Meet Your Cell Bio 2022 Symposium Speakers


Cell Bio 2022 – an ASCB|EMBO Meeting will be here before you know it. We are excited to introduce you to this year’s symposium speakers. We reached out to each of them and asked them to share some highlights of their science and what they plan to talk about. They responded and here’s what they told us!

Cellular and Organelle Movement during Health and Disease

Sunday, December 4, 2022, 8:15 am to 10:00 am

Crystal Rogers

Crystal Rogers, University of California, Davis, will speak on Mechanisms Driving Neural Crest Formation and EMT across Species. Her research focuses on: developmental biology, cell biology, cell migration, cell adhesion, cadherins, transcription, and evo-devo.

“How do complex organisms form from a single cell? I am in constant awe of developing embryos, living tissues, and cells. The long-term goal in my lab is to define the mechanisms guiding NC cell development across multiple species by identifying the multimodal network of factors that drives differential cell adhesion, cell fate, and migration across space and time.”

Verena Ruprecht

Verena Ruprecht, a group leader at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, Spain, will speak on Cell and Tissue Mechano-plasticity in the Early Embryo. Her research focuses on morphogenesis, cell dynamics, mechanosensing, biological self-organization, and advanced fluorescence microscopy.

“When the life of a new organism starts, its body plan is built from a single, highly specialized cell, the fertilized egg. We are interested in understanding the dynamic cellular events of how a fertilized egg develops into an embryo of defined shape and functional multicellular organization. We study this ‘biological big bang’ from the perspective of physics and biology with the aim to identify mechanisms that control cell and tissue form and function, cellular and multi-cellular self-organization, and morphodynamic cell and tissue plasticity that ensures robust development in the presence of noise and errors.”

Developmental Plasticity and Regeneration

Sunday, December 4, 2022, 8:15 am to 10:00 am

Alissa R. Armstrong

Alissa R. Armstrong, University of South Carolina, will speak on Nutrient Sensing Pathways Mediate Adipocyte to Ovary Communication in Drosophila. Her research focuses on: stem cells, development, oogenesis, signalling, and nutritional physiology.

“Organisms regularly experience changes in dietary input, therefore multiple organs must communicate to insure that an appropriate whole-organism response is mounted. The link between diet-induced obesity and several co-morbidities, including type 2 diabetes, cancers, and reproductive disorders, underscores the importance of understanding how adipose tissue communicates nutritional information to other organs. Using the power of Drosophila genetics, my research program investigates the molecular mechanisms employed by adipocytes to communicate dietary information to the stem cell-supported ovary. Currently, we are deciphering the nutrient sensing signalling pathways that function within adipocytes to regulate multiple aspects of oogenesis.”

Irene Miguel-Aliaga

Irene Miguel-Aliaga, MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences, Imperial College London, will speak on The Sex and Geometry of Inter-Cellular Communication. Her research focuses on: development, organ plasticity, organ shape, sex differences, and physiology.

“Our research explores the idiosyncrasies of adult organs: how they differ between the sexes or across life stages. Our work has revealed intestinal sex differences that impact food intake, gamete production and tumor susceptibility. Investigating how the intestine senses and responds to nutrients, we also discovered an intestinal zinc sensor that promotes Tor signalling to sustain food intake and developmental growth. We are now very interested in the idea that the three-dimensional arrangement of the intestine confines or enables its communication with other organs, and have developed new methods to describe and interrogate this new dimension to signalling.”

Environmental Change and Cell Biology

Monday, December 5, 2022, 8:15 am to 10:00 am

Rosie Alegado

Rosie Alegado, University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, will speak on Microbial Ecology of an Indigenous Food System Facing Climate Change. Her research focuses on: microbial ecology, climate change, microbiome, and microbial diversity.

“Global climate change and the emergence of new infectious diseases are two of the most challenging problems our society has ever faced. Microbes are central to both, as they mediate ecosystem health at a wide range of scales spanning ocean basins to our own bodies. Yet, we have a limited understanding of how climate change will impact microorganisms, and little progress has been made to identify integrated and integral solutions to looming climate and disease threats. My group takes two approaches to addressing this gap: 1) utilizing baseline observational data to track ecological, taxonomic, and physiological changes in response to climate forcing; and 2) performing complementary experiments to quantify eco-evolutionary processes that underlie interacting ecological systems across trophic, spatial, and temporal scales. Understanding this adaptability—which will determine how climate-driven changes in microbial diversity impact Earth systems from biogeochemical cycles to the distribution of microbial pathogens and transmission of human disease—is necessary for successful climate solutions.”

