PiTP 2019 Lecturer Bios

Regina Barzilay 
Regina Barzilay is a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research interests are in natural language processing. Currently, Prof. Barzilay is focused on bringing the power of machine learning to oncology. In collaboration with physicians and her students, she is devising deep learning models that utilize imaging, free text, and structured data to identify trends that affect early diagnosis, treatment, and disease prevention. Prof. Barzilay is poised to play a leading role in creating new models that advance the capacity of computers to harness the power of human language data.

Regina Barzilay is a recipient of various awards including the MacArthur Fellowship, NSF Career Award, the MIT Technology Review TR-35 Award, Microsoft Faculty Fellowship and several Best Paper Awards in top NLP conferences. In 2017, she received a MacArthur fellowship, an ACL fellowship and an AAAI fellowship.

Prof. Barzilay received her MS and BS from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Regina Barzilay received her PhD in Computer Science from Columbia University, and spent a year as a postdoc at Cornell University.


Shelley Berger
Shelley Berger, Ph.D., is the Daniel S. Och University Professor at University of Pennsylvania (Penn), and is a faculty member in the Cell & Developmental Biology Department and the Genetics Department in the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM), as well as the Biology Department in the School of Arts and Sciences.  Dr. Berger also serves as founding and current Director of the Epigenetics Institute in the PSOM, an internationally respected group of faculty members working on chromatin and epigenetics. Dr. Berger earned her PhD from University of Michigan and was a post-doctoral fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She previously held the Hilary Koprowski Professorship at Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. Dr. Berger has organized numerous international meetings on epigenetics and chromatin, has served as Senior Editor at Molecular and Cellular Biology, and other journals and participates on advisory committees for foundations (such as Stand Up to Cancer, CA), for research institutions (such as Max Planck Institute, Germany), and for biotechnology companies (such as Novaritis and Chroma).  She serves on review boards and panels for NIH/NIA Board of Scientific Counselors, Gladstone Institute at UCSF, IGBMC (Strasbourg), CPRIT (Texas), European Research Council (Brussels), Cancer Research UK (London), and numerous panels at NIH extramural and intramural (such as the Board of Scientific Counselors, NIA). She has served on international committees to establish nomenclature for histone modifying enzymes, and to help create the NIH-sponsored Human Epigenome Project. Dr. Berger received the HHMI Collaborative Innovator award, the Ellison Foundation Senior Scholar award, the Glenn Foundation award for Mechanisms in Aging and awards from the Stand Up To Cancer Foundation, the Kleberg Foundation, Sanofi, and Celgene. Dr. Berger received the Stanley N. Cohen award in 2016, the highest recognition for basic biomedical research at the Penn School of Medicine. Dr. Berger is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (18), National Academy of Medicine (12), and American Academy of Arts and Sciences (13).

Dr. Berger has been a faculty member for more than twenty years, recently at the University of Pennsylvania. Her laboratory studies chromatin and epigenetic regulation of the eukaryotic genome, focusing on post translational modifications (PTMs) of histone proteins, and she teaches and mentors in these subjects for undergraduates and graduate students in the Biology Department and in the School of Medicine at Penn. Dr. Berger has trained numerous graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are successful in careers in academia, in the pharmaceutical industry, and in scientific writing and teaching; an additional ~20 trainees are currently in the lab, including a mix of undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral, and medical fellows. Dr. Berger received the 2016 Penn Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs Distinguished Mentor Award and the 2017 Award for Faculty Mentoring Undergraduate Research.

Over its history, research in Dr. Berger’s lab has uncovered numerous chromatin enzymes and has addressed fundamental questions on their mechanisms in modifying both histones and DNA binding activators (i.e. the tumor suppressor, p53) in transcription. These findings have contributed to the explosion in broad interest and focus on epigenetics in biomedical research. Indeed, in recent years her lab’s effort has become increasingly focused on the study of mammalian biology and human diseases, including cancer and other diseases associated with aging, as well as epigenetic control of learning and memory in mammals and complex social behavior in the ant model system.  The lab has published more than 200 papers and reviews and many in high impact journals, such as recent papers in Cell, Nature, Science, Nature Neuroscience, and Genes & Development.  Her work on epigenetics of behavior in ants has been covered in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and the Washington Post.


