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.

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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


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.





FEBS LECTURER
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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

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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.





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FAOBMB EDUCATION AWARD 

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Xiaolun Yu

 

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

TEACHING NOW, FACING THE FUTURE

Abstract


Education is not only the transmission of knowledge. More importantly, it is the shaping and inspiration of students. The essence of education is to inspire the curiosity of students to understand the world, the science and themselves; to establish their independent learning ability and to develop their critical thought and their practical skill to change our world for the better in the future. Therefore, the most important responsibility of teachers is not just to teach students what has already been known, but to guide them to discover what should be learned and to incorporate the new information into their own knowledge system efficiently. To achieve all these ideals, the student-centered learning model should play its full role both in and out the classroom to evoke the learning initiative of students and facilitate the formation of their proactive self-learning habits. As for teachers, they should be more like coaches, but not preachers. Teachers can take full advantages of the modern information technologies as well as the teaching methods to maximize their influence on the students’ learning process. Nowadays, there are more and more high-quality online courses and novel teaching models such as flipped class and blended learning. Besides, some newly developed interconnected teaching tools also appeared recently. The “Rain classroom” is such a convenient intelligent teaching tool that cooperates with both PowerPoint and WeChat (a popular social software in China) as a small plug-in. This small teaching tool plays a big role during the teaching and learning process. It can provide an efficient and worthwhile feedback to both teachers and students in the flipped class and record huge amount of data to reflect the status of our teaching and learning processes. All these provide us powerful assistants to achieve our teaching goals. Moreover, learning by doing is also an integral part of effective learning processes. The project-based self-learning and self-management pattern is a valuable strategy to develop the learning ability and research capacity of students. This is totally a student-centered learning-by-doing process and probably the mostly impactful teaching strategy facing for the future.