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Plenary Speakers

Confirmed Plenary Speakers at this time:
  • Brenda Andrews University of Toronto, Caanada
  • Ted Baker University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Gerald Crabtree Stanford University, USA
  • Raymond J. Deshaies Howard Hughes Medical Institute, California Institute of Technology, USA
  • Richard Dixon Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, OK, USA
  • Seth Grant The University of Edinburgh, UK
  • Jeff Hasty University of California San Diego, La Jolla, USA
  • Doug Hilton Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Australia
  • James Hurley National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA
  • Michael Karin University of California San Diego, La Jolla, USA
  • David Kramer Michigan State University, USA
  • Ryan Lister University of Western Australia
  • Robin Lovell-Badge National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK
  • Chris Marshall Institute of Cancer research, London, UK
  • Susan McCouch Cornell University, Ithica, USA
  • Andrew McMahon Harvard University, USA
  • Josh Mylne University of Queensland, Australia
  • Anne Osbourn John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK
    Sponsored by Bioplatforms Australia
  • John Patrick University of Newcastle, Australia
  • Dale Sanders John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK
  • John D Scott Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
  • Michael Shen Columbia University, USA
  • James Whisstock Monash University, Australia
Plenary Speaker Bios
Brenda Andrews

AndrewsBrenda Andrews is Professor and Chair of the Banting & Best Department of Medical Research within the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. She is also Director of the Terrence Donnelly Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Research (the Donnelly Centre), an interdisciplinary research institute with scientists from Medicine, Engineering, Pharmacy and Arts and Science. After receiving her PhD in Medical Biophysics from the University of Toronto, Dr Andrews obtained her early training in genetics with Dr Ira Herskowitz at the University of California San Francisco. In 1991, Dr Andrews was recruited to the Department of Medical Genetics (now Molecular Genetics) at the University of Toronto. She became Chair of the Department in 1999 and held this position for five years. Dr Andrews’ current research interests include mechanisms of cell cycle control, control of cell function by kinases and other enzymes and the regulation of cell polarity and morphogenesis. Dr Andrews is also involved in a number of functional genomics projects and is working with colleagues on large collaborative projects to build genetic interaction maps and to understand the role of genetic interactions in normal and diseased cells. Dr Andrews is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Director of the Genetic Networks Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Ted Baker

BakerTed Baker pioneered the establishment of structural biology in New Zealand, and has made international contributions in many areas, including protein structure refinement, hydrogen bonding, and the function of proteins involved in infectious disease such as TB. A recent highlight was his publication in Science in 2007 of the structure and assembly of a protein that forms pili on streptococci. His laboratory pioneered New Zealand’s use of overseas synchrotron facilities, including remote data collection, and provides a national resource in structural biology.

Ted is a former president of the International Union of Crystallography and has served on the Scientific Advisory Committee of BIOXHIT, a multi-country European project aimed at developing high-throughput synchrotron capabilities in structural biology. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Protein Data Bank. In 2006, he was awarded the Rutherford Medal, New Zealand’s highest science award. In 2007 he was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM – for services too science). He was awarded the Liley Medal for excellence in Health research in 2008 and the Leach medal at Lorne in 2010. Ted is currently Distinguished Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Auckland.

Gerald Crabtree

CrabtreeGerald Crabtree is Professor of Pathology and of Developmental Biology at Stanford University School of Medicine and is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He completed his BSc in 1968 at West Liberty State College and received his MD in 1972 from Temple University Medical School. Gerald Crabtree's laboratory studies the interaction between the signalling pathways and genetic circuits regulating embryonic development. His laboratory designs and synthesises small molecules that rapidly and reversibly activate or inhibit the products of specific genes critical to these circuits, thereby allowing precise temporal analysis of their functions. His group is also interested in the role of chromatin regulation in stem cells and has recently discovered a stem cell specific chromatin remodeling complex which plays an essential role in the formation and function of stem cells. He is also interested in the mechanisms by which signals through Ca2+, calcineurin and NFATc proteins regulate development and morphogenesis in vertebrates, aiming to define the many roles of this pathway in development and disease. Finally, he is developing new ways of making conditional alleles of mammalian genes using synthetic ligands to understand and control fundamental biologic processes.

