Keynote Speakers

MiCom 2018 Keynote Speakers

Chemical Ecology Session

Last year, Prof. Christian Kost has accepted a call to become a professor of ecology at the University of Osnabrück. His research focusses on cooperative interactions among microorganisms. Using both mathematical modelling and lab-based experiments, his group utilizes cross-feeding of essential metabolites within and between bacterial species as a model to elucidate fundamental questions in ecology and evolution.

As head of the independent research group ‘Chemical Biology of Microbe-Host Interactions’ at the Hans-Knöll Institute in Jena, Dr. Christine Beemelmanns devotes herself to understanding the “chemcial language” of microbial symbionts associated with marine and terrestrial invertebrates. Unlike human language, microbes have specific small-molecule mediated ways to coordinate communicate and associate with other organisms; or to fend off competing organisms. By studying a fungus-growing termite system and the metamorphosis of marine hydroid polyps, her group tries to uncover these interaction mechanisms on the metabolic and transcriptomic level. Along these lines, her group investigates the bacterial symbionts for their biosynthetic capabilities to identify new natural products with unprecedented chemical scaffolds.

Environment Session

Prof. Dr. Anna Gorbushina leads the “Materials and the Environment” department of the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) – and is a Professor at the Freie Universität Berlin, at the department of Earth Sciences as well as the department of Biology, Chemistry, Pharmacy. She is a geomicrobiologist studying the interactions between model fungal biofilms and air-exposed material surfaces. Throughout her research career, she has been particularly interested in the ecophysiology, genetics and genomics of rock-dwelling melanised fungi. Studies of these organisms are fundamentally important for understanding the processes underlying microbially induced mineral weathering (including stone monuments) as well as subaerial biofilm formation and ecology.

Dr. Colomban de Vargas is a franco-swiss oceanographer, fascinated by the co-evolution between eukaryotic Life and the Earth system. He is leading the EPEP – Evolution des Protistes et des Ecosystèmes Pélagiques- team within the ‘Groupe Plancton’ at the ‘Station Biologique de Roscoff,’ CNRS, France. Obsessed by the dramatic diversification of forms and cell/genome complexity in protists, Colomban has coordinated international efforts to unveil the biodiversity (e.g. BioMarKs), taxonomy (UniEuk), and ecosystem functions (Tara Oceans/Oceanomics; Plankton Planet), of marine protists across global organismic and spatio-temporal scales, including paleo-oceans. Currently pushing the development of automated, high-content microscopy and single-cell –omics technologies for aquatic ecology, Colomban believes that both protists and plankton are exceptional models to understand self-organization of complex adaptive systems.

Natural Products Session

Prof. Uffe Mortensen is the group leader of Eukaryotic Molecular Cell Biology in the Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine, Technical University of Denmark. One of his long-term research goals has been to develop fungal and yeast cell factories for the increased but stable production of pharmaceuticals and other valuable compounds. Via synthetic biological methods, like CRISPER/cas9-based tool, microorganisms could be modified on the genetic level for interesting compound production, drug discovery, or defined mutant libraries construction.

Dr. Pierre Stallforth is the head of the independent research group ‘Chemistry of Microbial Communication’ at the Hans-Knöll Institute in Jena. The focus of his research centers on the isolation and identification of microbial natural products, mainly from bacteria and amoebae. The elucidation of their structure and function can help provide a deeper understanding of the inter-species communication between bacteria and eukaryotes as well as serve as a source of potential therapeutic agents.

Patheogenesis Session

Prof. Dr. Hubertus Haas is the leader of the group for Molecular Microbiology at the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria. The group’s current research centers on fungal iron homeostasis with a focus on the human pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. Since iron uptake (e.g. via siderophores), storage and metabolism affect numerous cellular functions including germination, growth, reproduction, stress resistance and virulence, a deeper understanding of fungal iron homeostasis can lead the way towards novel diagnostic tools and antifungal therapies.

Prof. Dr. Ilse Jacobsen leads the group researching Microbial Immunology at the Hans-Knöll Institute in Jena. The group looks into the role of morphology for the pathogenic fungus Candida albicans, as well as the molecular mechanisms involved in Candida sepsis and how bacterial-fungal interactions contribute to infection. Through the use of immunological, microbiological and molecular methods, along with a number of different infection models, she tries to elucidate the processes most closely involved in the development of lethal disease following Candida infection outbreak.

System Biology Session

Dr. Medema is a computational biologist at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. Research in his group focuses on computational strategies towards natural product discovery, as well as the development of integrative omics strategies to identify the biological roles that specialised metabolites play in microbial communities. Recipient of Rubicon and Veni grants from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), Dr. Medema completed his PhD thesis at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands) cum laude. Together with the group of Tilmann Weber in Denmark, he coordinates the development of the Antibiotics and Secondary Metabolites Analysis Shell (antiSMASH), a bioinformatics tool used by natural products scientists around the world, as well as MIBiG, a repository for experimentally characterised biosynthetic gene clusters.

 

Dr. Gianni Panagiotou is the head of Bioinformatics and System Biology at the Hans-Knöll Institute in Jena. He had the privilege of studying and working in the most interdisciplinary academic centers within the fields of bioengineering, bioinformatics, and systems biology in Denmark (DTU), Hong Kong (HKU), Japan (The University of Tokyo) and Greece (NTUA). In the period of 2009-2017 he was Associate Professor at the Center for Micorbial Biotechnoloyg, Center for Biological Sequence Analysis & Center for Biosustainability in the Technical University of Denmark and The School of Biological Sciences in The University of Hong Kong. His research focus is the development of novel therapeutic treatments for infectious and non-infectious diseases through -omic integration & modelling, metagenomics, network biology, exome sequencing and GWAS.