Keynote speakers

Stem Cells for Disease Modelling and Regeneration

Peter Loskill

University of Tübingen, Germany

Prof. Dr. Peter Loskill is W3-Professor for Organ-on-Chip Research at the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen and the Natural and Medical Sciences Institute (NMI) as well as Chair of the European-Organ-on-Chip-Society (EUROoCS). He graduated in 2012 from Saarland University with a PhD in Physics and thereafter worked as a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley. In 2015, he was named as one of Technology Review’s “Innovators under 35 Germany” and awarded a Fraunhofer ATTRACT starting grant. He now heads the µOrgano-Lab and the 3R Center Tübingen for In vitro Models and Alternatives to Animal Testing. The interdisciplinary µOrgano-Lab combines approaches from engineering, biology, physics and medicine to generate and apply novel microphysiological tissue models recapitulating complex human biology in vitro. The 3R Center Tübingen aims to provide all scientists in Baden-Württemberg with low-threshold access to novel alternative methods to animal testing.

Florian Merkle

University of Cambridge, UK

Florian Merkle obtained his B.Sc. in Biology from the California Institute of Technology in 2002, and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco in 2007 where he determined the lineage and potential of adult neural stem cells in the mouse brain. Florian then joined the laboratories of Kevin Eggan and Alex Schier at Harvard University and started his own group at the University of Cambridge in 2015. His laboratory studies the impact of environmental factors and obesity-associated mutations on the function of hPSC-derived hypothalamic neurons to uncover mechanisms that might be targeted to develop novel treatments for obesity, and is exploring the mechanistic links between metabolic and neurodegenerative disease to reveal new therapeutic targets using a combination of in vitro and animal models. His group is highly collaborative and dedicated to improving the reproducibility and safety of stem cell-based research and clinical work. Florian is honoured to be a Roberston Investigator from the New York Stem Cell Foundation, and to be supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Wellcome Trust and Royal Society, and the Medical Research Council.

Andras Nagy

University of Toronto, Canada

Dr. Nagy is currently a Shawn Kimel Senior Scientist at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System, Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto and Professor at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute in Monash University, Melbourne.  He holds a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Stem Cells and Regeneration.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in the Life Sciences Division of the Academy of Science.  Dr. Nagy is also a Foreign Member of the Hungarian Academy of Science, an Honorary Professor at the Helsinki University, and a Distinguished Professor at the Hong Kong University.  

Dr. Nagy has made significant breakthroughs in developmental genetics, mouse and human pluripotent stem cell biology (both embryonic and reprogramming-induced), disease modelling and cell therapy approaches. His team created the first Canadian human embryonic stem cell lines in early 2000. In 2009, they developed the first method allowing the generation of iPS cell lines without any genetic change.  Their approach allowed studying the reprogramming process at multiple OMICS levels, almost at daily resolution from differentiated cells to pluripotency. His current research has become even more translational by addressing and coming up with solutions for two significant hurdles of cell therapies: safety and allogeneic cell acceptance without the need for suppression of the immune system. His research has been aiming to advance medicine with a focus to treat incurable degenerative diseases, such as blindness, diabetes, arthritis, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, haemophilia, and hypoparathyroidism.

Nikolaus Rajewsky

Max-Delbrueck-Center Berlin, Germany

Nikolaus Rajewsky uses both computational and experimental molecular biology methods to study the function of RNA in animal development and stem cells. Nikolaus is a Professor at the Charité, the Max Delbrück Center, and the Humboldt University in Berlin. He has received numerous awards, including the most important prize in Germany (“Leibniz” award). In 2008 he founded and since then chairs the “Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology” (“BIMSB”, a new MDC center, now 26 labs and a new building in the center of Berlin). His latest research (and of colleagues) using single-cell approaches was featured in Science “Breakthrough of the Year 2018”. Nikolaus serves as coordinator of “LifeTime”, a pan-European consortium of 90 research institutions & >70 companies to understand molecular mechanisms of the progression of human diseases.

Lorenz Studer

Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center New York, USA

Professor Lorenz P. Studer, MD, is the founding director of the Center for Stem Cell Biology at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a Member of the Developmental Biology Program. He is widely recognized for his work on the directed differentiation on human pluripotent stem cells into diverse lineages of the  central and peripheral nervous system. His group has also been among the first to realize the potential of patient-specific stem cell in modeling neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders and developed strategies to measure and manipulate cellular age in pluripotent-derived lineages. Finally, he has pioneered the application of pluripotent stem cells in regenerative medicine including Parkinson’s disease (PD); work that has culminated in an ongoing Phase I/IIa trial using “off-the-shelf” dopamine neurons in PD patients. Recent awards related to those studies include a MacArthur Fellowship, the Ogawa-Yamanaka Prize and the Jacob Heskel Gabbay award in Biotechnology and Medicine.

Barbara Treutlein

ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Barbara Treutlein performed her PhD in single-molecule biophysics at LMU Munich, Germany. During her Postdoc with Stephen Quake at Stanford University, she pioneered the use of microfluidic-based single-cell transcriptomics to dissect the cellular composition of complex tissues, and to elucidate differentiation pathways during lung development and cell reprogramming. 2015-2018, she was a Max Planck Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and held a tenure-track assistant professorship at TU Munich. Since 2019, Barbara is Professor for Quantitative Developmental Biology at the ETH Zürich D-BSSE, Switzerland. Her group uses and develops single-cell genomics approaches in combination with stem cell based 2- and 3-dimensional culture systems to study human organogenesis. For her work, Barbara has received multiple awards including the Friedmund Neumann Prize of the Schering Foundation, the Dr. Susan Lim Award for Outstanding Young Investigator of the ISSCR as well as the Young Investigator Award of the German Stem Cell Network.