Professor Eric Wieschaus, Nobel Laureate (Princeton University, USA)

c-eric w v2Eric Wieschaus is the Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology at Princeton University, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, a member of the National Academy of Science (USA), and 1995 Nobel Laureate for Medicine. The Wieschaus Lab is interested in the patterning that occurs in the early Drosophila embryo. Most of the gene products used by the embryo at these stages are already present in the unfertilized egg and were produced by maternal transcription during oogenesis. A small number of gene products, however, are supplied by transcription in the embryo itself. His lab focuses on these “zygotically” active genes because the temporal and spatial pattern of their transcription may provide the triggers controlling the normal sequence of embryonic development.

Dr Daniel MacArthur (Massachusetts General Hospital, USA)

c-macarthurDaniel is a group leader within the Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit at Massachussets General Hospital. He is also Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, and the Co-Director of Medical and Population Genetics at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. The MacArthur lab uses cutting-edge genomic technologies at massive scale to understand the impact of human genetic variation, and to provide answers to families affected by rare genetic diseases.

Dr Sandhya Koushika (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, India)

c-sk_bigSandhya Koushika studies long-distance transport of organelles within neurons using the tiny transparent worm Caenorhabditis elegans as a model. The process of cargo transport in neurons is important for the development of the nervous system and its disruption can lead to neurodegenerative disease. To understand how such transport is regulated, she uses genetics, live imaging, molecular and biochemical techniques to identify the molecular mechanisms that regulate cargo transport. In addition she takes several inter-disciplinary approaches working with other groups to develop technologies and mathematical models to attempt a more comprehensive understanding of this biological phenomena.

Professor Hugo Bellen (Baylor College of Medicine, USA)

c-BellenHugo Bellen, D.V.M., Ph.D, is a Howard Hughes Investigator and Distinguished Professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. His group has made major contributions to our understanding of nervous system development, mechanisms of neurodegeneration, and has developed numerous tools and reagents for the Drosophila research community worldwide. Professor Bellen uses fruit flies to examine the normal function of genes implicated in neurodegeneration. He is the Principle Investigator of the Model Organisms Screening Center (MOSC) for the Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN) of the National Institutes of Health in the USA. The goal of the MOSC is to determine which human variants associated with specific human disease are pathogenic using fruit flies and zebrafish. His lab has discovered more than five new human diseases in the past two years, and his lab members are elucidating the pathogenic mechanisms for Friedreich ataxia, Alzheimer Disease, Parkinson Disease, and several other neurodegenerative diseases. Professor Bellen’s research demonstrates the benefits to human health that can emerge from studies in model organisms. He not only uses flies in his research, he also loves fly fishing and is fond of Australia and New Zealand.

Professor Gertrud Schupach (Princeton University, USA)

c-Trudi 2016Trudi Schupach is the Henry Fairfield Osborn Professor of Biology at Princeton University, a Howard Hughes Investigator, and a member of the National Academy of Science (USA). Her group focuses on the maternal control of early embryonic development in Drosophila. The mature egg of Drosophila melanogaster contains information that determines the major axis of the embryo. This information is built into the egg during oogenesis and functions in the early embryo to create a regionally distinct pattern of zygotic gene expression. Her lab focuses on understanding the nature and distribution of this maternal information. In particular, analyzing how this spatial information is built into the egg during oogenesis.

Professor Phil Hieter (University of British Columbia, Canada)

c-HieterPhilip Hieter is a Professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia.  Dr. Hieter is Co-Director (with Kym Boycott) of the Canadian Rare Diseases Models and Mechanisms National Network.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Member of the National Academy of Sciences.  Dr. Hieter served as President of the Genetics Society of America in 2012.  Dr. Hieter is recognized for his work on structural and regulatory proteins that ensure faithful segregation of chromosomes during cell division.  Throughout his career, his work has demonstrated and advocated the value of model experimental organisms for understanding mechanisms of human disease.

Professor Anna Huttenlocher (University of Winsconsin, USA)

c-huttenlocher-3Anna Huttenlocher focuses on understanding the basic molecular mechanisms that regulate cell movement in the context of wound healing, inflammation and cancer. She uses the zebrafish model system and state of the art live imaging, biosensors and photomanipulation to examine and control polarity of cell signaling during cell migration, as well as investigating host-pathogen interactions.

