The Keynotes

Ursula Klingmüller


Prof. Ursula Klingmüller studied Biology at the Universities of Bayreuth and Heidelberg. During her diploma and graduate thesis at the Center for Molecular Biology in Heidelberg (ZMBH) in the group of Prof. H. Schaller she addressed virus-host-cell interactions of Hepatitis B viruses.

As postdoctoral fellow she was funded by a stipend by the DFG and examined in the groups of Prof. L. Cantley at Harvard Medical School and the group of Prof. H. Lodish at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical

Research in Boston, USA, signal transduction through the erythropoietin receptor.

In 1996 she returned to Germany to head an independent Hans-Spemann-Junior Group at the Max-PlanckInstitute for Immunbiology in Freiburg. In 2003 she was awarded a Theodor-Boveri-Group at the German

Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg and since 2007 heads the division „Systems Biology of Signal Transduction“ at the DKFZ.

In 2011 she was appointed as W3-professor at the University of Heidelberg.

Ursula Klingmüller has published more than 100 high rank publications, is member of multiple large research networks and is member of several organization committees of international conferences.

In 2016 she was elected as member of the German Ethics Council. Her research combines the quantitative analysis of information processing in and cell fate decisions with mathematical modeling in order to unravel key regulatory mechanisms and predict strategies for effective intervention in diseases such as cancer.

Chris Bowler

Tara Oceans, IBENS - ENS

Chris Bowler is Director of Research at the CNRS and Director of the Plant and Algae Genomics Laboratory at the Institute of Biology of the École normale supérieure in Paris. He obtained his PhD at the University of Ghent in Belgium, followed by postdoctoral studies at the Rockefeller University in New York. In 1994, he established his own laboratory working on signalling in higher plants and marine diatoms at the Stazione Zoologica in Naples, Italy, and in 2002 he took up his current position in Paris. He has been a member of EMBO since 1995, was awarded the CNRS Silver Medal in 2010, ERC Advanced Awards in 2012 and 2018 and the Institut de France Louis D. Foundation Award in 2015. In 2018 he was elected member of the French Academy of Agriculture. His main research interest is the understanding of the response of plants and marine diatoms to environmental signals, through functional and comparative genomics. He is one of the scientific coordinators of the Tara Oceans project to explore the biodiversity, ecology and evolution of plankton in the world's oceans.

Michael Yaffe


Professor Yaffe is the David H. Koch Professor of Science and Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering at MIT, where he has been a member of the faculty since 2000; he is also an attending surgeon at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Professor Yaffe earned his M.D.-Ph.D. degree from Case Western Reserve University. He then completed a residency in General Surgery at University Hospitals of Cleveland and New England Deaconess Hospital, and a fellowship in Surgical Critical Care, Trauma and Burns at Harvard Medical School's Harvard-Longwood Critical Care Program. He was a post-doctoral fellow with Lewis Cantley in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School. Professor Yaffe is the Scientific Editor-in-Chief of Science Signaling, and a member of the Editorial Boards of Molecular & Cellular Proteomics and Cell Cycle. In 2021, Professor Yaffe was elected to the Association of American Physicians and was named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow. He is a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Corps and a decorated veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Professor Yaffe is a co-founder of Consensus Pharmaceuticals, the DNA Repair Company, On-Q-ity, and Merrimack Pharmaceuticals. He also a co-founder and a member of the scientific advisory board of Applied Biomath and Thrombo Therapeutics.

Chris Sander

Harvard Medical School

Sander is an internationally recognized expert in computational and systems biology, cancer biology, and structural biology. He has extensive experience in cancer genomics, is a leader in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project, and his group created the cBioPortal for Cancer Genomics. Sander’s laboratory has developed quantitative computational network models of cancer cells, which are predictive of drug response. His group has developed algorithms for pathway analysis and the design of combination therapies, with translational collaborations in melanoma, sarcoma, glioblastoma, kidney cancer, and prostate cancer.

His current research includes: (1) deriving quantitatively predictive network models from high-throughput molecular profiling; (2) discovering molecular processes responsible for oncogenesis and response to therapy across different cancer types; (3) rendering human biological knowledge computable and accessible, as an aid to biomedical discovery (cBioPortal, Pathway Commons); and (4) using evolutionary constraints derived from rich sequence information to predict previously unknown 3D structures of proteins and RNAs and to identify functional sites on both known and unknown structures.

Eske Willerslev

Cambridge University

Willerslev started out as a microbiologist, then moved into the field of invertebrate systematics, and later into plant and mammal ecology. Over the past six years Willerslev has focused his research in understanding processes forming contemporary human disease load, and human genetic diversity and distribution. He has more than 200-peer-reviewed papers (first publication 1999), of which more than 40 are published in the journals Nature and Science. He has been heading several largescale multidisciplinary international research projects and has communicated his scientific work to the public through multiple films, popular books.

Among his scientific achievements are:

- Establishing the field of ‘Ice Core Genetics’ - today a widely recognized and active research field (PNAS, 1999).