Ed Boyden 
Ed Boyden is Y. Eva Tan Professor in Neurotechnology at MIT, associate professor of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT's Media Lab and McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and was recently selected to be an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (2018). He leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group, which develops tools for analyzing and repairing complex biological systems such as the brain, and applies them systematically to reveal ground truth principles of biological function as well as to repair these systems. These technologies include expansion microscopy, which enables complex biological systems to be imaged with nanoscale precision; optogenetic tools, which enable the activation and silencing of neural activity with light; robotic methods for directed evolution that are yielding new synthetic biology reagents for dynamic imaging of physiological signals; novel methods of noninvasive focal brain stimulation; and new methods of nanofabrication using shrinking of patterned materials to create nanostructures with ordinary lab equipment. He co-directs the MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering, which aims to develop new tools to accelerate neuroscience progress.

Amongst other recognitions, he has received the Canada Gairdner International Award (2018), the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2016), the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2015), the Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences (2015), the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award (2013), the Grete Lundbeck Brain Prize (2013), the NIH Director's Pioneer Award (2013), the NIH Director's Transformative Research Award (three times, 2012, 2013, and 2017), and the Perl/UNC Neuroscience Prize (2011). He was also named to the World Economic Forum Young Scientist list (2013) and the Technology Review World’s "Top 35 Innovators under Age 35" list (2006), and is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2017), the National Academy of Inventors (2017), and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2018). His group has hosted hundreds of visitors to learn how to use new biotechnologies, and he also regularly teaches at summer courses and workshops in neuroscience, and delivers lectures to the broader public (e.g., TED (2011), TED Summit (2016), World Economic Forum (2012, 2013, 2016)). 

Ed received his Ph.D. in neurosciences from Stanford University as a Hertz Fellow, working in the labs of Jennifer Raymond and Richard Tsien, where he discovered that the molecular mechanisms used to store a memory are determined by the content to be learned. In parallel to his PhD, as an independent side project, he co-invented optogenetic control of neurons, which is now used throughout neuroscience. Previously, he studied chemistry at the Texas Academy of Math and Science at the University of North Texas, starting college at age 14, where he worked in Paul Braterman's group on origins of life chemistry. He went on to earn three degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, and physics, from MIT, graduating at age 19, while working on quantum computing in Neil Gershenfeld's group. He has contributed to over 140 peer-reviewed papers and 180 granted patents, and given over 450 invited talks on his group's work. He has co-founded four startup companies. Long-term, he hopes that understanding how the brain generates the mind will help provide a deeper understanding of the human condition, and perhaps help humanity achieve a more enlightened state.


Navdeep Chandel 
Navdeep S. Chandel is the David W. Cugell Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics at Northwestern University. He received his BA in Mathematics and Ph.D. in Cell Physiology at the University of Chicago. For decades, mitochondria have been primarily viewed as biosynthetic and bioenergetic organelles generating metabolites for the production of macromolecules and ATP, respectively. Dr. Chandel’s work has elucidated that mitochondria have a third distinct role whereby they participate in cellular signaling processes through the release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and metabolites independent of ATP and macromolecule production. His work has implicated the necessity of mitochondrial ROS for multiple biological processes including cancer cell proliferation, hypoxic activation of HIFs, cellular differentiation, and immune cell function. 