Dr Pierre-Pascal Lenck Santini (Aix Marseille Université, INMED, Marseille, France)

c-PPLS v2Pierre-Pascal Lenck Santini is Assistant Professor in the department of Neurological Sciences and Institut de Neurobiologie de la Mediterranee (INMED), INSERM, Marseille, France. His main interest is understanding the mechanisms by which organized neuronal activity supports brain function. First trained in cognitive neurosciences, he strives to integrate fundamental science with understanding human neurological disorders. His research interests are to understand how complex information such as episodic, spatial or contextual information is encoded and organized in the brain; The physiological and functional development of hippocampal networks and; How neurological disorders affect information processing, cognitive function and behaviour. Assistant Professor Lenck Santini uses mouse models to study cognition, memory and the effects of epilepsy on cognitive development.


Associate Professor Marina Kennerson (ANZAC Institute, University of Sydney)

c-MK PortraitMarina Kennerson is a Principal Hospital Scientist with the Molecular Medicine Laboratory at Concord Hospital and Principal Research Fellow with the ANZAC Research Institute and Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney. She is a key international researcher in the field of hereditary neuropathies and heads the genomics gene discovery and translational program at the ANZAC Research Institute. Associate Professor has discovered several neuropathy genes leads the field in researching the role of structural variation mutations causing gene dysregulation as a new disease mechanism for hereditary neuropathies. To support the genomics program she has expanding her research to include functional studies for her recent gene discoveries (ATP7A and PDK3) by developing cellular models using induced pluripotent stem cell derived motor neurons and animal models (C. elegans and mouse).

Professor Kathryn North (Director, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute)

c-k northProfessor Kathryn North is Director of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the David Danks Professor of Child Health Research at the University of Melbourne.
Professor North is trained as a physician, neurologist and clinical geneticist and in 1994, was awarded a doctorate for research in neurogenetics. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Harvard Genetics Program. Professor North is a national and international leader in Genomic medicine. In 2014, Professor North was appointed as Co-Chair of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health – a collaborative network of over 400 organisations across over 45 countries funded by the NIH and the Wellcome Trust (genomicsandhealth.org). Commencing in 2016, she leads an NHMRC-funded national network of over 40 institutions – the Australian Genomics Health Alliance (AGHA). The goal of AGHA is to provide evidence and practical strategies for the implementation of genomic medicine in the Australian health system.

Professor Patrick Tam (CMRI and University of Sydney)

c-Tam PPL 1Patrick Tam heads the Embryology Research Unit and is Deputy Director of Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI). Professor Tam’s research focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of body patterning during mouse development and the biology of stem cells. He pioneered the application of micromanipulation and embryo culture for analyzing mouse embryos and examining the development of the head and embryonic gut. The embryological analysis undertaken by his team at CMRI has enabled the construction of a series of fate-maps revealing the organization of the basic body plan of the early embryo. The in-depth knowledge of cell differentiation during early embryogenesis laid the foundation for directing the differentiation of stem cells into clinically useful cell types for therapy in regenerative medicine.

Professor Moira O’Bryan (Monash University)

c-obryan-bdi-200Professor Moira O’Bryan leads the Male Infertility and Germ Cell Biology Laboratory in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology. This group studies sperm development and function and the causes of human male infertility. The focus of the Laboratory includes: cilia/flagellar development and function, genetic causes of human infertility, DNA repair mechanisms, sperm head shaping and the transcriptional and translational control of germ cell expressed genes.

Professor John Cristodoulou (Murdoch Childrens Research Institute)

c-JC1_0716John Christodoulou is currently the Chair of Genomic Medicine, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, and the Head of the Neurodevelopmental Genomics Research Group, at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia. He graduated from the University of Sydney, and has formal qualifications in paediatrics, medical genetics and genetic pathology. He was the Director of the Western Sydney Genetics Program at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, one of the largest fully integrated clinical and laboratory diagnostic genetic services in Australia. He has an active laboratory-based and clinical mitochondrial research program, and has a major research interest in the application of next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies for disease gene discovery in rare Mendelian disorders, and is the co-lead of the Australian Genomics Health Alliance, whose focus is to bring NGS diagnostics into mainstream clinical practice in Australia.

Professor Elina Hypponen (University of South Australia)

c-EH2015Elina Hyppönen is Professor in Nutritional and Genetic Epidemiology. She leads the Nutritional and Genetic Epidemiology group which has a focus on using genetic tools to inform on dietary and lifestyle guidelines for optimal health. She has an extensive track record in research on vitamin D, with current interests in evaluating genetic and environmental influences on growth and disease risk. She has a strong research background also in the field of intergenerational and life-course epidemiology. Much of her work is done in the context of large international consortia, including the D-CarDia and GxE MODIFY Collaborations which she leads.