Raymond Deshaies

DeshaiesRaymond J. Deshaies is Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His career has focused on investigating the cellular machinery that mediates protein degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS), and how this machinery regulates cell division. Dr Deshaies has published over 100 papers and is an inventor on nine issued US patents, many related to his work on the UPS. Dr Deshaies has received numerous awards and scholarships, including Markey and Searle Scholar Awards and Burroughs-Wellcome and Beckman New Investigator Awards. In 1999, he was selected as Young Investigator of the Year by the American Society for Cell Biology and in 2011 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In addition to being a co-founder of Cleave Biosciences, Dr Deshaies was the co-founder of Proteolix, which was acquired by Onyx.

Photo: Paul Fetters Photography.
Richard Dixon

DixonRichard A. Dixon is Distinguished Professor, Samuel Roberts Noble Research Chair, and Director of the Plant Biology Division at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. He holds Adjunct Professorships at Rice University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Oklahoma. He received his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in biochemistry and botany from Oxford, and postdoctoral training in plant biochemistry at Cambridge. His research centres on molecular biology and metabolic engineering of plant natural product pathways. He has published over 400 papers on these and related topics in international journals, and has been named by the Institute for Scientific Information as one of the 10 most cited authors in the plant and animal sciences. Professor Dixon is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was elected to membership of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2007.

Seth Grant

GrantSeth Grant graduated with degrees in physiology, medicine and surgery from the University of Sydney and continued postdoctoral training with Douglas Hanahan at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and with Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel at Columbia University. He was a principal scientist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK, and is Professor of Molecular Neuroscience at Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities and Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He is best known for his work using mouse genetics and synapse proteomics to study synaptic function, plasticity, behavior and disease. His laboratory has identified multiprotein complexes in the postsynaptic proteome that play a central role in behaviour in mice and humans. He created the Genes to Cognition Programme (G2C), supported by the Wellcome Trust, which integrates genetic studies in mice and humans with proteomic, synaptic physiological, behavioural, computational and evolutionary approaches aimed at understanding the fundamental mechanisms of behaviour.

Jeff Hasty

HastyJeff Hasty received his PhD in theoretical physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1997, where he worked with Kurt Wiesenfeld. He was a postdoc with Jorge Vinals at the Supercomputing Research Institute (1997–98), and a postdoctoral fellow with Jim Collins in the Applied BioDynamics Lab at Boston University (1998–2001). Somewhere during his postdoctoral stay at Boston University, he mutated into a hybrid computational/molecular biologist. He is currently at the University of California, San Diego, where he is a Professor in the Departments of Molecular Biology and Bioengineering, and the Director of the BioCircuits Institute. His main interest is the design and construction of synthetic gene-regulatory and signalling networks.

ASBMB Lemberg Medallist: Douglas Hilton

HiltonProfessor Doug Hilton PhD FAA FTSE is a molecular biologist whose research has focused on the regulation of blood formation, cytokines and signal transduction. Doug received a Bachelor of Science from Monash University and undertook Honours and PhD research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, working with Professors Don Metcalf and Nic Nicola. During his postdoctoral training with Professor Harvey Lodish at the Whitehead Institute, MIT, USA, Doug devised a new approach to find unidentified receptors for cytokines. Upon his return to WEHI in 1993, he used this approach to clone receptors for interleukin (IL)-11, IL-13 and a novel cytokine called NR6. In the early 1990s, together with Dr Robyn Starr and colleagues, Doug discovered a novel family of genes termed ‘suppressors of cytokine signalling’ (SOCS), which form part of a negative feedback loop to regulate cytokine action. Recently, Doug has embarked on a large-scale forward genetic screen in mice for mutations that affect general haemopoiesis and platelet formation. This program aims to identify genes that lead to amelioration of disease when mutated, providing in vivo validated targets for therapeutic discovery. In 2009, Doug became Director of WEHI, and in 2011, he initiated and coordinated the Discoveries Need Dollars campaign.

