Named Lectures

MAHATHIR SCIENCE 
AWARD LECTURE

The Mahathir Science Award is given by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia for scientific excellence in recognition of contributions and innovations towards solving problems in the tropics through science and technology.

John S Mackenzie

 

PathWest and Curtin Unversity, Perth, Western Australia;

One Health Platform Foundation, Berlare, Belgium

ONE HEALTH: BREAKING DOWN THE PROFESSIONAL SILOS AND RESPONDING TO EMERGING ZOONOTIC AND MOSQUITO-BORNE DISEASES

Abstract


As we approached and reached the new Millennium, four important events of disease emergence and/or spread occurred – the first two in 1999 were the emergence of Nipah virus in Malaysia, and the spread of West Nile virus from the Old to the New World; and the latter two were the emergence of SARS in 2003 and highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 in 2004. These four examples of emerging diseases have in many ways focused attention on the importance of understanding the drivers of their emergence and spread, and as all four caused zoonotic diseases, their animal origins. In addition, the SARS epidemic provided a good demonstration and warning of the potential for an unknown pathogen to emerge from a wildlife source at any time and in any place and, without warning, threaten the health, well-being and economies of all societies. It also became apparent that it was essential to better understand the drivers of emergence and spread. The finding that Nipah and SARS originated in wildlife gave rise to a number of studies of the viromes of various wildlife species, particularly bats from Africa and Asia, and it was shown that these species harboured a wide range of novel viruses. Many of these were identified following deep sequencing and are represented only by short RNA sequences, but a few have been isolated as infectious organisms. The zoonotic nature of these viruses clearly underscored the importance and need for a One Health approach in their response – that is to understand the ecology of the animal or reservoir hosts and the nature of the environmental factors that might predispose to emergence and spread. Thus responses to recent outbreaks of emergent zoonotic diseases, such as MERS, Zika and Chikungunya, have had a strong One Health component. The presentation will describe and discuss some of the factors driving emergence and spread of zoonotic and vector-borne virus diseases, and the importance of the One Health concept in their response and control.





FEBS LECTURER

Dominique Soldati-Favre

 

Department of Microbiology and Molecular Medicine University of Geneva Medical School Geneva, Switzerland

FUNCTIONAL AND COMPUTATIONAL GENOMICS REVEAL UNPRECEDENTED VERSATILITY IN STAGE-SPECIFIC Toxoplasma gondii METABOLISM

Abstract


To survive and proliferate in different host environments and cope with varying nutrient availability, obligate intracellular parasites have to reshape their metabolic network. To investigate these complex changes following developmental transitions, we have generated a well-curated, genome-scale metabolic model for Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite is the most ubiquitous member of the Apicomplexa phylum that establishes a life-long chronic infection and is responsible for severe veterinary and human diseases. T. gondii alternates between two life cycle stages: the fast replicating tachyzoites, which cause potentially life-threatening acute infection and the slowly replicating bradyzoites, which persist in the brain and muscle tissue, establishing a chronic infection. The metabolic needs of these two stages i.e. to what extend they rely on metabolites from their host versus de novo synthesis is poorly understood. This new computational model was harmonized with experimentally observed phenotypes for the fast-replicating stage of the parasite through a CRISPR-Cas9 screen of T. gondii metabolic genes. To validate model predictions and understand metabolic switches upon stage conversion, we have elucidated the importance of several metabolic pathways in both the acute and latent stages of infection using molecular biology and metabolomic approaches. Significant insights into the contribution of biosynthesis versus scavenge of purine nucleotides (AMP, GMP), vitamins (pyridoxal-5P, pantothenate), cofactors (heme, Coenzyme A) and fatty acids have been obtained. We provide evidence that some de novo synthesis pathways can be compensated for by the salvage of host metabolites but sole reliance on uptake is associated with a severe fitness cost (heme, fatty acids synthesis). In contrast, de novo synthesis of other metabolites (pyridoxal-5-phosphate, pantothenate) is dispensable in vitro but essential during the acute or chronic infection. Our improved computational model together with the in-depth analysis of largely uncharacterized pathways in T. gondii advance our knowledge of how the parasite interacts with its host and modulates its metabolism when switching from acute to chronic infection and vice versa. A deeper understanding of the parasite’s biology and its metabolic needs and capabilities leads to new insights for development of successful therapeutic intervention.





FAOBMB AWARD FOR RESEARCH EXCELLENCE

Jin-Soo Kim

 

Centre for Genome Engineering
Institute for Basic Science
Daejon, South Korea

CRISPR GENOME EDITING IN PLANTS, ANIMALS AND HUMAN CELLS

Abstract


Genome editing with CRISPR systems is broadly useful in biological research and medicine. Cas9 and Cas9-fused deaminases (a.k.a., Base Editors), however, are limited by off-target mutations. We developed nuclease-digested whole genome sequencing (Digenome-seq) to profile genome-wide specificities of Cas9 nucleases and Cas9-fused deaminases in an unbiased manner. Digenome-seq comprehensively identified off-target sites at which mutations were induced with frequencies below 0.1%. We also showed that these off-target effects could be avoided by using preassembled ribonucleoproteins (RNPs), modified guide RNAs, and Sniper-Cas9, a Cas9 variant isolated via directed evolution in E. coli.





FAOBMB EDUCATION AWARD 

Xiaolun Yu

 

School of Life Science & Technology
Xi’an Jiaotong University
Xi’an, China

TEACHING NOW, FACING THE FUTURE

Abstract


As we approached and reached the new Millennium, four important events of disease emergence and/or spread occurred – the first two in 1999 were the emergence of Nipah virus in Malaysia, and the spread of West Nile virus from the Old to the New World; and the latter two were the emergence of SARS in 2003 and highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 in 2004. These four examples of emerging diseases have in many ways focused attention on the importance of understanding the drivers of their emergence and spread, and as all four caused zoonotic diseases, their animal origins. In addition, the SARS epidemic provided a good demonstration and warning of the potential for an unknown pathogen to emerge from a wildlife source at any time and in any place and, without warning, threaten the health, well-being and economies of all societies. It also became apparent that it was essential to better understand the drivers of emergence and spread. The finding that Nipah and SARS originated in wildlife gave rise to a number of studies of the viromes of various wildlife species, particularly bats from Africa and Asia, and it was shown that these species harboured a wide range of novel viruses. Many of these were identified following deep sequencing and are represented only by short RNA sequences, but a few have been isolated as infectious organisms. The zoonotic nature of these viruses clearly underscored the importance and need for a One Health approach in their response – that is to understand the ecology of the animal or reservoir hosts and the nature of the environmental factors that might predispose to emergence and spread. Thus responses to recent outbreaks of emergent zoonotic diseases, such as MERS, Zika and Chikungunya, have had a strong One Health component. The presentation will describe and discuss some of the factors driving emergence and spread of zoonotic and vector-borne virus diseases, and the importance of the One Health concept in their response and control.





Enquiries:

    

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