Keynote speakers

  • Kari Alitalo, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Elizabeth Fisher, UCL, UK

Invited speakers

  • Emma Andersson, Karolinksa Institutet, Sweden
  • Jaan-Olle Andressoo, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Martin Bergö, Karolinska Intitutet, Sweden
  • Philip W Jordan, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA
  • Thorsten Buch, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • Vootele Voikar, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Jihan Osborne, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Texas, USA
  • Ritva Heljäsvaara, University of Oulu, Finland
  • Elizabeth Lacy, Sloan Kettering Institute, USA
  • Frank Constantini, Columbia University, USA
  • Annamaria Locascio, SZN, Italy
  • Howy Jacobs, University of Tampere, Finland
  • Tarja Malm, University of Eastern Finland, Finland
  • Maria Lehtinen, Boston Children’s Hospital, USA
  • Qiangge Zhang, MIT, USA
  • Benjamin Schusser, TUM, Germany
  • Bon-Kyoung Koo, IMBA, Austria
  • Davide Serrugia, St Anna CCRI, Austria
  • Petra Sipila, University of Turku
  • Benjamin Low, The Jackson Laboratory
  • Pawel Pelczar, The University of Basel
  • Natalia Moncaut, Cancer Research UK, Manchester Institute

Speakers Bios

Professor Kari Alitalo

Dr. Alitalo and collaborators work on translational aspects of vascular growth factors in development, physiology and in human cancer, cardiovascular and neurological diseases, and obesity. – Alitalo and collaborators study angiopoietins and their Tie1 and Tie2 receptor complex, lymphangiogenic growth factor VEGF-C and its receptor VEGFR-3, VEGF-B as a growth factor for coronary and adipose vasculature, and meningeal lymphatic vessels, which they discovered in 2015. The laboratory has developed inhibitors of the VEGFR-3 signal transduction pathway, which are in clinical trials in age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema, and growth factor therapy for lymphedema, which has gone through phase two clinical trials.

Dr Emma Andersson

Dr Andersson has a background in Wnt and Notch signaling in development and disease. In order to devise a method to rapidly manipulate gene expression in developing mouse embryos, she performed guest research with Professor Elaine Fuchs (Rockefeller University, USA) to further develop ultrasound-guided in utero microinjection of lentivirus. Originally developed to target developing skin, the Andersson lab established protocols for the nervous, gastric and respiratory systems. Dr Andersson established core facilities for virus production and in utero injection. The Andersson lab now combines molecular, developmental, and computational biology to address fundamental mechanisms of relevance to human health.

Dr Jaan-Olle Andressoo

I received PhD in 2004 on studies premature aging syndromes in Prof Jan HJ Hoeijmakers laboratory, Rotterdam, Holland and performed post-doctoral research in Prof Mart Saarma laboratory on neurotrophic factors in Helsinki, Finland.
Since 2018 I hold Translational Neuroscience associate professor position at the Department of Pharmacology, University of Helsinki, Finland, with a parallel appointment at Karolinska Institute, Sweden.
My research aims to understand how gene expression levels are regulated and contribute to disease etiology. In this end I use various knock-in alleles, including conditional editing of the 3’UTR which I believe may carry great potential in disease modelling.

Professor Martin Bergo

My group’s focus is on the biochemical and medical importance of the five enzymes that post-translationally modify CAAX proteins (e.g., K-RAS, RAC1, and prelamin A) which are involved in the pathogenesis of common and rare diseases such as cancer, inflammation, and progeria. Over the past 17 years, we have defined the role of the five enzymes; studied how their activities influence disease development; and evaluated their suitability as therapeutic targets. This work also led us into new and unexpected areas including our group’s current main focus: analyzing the role of free radicals and antioxidants in cancer progression and metastasis.

