ISN Special Symposium Speakers

don clevlland

Prof Don Cleveland

Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
University of California San Diego, USA

Prof Don Cleveland has made ground-breaking contributions in the regulation of assembly of mitotic spindles and chromosome movement. He discovered the microtubule associated protein tau (mutation in which causes human cognitive disease), the tubulin gene families encoding the major subunits of microtubules, and the first mammalian example of control of gene expression through regulated RNA instability. He identified components required for microtubule nucleation and anchoring during spindle assembly. He discovered CENP-E, the centromere-associated, microtubule-motor that he showed to be a microtubule “tip tracker” essential for powering congression of initially misaligned chromosomes, chromosome attachment at centromeres, and maintenance of chromosome congression. Using all purified components, he identified that unattached centromeres/kinetochores initiate a two step catalytic cascade signaling mechanism that represents the mitotic checkpoint, the cell cycle control mechanism that prevents errors of chromosome segregation in mitosis. He identified that the meiotic counterpart of the mitotic checkpoint is silenced without development of interkinetochore tension, thereby uncovering a mechanistic basis for the high error frequency of female meiosis in mammals.

Aaron Gitler 1

Prof Aaron Gitler

Stanford Medicine Basic Science Professor
Stanford University, USA

Prof Aaron Gitler is a professor in the department of genetics at Stanford University. He received his undergraduate training at Penn State University, a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology at University of Pennsylvania, and completed postdoctoral training with Dr. Susan Lindquist at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He joined the faculty of University of Pennsylvania in 2007 and moved to Stanford University in 2012, where he is currently Professor of Genetics. Aaron’s current area of interest is mechanisms of human neurodegenerative diseases.

magdapolymenidou-2019-03-04-11-26-19 (2)

Assoc Prof Magdalini Polymenidou

Associate Professor of Biomedicine, Department of Quantitative Biomedicine
University of Zurich, Switzerland

Magdalini is Associate Professor of Biomedicine at the Department of Quantitative Biomedicine of the University of Zurich. She is fascinated by the molecular events that lead to neurodegeneration and has been studying these phenomena since 2001. Originally trained as a pharmacist in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), she did her PhD on prion diseases in the laboratory of Adriano Aguzzi at the University Hospital of Zurich (Switzerland). As a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Don Cleveland at the University of California in San Diego (USA), she used high-throughput sequencing approaches to understand the function of TDP-43 and FUS, two RNA-binding proteins that are associated with the pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). She joined UZH as an SNSF Assistant Professor in 2013 and since then, her research team studies the molecular mechanisms of ALS and FTD with emphasis on the interplay between protein aggregation and RNA misregulation. Magdalini was awarded the EMBO Young Investigator Award (2018), the Georg-Friedrich Götz Prize (2015), the SNSF Professorship (2013), the HFSP Career Development Award (2013) and the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (2011). She is actively working for gender equality in academia and serves on the Gender Equality Committee of the Neuroscience Center Zurich since 2014. When not in the lab, Magdalini enjoys family time, especially with her two sons, Lennart, born in San Diego in September 2012 and Kilian, born in Zurich in 2018.

Talks By ISN Officers


Prof Flávia Gomes

Professor of Anatomy and Cellular Neurobiology Institute of Biomedical Sciences
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

The main focus of Prof Flávia Gomes is to study how cellular interactions control cell fate specification during brain development. Her group investigates the role of astrocyte in nervous system development. Her work primarily focus on the role of growth factors (TGF-b1; transforming growth factor beta 1; EGF; epidermal growth factor), hormones (thyroid hormone) and neurotransmitters as mediators of neuron-glia interactions during cerebral cortex and cerebellar development.


Prof Caroline (Lindy) Rae

Professor of Brain Sciences, UNSW
Senior Principal Research Scientist, NeuRA
Director (Research) NeuRA Imaging
Neuroscience Research Australia

Prof Caroline Rae is a biochemist with a background in magnetic resonance and interdisciplinary brain research. She graduated with a PhD in biochemistry and NMR from The University of Sydney in 1993 and spent four years in Oxford, UK, as a Nuffield Medical Fellow where she pioneered the use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy as a tool in cognitive brain research. In 2005 she was appointed to UNSW as a New South Global Professor, one of only a handful of NHMRC R Douglas Wright Fellows subsequently appointed to chairs. She is currently director of the UNSW Node of the National Imaging Facility and holds a cross-disciplinary (STEM) appointment in medical data visualisation as a Director of the UNSW Expanded Perception and Interaction Centre (EPICentre).


Professor Alessandro Prinetti

Professor of Biochemistry
Department of Medical Biotechnology and Translational Medicine
The Medical School, Univeristy of Milano

Prof Alessandro Prinietti investigation covers issues in Cell biology, Biochemistry, Sphingolipid, Signal transduction and Sphingomyelin. Alessandro Prinetti has researched Cell biology in several fields, including Cell, Cell membrane, Cellular differentiation, Sphingosine and Ceramide. Ganglioside, LYN, Lactosylceramide, Lipid raft and Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching are the core of his Biochemistry study.
His Sphingolipid research is multidisciplinary, incorporating perspectives in Membrane and Computational biology. His studies in Signal transduction integrate themes in fields like Oxysterol, Chemotaxis and Immune system. Sphingomyelin is frequently linked to Lipid signaling in his study.