Plenary speakers at mmc2019


For anyone with an interest in microscopy, mmc2019 at Manchester Central from 1-4 July is an event simply not to be missed – as regular attendees of the biennial Congress will surely attest.

Alongside Europe’s largest exhibition dedicated to imaging and microscopy, The Royal Microscopical Society’s flagship event features a blockbuster conference programme, with an amazing cast of plenary speakers already confirmed.

Here’s a swift introduction to each of these eminent scientists and a taste of the expertise they’ll be bringing to the conference proceedings. We hope to see you there!

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Professor Dr Wolfgang Baumeister, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry

Monday 1 July: Cryo-Electron Tomography: The Promise and the Challenges of Doing Structural Biology in situ

Wolfgang Baumeister has made seminal contributions to our understanding of the structure and function of the cellular machinery of protein degradation, in particular the proteasome. Moreover, he pioneered the development of cryo-electron tomography. His contributions to science were recognised by numerous awards including the Otto Warburg Medal, the Schleiden Medal, the John M. Cowley Medal, the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine, the Stein and Moore Award, the Harvey Prize in Science and Technology and the Ernst Schering Prize. He is a member of several academies including the US National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Wolfgang is the recipient of an RMS Honorary Fellowship, which will be presented at mmc2019.


Professor Jody Rosenblatt, University of Utah

Monday 1 July: Epithelial cell extrusion and its misregulation in disease

Jody Rosenblatt is Professor of Oncological Sciences at the University of Utah and Investigator at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and holds an Edna and H. A. Benning Endowed Chair and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Scholar Award.  Her lab studies how epithelia maintain constant cell numbers through cell death and cell division and have found that mechanical forces control each process; when cells become too crowded, they extrude some cells that later die and when cells are too sparse stretch activates cells to rapidly divide. Surprisingly, both opposing processes require the same stretch-activated calcium channel, Piezo1, depending on the force encountered. Extrusion is critical for regulating epithelial cell number, as they find that aggressive metastatic cancers and asthma can result from defective extrusion signalling. Understanding the basic cell biology of cell death is now revealing new aetiologies for diseases that currently lack treatments.


Professor Helen Saibil, Birkbeck, University of London

Tuesday, 2 July: Malaria parasites breaking out of red blood cells

Helen Saibil established the cryo electron microscopy lab at Birkbeck College, in the prehistoric era when electron micrographs were recorded on photographic film. Her research focuses on macromolecular machines, both in vitro and in their cellular context. A major area of interest is the action of molecular chaperones in assisting protein folding, unfolding and disaggregation. In addition, her group studies membrane pore formation by bacterial toxins and immune system pore-forming proteins, and the actions of intracellular pathogens on host membranes. The main approach is three-dimensional reconstruction of protein complexes in solution or interacting with liposomes, or of cellular samples, by single particle analysis, electron tomography and correlative light and electron microscopy. She has also been involved in the establishment of the national facility for biological cryo-electron microscopy at the Diamond synchrotron.


Dr Sergei Kalinin, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Wednesday, 3 July: Assembling matter atom by atom: applications of machine learning to scanning transmission electron microscopy

Sergei Kalinin is the director of the Institute for Functional Imaging of Materials and distinguished staff member at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He received his MS degree from Moscow State University in 1998 and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania (with Dawn Bonnell) in 2002.

His research presently focuses on the applications of big data and artificial intelligence methods in atomically resolved imaging by scanning transmission electron microscopy and scanning probes, as well as mesoscopic studies of electromechanical and transport phenomena via scanning probe microscopy.

Sergei has co-authored more than 600 publications, with a total citation of more than 25,000. He is a recipient of the RMS medal for Scanning Probe Microscopy (2015); Blavatnik Award for Physical Sciences (2018); Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) (2009); Burton medal of Microscopy Society of America (2010); and a number of other distinctions.  


Professor Keith Riles, University of Michigan

Thursday 4 July: From Attometers to Gigaparsecs – Gravitational Waves Define a New Astronomy

Keith Riles is the H. Richard Crane Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan and a founding member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. Originally a high energy experimentalist working at electron-positron colliders, Riles was drawn to the then-nascent field of gravitational waves in 1997 by the intriguing science and by the precision technology needed to carry out that science. He initially led the LIGO detector characterisation group and more recently has led searches for continuous gravitational waves from galactic neutron stars.

The LIGO discovery in September 2015 of gravitational waves from the collision and merger of two massive black holes 1.3 billion years ago and the detection in August 2017 of colliding neutron stars have created a new scientific realm of gravitational wave astronomy, one which Riles looks forward to exploring for years to come.


Professor Klaus Hahn, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Thursday, 4 July: Watching and walking your cells – biosensors and optogenetics to trace live cell motility circuitry

In his lab at Scripps Research Institute, and now at UNC-Chapel Hill Medical School, Klaus develops molecular approaches to visualise and control signalling in living cells. Using these tools, he and his colleagues ask how the rapid spatio-temporal dynamics of signalling control immune cell interactions, platelet production, and adhesion dynamics/structure. They strive to produce broadly applicable new approaches, including biosensors based on minimally perturbing designs, engineering allosteric networks in proteins to confer control by light or small molecules, and probing conformational changes of individual molecules in living cells. Klaus Hahn is the Thurman Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology at UNC and a fellow of the AAAS. He is a recipient of the NIH’s James Shannon Director’s Award and an NIH Transformative Grant. His lab’s work on biosensors was named one of the '10 Breakthroughs of the Decade' by Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology.

Klaus is the recipient of the 2019 Pearse Prize, which will be presented at mmc2019.

Blog post written by Owen Morton, Royal Microscopical Society.

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