Previously, the dogma in the field had been that mitochondrial ROS are only produced in pathological settings to cause both lipid, protein and DNA damage. However, Dr. Chandel’s work demonstrates that mitochondrial ROS are utilized as messengers to maintain normal biological and physiological functions. His studies suggest that the current widespread use of antioxidants is likely to be detrimental rather than beneficial for alleviating a myriad of diseases as this could interfere with normal physiological processes. Recently, his work has shown that mitochondria release the metabolite L-2HG, which increases histone and DNA methylation to control hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) differentiation and regulatory T cell (Treg) function, respectively. He received NCI outstanding investigator Award in 2016.


Shawn M. Davidson
Shawn Davidson received his Bachelor’s Degree from Providence College in 2010 and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2017, both in Biology. As a graduate student, he was the recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to develop methodology for the study the metabolism of tumors in vivo. Shawn’s postdoctoral research was with Dr. Oliver Jonas at Brigham and Women’s from 2017-2018, and research focused on metabolism of tumor and immune cells using both imaging mass-spectrometry and engineering approaches to create metabolic perturbations in tumors in vivo. His current research as a Lewis-Sigler Institute Fellow at Princeton University is at the interface of biotechnology and genetics. Work is in progress in the following areas: developing imaging mass spectrometry for analysis of stable-isotope tracers and metabolism; investigating the metabolic dysregulation that occurs in specific disease states with concomitant pathological assessment and mathematical modeling of metabolic fluxes; developing therapeutic strategies for metabolic targets; researching new ways to deliver metabolic therapeutics in vivo; and developing animal models that faithfully recapitulate genetic modifiers found in human disease states.


Mark Davis
Dr. Mark M. Davis is the Director of the Stanford Institute for Immunology, Transplantation and Infection (ITI), a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. He later was a postdoctoral fellow and staff fellow at the Laboratory of Immunology at NIH and later became a faculty member in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he remains today. Dr. Davis is well known for identifying many of the T-cell receptor genes, which are responsible for the ability of these cells to recognize a diverse repertoire of antigens. His current research interests involve understanding the molecular interactions that underlie T cell recognition and the challenges of human immunology, specifically a “systems level” understanding of an immune response to vaccination or infection.

He has received many honors and awards, including memberships in the National Academy of Science and the Institute of Medicine, The Paul Ehrlich Prize, The Gairdner Foundation Prize, The King Faisal Prize, the General Motors Alfred P. Sloan Prize, and being elected as Foreign Member to the Royal Society of London.


Michael Desai 
I began working on problems in evolution and population genetics in about 2002, during my graduate work with Daniel Fisher. Since then I’ve been interested in applying methods inspired by statistical physics to study now genetic variation is created and maintained within populations. My lab addresses these questions using a combination of theoretical and experimental approaches. Our focus is primarily on natural selection in asexual populations such as microbes and viruses. We are developing new approaches to population genetic theory to better understand the structure of genetic variation in these populations. We complement this with high-throughput experimental evolution in budding yeast, evolving thousands of lines simultaneously to explore the distributions of phenotypic changes and their correlations with the evolution of genetic variation within and between populations. 


Steve Goff
Dr. Stephen P. Goff is Higgins Professor of Biochemistry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He has been a faculty member at Columbia in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics since 1981, and with a joint appointment in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology since 1987.

Goff received his A.B. degree in Biophysics Summa Cum Laude from Amherst College in 1973. His graduate work with Dr. Paul Berg at Stanford University focused on the genetic analysis of the replication of simian virus 40 (SV40) and on the use of SV40 as a viral vector for the expression of foreign DNAs in mammalian cells. He then did postdoctoral work with Dr. David Baltimore at MIT on the replication of the murine leukemia viruses as a Jane Coffin Childs fellow. Goff was a Searle Scholar and has received two MERIT awards from the NIH.  He served on the Molecular Biology study section of the NIH, was selected as co-organizer of the Cold Spring RNA Tumor Virus meeting for 1988 and 1994, and co-chairman of the Animal Cells and Viruses Gordon Conference for 1989.

