967, and grew up in Henan Province. He received his Bachelor's Degree from Tsinghua University in 1989 and Ph.D. in Biophysics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1995. He performed his post-doctoral research at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He joined Princeton University as an Assistant Professor in 1998 and was promoted to Full Professor in 2003. He was named the Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University in 2007. Dr. Shi declined an offer as an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and returned to Tsinghua University in 2008.

Dr. Yigong Shi's research has provided important insights into programmed cell death and regulated intramembrane proteolysis. His pioneering research on caspase activation, inhibition, and derepression markedly advanced mechanistic understanding of programmed cell death. He was a Searle Scholar and a Rita Allen Scholar. For his research contributions, Dr. Shi received a number of recognitions, including the 2003 Irving Sigal Young Investigator Award from the Protein Society and the 2010 Sackler Prize in Biophysics and 2014 Gregori Aminoff Prize in crystallography. Dr. Shi is an Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Sciences, an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, and a Foreign Associate of the European Molecular Biology Organization.

Erik Sontheimer

Erik Sontheimer University of Massachusetts Medical School

Erik J. Sontheimer, Ph.D., is Professor in the RNA Therapeutics Institute at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA. He earned his Ph.D. from Yale University, where he worked in the laboratory of Dr. Joan Steitz, and then was a Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph Piccirilli. From June 1999 through July 2014, he was on the faculty of the Department of Molecular Biosciences at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. His research focus is on RNA-based gene regulation, and his laboratory has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of both pre-mRNA splicing mechanisms and RNA interference pathways. In 2007 his laboratory also began working on genetic interference mechanisms in pathogenic bacteria. Among other advances, his group provided the first demonstration that small RNAs known as CRISPR RNAs can target DNA molecules for interference, and in 2008 was the first to recognize and articulate the transformative potential of CRISPR RNA-guided genome engineering applications. He has since continued his work on the biology, mechanism, and application of CRISPR-Cas systems. He is an Associate Editor of RNA and a member of the American Academy of Microbiology, and he has served on the Board of Directors of the RNA Society, as well as numerous grant review panels, scientific advisory boards, and editorial boards. While at Northwestern, he received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, a New Investigator Award in the Basic Pharmacological Sciences from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, a Basil O’Conner Award from the March of Dimes, a Scholar Award from the American Cancer Society, a Distinguished Teaching Award from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, and the 2008 Nestle Award from the American Society for Microbiology. He is a co-founder and Scientific Advisory Board member at Intellia Therapeutics in Cambridge, MA.

David L. Spector

David L. Spector Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

David L. Spector is a cell and molecular biologist best recognized for his research on gene expression and nuclear dynamics. He is currently a Professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and head of the Gene Regulation and Cell Proliferation program of the CSHL Cancer Center. Since 2007, he has served as Director of Research of CSHL.

Spector is a pioneer in unraveling our understanding of the inner workings of the cell nucleus.His early investigations centered on the unusual chromosome structure of dinoflagellates. Recent studies in his laboratory are focused on examining the organization and regulation of gene expression in living mammalian cells. His laboratory has developed approaches to elucidate the spatial and temporal aspects of gene expression and in identifying and characterizing the function of nuclear retained long non-coding RNAs.

His most seminal research accomplishments include the direct visualization in living cells of the recruitment of factors involved in gene expression to active genes; the development of a biochemical fractionation approach to purify a sub-nuclear domain (nuclear speckles) and characterize its protein constituents; the development of a live cell imaging system to visualize a stably integrated genetic locus and follow in real-time its mRNA and protein products; the elucidation of a rapid-response mechanism of regulating gene expression through RNA nuclear retention; identification of a mechanism by which a single genetic locus can produce a long nuclear retained non-coding RNA and a small cytoplasmic tRNA-like transcript, the identification and characterization of a long nuclear retained non-coding RNA that is involved in organizing a sub-nuclear organelle (paraspeckles, and determining that knockout or knockdown of the lncRNA Malat1 results in the differentiation of mammary tumors and a significant reduction in metastasis.

In addition, Spector has co-edited numerous microscopy techniques manuals (i.e. Basic Methods in Microscopy, Live Cell Imaging: A Laboratory Manual, and a treatise of The Nucleus, that are used in laboratories throughout the world.

Jonathan Staley

Jonathan Staley University of Chicago

The goal [Staley Laboratory] is to understand the mechanisms that underlie nuclear pre-mRNA splicing, an essential step in eukaryotic gene expression. Pre-mRNA splicing is catalyzed by a massive multimegadalton ribonucleoprotein machine called the spliceosome. Using the model organism S. cerevisiae, we apply genetic, biochemical, single molecule, and genomic approaches to gain a deeper understanding of how the spliceosome catalyzes and regulates pre-mRNA splicing.

Joan A. Steitz

Joan A. Steitz Yale University, School of Medicine / HHMI

Joan Steitz's laboratory is interested in the multiple roles played by noncoding RNA-protein complexes in gene expression in vertebrate cells. Small RNA-protein complexes (RNPS) are ubiquitous in eukaryotic cells and inhabit specific cellular compartments. The most famous small nuclear RNPs (snRNPs) participate in pre-mRNA splicing by recognizing important intron signals and assembling to form an active splicing complex called a spliceosome. Several lower abundance snRNPs, which are related to the splicing snRNPs and act in either the excision of a rare, divergent class of introns or in other nuclear pre-mRNA processing events, are also being analyzed. The nucleolus possesses a distinct family of related snRNPs. Joan Steitz's lab is investigating their functions in pre-ribosomal RNA processing, as well as their unusual mode of biogenesis. Finally, they are studying viral snRNPs, found in cells infected by some mammalian Herpes viruses.