Beronda Montgomery

Beronda L. Montgomery, Grinnell College, will speak on Shaping Up and Responding: Color Vision and Light-Dependent Developmental Plasticity in Cyanobacteria. Her research focuses on: photomorphogenesis, light sensing, and cell morphology.

“[My] primary laboratory-based research is focused on the responses of photosynthetic organisms (i.e., plants and cyanobacteria) to external light cues. In this work, [my] laboratory team asks how organisms perceive, respond to, and are impacted by the environments in which they exist.”

Extracellular Vesicles and Their Roles in Development and Disease

Monday, December 5, 2022, 8:15 am to 10:00 am

Ayuko Hoshino

Ayuko Hoshino, Tokyo Institute of Technology, will speak on Role of Extracellular Vesicle Proteins in Disease Etiology and Detection. Her research focuses on: extracellular vesicle cargo and its function in multiple diseases.

“We aim to elucidate the mechanisms through which extracellular vesicles (EVs) drive disease pathology. Ultimately, we plan to target EV cargo and pathological signalling pathways activated by EVs, and to develop novel treatments for multiple diseases such as neurodevelopmental diseases, pregnancy complications and cancer.”

Neta Regev Rudzki

Neta Regev Rudzki, Weizmann Institute of Science, will speak on How Malaria Parasite Tricks its Host. Her research focuses on: extracellular vesicles and malaria.

“Our research strives to reveal mechanisms of malaria cell communication. Expanding on an innovative finding that malaria parasites secrete extracellular vesicles to enable cell-communication, we seek to determine the biological roles of these vesicles in the multiple layers of parasite-host signalling networks. Our ultimate aim is to obtain a comprehensive view of parasite communication networks and social behavior and uncover novel potential targets for malaria therapeutics.”

How Structure Enables Function in Differentiated Cell Types

Tuesday, December 6, 2022, 8:15 am to 10:00 am

Chantell Evans

Chantell Evans, Duke University, will speak on Neuronal Mitochondrial Regulation in Health and Disease. Her research focuses on: mitochondria, neurodegeneration, quality control mechanisms, and mitophagy.

“I am passionate about understanding neurodegeneration because of the significant effect it has on our population. Most people, including myself, know of someone who has been affected by neurodegeneration. My lab wants to understand how mitochondria are differentially regulated depending on their cellular location and how mitochondria dysregulation may contribute to neurodegenerative disease onset.”

Raghu Padinjat

Raghu Padinjat, National Centre for Biological Sciences-TIFR, will speak on Spatial Organisation of Signalling Reactions in a Professional Sensory Neuron. His research focuses on: phosphoinositides, lipid transfer proteins, membrane contact sites, polarized cells, and sensory transduction.

“My scientific interest is understanding information transfer in cells. We study lipid signalling in cells and due to their hydrophobic nature, cells need to make special arrangements to move lipids between organelle membranes. Lipid transfer proteins working at membrane contact sites (MCS) have emerged as an exciting new organising principle for this purpose. However several key questions remain on the manner in which MCS are regulated in relation to the ongoing physiological needs of the cell. We study this problem using Drosophila photoreceptors as a model system.”

Metabolism from Cells to Organisms

Tuesday, December 6, 2022, 8:15 am to 10:00 am

Monther Abu-Remaileh

Monther Abu-Remaileh, Stanford University, will speak on The Biochemical Basis of the Lysosomal Dysfunction in Early-Onset Neurodegeneration. His research focuses on: lysosome, metabolism, and neurodegeneration.

“Lysosomal dysfunction has been implicated in a plethora of human diseases, however, the molecular basis of this dysfunction is yet to be discovered. Lysosomes are membrane-bound compartments that degrade macromolecules and clear damaged organelles to enable cellular adaptation to various metabolic states. Our lab studies how lysosomal pathways go awry in human diseases such as cancer and neurodegeneration, in order to develop new therapeutic modalities. To address these questions, we use multidisciplinary approaches, including metabolomics, proteomics and functional genomics, to study the biochemical functions of the lysosome in vitro and in vivo.”