James Hurley

HurleyDr James (Jim) Hurley was trained as a protein crystallographer with Dr Robert Stroud at UC San Francisco and Dr Brian Matthews at the University of Oregon. Jim has been a group leader at the National Institutes of Health since 1992. In the early years at NIH, his group focused on classical problems in signal transduction, including signaling through protein kinase C and adenylyl cyclase. From the early 2000s on, he has taken a multidisciplinary approach to understanding mechanisms in membrane traffic. The major focus of the lab over the last decade has been on the unusual membrane budding and scission reactions carried out by the ESCRT complexes.

Michael Karin

KarinMichael Karin graduated from the University of Tel Aviv in 1975. After completing his PhD in 1979 with Dr Harvey Herschman at the University of California Los Angeles, Dr Karin joined Dr Beatrice Mintz at the Fox Chase Cancer Center. After a short time with Dr John Baxter at the University of California San Francisco, Dr Karin became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Southern California. In 1986, he became an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and in 1989 was promoted to Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, UCSD. Dr Karin is a leading authority on cell signaling, inflammation biology and cancer. He has received numerous awards, including the Oppenheimer Award for Excellence in Research from the Endocrine Society (1990), MERIT Award from the NIH/NIEHS (1998), Frank and Else Schilling-American Cancer Society Research Professorship (1999), CERIES Research Award for Skin Physiology (2000) and the Harvey Prize in Human Health (2010). In 2005, Dr Karin was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, USA. In 2007, he became a Foreign Associate of the European Molecular Biology Organization, and in 2011, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine.

Ryan Lister

ListerRyan Lister’s research focuses on the role of epigenomic modifications in genome organisation and transcription in complex eukaryotic organisms. After receiving his PhD from the University of Western Australia, Ryan joined Joseph Ecker’s laboratory at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in 2006. He developed methodologies for utilising high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies to achieve base-resolution mapping of DNA methylation throughout plant and mammalian genomes. Integration of these reference methylation maps with transcriptome and chromatin modification profiles has yielded new insights into the composition and function of DNA methylation in plants, people and pluripotency. Having returned to UWA in 2012, the research in Ryan’s laboratory is focussed upon how these complex epigenomic patterns are established and altered, and how they affect the readout of underlying genetic information.

Robin Lovell-Badge

Lovell-BadgeRobin Lovell-Badge obtained his PhD in Embryology at University College London in 1978 under Martin Evans. After postdoctoral research in Cambridge and Paris, he established his independent laboratory in 1982 at the MRC Mammalian Development Unit, UCL, directed by Anne McLaren. In 1988, he moved to the National Institute for Medical Research in Mill Hill, London, becoming Head of the Division of Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics in 1993. Major themes of his past and current work, which are centred on questions of how decisions of cell fate are made, include sex determination, development of the nervous system, and the biology of stem cells within the early embryo, the CNS and the pituitary. He is also active in public engagement and policy work. Among several awards, he is an FRS and a recipient of the Louis Jeantet Prize for Medicine and the Waddington Medal of the British Society for Developmental Biology.