Professor Thorsten Buch

Thorsten Buch is Professor for Laboratory Animal Science at the University of Zurich He is a geneticist by training with a long track record in GMO generation. His research covers autoimmunity and animal welfare. Prof. Buch started his research career more than 25 years ago at the University of California, Davis, US. He obtained his Diploma at the University of Düsseldorf, DE, and performed his PhD under Prof. Klaus Rajewsky at the University of Cologne, DE. Before joining the University of Zurich, CH, he was Professor for Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the Technical University Munich, DE. Prof. Buch has published more than 90 papers, is co-inventor on 6 patents, and founder of 2 companies. He is reviewer to multiple journals and research agencies. His institute runs a comprehensive continuous education program on laboratory animal science and he built up with colleagues a study program (CAS) on sex and gender in medicine.

Dr Ben Davies

Dr. Ben Davies studied Genetics at the University of Cambridge before completing a PhD in Molecular Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh, where he first encountered mouse knock-out technology. After his doctoral studies, he moved to Germany where he completed a postdoc at the Charité Hospital before moving to commercial biotech to start a spin-out company at the University of Hamburg, offering transgenic services. Returning to academia in 2007, he directed the gene engineering core facility at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford for 16 years and has recently moved to the Francis Crick Institute in London to head the Gene Modification Service Facility within this institute.

Professor Elizabeth Fisher

Elizabeth Fisher is Professor of Neurogenetics at the Institute of Neurology in Queen Square, University College London (UCL).  She has an undergraduate degree from Oxford (1981), and a PhD from Imperial College London (1986), working in the labs of Steve Brown and Mary Lyon (MRC Harwell). After a postdoc with David Page at the Whitehead Institute, MIT she returned to Imperial 1990 and moved to UCL in 2001.  Her lab focuses on making and analysing mouse models of neurodegeneration, including a novel humanised model of Down syndrome (trisomy 21) and models of Charcot Marie Tooth disease, dynein dysfunction as well as SOD1, FUS and TDP-43 models of motor neuron disease. She is a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator (held jointly with Victor Tybulewicz of the Francis Crick Institute), a member of EMBO and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal Society of Biology. 

Ritva Heljasvaara, PhD

My research interest is on the roles and significance of extracellular matrix (ECM) in cancer. More specifically, our research group studies basement membrane and transmembrane collagens and some collagen receptors in solid cancers, particularly in breast and skin cancer, in order to understand their molecular mechanisms in tumor cells and in the tumor microenvironment. In addition, we study the role of these collagens in development and physiology of many tissues and organs, for example in adipose tissues and lipid metabolism. Our approaches include experimental mouse models, advanced cellular models, analysis of human samples and bioinformatics.

Professor Howy Jacobs

Howy Jacobs is Professor of Molecular Biology in Tampere University, Finland (since 1996). Educated in Cambridge, Glasgow and Caltech, he has spent most of his career studying mitochondria, including mtDNA transactions, the pathophysiology and molecular mechanisms of mitochondrial disease, and the properties of alternative respiratory chain enzymes. His primary experimental model is Drosophila which he applies to study mitochondrial function and dysfunction. As well as winning a number of research awards, Howy is an active member of EMBO and was Chief Editor of EMBO Reports (2009-2014). He has undertaken numerous other tasks in scientific publication, conferencing and public communication.

Dr. Bon-Kyoung Koo

Dr. Bon-Kyoung Koo is an experienced mouse geneticist actively employing the emerging organoid culture technology to study stem cell maintenance and activation in the mouse and human intestine and colon. Following his PhD in the laboratory of Prof. Young-Yun Kong at POSTECH, Dr. Koo joined the group of Prof. Hans Clevers at the Hubrecht Institute, Netherlands in 2009. Here he witnessed the first establishment of the Lgr5+ cell-derived intestinal organoid culture system. In the following years Dr. Koo has utilised this novel culture system to perform sophisticated gene correction with CRISPR/Cas9, to unravel the molecular regulation of adult stem cells and to prove the stem cell properties of a Troy+, quiescent reserve stem cell population in the stomach. After group leader positions at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute (2013-17) and the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA, 2017-2022), he moved his group to the Center for Genome Engineering at the IBS, Korea. Currently, his group focuses on clonal dynamics of adult epithelial stem cells both in homeostasis and during injury-mediated repair.

