Skirball Institute Recent Past Symposia | NYU Langone Health

Skip to Main Content
Skirball Institute Annual Symposium Skirball Institute Recent Past Symposia

Skirball Institute Recent Past Symposia

From 2009 to 2018, scientists from around the world gathered at the Annual Research Symposium hosted by NYU Langone’s Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine to present on specific topics.

Mitochondria: The Thread of Life—September 28, 2018

Mitochondria are dynamic organelles with diverse functions that extend well beyond energy production. The emerging view highlights mitochondria as a signaling platform that promotes many cellular processes, tissue integrity, and organ function. On the other hand, mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with numerous diseases, including metabolic syndromes, neurodegeneration, cancer, and aging. The symposium brought together a number of leading scientists to present their latest work on mitochondrial dynamics, quality control, inheritance, and energetics and its role in physiology and disease.

2018 Symposium Program

8:30AM Continental breakfast
9:30AM Introduction by Ruth Lehmann, PhD, director, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine
9:40AM “Using Functional Genomics to Understand Mitochondrial Metabolism”
David M. Sabatini, MD, PhD, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
10:20AM “Orchestrating Aging Across a Troubled Soma”
Andrew Dillin, PhD, University of California, Berkeley; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
11:00AM Coffee break
11:25AM “Role for Mitochondrial Quality Control During Yeast Cell Division in Aging”
Liza Pon, PhD, Columbia University
12:05PM “Repercussions of the Unruly Behaviors of the Mitochondrial Genome”
Patrick H. O’Farrell, PhD, University of California, San Francisco
12:45PM Lunch break
2:45PM “High Resolution Cryo-EM of Energy-Converting Membrane Protein Complexes”
Werner Kühlbrandt, PhD, Max Planck Institute for Biophysics
3:25PM “Mitochondrial Behavior”
Jodi Nunnari, PhD, University of California, Davis
4:05PM Coffee break
4:45PM “Mitochondrial Stress Signaling in Disease, Aging, and Immunity”
Gerald S. Shadel, PhD, Salk Institute for Biological Studies
5:25PM “Parkinson’s Disease and ALS Genetically Linked to Mitochondrial Fidelity and Selective Autophagy”
Robert J. Youle, PhD, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
6:05PM Closing remarks

Of Mice and Microbes: Homeostasis and Inflammation in Health and Disease—June 26, 2017

Recent advances have shown that the immune system, operating in close contact with the microbiota, is involved in multiple aspects of mammalian biology, from host defense to cancer and behavior. This breadth of immune system influence in host physiology is reflected in the work of Dan R. Littman, MD, PhD, the honoree of this year’s Skirball Symposium. Dr. Littman is the Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Professor of Molecular Immunology in the Department of Pathology and professor in the Department of Microbiology at NYU Langone, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Dr. Littman and his colleagues have made fundamental contributions to HIV research, to the specification and homeostasis of T cell lineages promoting and suppressing inflammation, and to the recognition of the interplay between the immune system and the microbiota. Using mouse models, his group has defined not only how this interplay affects the outcome of infections, but also how it contributes to autoimmune diseases and behavioral disorders such as autism. The symposium showcased the breadth of outstanding research in these exciting fields.

2017 Symposium Program

8:30AM Continental breakfast
9:30AM Opening by Moses V. Chao, PhD, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine; Robert I. Grossman, MD, Saul J. Farber Dean of NYU School of Medicine and chief executive officer of NYU Langone Health; and Harold Varmus, MD, Weill Cornell Medical Center
9:45AM Introduction by Dr. Harold Varmus, master of ceremonies
9:50AM “TAM Receptors and Immune Regulation”
Greg Lemke, PhD, Salk Institute for Biological Studies
10:30AM “Natural Products and Pain: From Physiology to Atomic Structure”
David Julius, PhD, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine
11:10AM Coffee break
11:30AM “How Telomeres Solve the End Protection Problem”
Titia de Lange, PhD, The Rockefeller University
12:10PM “Controlling TRC Signaling Strength”
Art Weiss, MD, PhD, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
12:50PM Lunch break
2:10PM “Programming the B Cell Fate”
Rudi Grosschedi, PhD, Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Freiburg, Germany
2:50PM “Immune Pathways in the Intestine in Health and Disease”
Fiona Powrie, PhD, University of Oxford, UK
3:30PM “Regulatory T Cell Differentiation”;
Sasha Rudensky, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
4:10PM Coffee break
4:30PM To be announced;
Diane Mathis, PhD, Harvard Medical School
5:10PM “Homoeostasis Inflammation and Disease”
Ruslan Medzhitov, PhD, Yale University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
5:50PM Closing remarks by Dan R. Littman, MD, PhD, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and Moses V. Chao, PhD, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine

Germ Cells and Beyond: Probing Development and Immortality—September 16, 2016

Myriad cell types arise from the single-celled embryo and take on a variety of forms and functions during development and in adult life. Unlike all other cells of our body, germ cells contribute their genetic material and organelles to subsequent generations. Therefore, germ cells are considered “immortal.”

The symposium was held in honor of Ruth Lehmann, PhD, the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Professor of Cell Biology, chair of the Department Cell Biology, and director of Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine. Dr. Lehmann has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the mechanisms of germ cell specification, migration, and maintenance. The symposium featured presentations by preeminent researchers studying chromosome dynamics, early development, germ cell differentiation, aging, and RNA biology.

2016 Symposium Program

9:30AM Introduction
9:40AM “The Development of Color Patterns in Fishes: Toward an Understanding of the Evolution of Beauty”
Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, PhD, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology
10:15AM “mRNP Assembly and Transport in the Drosophila Oocyte”
Anne Ephrussi, PhD, European Molecular Biology Laboratory
10:50AM “The Mouse Gonad Induces Pluripotent Cells to Become Germ Cells”
David C. Page, MD, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
11:25AM Coffee break
11:45AM “Regulation of RNA Granule Dynamics and Germ Cell Fate by Intrinsically Disordered Proteins”;
Geraldine Seydoux, PhD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
12:20PM “Translational Control Mechanisms Govern Melosis”
Angelika Amon, PhD, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
1:00PM Lunch break
2:20PM “The Establishment of Axial Polarity and Epithelial Morphogenesis in Drosophila
Gertrud (Trudi) M. Schüpbach, PhD, Princeton University
2:55PM “Quality Control in the Germline of C. Elegans
Cynthia Kenyon, PhD, Calico (California Life Company)
3:30PM “Cell Dynamics During Mouse Gastrulation”
Kathryn V. Anderson, PhD, Sloan Kettering Institute at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
4:05PM Coffee break
4:20PM “Cell Shape and Morphogenesis: Subcellular and Supracellular Mechanisms”
Maria Leptin, PhD, EMBO
4:55PM “Patterning Transcription in Early Embryonic Development”
Eric F. Weischaus, PhD, Princeton University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
5:30PM Closing remarks

The Dynamic Nucleus—September 18, 2015

Also known as the heart of the cell, the nucleus is the repository for genetic information that supplies information to the entire cell. A distinguished list of speakers covered the dynamic view of nuclear biology, which has witnessed a revolution in our understanding of coding sequence, regulatory elements, epigenetic modifiers, and spatial and temporal organization. Speakers also focused on the dynamic interplay between key nuclear regulators and its impact on cellular and organismal function.

2015 Symposium Program

8:30AM Continental breakfast
9:30AM Welcome and introduction by Ruth Lehmann, PhD, director, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine
9:40AM “Chromosome Structure and Transcriptional Control in Normal Cell and in Cancer” Ochoa Lecture
Richard (Rick) Young, PhD, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
10:25AM “Mutagenesis from Defects in Nuclear Organization and Integrity”
David Pellman, MD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
11:10AM Coffee break
11:30AM “Toward a. Human Cell Atlas”
Aviv Regev, PhD, Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
12:15PM “The Permeability Barrier of Nuclear Pore Complexes”
Dirk Görlich, PhD, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry
1:00PM Lunch break
2:30PM “Programming Biological Operating Systems: Genome Design, Assembly, and Activation”
Daniel Gibson, PhD, J. Craig Venter Institute
3:15PM “Epigenetic Dynamics of X-Chromosome Inactivation”
Edith Heard, PhD, FRS, Institut Curie/Collège de France
4:00PM Refreshments
4:30PM “Molecular Functions of PARP Family Members in Transcription and Activation and DNA Repair”
Karolin Luger, PhD, Colorado State University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
5:15PM “Monitoring Translation in Space and Time with Ribosome Profiling”
Jonathan Weissman, PhD, University of California, San Francisco; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
6:00PM Closing remarks by Ruth Lehmann, PhD, director, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine

The Social Lives of Cells: Making and Breaking Cellular Contacts—September 26, 2014

Every organ in the developing and the mature organism contains multiple different cell types, which are produced by an exchange of signals that mutually coordinate their differentiation and organization. How cells communicate with one another to ensure that the correct cell types are produced and maintained, while damaged cells are eliminated, is fundamental to all of biology. The symposium focused on how cells communicate with one another, how intra- and inter-cell signaling lead to distinct states of differentiation, and how these signaling mechanisms can go awry in disease.

