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Else Kröner Fresenius Symposium for Breakthroughs in Life Sciences

Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung, Falling Walls Foundation | Akiko Iwasaki, Claudia Höbartner, Chuan He, Doty Ojwach, Karen Christman, Marc Dewey, Peter Crompton, Pieter Roelfsema, Sophie Heuer, Tobias Erb

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 2023 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.


Akiko Iwasaki

Yale University School of Medicine

Akiko Iwasaki, PhD is a Sterling Professor of Immunobiology at the Yale University School of Medicine, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Her research focuses on the mechanisms of immune defense against viruses at mucosal surfaces. Professor Iwasaki received her Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Toronto and completed her postdoctoral training with the National Institutes of Health before joining Yale’s faculty in 2000. She was elected to the NAS in 2018, to the NAM in 2019 and to the AAAS in 2021. Professor Iwasaki has been a leading scientific voice during the COVID-19 pandemic and is also well known for her X advocacy on women and underrepresented minorities in the science and medicine fields and has been named to the 2023 STATUS list of the ultimate list of leaders in life sciences.

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Thu | Nov 09, 2023 | 09.45 AM - 10.00 AM Berlin Time

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Claudia Höbartner

University of Würzburg

Claudia Höbartner is a professor of chemistry at the University of Würzburg. She studied chemistry in Vienna, Zürich and Innsbruck, where she obtained her PhD before doing postdoctoral research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA). She was a group leader at the Max Planck Institute for biophysical Chemistry and professor for biomolecular label chemistry at the University Göttingen. Since 2017 she holds the chair of Organic Chemistry I at the University of Würzburg. She is an expert in nucleic acid chemistry, with a focus on modified nucleotides and functional nucleic acids. She discovered new ribozymes and deoxyribozymes and determined their structures and functional mechanisms. In recognition of her research, she has been recipient of the Leibniz Prize in 2023.

Chuan He

University of Chicago

Chuan He is the John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in the Department of Chemistry, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He received his B.S. (1994) from the University of Science and Technology of China, his Ph. D. degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was trained as a Damon-Runyon postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University from 2000-2002. Chuan He’s laboratory discovered reversible RNA methylation as a new mechanism of gene expression regulation at the post-transcriptional level in 2011 and at the transcriptional level in 2020. Recent studies have demonstrated critical roles of RNA methylation in mammalian development and human diseases.

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Thu | Nov 09, 2023 | 05.00 PM - 05.15 PM Berlin Time

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Doty Ojwach

Stellenbosch University

Dr. Doty Ojwach obtained her Biomedical Science degree from Maseno University, Kenya and relocated to South Africa to further her studies. She obtained her MmedSci and PhD degrees in medical virology, both from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is a two-time best sub-Saharan African Network for TB/HIV excellence trainee (2017-2018) and a Lindau Nobel laureate fellow (2020-2021). Currently, she is a postdoctoral fellow at Stellenbosch University. Doty is applying her scientific skills and understanding of the interplay between HIV replication and HIV-specific T cell immunity, to maternal HIV/CMV co-infection and the impact this has on the development of foetal immunity, starting by investigations in the placenta. Her current research is funded by the African Research Excellence Fellowship (2022) where she will be undertaking further skills training at University of Oxford and Surrey in the UK. My goal in this sustainable development goal 3 research endeavour is to facilitate improved knowledge and policy decisions around mother-child dyad.

I want to identify whether maternal immunity to HIV/CMV infections and antiretroviral therapy contributes to placental inflammation and adverse birth outcomes, such as spontaneous pre-term delivery and poor infant immune development. I want this because Africa experiences the brunt of HIV and large numbers of HIV exposed uninfected infants are born every year.  Despite vertical transmission prevention, these new born infants are often not healthy. I can do this because I have experience in HIV virology including vast sequence and data analysis, which are instrumental in building the expected predictive models for the clinical outcomes of pre-term birth and infant immunity.

