Berlin Translational Dialogue – RNA-Medicine: From RNA Discoveries to Future Therapies

Berlin
Tuesday, 08 November 2016

 
Jörg Vogel, PhD
Director of the Institute for Molecular Infection Biology (IMIB) and Prof. University of Würzburg

Joerg received his PhD from the Humboldt University in Berlin after studying Biochemistry at the HU and at Imperial in London. Postdoctoral work took him to Uppsala, Sweden and the Hebrew University, Israel, before starting his own group at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin and becoming appointed as Prof. and Director of the IMIB in Würzburg. His research focus is the characterization of non-coding RNAs in bacterial pathogens and deciphering their regulatory roles in host-pathogen interactions. At IMIB, this is taken to a more general level to investigate fundamental biological problems and unravel molecular mechanisms with a focus on pathogens and infectious diseases, in a truly interdisciplinary endeavor.

 
Mariola Fotin-Mleczek, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer at CureVac, Tübingen


Mariola was trained in Stuttgart, Germany and holds a PhD in Biology. Her scientific expertise includes Immunology, Cell Biology, Signal Transduction. Her research is focused on mRNA technologies; she is an inventor of RNActive ® -key patents. At CureVac she overlooks the development and preclinical testing of RNActive ® cancer vaccines. CureVac stands for diverse therapeutic possibilities (cure) based on revolutionary vaccination (vac); The company explores versatile RNA technologies (RNActive®, RNArt®, RNAntibody®, RNAdjuvant®), focused on cancer treatments and protection against infectious diseases; some projects (in collaboration with partners from ‘Big’-Pharma) already in clinical trials.

 
Maria Carmo-Fonseca, PhD
President of the Institute of Molecular Medicine (iMM) and Prof. University of Lisbon

Maria was educated to MD and PhD-level at the Faculty of Medicine in Lisbon. Her interest in the metabolism of RNA in the nucleus of higher eukaryotes dates back to her time as postdoc at the EMBL in Heidelberg. Research in her lab focuses on mRNA biogenesis to better understand diseases caused by errors that affect processes such as transcription, RNA-processing and transport, as well as splicing regulation. Maria’s research nicely integrates with the overall mission of the Institute for Molecular Medicine as a competitive biomedical institute to increase infrastructure and foster interdisciplinary innovative ideas in basic, clinical and translational research. .

 
Frank Slack, PhD
Director of the Institute for RNA Medicine (iRM) at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Prof. Harvard Medical School, Boston

With a BSc from Cape Town, South Africa, Frank completed his PhD in Molecular Biology at Tufts. Co-discovered, as postdoc in Gary Ruvkun’s lab at Harvard, the second known microRNA let-7. Research in his lab focuses on let-7 and miR-34-based cancer therapeutics, the latter being in phase I clinical trials. The lab further works on strategies to target oncomiRs for cancer therapy, while more broadly continue to discover small RNAs in development, cancer, ageing and diabetes. The vision of the iRM is to accelerate cross-disciplinary collaborations and bundle Harvard’s collective expertise in RNA-biology; boost RNA-centric technologies, incl. bioinformatics, genetics and clinical trials

 
Nils Walter, PhD
Director of the Center for RNA Biomedicine and Prof. University of Michigan

Nils studied Chemistry in Darmstadt, Germany and received his PhD from the MPI in Göttingen, for his on non-radioactive detection of nucleid-acids with Nobel laureate M. Eigen. After postdoctoral research in Vermont, he brought his biophysical and chemical expertise to the SMART-Center (single molecule analysis in real-time) at the University of Michigan to study the structure, dynamics and function of RNAs inside and outside human cells. Leveraging on the technological RNA-expertise of the SMART Center, to promote cross-disciplinary collaborations and mentoring the next generation of RNA biomedical scientists is at the core of the recently founded University of Michigan Center for RNA Biomedicine, directed and coordinated by Nils.

 
Katalin Karikó, PhD VP BioNTech RNA Pharmaceuticals, Mainz

Katalin studied Biology and received a PhD in Biochemistry from the Attila University in Szeged. Postdoctoral training took her to the US, first Temple University and later to Bethesda, before joining the Faculty at UPenn, School of Medicine. Her groundbreaking research on RNA-mediated immune activation (via Toll-like receptors) translated into the discovery of nucleoside-modifications suppressing RNA’s immunogenicity. In 2006, Katalin moved as founder and entrepreneur into Biotech, with her team also demonstrating the feasibility of nucleoside-modified mRNAs for protein replacement.  As co-inventor of mRNA-related patents, Katalin leads since 2013 the mRNA-based protein replacement program at BioNTech.


 
Emmanuelle Charpentier, PhD
Scientific Member, Director and Prof. at the MPI for Infection Biology, Berlin

Emmanuelle received her PhD in microbiology from the University Curie in Paris, before undertaking postdoctoral and research associate work at prestigious US institutions, including Rockefeller. She became group-leader and associate professor in Vienna and Umea, before accepting a full professor position at the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research in Braunschweig, Germany. Named Humboldt Professor in 2014, Emmanuelle became Max Planck Director in Berlin in 2015. Emmanuelles’ research focuses on fundamental mechanisms regulating infection and immunity in bacterial pathogens. Her groundbreaking contributions to RNA-mediated regulation based on the CRISPR-Cas9 system laid the foundation for the development of a highly versatile and specific genome editing technology, globally recognized already by numerous outstanding scientific awards. Emmanuelle is named inventor of relevant patents and co-founder of CrisprTx, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based, biotech with the goal to advance applications of the CRISPR-Cas technology.

The Organizers
 
Markus Landthaler, PhD
Group Leader at the MDC-BIMSB, Berlin

Educated to PhD-level at the University of Würzburg, Markus underwent exceptional postdoctoral training in Tom Tuschl’s lab at Rockefeller, where he pioneered biochemical and computational tools enabling the annotation of RNA-binding protein- and miRNA-target sites at genome-scale. Since 2009, Markus is independent group-leader at the newly founded, interdisciplinary Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology, where he continuous to investigate functional RNA-interactions in post-transcriptional regulation, both at the whole-genome and the single nucleotide-level. Markus is co-inventor on numerous patents highly-relevant for the development of miRNA-targeting therapeutics.  

 
Gunter Meister, PhD

With a PhD in Biochemistry from the LMU-Munich, Gunter became fascinated with the world of non-coding, regulatory RNAs and their potential for therapies. During postdoctoral work in New York and as junior group-leader at the MPI for Biochemistry in Munich, Gunter unraveled basic mechanisms of todays’ molecular and structural understanding of miRNA-processing. As Prof. for Biochemistry in Regensburg, Gunter continues to interrogate miRNA-based functional networks in health and diseases. As integral part of major European training networks and holder of miRNA-related patents, Gunter actively supports the education of future clinician-scientists while accelerating the translation of basic discoveries into future therapeutics.

 

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