Goff has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Science, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Microbiology, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Amherst College in 1997, and was the inaugural recipient of the Retrovirus Prize. He has mentored over 35 graduate students and 35 postdoctoral fellows in his laboratories at Columbia. He has served as a reviewing editor for the journals Science, Cell, Journal of Virology, and Virology and reviews submissions for these and many other journals. He has authored or coauthored over 300 publications on viral replication. 


Clyde Hutchison, III
Hutchison graduated with a B.S. in Physics from Yale (1960). As an undergraduate, he worked on bacterial spore germination with Carl Woese, then a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Harold Morowitz. His Ph.D. research, in the laboratory of Robert L. Sinsheimer at Cal Tech, concerned the genetics of bacteriophage phiX174.

In 1968 he joined the faculty of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There he collaborated with Marshall Edgell to analyze the DNA and the virion proteins of phiX174. They developed a marker-rescue assay for specific DNA fragments, which they used to associate phiX genes with specific restriction fragments. They also used restriction enzymes to analyze mammalian mitochondrial DNA, identifying restriction fragment length polymorphisms, and demonstrating maternal inheritance of mitochondrial DNA in mammals.         

Hutchison spent a sabbatical in Sanger’s lab in Cambridge, England (1975-6). There he took part in sequencing the genome of phiX174, the first DNA molecule completely sequenced.

He met Michael Smith in Sanger’s lab. Upon Hutchison’s return to Chapel Hill, they collaborated to develop the method of site-directed mutagenesis (1978).

He continued his collaboration with Marshall Edgell to clone and sequence the beta-globin gene cluster in the mouse. They also discovered and characterized L1, the most abundant transposable element in the mammalian genome.

In 1990 he began work with Mycoplasma genitalium, the organism with the smallest known genome for an independently replicating cell. A survey of the genome by shotgun sequencing led to a collaboration with TIGR to sequence the entire genome (1995). On sabbatical at TIGR (1996-7) he worked to define the minimal set of genes required for cellular life by developing the method of global transposon mutagenesis.

In 2003 he began to collaborate with Hamilton Smith, Craig Venter and others to work on the chemical synthesis of genomes. In July 2005 he joined the synthetic biology group at the J. Craig Venter Institute. A major goal of the group, achieved in 2010, was to produce a “synthetic cell” programmed by a chemically synthesized genome. In the course of that work powerful tools for engineering bacterial genomes were developed. Since then the group has focused on applying these methods to design and synthesize a minimal bacterial genome (published in 2016). Currently the major effort of the group is directed toward precisely defining the functions of all genes in the minimal genome. The goal is to have, for the first time, a cell in which all gene functions are known, so that the workings of the cell can be understood in molecular detail.

Hutchison is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology. He is a Distinguished Professor at the J. Craig Venter Institute, San Diego, California, and Kenan Professor Emeritus at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Edo Kussell
Edo Kussell received his B.A. in Mathematics at Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. in Biophysics at Harvard where he trained with Eugene Shakhnovich and went on to do postdoctoral  research at The Rockefeller University with Stanislas Leibler. He was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship in Computational Biology and the Burroughs Wellcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface. In 2006, he joined the Biology faculty at New York University's Center for Genomics and Systems Biology. His work is currently focused on bacterial evolution, single cell physiology, and  adaptation to fluctuating environments.


Titia de Lange
Titia de Lange was born in the Netherlands and studied biochemistry at the University of Amsterdam. She did undergraduate work with Richard Flavell at the National Institute of Medical Research in London and obtained her graduate degree with Piet Borst at the Dutch Cancer Center. She moved to the US in 1985, joining Harold Varmus’ laboratory at UCSF for postdoctoral work. In 1990, she joined the faculty of the Rockefeller University as an Assistant Professor. She currently is the Leon Hess Professor and Director of the Anderson Center for Cancer Research at the Rockefeller.

De Lange became interested in telomeres when studying antigenic variation in trypanosomes with Piet Borst. She returned to this subject in Harold Varmus’ lab where she was one of several investigators to identify the sequence of human telomeres. At the Rockefeller, she focused on understanding how telomeres solve the chromosome end-protection problem. Telomeres need to ensure that natural chromosome ends are not detected and processed as damaged DNA. De Lange assumed that this function of telomeres relies on telomere binding proteins and set out to identify such factors, cloning the first human telomeric protein. Her subsequent work helped to identify the six-subunit shelterin complex and determined how shelterin represses all aspects of the DNA damage response, in part by remodeling telomeres into the t-loop structure. Her laboratory also investigates how loss of telomere protection drives genome instability in cancer.

De Lange is a foreign member of the NAS and both Dutch Royal Societies as well as a member of the NAM, AAAS, and EMBO. She received the inaugural Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, the AACR’s Clowes Award, the Vilcek Prize, the Heineken Prize, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Canada Gairdner International Award, and the Rosenstiel Award.


Ake T. Lu 
I am an associate project scientist in the Department of Human Genetics at UCLA.  I have a broad background in biostatics and bioinformatics. My research experiences include (1) analyzing genomic data including GWAS, RNA-seq, and DNA methylation, (2) analyzing longitudinal and cluster-correlated data, (3) utilizing machine learning methods applied to diagnosis of complex disorders onset and progression, and (4) analyzing imaging data. I have been involved a variety of research areas especially in age-related diseases including cardiovascular heart disease, metabolic outcomes, cognitive functioning and neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington disease. In 2013, I joined Dr. Steve Horvath’s lab.  I have been focusing on (1) establishing epigenetic-based biomarkers and (2) Identifying genetic variants causing epigenetic acceleration.

For example, I earlier identified a critical role of hTERT regulating the epigenetic clock. Recently, my work is well-known for DNA methylation GrimAge, a robust epigenetic clock for predicting lifespan and healthspan.


Marta Łuksza
Marta Łuksza is an Assistant Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, New York.  She completed her Ph.D. in Computer Science at the Freie Universität and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin. Before joining as a faculty at Mount Sinai, she was a Janssen fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.  Her research interests are to understand biophysical mechanisms underlying the evolution of fast-adapting populations, such as pathogens and cancer cells, and to harvest these mechanisms for predictive analysis. She applies and develops methods from machine learning, statistical physics, and information theory to address these questions. She has developed models that successfully predict the dominating influenza strains in the following season, which are currently used to advise the World Health Organization with influenza vaccine selection. Her recent research focuses on predictive models for cancer evolution under immunotherapy.


Remi Monasson
R. Monasson is a statistical physics at Ecole Normale Superieure and CNRS, Paris, working on interdisciplinary applications to biology (in neuroscience and genomics) and computer science (machine learning/statistical inference). He is mainly working on the analysis of correlations and the reconstruction of effective interaction networks between biological components, e.g. in the context of covariation between residues in proteins and RNA sequences, or of attractor neural networks for the representation of space in the hippocampus. R.M. has also a theoretical activity in the analysis of machine-learning methods for representation learning. He is  author of 117 publications, see: http://www.phys.ens.fr/~monasson/papers.html


Nick Patterson  
Nick Patterson has had a varied career including  a Ph.D. in Finite Group Theory, working as a cryptanalyst with the UK and US governments, a quant in a hedge fund, and for the last 20 years a population geneticist trying to uncover human history in the deep past.


