Inaugural Lectures | Nicolas Thomä and Fides Zenk


Event details

Date 09.09.2024
Hour 17:1519:00
Speaker Nicolas Thomä
Fides Zenk
Category Inaugural lectures - Honorary Lecture
Event Language English
  • 17:15 - 17:25 Welcome by Andy Oates, Dean SV and introduction by Elisa Oricchio, Institute Director ISREC
  • 17:25 - 17:55 Lecture by Nicolas Thomä - Transcription factors in cancer: how they work (and how to get rid of them)
  • 18:00 - 18:10 Introduction by Brian McCabe, Institute Director Brain Mind Institute
  • 18:10 - 18:40 Lecture by Fides Zenk: Epigenetic regulation of human brain organoid development at single-cell resolution
  • 18:40 - 18:45 Closure by Andy Oates
  • 18:45 Apéritif
Location: SV 1717 and retransmission to Campus Biotech (upon request)
Registration by September 3, 2024

Nicolas Thomä | Transcription factors in cancer: how they work (and how to get rid of them)

Abstract: The Thomä lab focuses on the structure and function of macromolecular machines at the interface of chromatin and ubiquitin biology. Recent work from the laboratory has demonstrated how transcription factors operate within the context of a chromatinized genome and how both endogenous and synthetic small molecules induce the degradation of transcription factors and other cellular proteins by co-opting the ubiquitin-proteasome system. This research has already elucidated the mode of action of groundbreaking therapeutics (e.g., Lenalidomide, Revlimid, Fulvestrant) and marks the beginning of the era of proximity-modulating drugs.

Bio: Dr. Nicolas Thomä was educated at the University of Cambridge, UK, where he received his PhD under Dr. Peter Leadlay in Chemical Biology. He then pursued postdoctoral work in structural biology in the laboratories of Prof. Roger Goody (Max-Planck-Institute, Germany) and Prof. Nikola Pavletich (MSKCC, USA). In 2006, Nicolas became a group leader at the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel, Switzerland. As of 2023, Nicolas Thomä holds the Paternot Chair for Interdisciplinary Cancer Research at ISREC and EPFL, and heads the Drug Development Center at the EPFL School of Life Sciences. He has been awarded the Otto Naegeli Prize, the Viva Award from the Novartis Leading Scientist Program, and is a member of EMBO.

Fides Zenk | Epigenetic regulation of human brain organoid development at single-cell resolution
Abstract: The human body originates from just one totipotent cell. This cell, through a series of divisions and cell fate restrictions, gives rise to the cellular diversity of all organs in the body. Despite sharing the same genetic material, all cells must fulfil completely different functions and express different sets of genes. How cells acquire and maintain their developmental fate is still an open question in Epigenetics and Biology. In our lab, we focus on how chromatin controls gene expression during early developmental transitions in brain organoids. Using the power of single-cell genomics and transcriptomics, along with computational tools, we have developed the first developmental atlas of histone modifications guiding cell fate transitions from pluripotency to differentiated neurons in all regional branches of the developing brain. Using this roadmap, we are functionally interrogating the role of epigenetic modifiers in the acquisition and maintenance of cell fates.

Bio: Fides Zenk joined EPFL’s Brain Mind Institute in 2023 as NeuroNA Chair for Epigenomics of Neurodevelopment. Her lab is interested in epigenetic mechanisms controlling development, and cell fate transitions in the developing brain. During her PostDoc in Barbara Treutlein's lab, she developed a single-cell multimodal atlas that charts histone modifications and RNA expression during the early stages of central nervous system development, employing brain organoids as a model. She was awarded an SNSF starting grant to unravel the function of epigenetic modifiers in early brain development and received the Otto Hahn Medal from the Max Planck Society and the Gateff-Award of the German Genetics Society for her work uncovering the fundamental epigenetic mechanisms through which H3K27me3 and HP1 control early embryonic development.

Practical information

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transcription factors cancer small molecules cellular proteins drug discovery epigenetics brain organoids single cell genomics transcriptomics cell fate

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