2014 Symposium Program

8:30AM Continental breakfast
9:30 AM Welcome and introduction by Ruth Lehmann, PhD, director, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine
9:40AM “The Genetic Control of Programmed Cell Death and Cellular Reprogramming in the Nematode C elegans” Ochoa Lecture
H. Robert Horvitz, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
10:25 AM “New Signals in Cell Movement: Insights from Zebrafish”
Alexander F. Schier, PhD, Harvard University
11:10AM Coffee break
11:30AM “Novel Modes of Cellular Communication: From Specialized Ribosomes to Signaling Filopodia”
Maria Barna, PhD, Stanford University
12:15PM “Mechanical Feedback Through E-Cadherin Promotes Direction Sensing During Collective Cell Migration”
Denise Montell, PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara
1:00PM Lunch break
2:30PM “Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition: Invasion, Metastasis, and Cancer Stem Cells”
Robert A. Weinberg, PhD, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3:15PM “Molecular Insights into Highly Social Receptor-Ligand Interactions: Wnt/Frizzled and IgSF Proteins”
K. Christopher Garcia, PhD, Stanford University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
4:00PM “Assembly of Retinal Circuits”
Joshua Sanes, PhD, Harvard University
4:45PM “Cell Recognition and Assembly of Neural Circuits”
S. Lawrence Zipursky, PhD, University of California; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
5:30PM Closing remarks by Ruth Lehmann, PhD, director, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine

Metabolism: From Molecules to Behavior—September 27, 2013

Basic research on biochemistry, physiology, genetics, and cell biology has revealed critical roles for metabolism in most areas of biology and medicine and has begun to identify new drug targets to treat disease. The importance of metabolism to cancer, obesity, diabetes and insulin resistance, aging and longevity, and food intake was discussed in this symposium by leaders in the field.

2013 Symposium Program

8:00AM Continental breakfast
9:00AM Welcome and introduction by Ruth Lehmann, PhD, director, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine
9:15AM “Exploring SCAP: Sensor of Sterois, Transporter of SREBPs, and Regulator of Lipid Synthesis” Ocha Lecture
Joseph L. Goldstein, MD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; Howard Hughes Medical Institute board of trustees
10:00AM “Cellular Mechanisms of Insulin Resistance: Implications for Obesity, Lipodystrophy, and Type 2 Diabetes”
Gerald I. Shulman, MD, PhD, Yale University
10:45AM Coffee break
11:05AM “Novel Links Between Autophagy Genes and Metabolism”
Beth Levine, MD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
11:50AM “Endocrine Signaling Pathways Involved in Organ Communication: A Drosophila Perspective”
Norbert Perrimon, PhD, Harvard Medical School; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
12:35PM Lunch break
2:00PM “Altered Metabolism in Cancer Cells”
Lewis Cantley, PhD, the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College/Ronald P. Stanton Clinical Cancer Program at NewYork-Presbyterian
2:45PM “Regulation of Growth by the mTOR Pathway”
David M. Sabatini, MD, PhD, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
3:30PM “Epigenetic and Metabolic Regulation of Aging”
Anne Brunet, PhD, Stanford University
4:15 PM “Deconstruction of Neural Circuits for Hunger”
Scott Sternson, PhD, Janelia Research Campus; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
5:00PM Closing remarks by Ruth Lehmann, PhD, director, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine

Mighty Microbes: From Menace to Marvel—September 28, 2012

The symposium featured presentations from the following luminaries.