Raul Rabdan  
Raul Rabadan received his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics in 2001 and went on to conduct research in that field at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) in Switzerland and at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton. In 2006 he joined the Systems Biology program at IAS, as a Martin A. and Helen Chooljian Member. In 2008 he joined the faculty at Columbia University, where he is currently a tenured Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Systems Biology and the Department of Biomedical Informatics and the director of the Program for Mathematical Genomics at Columbia University and of the Columbia University Center for Topology of Cancer Evolution and Heterogeneity, an NCI Physics and Oncology Center. At Columbia, he leads a highly interdisciplinary lab with researchers from the fields of mathematics, physics, computer science, engineering, and medicine, with the common goal of solving pressing biomedical problems through quantitative computational models. His work is mainly focused on developing tools to analyze genomic data, extracting the relevant information to understand the molecular biology, population genetics, evolution, developmental processes and epidemiology of cancer. The impact of the tools and associated discoveries have been reported in numerous publications, including Nature Biotechnology, Nature Genetics, Science and Nature Medicine.


R. Clay Reid  
Clay Reid is Senior Investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, where he started a department in 2012 to study how information is encoded and processed in neural networks of the visual system. Prior to joining the Allen Institute, Reid was Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. Throughout his career, he has used a combination of imaging and anatomical approaches to investigate how the structure of neural connections relates to the functional of cortical circuits. He has helped to pioneer new methods for simultaneously recording increasingly large ensembles of neurons to study information processing. More recently, he has developed methods to analyze connections in these ensembles using large-scale anatomical reconstructions with electron microscopy.


Harlan Robins, Phd
Dr. Robins leads the scientific research and development teams at Adaptive Biotechnologies as Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder. He is also currently a Full Faculty Member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC). Dr. Robins’ obtained his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University as a physics major with a concentration in mathematics. He then obtained his Masters and Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of California Berkeley with a visiting appointment to the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Robins obtained a postdoctoral appointment in theoretical physics in the particle theory group at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Interested in the mathematics behind genetics and observing the potential utility of high-level mathematics to study problems in the biological sciences, Dr. Robins took another postdoctoral appointment at the Institute for Advance Study in Princeton to study under the famed biologist Dr. Arnold Levine. Working with Dr. Levine, Dr. Robins concentrated on developing bioinformatic algorithms for micro RNA targets and bacterial genome analysis, a precursor to his current faculty appointment at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the Computational Biology Group, Public Health Sciences and Human Biology Divisions.



Michael Rosbash
Michael Rosbash is a Professor of Biology and the Peter Gruber Professor of Neuroscience at Brandeis University. He is also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Rosbash went to the Newton public schools in greater Boston and then to Caltech, graduating in 1965 with a B.S. in Chemistry. He spent the 1965-1966 academic year in Paris as a Fulbright Scholar in the lab of Marianne Grunberg-Monago and then entered the Ph.D. program at MIT in the fall of 1966. Rosbash worked there in the lab of Sheldon Penman and received a Ph.D. in Biophysics in 1970. After a brief stint at the University of St. Andrews, he was a post-doc in the lab of John Bishop in the Department of Genetics at the University of Edinburgh from 1971-1974. Rosbash joined the faculty of Brandeis University in 1974 and was promoted to Professor of Biology in 1986. He became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in 1989. 

Rosbash has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression, especially RNA metabolism in yeast. He is best known however for his work in Drosophila that illuminated our current understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie circadian rhythms, the intrinsic clock that controls the cyclic behaviors of all animals. These same molecules, molecular machines and biological principles not only control Drosophila circadian clocks but also the ubiquitous process of circadian rhythmicity throughout the animal kingdom. This circadian clock also controls much of cell physiology and metabolism, again in all animals - from humans to Drosophila (fruit flies).