Professor Maria Lehtinen

Maria Lehtinen is Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. Her research focuses on the mechanisms by which the choroid plexus, an important brain barrier and producer of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), contributes to brain development and lifelong brain health.
Dr. Lehtinen received her Ph.D. in Neurobiology from Harvard University where she trained with Dr. Azad Bonni on molecular mechanisms regulating neuronal survival and death. She joined Anna-Elina Lehesjoki’s lab for her early postdoctoral work at the University of Helsinki, where she investigated the role of redox homeostasis in progressive myoclonus epilepsy. Lehtinen carried out further postdoctoral training with Dr. Christopher A. Walsh at Harvard, where they found that secreted factors in the CSF play active roles in instructing the development and health of the mammalian brain. Dr. Lehtinen established her own laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital in 2012, where she takes an interdisciplinary approach to study the choroid plexus-CSF-system in the brain, with applications ranging from neural development to age-associated neurologic diseases. Dr. Lehtinen currently holds the Hannah C. Kinney, MD, Chair in Pediatric Pathology Research and is a New York Stem Cell Foundation – Robertson Neuroscience Investigator.

Annamaria Locascio, PhD

Institution: Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Department of Biology and Evolution of Marine Organisms (BEOM)
Position: Research investigator
Years in position: 2009 – present

Education: 2017-National Academic Qualification as Associate Professor in Molecular Biology. Since 2002-Research investigator at the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Naples, Italy. 1999-2002-Post-doctoral training in the Neurobiology Laboratory, Cajal Institute, CSIC, Madrid, Spain. 1999 PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Pathology, University “Federico II” of Naples.
22+ years working with tunicates as models for transgenesis

Benjamin Low

Benjamin E Low (Hamburg NY USA, 1977) graduated (BSc) in Biological Sciences (University of New Hampshire, 1999) focusing on Marine and Freshwater Biology.  He began working in the field of mouse molecular genetics in 2006 when he joined the Jackson Laboratory (“JAX”, Bar Harbor Maine, USA), studying brain cancer.  In 2011, he joined the Technology Evaluation & Development group (“TED”) at JAX, and began focusing primarily on improving methods for mouse model development.

Professor Tarja Malm

Prof Tarja Malm holds Professor in Molecular Neurobiology and is the head of the Neuroinflammation research group at the A.I.Virtanen Institute, University of Eastern Finland.
Her research focuses on understanding how and why microglia become malfunctional in different neurodegenerative diseases and to elucidate the functional impact of microglia-neuron interactions. In addition, she investigates how the cellular functions are regulated at the level of non-coding RNAs. Her group uses interdisciplinary approaches and a wide-range of animal models together with novel, human-based models.

Dr Natalia Moncaut

Natalia Moncaut obtained her degree in Biology from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2002. She undertook her PhD in Animal Physiology at the University of Porto in Portugal where she studied the evolution and function of the GnRH receptors using different fish as model organisms. In 2006, she joined the Gulbenkian Institute of Sciences (Portugal) to study the patterning of the axial skeleton using transgenic mice and that research led her to the Institute of Cancer Research (UK) where she focused on understanding the transcriptional regulation during myogenesis. At the end of 2013, she became a member of the Transgenic Services at the CRUK LRI-Francis Crick Institute, where she was responsible for setting up the CRISPR-Cas platform for transgenic mouse generation. Since 2015 Natalia leads the Genome Editing and Mouse Models Core Facility at the CRUK Manchester Institute generating forefront cancer mouse models to study mechanisms of tumour initiation, progression, and response to therapy. Natalia is a board member of the LASA Animal Science Transgenic Section and a member of the NC3Rs Breeding and Archiving working group.