“Manipulating Quorum Sensing to Control Bacterial Pathogenicity”
Presenter: Bonnie L. Bassler, Princeton University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

“Tales of Transposons”
Presenter: Nancy Craig, PhD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

“Plasmids: Diversity, Structure, and Design”
Presenter: Fernando de la Cruz, PhD, Instituto de Biomedicina y Biotecnología de Cantabria IBBTEC (Spain)

“Patterns of Recognition by the Pathogen and the Host”
Presenter: Ralph R. Isberg, PhD, Tufts University School of Medicine; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

“Going Green”
Presenter: Richard Losick, PhD, Harvard Medical School; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

“Collaborative Studies on Agr via the ‘FDR’: When Organic Chemistry and Microbiology Collide”
Presenter: Tom Muir, PhD, Princeton University

“Systems Architecture of Bacterial Cell Cycle Control”
Presenter: Lucy Shapiro, PhD, Stanford University School of Medicine

“Deciphering Epigenetic Control Mechanisms in Bacterial Pathogens with Single Molecule DNA Sequencing”
Presenter: Matthew K. Waldor, PhD, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

RNA Biology: Beyond the Central Dogma—September 26, 2011

Little was known about the mechanism by which genes direct protein synthesis when, in the late 1950s, Francis Crick first articulated the Sequence Hypothesis and the Central Dogma of molecular biology: that sequence information can flow between DNA and RNA and from RNA to protein but not from protein back to nucleic acids. Indeed, the existence of an RNA intermediary (mRNA) carrying instructions for protein synthesis had not yet been confirmed, and the genetic code had not yet been deciphered. Since then, it has become clear that RNA plays a central role in biology, not only as a repository of sequence information but also as a target of regulation, a biochemical catalyst, and a regulator in its own right.

The symposium brought together some of the world’s leading experts in RNA molecular biology to report recent breakthroughs in understanding the post-transcriptional control of gene expression and the regulatory impact of noncoding RNAs, as well as the importance of these processes for human disease.

2011 Symposium Program

9:30AM Introduction by Ruth Lehmann, PhD, director, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine
9:45AM “Structural Basis of Decoding by the Ribosome”
Venki Ramakrishnan, PhD, Ochoa Lecturer, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
10:30AM “Molecular Mechanisms of RNA Degradation”
Elena Conti, PhD, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
11:15AM Coffee break
11:35AM “Mechanism and Regulation of miRNA Repression and miRNA Turnover in Mammalian Cells”
Witold Filipowicz, PhD, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research
12:20PM “Genome Regulation by Long Noncoding RNAs”
Howard Chang, MD, PhD, Stanford University School of Medicine; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
1:15PM Lunch
2:45PM “The CRISPR/Cas Bacterial Immune System”
Sylvain Moineau, PhD, Université Laval
3:30PM “Maps of the RNA World”
Robert Darnell, MD, PhD, The Rockefeller University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
4:15PM “Translational Control of Cellular Senescence”
Joel D. Richter, PhD, University of Massachusetts Medical School
5:00PM Closing remarks by Ruth Lehmann, PhD, director, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine

Structure of the Synapse—June 5, 2009

We are our synapses. A synapse is the site where neurons meet and communicate with each other. It is also the place where defects in architecture or communication cause diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Most drugs known to affect the brain exert their therapeutic effects at the synapse. Therefore, studying synaptic architecture and transmission mechanism is crucial for an understanding of physiologic processes—learning and memory—and disease pathogenesis. In recent years, great progress has been made in identifying the major components of the synapse and their interplay: vesicle fusion proteins, scaffolding proteins, neurotransmitter transporters, receptors, and channels.

The symposium brought together some of the world’s leading experts in this field to review the most recent breakthroughs in synaptic structure and mechanism, and how such work will impact the clinical disciplines of neurology, psychiatry, and neuropharmacology.

2009 Symposium Program

9:30AM Introduction by Ruth Lehmann, PhD, director, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine
9:45AM Overview by Charles Stevens, PhD, Salk Institute for Biological Studies
10:30AM “Synaptic Vesicles” Reinhard Jahn, PhD, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry
11:15AM Coffee break
11:35AM “Vesicle Fusion” Axel Brunger, PhD, Stanford University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
12:20PM “Neurotransmitter Transporters and Receptors” Eric Gouaux, PhD, Vollum Institute; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
1:15PM Lunch
2:45PM “Neurotransmitter-Gated Ion Channels” Nigel Unwin, PhD, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
3:30PM “Post-Synaptic Density” Morgan Sheng, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
4:15PM “Diseases” Robert Malenka, PhD. Opens in a new tab, Stanford University
5:00PM Closing remarks by Ruth Lehmann, PhD, director, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine