Invited speakers

Introduction to the keynote / invited speakers at this event.

Prof Naama Barkai, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

Topic: Biological circuits

Currently, Naama is the Chairperson of the Dept of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institute and is Head of the Azrieli Center for Systems Biology. In 2013 she was awarded the Abisch Frankel prize and was elected the Vallee Foundation Visiting Professorship. Most recently, she has been contributing to the eLife publication as senior editor.

Prof Gero Miesenböck, University of Oxford, UK

Topic: Optogenetics

Gero Miesenböck studied medicine at the University of Innsbruck in his native Austria and did postdoctoral research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He was on the faculty of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Yale University before coming to Oxford in 2007. Gero is the founding director of the CNCB.

Gero has invented and developed many of the optogenetic techniques used for visualizing and controlling nerve cells with light. He has also been a pioneer in the use of flies to study neural circuits.

Prof Roman Stocker, ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Topic: Aquatic microorganisms

Roman Stocker is Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at ETH Zurich, where his research group focuses on microscale biophysical interactions in the environment, with a particular focus on the marine environment. He has pioneered the use of microfluidics to study the role of microbes in diverse environmental processes, from toxic algal blooms to coral health to bioremediation of oil spills. His interdisciplinary group integrates techniques from biology, physics, engineering and mathematics to bring about a more quantitative and mechanistic understanding of how the natural environment works.

Prof Joachim Spatz, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Germany 

Topic: Cell signalling and adhesion

Joachim Spatz joined the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems as a Director for the Dept. of New Materials and Biosystems in 2004. From this time on he is also a Full Professor at the University of Heidelberg and head of the Dept. of Biophysical Chemistry. He was an Associated Professor for Biophysical Chemistry at the University of Heidelberg from 2000-2004. 

His current research interest is to explore the interaction of living with synthetic materials with the aim to understand biology and to generate new material properties. His research topics cover material science and cell biology with a particular interest in synthetic cell matrices, cell adhesion based signaling, collective cell migration, synthetic biology, synthetic immunobiology, and biomimetic optics.

Prof Niek F van Hulst, ICFO – The Institute of Photonic Sciences, Spain

Topic: Quantum coherence

Niek van Hulst obtained his PhD (1986) in Molecular & Laser-Physics at the University of Nijmegen and has been full Professor in Applied Optics at MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, Univ. Twente, both in the Netherlands. In 2005 he joined the thriving Catalan research area as ICREA Professor and senior group leader at ICFO - the Institute of Photonic Sciences, in Castelldefels - Barcelona.

His current interest is to control light interaction at the nanometre scale, with particular focus on long-lived coherences in single light-harvesting antenna complexes at native conditions, to unravel the remarkably high efficiency of energy conversion in such natural molecular antennas.

Dr Katja Röper, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, UK

Topic: Morphogenesis

Katja Röper did her degree in Biochemistry in Berlin before embarking on a PhD in Cell Biology at the University of Heidelberg, studying apical protein trafficking and asymmetric cell division in the mouse neuroepithelium. She then moved to Cambridge, UK, to learn flies as a model system and has remained a Drosophilist ever since. Her lab at the MRC-Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge aims to understand how tubular organs form from epithelial sheets, focussing in particular on the regulation of cell shape by the cytoskeleton, using  a combination of fly genetics, biochemistry as well as advanced imaging approaches with segmentation and tracking.

Dr Pascal Hersen, CNRS & Université Paris Diderot - Paris 7, France

Topic: Synthetic biology / Control of cellular processes

Pascal Hersen is a CNRS tenured researcher, working at the Physics Department of the University Paris Diderot. He is a board member of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Paris, the Director of its Interdisciplinary approaches to Life science master program (AIV), as well as the Director of L’OpenLab, a startup incubator in Paris. His current research interest is to design cell–machines genetic interfaces and explore their potential for the real time control of living systems. His interdisciplinary team integrates methods from systems biology, synthetic biology, optogenetics, microfluidics and control theory applied to living systems. More details at

Dr Teuta Pilizota, University of Edinburgh, UK

Topic: Osmoregulation

Teuta obtained her undergraduate degree from Department of Physics, Univeristy of Zagreb, and her PhD at the Department of Physics, Univeristy of Oxford (working with Richard Berry). She worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Lewis-Sigler Institute, Princeton Univeristy (with Josh Shaevitz) before joining the University of Edinburgh.

Dr Oscar Ces, Imperial College London, UK

Topic: Membranes

Dr Oscar Ces is a Reader at the Department of Chemistry and is co-chair of the Institute of Chemical Biology (ICB), director of the ICB Centre for Doctoral Training and co-director of the Membrane Biophysics Platform.

His expertise lies in soft condensed matter and membrane biophysics, artificial cells, bottom-up synthetic biology, membrane-protein interactions, biomembrane mechanics, drug-membrane interactions, single-cell analysis using microfluidic technologies and biomimetic-microfluidic systems.

Prof Davide Marenduzzo, University of Edinburgh, UK

Topic: Modelling DNA

Davide Marenduzzo is Professor of Computational Biophysics atthe University of Edinburgh.

His expertise lies in biological physics and soft condensed matter, especially in computer simulaitons. His current main research interests are the
biophysics of chromatin, DNA and chromosomes, and soft active matter physics.

Prof Ramin Golestanian, University of Oxford, UK

Topic: Active matter

Ramin Golestanian is Professor of Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics at the University of Oxford. His research activities can be broadly described as studying biological systems by viewing them as living matter, or their artificial equivalents. He has made theoretical contributions to understanding self-assembly of integral membrane proteins, structural properties of DNA and DNA-protein interactions, gating of mechano-sensitive ion-channels, molecular sensing in protein channels, packing of DNA with multivalent counterions due to like-charge attraction, self-organization of actin bundles, motility and sensory response of micro-organisms, physics of biofilm formation, large-scale hydrodynamic coordination of beating cilia, bacterial cell division, and homeostasis in cell colonies. Currently, his group studies emergent behaviours in such systems due to nonequilbirum activity, as part of the rapidly developing field of active matter.

Prof Gijs Wuite, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Topic: Single molecule mechanics

Prof. Gijs Wuite has successfully applied quantitative physical tools to investigate fundamental problems in biology, and to search for the unification of apparently unrelated biological phenomena. Moreover, he has been at the front of recent new and fast developments of biophysical techniques that have enabled visualization, manipulation and control of complex biological reactions. Based on this research work he founded in 2014 a company (LUMICKS) that sell the technology he and his group has developed. His work has appeared in journal such as Nature, Science, PNAS and Physical Review Letters. His research has been awarded with the prestigious personal VIDI, VICI and ERC grants.

Prof Mark Wallace, King’s College London, UK

Topic: Channels

Dr Lucy Colwell, University of Cambridge, UK

Topic: Statistical analysis

Key dates

  • Abstract submission deadline:
    20 May 2016
  • Student bursary deadline:
    20 May 2016
  • Early registration deadline:
    03 August 2016
  • Registration deadline:
    25 August 2016