International Biochemical Society/ASBMB Lecture: Chris Marshall

MarshallChristopher J. Marshall studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge University followed by a DPhil at Oxford. In 1980, after postdoctoral work in the UK and USA he joined the Institute of Cancer Research. There, he began studies on human oncogenes identifying N-Ras, a novel member of the Ras family of small GTPases. Subsequent work included the identification of Raf-ERK-MAP kinase signalling pathway downstream of Ras, and elucidation of the signals that target Ras to the plasma membrane. Currently his laboratory studies signalling in cell motility and uses mouse germ line manipulation to study signalling pathways activated by oncogenic Ras and Rho family proteins required for tumorigenesis and metastasis. Chris is Professor of Cell Biology and is Director of Research at the Institute of Cancer Research where he holds a Cancer Research UK Gibb Life Fellowship. His contributions to science have been recognised by election to EMBO, the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Susan McCouch

McCouchSusan McCouch is a Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University. She received her PhD from Cornell in 1990, spent five years with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, and joined the Cornell faculty in 1995. She is well known for her pioneering studies on molecular mapping in rice and the development of genomics-based platforms to explore the extent and distribution of natural variation in rice. She is best known for demonstrating that low-yielding wild and exotic Oryza species harbor genes that can enhance the performance of modern, high-yielding cultivars. Using genome-wide association mapping, she demonstrated that different subpopulations of rice have different genetic architecture underlying complex traits, providing new insights into the genetic basis of transgressive variation. She has trained scores of young scientists, has received numerous teaching and faculty awards, has a prolific publication record and is an elected fellow of the AAAS.

Andy McMahon

McMahonAndrew P. McMahon is the Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science in the departments of Stem Cells and Regenerative Biology and Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University. He is also a founding member and principal faculty in the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Professor McMahon will shortly move to the University of Southern California to establish a new department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and to direct the Eli and Eydthe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology. Dr McMahon is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Royal Society, UK, and an elected Associate Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization. The McMahon group’s research focuses on the regulatory processes that construct, maintain and repair organ systems with a principal focus on the CNS, skeleton and kidney.

Josh Mylne

MylneJosh Mylne is an ARC QEII Fellow (2008-2012) and IMB’s inaugural John S. Mattick Fellow (2010-2012). He obtained his PhD in Arabidopsis molecular biology in 2002 and after four years working at the John Innes Centre in the UK in the area of Arabidopsis developmental molecular genetics and epigenetics, made an unorthodox return to a Chemistry & Structural Biology Division within IMB, a principally biomedical institute. Here he has effectively applied genetics, biochemistry, bioinformatics, structural biology and an Arabidopsis model system to the study the biosyntheses of peptides with biomedical applications. Since 2002 Josh has published 25 papers in journals including Nature, Science, Current Biology, PNAS and several pertinent to his Goldacre Award very recently in Nature Chemical Biology and Plant Cell. His work at IMB has unwittingly led him into studies on evolution as a diverse range of drug-like plant peptides have arisen as a consequence of different and unusual genetic events that have recruited the same proteolytic machinery. In short, he has discovered a fascinating case of biosynthetic parallel evolution and this will be the subject of the 2012 ASPS Peter Goldacre Award Lecture.

Anne Osbourn


Sponsored by Bioplatforms Australia

OsbournAnne Osbourn is a Project Leader in the Department of Metabolic Biology at the John Innes Centre. She also leads the Institute Strategic Programme on Plant and Microbial Metabolism and is an Associate Research Director of the Centre. Her research focuses on plant natural products – function, synthesis and metabolic diversification. Anne’s group works with crop and model plants, and uses a wide range of multidisciplinary approaches including genetics, genomics, computational biology, cell biology, protein and small molecule biochemistry. Anne is an author of over 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications and recently co-edited a comprehensive textbook on plant-derived natural products [Lanzotti V & Osbourn A (2009) Plant-derived natural products – Synthesis, function and application. Springer, New York, USA].She has also developed and coordinates the Science, Art and Writing (SAW) initiative, a cross-curricular science education program for schools (www.sawtrust.org).