Sonya Neal

Sonya Neal, University of California, San Diego, will speak on The Role of Rhomboid-like Superfamily in Protecting the Membrane Proteome. Her research focuses on: protein homeostasis
and quality control.

“Life on earth has survived through billions of years because of its ability to adapt to changes. In fact, all living things are the product of this evolutionary intelligence where quality control mechanisms and adaptation are engineered into our DNA. In particular, I’m passionate about studying protein quality control pathways and how they are interconnected and contribute to biological resilience. I believe systems-level approaches hold great promise for understanding the circuits of quality control pathways and will facilitate in the identification of novel therapeutic targets to mitigate diseases associated with defects in protein quality control.”

Cellular Changes to Host and Pathogen during Infection

Wednesday, December 7, 2022, 11:00 am to 12:45 pm

Pascale S. Guiton

Pascale S. Guiton, Santa Clara University, will speak on Toxoplasma Differentiation and Virulence. Her research focuses on: parasitology, microbial pathogenesis, gene regulation, and metabolism.

“I am fascinated by the events that occur at the host/pathogen interface. Parasites, such as Toxoplasma gondii, are not only important medical and veterinary pathogens, but they are good model systems to understand the evolutionary relatedness of eukaryotes and study unique cell biology. Some questions I am interested in: 1) How does Toxoplasma interact with cells in the GI tract? 2) How does the parasite efficiently differentiate between metabolically distinct forms during infection? 3) How does Toxoplasma regulate gene expression when transitioning from one developmental form to another during infection?”

Xiaofeng Wang

Xiaofeng Wang, Virginia Tech, will speak on Protein and Membrane Interactions in Positive-Strand RNA Virus Genome Replication. His research focuses on: formation and function of membrane-bound viral replication complexes and development of mechanism-based antiviral strategies.

“… [My] research program focuses on finding conserved replication mechanisms used by plant and animal viruses. By understanding the common ways these viruses replicate, we can improve human health both directly through antiviral treatments and indirectly through increased food security. The positive-strand RNA [(+)RNA] genetic class of viruses notably include SARS-CoV2 and the majority of plant viruses. All members of this virus class assemble their viral replication complexes (VRCs) at specific organelle membranes, where viral replication protein(s) recruit host proteins and remodel membranes to form well-protected, membrane-bound VRCs. I am interested in mechanisms by which viral replication proteins are targeted to specific organelles, what host proteins are recruited to VRCs, and the lipid microenvironment of VRCs.”

New Organisms; New Directions

Wednesday, December 7, 2022, 11:00 am to 12:45 pm

Carrie Adler

Carrie Adler, Cornell University, will speak on Rewiring Death: Understanding the Circuitry Regulating DNA Damage and Apoptosis in Planarian Stem Cells. Her research focuses on: stem cell responses to injury, organ regeneration, chemotaxis and feeding behavior, and cellular responses to ionizing radiation.

“My lab studies stem cells and regeneration in planarian flatworms. Planarians are a classic model for studying regeneration, but more recently, pioneers in the field discovered that regeneration relies on an enormous population of stem cells. Upon injury, planarians can regenerate entire new animals by activating their stem cells and essentially rearranging the cells that make up their bodies. The stem cells, which comprise 20% of the animal’s body, are very nimble. Depending on what tissue has been damaged, they immediately begin producing the cells necessary to replace it. How this population of cells can collectively rebuild an entire animal is a mystery. Our long-term goal is to understand the signalling mechanisms that they use to initiate regeneration, sense injuries, and regulate cell division and and differentiation.”

Bob Goldstein

Bob Goldstein, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will speak on Tardigrades: Understanding How Biological Materials Can Survive Extremes. His research focuses on: extremotolerance mechanisms, evolution of cellular and developmental mechanisms, and cell biological mechanisms of morphogenesis.

“New technologies are making it increasingly feasible for scientists to expand beyond the most commonly used model organisms to address some fascinating questions. I chose tardigrades as a new model back when they were found to be relatives of two of the best model systems, C. elegans and Drosophila. Now, we’re using tardigrades to address how biological materials can survive some remarkably extreme conditions.”

About the Author:

Thea Clarke is the Director of Communications and Education at the American Society for Cell Biology.