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Symposium for Breakthroughs in Life Sciences

Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung, Falling Walls Foundation | Benyamin Rosental, Evan Eichler, Iain Couzin, Tobias Moser, Randall Platt, Marcus Mall, Sofia Kirke Forslund, Christiane Löll, Manuel Kaulich, Jennifer Taylor-Cousar, Biotx.ai

In cooperation with our partners, Falling Walls is hosting this unique format to connect researchers in the life sciences from all over the world. The symposium gathers the 2022 Winners in the Life Sciences category as well as experts and early-career researchers to discuss the most pressing issues and recent breakthroughs in this field, from the study of life and organisms, bioscience, and human health, to molecular and cellular life sciences.

The event is supported by our partner Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung.

About the Venue
Radialsystem – Glassfront Tent
Holzmarktstraße 33
Berlin, 10243 Germany

Benyamin Rosental

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Benyamin Rosental is Assistant Professor at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. He received is PhD in Immunology in 2013. His laboratory research is focusing on tissue acceptance by the immune system, and stem cell transplantation. Among their projects, is modulating the immune system in blood-forming stem cell transplantation (bone marrow transplantation), to make it a safer process. Additionally, he and his team are looking for the immune system’s “tipping point” between tissue regeneration and inflammatory destruction. While most of the work in the laboratory is focusing on improving transplantation and modulating the immune system in medical settings, they also translate their research to other fields of stem cells and immunity for ecological questions.

Evan Eichler

University of Washington

Evan Eichler is a Professor of Genome Sciences and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He received his Ph.D. from Baylor College of Medicine. After his postdoc, he joined Case Western Reserve University in 1997 and the University of Washington in 2004. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (2013) and the National Academy of Medicine (2018). His research group provided the first genome-wide view of segmental duplications within human and primate genomes. He is a leader in characterizing normal and disease-causing structural variation in the human genome with a specific focus on finishing complex regions that carry genes. His lab demonstrated that such dynamic regions both predispose the human species to disease causing variation associated with autism and neurodevelopmental delay while simultaneously leading to the emergence of new human-specific genes critical for the increase in size and complexity of the human brain when compared to non-human apes.

Iain Couzin

Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior

Iain Couzin is Director of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior and of the Excellence Cluster “Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour” at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Previously he was Full Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, and prior to that a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, and Junior Research Fellow in the Sciences at Balliol College, Oxford. His work aims to reveal the fundamental principles that underlie evolved collective behavior and he studies a wide range of biological systems, from neural collectives to insect swarms, fish schools and primate groups. In recognition of his research he has been recipient of the Searle Scholar Award in 2008, the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London in 2013, a Web of Science Global Highly Cited Researcher since 2018, the Lagrange Prize in 2019 and the Leibniz Prize in 2022.

Tobias Moser

University Medical Center Göttingen

Prof. Dr. med. Tobias Moser is a neuroscientist and otolaryngologist at the Göttingen Campus in Germany. He heads the Institute for Auditory Neuroscience at the University Medical Center Göttingen and leads research groups at the German Primate Center and the Max-Planck-Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences. His main areas of research are synaptic coding and processing of auditory information, disease mechanisms of deafness and innovative approaches to the restoration of hearing in the deaf. His team is pioneering the optogenetic cochlear implant as well as gene therapy for synaptic deafness. He is passionate about training and promoting young scientists. For his work, he has received several awards including the Leibniz Prize, the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine and the Scientific Grand Prize of the Foundation pour l’Audition. He is member of the German Academy of Science.

Randall Platt is an Associate Professor of Biological Engineering at the ETH Zurich. Platt studied biomedical engineering at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. In 2011 he obtained an MPhil from Imperial College London in material science and in 2016 a PhD from MIT in biological engineering. After a postdoctoral fellowship joint between MIT, Harvard University, and the Broad Institute he started his lab at ETH Zurich in 2016. Randy’s major aim is to develop genetic perturbation and cellular programming technologies for diagnostics and therapeutics primarily in the areas of brain science and gut microbiome. Randy’s research accomplishments have earned numerous distinctions, including the MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35, Eppendorf Award for Young European Investigators, Stanisław Lem European Research Prize, EMBO Young Investigator, Latsis Prize, Nature Research Award for Driving Global Impact, National Science Foundation Fellowship, and Whitaker International Fellowship.