Rosbash and his Brandeis colleague Jeff Hall as well as Mike Young of the Rockefeller University have received numerous awards for their circadian work, including most recently the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. They previously received the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine (2013), the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences (2013), the Massry Prize (2012), the Canada Gairdner International Award (2012), the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize for Outstanding Basic Research (2011), and the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation Neuroscience Prize (2009). Rosbash also received the Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award (2001), and he is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Thomas E. Shenk
Thomas Shenk, Ph.D., is the James A. Elkins Professor of Life Sciences in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. He is a virologist, who has investigated gene functions and pathogenesis of adenovirus, a DNA tumor virus, and, more recently, human cytomegalovirus, a member of the herpes family of viruses. Cytomegalovirus is the leading known infectious cause of birth defects, it is responsible for significant morbidity in people who become immunosuppressed, and there is suggestive evidence that it contributes to certain cancers and immune senescence. His laboratory’s current areas of focus include the use of genetic and proteomic approaches for the dissection of cytomegalovirus gene functions and the cellular response to infection, as well as the development and analysis of models for study of viral latency. Professor Shenk is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and he is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Institute of Medicine.  He is a past president of the American Society for Virology and the American Society for Microbiology, and he served on the board of directors of Merck & Company for 11 years. He currently serves as a member of the boards of directors of the Fox Chase Cancer Center, The Hepatitis B Foundation and Origen Therapeutics. 


David Ting 
Associate Clinical Director for Innovation
Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center
Tucker Gosnell Center for Gastrointestinal Cancers
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

David T. Ting, a physician scientist, cancer biologist, and bioengineer, is currently Associate Clinical Director for Innovation and a gastrointestinal oncologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center. He is currently an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ting’s lab works on understanding RNA expression patterns in cancer to gain biological insight into cancer progression, identify biomarkers for early detection, and to develop new therapeutic avenues against cancer.  His group uses an innovative microfluidic device to capture rare circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood of cancer patients and combines this with next generation RNA-sequencing as a “liquid biopsy” for blood based early detection biomarkers and to understand the molecular underpinnings of cancer metastasis. In addition, his group has discovered a new class of non-coding RNAs that appear important for the cancer immune response that they are now developing as a novel cancer therapeutic.

Dr. Ting received his B.S. in chemical engineering and biology from MIT in 1999, and he completed his medical degree at Harvard Medical School from the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program with magna cum laude honors in 2004. During his undergraduate and medical school studies, he trained with Dr. Robert Langer at MIT on drug delivery platforms and did a Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellowship at the Whitehead Institute at MIT working on stem cell biology with Dr. George Daley, current Dean of Harvard Medical School. He completed internal medicine residency at the MGH and medical oncology fellowship in the combined Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and MGH Cancer Center program. He moved on to post-doctoral training with Daniel Haber’s group at the MGH Cancer Center working on CTCs and novel RNA biomarkers in cancer. In addition to his passion for being at the interface of science, technology, and medicine, David is also an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan. His wife is a pediatric oncologist and they have four wonderful children.


Olga Troyanskaya
Olga Troyanskaya is a Professor in the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics and the Department of Computer Science at Princeton University. Her work bridges computer science and molecular biology in an effort to develop better methods for analysis of diverse genomic data with the goal of understanding and modeling protein function and interactions in biological pathways. Her group includes computational and experimental aspects and tackles diverse questions including developing integrative technologies for pathway prediction and the study of biological networks in complex human disease. Dr. Troyanskaya received her Ph.D. from Stanford University and is a recipient of the Sloan Research Fellowship, the NSF CAREER award, the Howard Wentz faculty award, and the Blavatnik Finalist Award. She has also been honored with the Ira Herskowitz Award from The Genetics Society of America and is the 2011 recipient of the Overton Prize in computational biology.


Charles Zuker
Dr. Charles Zuker is recognized for his studies on the molecular biology, genetics and physiology of our senses, including phototransduction, mechanotransduction, and more recently, taste.  Over the past several years, Zuker and collaborators identified the cells and receptors mediating all five basic taste qualities (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami), and helped uncover the logic of taste coding, both at the periphery and in the brain.  More recently, his group identified and characterized brain circuits driving motivated behaviors, including those driving appetitive versus aversive behaviors.  Dr. Zuker is a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and of Neuroscience at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and a Senior fellow at the Janelia Farm Research Campus. Dr. Zuker is an elected member of theAmerican Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.