- Establishing the field of ‘Environmental DNA’. Today widely recognized field (Science, 2003).

- Heading team proposing new theory for the origins of insects (Science, 2006).

- Heading team showing forested Greenland 400 thousand years ago from environmental DNA (Science, 2007).

- Heading team sequencing the first ancient human mitochondrial genome (Science, 2008).

- Heading team finding oldest evidence of human presence in North America through DNA studies on ancient feaces – more than 14 thousand years ago (Science, 2008).

- Heading team sequencing the first ancient human nuclear genome (Nature, 2010).

- Heading team sequencing first Aboriginal Australian genome (Science, 2011).

- Heading team conducting first large-scale study on Ice Age megafauna (Nature, 2011).

- Heading team finding evidence of trees in glaciated Scandinavia (Science, 2012).

- Heading team sequencing the oldest genome to date from a c. 700-thousand-year old horse (Nature, 2013).

- Heading team discovering a dual origin for Native Americans (Nature, 2014).

- Heading team conducting first large-scale environmental DNA study (Nature, 2014).

- Heading team sequencing the ancient American human genome (Clovis) (Nature, 2014).

- Heading team establishing ancient genetic structure in Europe (Science, 2014).

- Heading team conducing the first large-scale population genomic study of the New World Arctic (Science, 2014).

- Heading team conducting the first true ancient population genomic study (not genomewide capture) (Nature, 2015).

- Heading team sequencing the genome of Kennewick Man (Nature, 2015).

- Heading team conducting the first large-scale genome study on peopling of the Americas (Science, 2015).

- Heading team finding the oldest direct evidence of plaque and showing its evolutionary development through time (Cell, 2015).

- Heading team conducting the first metagenomics study on ancient sediments (Nature, 2016).

- Heading first population genomic study of Aboriginal Australians (Nature, 2016).

Peer Bork


Peer is senior group leader and co-head of the Structural and Computational Biology unit at EMBL, a European research organization with headquarters in Heidelberg. In addition, he is honorary professor at the universities of Heidelberg and Würzburg as well as the Fudan university of Shanghai.

Peer received his PhD in Biochemistry (1990) and his Habilitation in Theoretical Biophysics (1995). His research group works in various areas of computational and systems biology with a focus on function prediction, comparative analysis and data integration. He has published more than 600 research articles, among them more than 80 in Nature, Science or Cell, and is among the most cited researchers in life sciences (>230.000 citations, H-factor of 203 in 2020). He is on the editorial board of a number of journals, including Science and Cell, and functions as senior editor of the journal Molecular Systems Biology.

Peer co-founded five successful biotech companies, two of which went public. More than 50 of his former associates now hold professorships or other group leader positions in prominent institutions all over the world. He received a number of awards, among them the "Nature award for creative mentoring" for his achievements in nurturing and stimulating young scientists and the prestigious "Royal Society and Académie des Sciences Microsoft award" for the advancement of science using computational methods. He further obtained two competitive ERC advanced investigator grants and is elected member of the German national academy of sciences (Leopoldina), the European molecular biology organization (EMBO) and the Academia Europae.

Robert Balderas


Dr. Balderas has 40 years of leadership experience in both academia and industry. As a Distinguished BD Fellow and the VP of Biological Sciences at BD, he is focused on accelerating the market adoption of new tools and technologies by the Life Science community. He has made numerous contributions within BD Biosciences to develop technologies that enables the combined use of high parameter analytical flow cytometry and advanced single cell multi-omic tools (proteomic and genomic) to help define deep functional cell subsets.

Alexander Pritzel


Alexander Pritzel did his PhD in theoretical particle physics at LMU Munich working on quantum physics of black holes. He joined DeepMind in 2014 and made many seminal contributions to reinforcement learning and uncertainty estimation in neural networks before joining the AlphaFold team in 2019. His current research focuses on the design of deep learning architecture for structure biology.

Luis Serrano


Luis was born in Madrid on July 2, 1959, and graduated in Biological Sciences from the Complutense University of Madrid (1981). He has a Master’s in Science from the Complutense University (1982) and a PhD in Biochemistry from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (1985). He received his PhD in Cell Biology at the Centro de Biología Molecular (CSIC-UAM) of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in 1987 and the University of Cambridge in 1991. Subsequently he spent 4 years in the laboratory of Professor Alan Fersht, at the Medical Research Council (MRC), in the United Kingdom, where he focused his research on protein folding.

He was Lecturer and Senior Lecturer at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), in Madrid, from 1988 to 1992. In 1993 he was appointed Head of Group at the European Laboratory of Molecular Biology (EMBL), in Heidelberg, Germany, and focused his work on protein folding and design. In the following years at the EMBL, he was named Senior Principal Investigator, in 2003, and Head of the Structural & Computational Biology programme, in 2006, the time he began to work on Systems Biology. In 2006 he was also named Head of programme at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO). In addition, in 1999, he was appointed research professor at the CSIC.