Dr. Jihan Osborne

Dr. Jihan Osborne is an assistant professor in the department of pharmacology at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center. She completed her PhD, in the laboratory of Melanie Cobb at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center. Her graduate work focused on understanding the function of the neuronal differentiation factor, NeuroD1, in the metastasis and survival of aggressive neuroendocrine lung tumors. During her post-doctoral fellowship in the laboratory of George Daley, at Children’s Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School, she studied how the RNA-binding proteins, LIN28A and LIN28B controlled branching morphogenesis of the kidney and lung via enhanced mRNA translation and microRNA degradation.

Dr Pawel Pelczar

I am a molecular biologist interested in developing and improving transgenic technologies Initially, I have worked on adapting the Agrobacterium T-DNA complex for gene delivery into mammalian cells. Subsequently, this led to adapting transposons such as Tn5 and PiggyBac for mouse transgenesis. More recently, my interest has naturally focused on CRISPR/Cas9-based technologies.
Since 2014, I head the University of Basel Center for Transgenic Models. The CTM supports UniBasel researchers by providing them with comprehensive access to transgenic technologies including Cas9/CRISPR. In parallel, our research focuses on novel gene delivery techniques while implementing the 3R principles for responsible animal experimentation.

Professor Benjamin Schusser

Benjamin Schusser studied veterinary medicine at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. His research focuses on creating genetically modified chickens to study the chicken immune system. The research focus here is on the one hand on the development of the adaptive immune system and on the other hand on the function of the immune system in the context of infectious diseases.

In 2016, he was appointed as professor for Biotechnology of Reproduction at the Technical University of Munich. Since 2016 he is a specialist veterinarian in laboratory animal science and since 2020 a specialist veterinarian in molecular genetics and genetic engineering.

Davide Seruggia

Davide Seruggia obtained a degree in Biotechnology at the University of Milano-Bicocca (Italy) in 2010, and a PhD in Molecular Biology at the National Centre for Biotechnology (CNB-CSIC) in Madrid (Spain) in 2014. During his PhD under the supervision of Lluis Montoliu, he focused on non-coding DNA regulatory sequences and generated several mouse lines carrying deletions of selected enhancers. Analysis of these mice highlighted the relevance of non-coding elements in regulating patterns of gene expression. In 2015 he joined the laboratory of Stuart H. Orkin at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard, where he trained in hematology, stem cell biology and genomics. In 2021 Davide joined the St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute as Principal Investigator and CeMM as Adjunct Principal Investigator, supported by an ERC Starting Grant. His independent research focuses on pediatric leukemia using in vitro and in vivo models.

Dr Petra Sipilä

Petra Sipilä did her PhD at the Department of Biomedicine, University of Turku, Finland and continued for post-doctoral training first at Professor Andrew McMahon’s lab at Harvard University and then as Finnish Academy Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Turku. In 2007 she was appointed as Coordinator for GM unit at Turku Center for Disease Modeling (TCDM) and in 2012 as a director of GM unit at the Laboratory Animal Centre of University of Helsinki. Since spring 2015 she has been a principal investigator at the Research Faculty of Medicine, University of Turku and Vice director of TCDM.

Dr. Qiangge Zhang

Dr. Qiangge Zhang is a Research Scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His current research focus on developing and improving assisted reproduction technology for efficiently generating NHP models for neuroscience and brain disorders research. He has established an up-to-date transgenic platform at MIT and has generated several transgenic marmoset models for Autism, Alzheimer’s disease and Rett syndrome.

Dr Vootele Voikar

Vootele Voikar is a research coordinator and head of Mouse Behavoural Phenotyping Facility at the Neuroscience Center of the Helsinki Institute of Life Science. He has experience in behavioural neuroscience with animal models for more than 20 years. His work is focusing on understanding how the biological and environmental factors and animal welfare contribute to scientific outcomes in preclinical studies. He is actively involved in several initiatives promoting good scientific practice and Three Rs (Finnish Reproducibility Network, Finnish 3R Center, COST Action 20135, EQIPD framework).