Bruce Stillman

Bruce Stillman Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Dr. Bruce Stillman is President and Chief Executive Officer of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. A native of Australia, he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree with honors at The University of Sydney and a Ph.D. from the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University. He then moved to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 1979 and has been at the Laboratory ever since, being promoted to the scientific staff in 1981. Dr. Stillman has been Director of the Cancer Center at Cold Spring Harbor since 1992, a position he still holds. In 1994, he succeeded Nobel Laureate Dr. James D. Watson as Director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and was appointed President in 2003.

Dr. Stillman’s research focuses on how chromosomes are duplicated in cells, a process that ensures accurate inheritance of genetic material from one generation to the next.

For his research accomplishments, Dr. Stillman has received a number of honors including election as a Fellow of The Royal Society, to the US National Academy of Sciences, and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1994, Dr. Stillman was awarded the Julian Wells Medal (Australia) and in 1999 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for service to scientific research in the field of molecular biology. In 2004, Dr. Stillman and Dr. Thomas Kelly of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center were awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Prize by the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation. In 2006 Dr. Stillman received the Basic Science award from the Society of Surgical Oncology. In 2010, Drs. Stillman and Kelly received the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University. He is the winner of the 2014 Herbert Tabor Research Award given by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Dr. Stillman has received five honorary doctorates.

Dr. Stillman is a member of the Medical Advisory Board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and advises a number of other research organizations, including the M.I.T. Cancer Center, the Lewis-Sigler Institute of Princeton University and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia. He was chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Cancer Institute and former vice-chair of the National Cancer Policy Board. He currently serves on the Board of Scientific Advisors of the National Cancer Institute.

Woan-Yuh Tarn

Woan-Yuh Tarn Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan

Post-transcriptional control is important for eukaryotic gene expression and cellular function. We aim to have a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms of mRNA metabolism and its impact on cell function, for which we focused on alternative splicing and translational control. Alternative splicing greatly increases the complexity of eukaryotic genomes, and provides a means for development- and tissue-specific gene expression. Dysregulation of alternative splicing may cause diseases. We particularly study how alternative splicing programs cell differentiation. We have previously reported that the splicing factor RBM4 is involved in differentiation of muscle and pancreas cells via its role in alternative splicing regulation. More recently, we show that RBM4-mediated splicing regulation also impacts neuronal differentiation and migration during cortical development. In addition we study the post-splicing exon-junction complex that associates with the spliced mRNA and functions in mRNA surveillance. We recently found that one of its components (Y14) plays roles in splicing regulation, mRNA cap binding, and possibly protein stability control. Y14 regulates alternative splicing of p53 and modulates cell sensitivity to genotoxic agents. Our study for the first time establishes a direct link between Y14 and p53 expression and suggests a function for Y14 in DNA damage signaling. We also study the RNA helicase DDX3 in translational control in cancer and neuron. DDX3 promotes the translation of mRNAs containing a complex 5’ UTR, and its target mRNAs encode oncogenic and migration related factors. Therefore, DDX3 contributes to cell cycle control and cell migration in cancer cells. Moreover, DDX3 functions in localized translation in neuron and whereby it modulates neurite and dendrite outgrowth and spin maturation. Our studies provide the details for a wide range of RNA processing events and their regulation mechanisms.

Juan Valcarcel

Juan Valcarcel Center for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona

Juan Valcárcel studied biology and chemistry at the Universities of Santiago de Compostela and Autónoma de Madrid. He obtained his PhD in 1990 for work carried out at the Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa under the supervision of Juan Ortín. He did postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Michael Green at the University of Massachusetts and in 1996 he joined the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg as a group leader. In 2002 his group moved to the Centre de Regulació Genòmica in Barcelona, where he is a senior scientist and ICREA Research Professor. Since the time of his PhD work, his research has focused on how pre-mRNAs are spliced and how this process can be regulated.

The genome provides the instructions to build and maintain the function of a living organism. Strangely, in complex organisms these instructions are not written as continuous messages, but rather as smaller pieces interrupted by meaningless text. This arrangement has the advantage that the pieces can be combined in different ways to generate alternative instructions. We study the molecular machinery that puts messages together and how the production of alternative messages is regulated.

Larry Zipursky

Larry Zipursky UCLA/HHMI

S. Lawrence Zipursky (born 1955) is an American neuroscientist, currently Distinguished Professor of Biological Chemistry at University of California, Los Angeles and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Zipursky studies brain development. His research focuses on how neural circuits are formed during development. His laboratory has provided insights into various aspects of circuit assembly, including the molecular basis of neuronal identity through their work on the Dscam1 locus in Drosophila. Zipursky was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1998 and a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2009. He received the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize for Biology and Biochemistry from Columbia University in 2015. Zipursky was a graduate student with Jerard Hurwitz at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a postdoctoral fellow with Seymour Benzer at the California Institute of Technology.

Larry Zipursky is interested in uncovering the cellular rules and underlying molecular mechanisms by which neurons make highly specific patterns of synaptic connections during development.

Communication between neurons relies on precise patterns of interconnections between them. We are interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms by which these connections, referred to as synapses, are specified. Presumably specific molecular labels on the surface of different neurons provide a basis for the cellular recognition that underlies this specificity. Identifying these labels and understanding how they work is the central goal of my laboratory.