At the end of 2006, he moved back to Spain to direct the Systems Biology programme at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), where he also served as deputy director until his appointment as director in mid 2011. Since 2006 he has been an ICREA (Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies) Research Professor. Currently, his research group focuses on synthetic biology, the engineering and design of biological systems.

He is a member of the Spanish Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SEBBM), member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), and member of the Royal Spanish Academy of Sciences (Spain). In 2003 he received the Marie Curie Excellence Award, for his work "Design of Biological Systems to improve quality of life", and in 2009 he was awarded the City of Barcelona prize (science category), an annual award organised by Barcelona City Council.

He has always been very aware of the need to transfer research results to society and the importance of doing so. For this reason, in 1999, he was involved in setting up one of the first Spanish biotechnology companies, Diverdrugs (Barcelona), and was also co-founder of Cellzome (Heidelberg, Germany), EnVivoPharmaceutical (Boston, USA) and Triskel Pharmaceuticals (Dublin, Ireland). He is currently on the Scientific Advisory Board of the following companies: Diverdrugs (Barcelona, Spain), EnVivoPharmaceutical (Boston, USA), Entomed (Strasbourg, France), Cellectis (Strasbourg, France). Together with Maria Lluch, in 2020, he founded Pulmobiotics S.L., a pre-clinical life sciences company using synthetic biology to develop new treatments and vaccines for various types of lung diseases.

He has been and still is the principal investigator of numerous research projects funded by the European Union (6th, 7th and H2020 Framework Programmes) and the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (as part of the Consolider and Plan Nacional programmes). In recent years he was awarded prestigious grants from the European Research Council: two ERC Advanced Grants and two ERC Proof of Concept grants.

Throughout his professional career he has organised and participated in numerous international conferences, has supervised a total of 20 doctoral theses, and has published more than 360 articles in international journals (Nature, Science, The Journal of Molecular Biology, etc.), as well as having registered 20 patents.

‪Leif Erik Sander


Leif Erik studied medicine at the Hannover Medical School and completed his clinical training as an internist and pulmonologist at Aachen University Hospital and at the Charité in Berlin. From 2008 to 2011, he trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Julie Blander at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. In 2012 he set up his lab at Charité supported by an Emmy Noether-Fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG). He was appointed W2 (associate) professor at Charité in 2016. His lab aim to decipher host & pathogen interactions in humans and to understand the mechanisms that determine protective immunity elicited by infections and vaccines. The group is particularly interested in the earliest events of the immune response and how they shape protective immunity. Currently, the lab focus much efforts on dissecting human immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 and how they impact severity of COVID-19 and the generation of protective immunity.

Jörg Overmann


Jörg Overmann studied Biology at the Universities of Bochum and Freiburg and acquired his diploma in 1987. He obtained a Ph.D. in Microbiology in 1991 under the guidance of Norbert Pfennig at the University of Konstanz. After a postdoctoral stay at the University of British Colombia, Canada, he joined the Carl von Ossietzky Universität in Oldenburg where he obtained his Habilitation in 1999. From 2000 until 2010, he was professor of microbiology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München where he also served as Director of the Department Biology I from 2003 until 2009. In the year 2010, he became Director of the Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen in Braunschweig and full professor of microbiology at the Braunschweig University of Technology.

Research of Jörg Overmann and his group focuses on (1) bacterial genome evolution and speciation, (2) diversity, biogeochemical functions and environmental controls of bacterial communities in natural environments, and (3) the molecular mechanisms of bacterial interactions, also in microbiomes. By using innovative cultivation methodology he isolated and described numerous new bacterial species that had previously escaped cultivation. Profound field experience was gained in Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Senegal and Colombia. He has conceived and developed the novel bacterial metadatabase BacDive and participated in collaborative research programs funded by the DFG (Biodiversity Exploratories SPP1374, SFB-TRR51 Roseobacter), BMBF (BIOLOG, TFO, GBIF, de.NBI, DZIF, MIKROBIB) and the EU (MaCuMBA, BluePharmTrain, EMBRIC).

Prof. Overmann received the Ph.D. Award of the German Association for General and Applied Microbiology (VAAM) and was awarded the Inaugural Douglas Leigh Lecturer Award of the Waksman Foundation for Microbiology in 2013. He served as Member Elect of the review board 204 Microbiology, Virology and Immunology of the German Science Foundation (DFG) (2012-2020), is appointed member of the Permanent Senate Commission on Fundamental Issues of Biological Diversity of the DFG (since 2017), and appointed member of the Council of Scientists of the Human Frontier Science Program Organization (Strasbourg, France) (since 2020). He also serves in the supervisory boards and scientific advisory boards of several national and international institutions (e.g., Staatliche Naturwissenschaftliche Sammlungen Bayerns, Foundation Council of the Technische Informationsbibliothek/Hannover, ICRA-Institut Català de Recerca de L´Aigua).