Marcus Mall

Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Professor Marcus Mall is chair of the Department of Pediatric Respiratory Medicine, Immunology and Critical Care Medicine at Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany. He is a physician-scientist and specialist in pediatric pulmonology and one of the founding directors of the German Center for Lung Research (DZL). His research focusses on cystic fibrosis, which to date remains the most common fatal hereditary lung disease worldwide, where he has made groundbreaking contributions to unraveling the underlying cause of disease and the development of the first highly effective therapy that tackles cystic fibrosis at its root cause.

Dr Sofia Kirke Forslund trained as a molecular biotechnologist and bioinformatician at Uppsala University, then did her PhD in evolutionary bioinformatics at Stockholm University, working on orthology inference and protein function prediction. 2012-2018 she was an Alexander von Humboldt postdoc with the Bork lab at EMBL, working on microbiome analysis, systems biology and antibiotic resistance evolution. Since 2018 she heads a junior research group at the MDC in Berlin exploring host-microbiome factors in noncommunicable diseases. Her work to data have particularly focused on microbiome-microbiome interactions, drug-microbiome associations and confounder-aware analysis of integrated multi-omics cohort data.

Christiane Löll

Gruner + Jahr

Christiane Löll is a science journalist. She graduated in medicine but has been working in journalism since 2000. Christiane was trained at German Press Agency (dpa), then worked with the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) for some years. From 2010 to 2018 she gained broad experience as a freelance reporter and moderator, working for various outlets and organizations. In 2018 Christiane joined the publishing house Gruner + Jahr in Hamburg (now RTL). She is an editor-in-chief of the science department for GEO, P.M. and GEO Wissen Gesundheit.

Professor Manuel Kaulich is a biochemist and cell biologist at the Faculty of Medicine at the Goethe University in Frankfurt / Main. He is an expert in gene editing and functional genomics, with an interest in mapping the dependencies of cancer cells at scale and how technological and computational aspects enable these large investigations. Born in Berlin, Manuel studied and did his PhD and postdoc in Germany, Switzerland, and the United States, before starting his independent research group at Goethe University.  Manuel is an inventor of gene editing technologies and the co-founder of the biotech company Vivlion GmbH that provides and supports CRISPR R&D at scale.

Jennifer Taylor-Cousar has been site primary investigator on more than 60 clinical studies, and national/global primary investigator on 5 clinical trials. She is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (2020) and received the American Thoracic Society (ATS) Patient Advisory Roundtable William J. Martin Distinguished Achievement Award (2022).  Her investigator initiated research focuses on the development and evaluation of novel therapies for the treatment of CF, and on the unique health needs of women with CF. She is also investigating the etiology and treatment of bronchiectasis in non-human primates.

She serves on numerous local and national committees including on the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s (CFF) Board of Trustees as the adult CF care center representative, on the CFF’s Clinical Research Advisory Board and Racial Justice Working Group, the CF TDN’s Clinical Research Executive Committee and as Immediate Past Chair of the CF TDN’s Sexual Health, Reproduction and Gender Research Working Group. She is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Cystic Fibrosis. She serves on the American Thoracic Society (ATS) Scientific Grant Review, Awards, and Clinical Problems Programming Committees (Chair 2020-2021). She has co-chaired numerous sessions and given invited lectures at the ATS International Conference, and the North American, European, Israeli, Mexican, Spanish and Australian CF Conferences, as well as at regional CF and pulmonary conferences and national and international veterinary conferences. She is an active member of the Rocky Mountain Chapter CF Board.

Dr. Taylor-Cousar is a tenured professor of adult and pediatric pulmonary medicine at National Jewish Health (NJH), where she serves as the Medical Director of Clinical Research Services, President-elect of the medical staff, and is co-director of the Adult CF Program and Director of the CF Therapeutics Development Network (TDN) center.  She received her undergraduate degree in human biology from Stanford University in 1993, and completed her doctorate in medicine in 1998, combined residency in internal medicine and pediatrics in 2002, and her combined fellowship in adult and pediatric pulmonary medicine in 2006 at Duke University Medical Center. She obtained her Master of Clinical Science from the University of Colorado in 2015.

Biotx.ai is the first company to go from biobank data all the way to a clinical trial phase 2b. Purely computationally, they found a potential COVID-19 treatment via what they call synthetic clinical trials, without a single wet lab experiment, for a fraction of the cost and time usually needed. In addition to the drug in phase 2b, their talented team also has molecules in several disease areas in pre-clinical and phase 1.

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