Karen Christman

University of California San Diego

Christman is a Professor of Bioengineering and holds the Pierre Galletti Endowed Chair for Bioengineering Innovation at the University of California San Diego. She completed her training in biomedical engineering at Northwestern University and the University of California Berkeley and San Francisco Joint Bioengineering Graduate Group as well as a postdoctoral fellowship in polymer chemistry at UCLA. She is an expert in injectable biomaterials for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications and her lab has a strong translational focus with the main goal of developing minimally invasive therapies for cardiovascular disease and women’s health. She is also an entrepreneur, co-founding Ventrix Bio and Karios Technologies to translate her work into patients.

Marc Dewey

Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Marc Dewey leads a Heisenberg group on Cardiovascular Imaging of the German Research Foundation and is Vice-Chair of Radiology at Campus Charité Mitte Berlin. His primary research focus is on cardiovascular imaging, clinical evidence, and artificial intelligence (AI). He coordinates the European DISCHARGE trial with publications in the New England Journal of Medicine and the BMJ, the COME-CCT consortium, and the QCI Group with Nature Reviews publications in 2020 and 2023. He leads a diverse team of researchers from all over the world, with many different scientific and cultural backgrounds. The motto of his team is ‘Nobody is perfect, but a team can be’.

Peter Crompton

National Institutes of Health

Peter D. Crompton, M.D., M.P.H., is the Chief of the Malaria Infection Biology and Immunity Unit (MIBIU). Dr. Crompton received his M.D. and M.P.H. from The Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Public Health in 2000. He then completed a residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University in Boston before going on to a fellowship in infectious diseases at NIAID in 2004. After a year of clinical training at NIAID, he earned a diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine before joining the Laboratory of Immunogenetics in 2005 to pursue his research interest in malaria immunology. In 2016, he became a senior investigator and chief of the Malaria Infection Biology and Immunity Section. Dr. Crompton is certified in internal medicine and infectious disease by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Pieter Roelfsema

Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience

Pieter R. Roelfsema (MD, PhD) is director of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam. He is professor in Amsterdam and affiliated with the Institute de la Vision in Paris. He received a NWO-VICI award and two ERC-Advanced grants. He studies visual perception, plasticity, memory and consciousness in the visual system of animals, humans, and with neural networks. He develops the neurotechnology for high-bandwidth visual prostheses for blind people, aiming to restore a rudimentary form of sight. Roelfsema coordinates the Dutch neurotechnology initiative NeuroTech-NL. In 2019 he co-founded the start-up company Phosphoenix that aims to develop a visual brain prosthesis.

Sophie Heuer

University of Heidelberg

I am a Physician Scientist, resident in Neurology at University Hospital Heidelberg and Team leader of the subgroup Glioma in the Winkler Lab at University Hospital Heidelberg and German Cancer Research Center. We study how brain tumor cells interconnect to a multicellular anatomical and functional network via tumor microtubes and how tumor cells use Calcium signaling to communicate. We have learned that this connectivity conveys resistance to all standard therapies, so we investigate routes to break the tumor’s connectivity and overcome therapy resistance in glioblastoma.

Tobias Erb

Max Planck Society

Tobias J. Erb is a synthetic biologist and scientific member of the Max Planck Society. Research in his lab focuses on the discovery and engineering of novel CO2-converting enzymes and pathways, and their use in artificial photosynthesis. Erb and his team realized the first synthetic pathway for CO2-fixation in 2016 and demonstrated the first “artificial chloroplast” in 2020. Tobi Erb has received numerous awards, including the Research Prizes of the Swiss and German Societies of Microbiology, the Otto Bayer Prize, the Prix Forcheur Jean-Marie Lehn, and the Future Insight Prize. He was named by the American Chemical Society’s C&EN as one of 12 Up-and Coming Scientists, elected to the European Academy of Microbiology, the European Molecular Biology Organization, and the National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina.


About the Venue
Radialsystem – Studio A
Holzmarktstraße 33
Berlin, 10243 Germany

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