John Patrick

PatrickJohn Patrick is an Emeritus Professor in Biological Sciences at the University of Newcastle, Australia. He completed an undergraduate degree in Agricultural Science at the University of Sydney and a PhD in plant physiology at Macquarie University. Following postdoctoral research on plant development in the Department of Botany, University College of Wales, he took up an academic position in Biological Sciences at the University of Newcastle. Facilitated by productive collaborations, his research focuses on phloem transport biology with a particular interest in discovering cellular pathways, transport mechanisms and regulation of phloem unloading of resources (nutrients and water). These studies have included elucidating transport function and developmental biology of transfer cells that are cells specialised to support large membrane fluxes of resources at apo-/symplasmic interfaces located in phloem loading/unloading pathways. Much of this work has relied on using developing legume seeds as an experimental model.

Dale Sanders

SandersDale Sanders has researched on the mechanisms of membrane transport and signal transduction in plants and fungi since obtaining his PhD from Cambridge University in 1978. Major discoveries have included: molecular identification of the calcium-permeable channels involved in signalling in yeast and plants; identification of cyclic ADP-ribose as a signalling molecule in plants; structural and functional characterisation of the roles of transition metal transporters in plant metal homeostasis. After five years’ postdoctoral work at Yale University School of Medicine in which he developed a mathematical framework for understanding of ion-coupled transporter kinetics, Sanders progressed an academic career at the University of York. He was Head of the Biology Department 2004–2010 before moving to the John Innes Centre where he is now Director. In recognition of his research contributions, Sanders was awarded (jointly) the European Science Prize of the Körber Foundation and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

John Scott

ScottJohn Scott is a Howard Hughes Investigator and the Edwin G. Krebs-Speights Professor of Cell Signaling and Cancer Biology with the Department of Pharmacology, University of Washington. Dr Scott is a fellow of the Royal Society, London, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He is the author of over 200 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals and books. He is interested in the specificity of signal transduction events that are controlled by anchoring proteins, which facilitate rapid signal transduction by optimally positioning protein kinases and phosphatases in the vicinity of their activating signals and close to their substrates. His research program focuses on defining the intracellular communication networks that promote specificity in signal transduction events. Dr Scott’s lab has identified a family of A-kinase-anchoring proteins (AKAPs) that target the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) and other signalling enzymes to specific subcellular sites where they influence the regulation of physiological processes.

Michael Shen

ShenMichael M. Shen is Professor of Medicine and Genetics & Development at Columbia University Medical Center, and a member of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr Shen received his BA degree from Harvard University in 1984. He pursued his doctoral studies at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, receiving his PhD degree from Cambridge University in 1988, and then obtained postdoctoral training in the Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School. Dr Shen was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in 1994, and rose to the ranks of Associate Professor and Professor before moving to Columbia University Medical Center in 2007. Dr Shen’s laboratory pursues basic and translational research in the areas of mammalian embryogenesis and stem cell differentiation, as well as development of the prostate gland and molecular mechanisms of prostate carcinogenesis.

ASBMB Merck Millipore Research Medallist: James Whisstock

WhisstockProfessor James Whisstock is an ARC Federation Fellow and honorary NHMRC Principal Research Fellow. James completed his PhD on serine protease inhibitors (serpins) in Cambridge with Arthur Lesk and Robin Carrell. In 1997, he moved to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University. He has published over 160 papers, including in Nature, Science and PNAS, and is a chief investigator on the ARC Centre of Excellence in Structural and Functional Microbial Genomics. James’s research has centred on the structure and function of proteolytic enzymes and their inhibitors, including understanding how serpins function as cross-class cysteine protease inhibitors. More recently, James’s research has focussed on membrane attack complex/perforin-like (MACPF) proteins, including perforin and complement component 9. With Michelle Dunstone, James’s team determined the first X-ray crystal structure of a MACPF protein, revealing that this family is distantly related to bacterial cytolysins. With Joe Trapani and Helen Saibil, James’s team determined the structure of perforin, revealing detailed insights into how it assembles to form a pore. James’s awards include a 2002 Young Tall Poppy award, the 2006 Science Minister’s Prize for Life Scientist of the Year, the 2008 Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research and the 2010 Gottschalk Medal.

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