Scientific Advisory Board
Investigator and Professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
and The Jackson Laboratory
Dr. Susan Ackerman is a professor at The Jackson Laboratory and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. She is working to identify and analyze the genes, pathways and networks involved in brain development and age-related death of neurons in the central nervous system. Drawing on her training in classical genetics, molecular biology and behavior, Dr. Ackerman is exploiting the power of mouse genetics to provide a whole new view of the molecular and genetic mechanisms of neurodegeneration, such as that underlying Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and motor neuron diseases.
Her laboratory focuses on the investigation of the mechanisms underlying the development and maintenance of neurons in the cerebellum. The cerebellum is ideal for studies of mammalian central nervous system development and aging because of its relatively simple structure, small number of types of neurons and well-documented pattern of development. Dr. Ackerman uses a mouse model system to identify genes that are required for the proper migration of neurons from where they are formed to where they will function in the adult. She is analyzing mice with mutations that contribute to neurodegeneration to better understand how neurons are lost in the aging mammalian brain. Her current research efforts focus on the roles of oxidative stress and protein misfolding in aging and neurodegenerative disease.
Dr. Ackerman received her Ph.D. in biology from the University of California in Los Angeles, and did her undergraduate work in biology and chemistry at the University of California, Chico. She is also a cooperating professor at the University of Maine, Orono; and associate geneticist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.
Founding Director, Center for the Genetics of Host Defense, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Bruce Beutler, MD, discovered an important family of receptors that allow mammals to sense infections when they occur, triggering a powerful inflammatory response. For this work he received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Beutler received his undergraduate degree from the University of California at San Diego in 1976, and his MD degree from the University of Chicago in 1981. After two years of residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, he became a postdoctoral fellow and then an Assistant Professor at the Rockefeller University (1983-1986), where he isolated mouse tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and was the first to recognize TNF as a key executor of the inflammatory response. Returning to Dallas in 1986 as an HHMI investigator, he designed recombinant inhibitors of TNF that are widely used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. He also used TNF as a biological endpoint in order to identify the receptor for bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS). This he achieved by positionally cloning the Lps mutation of mice, known to prevent all biological responses to LPS, including TNF production. He thus concluded that Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) acts as the signaling core of the LPS receptor and proposed that other TLRs might also recognize conserved molecular signatures of infection.
Moving in 2000 to the Scripps Research Institute, Beutler developed the largest mouse mutagenesis program in the world, and applied a forward genetic approach to decipher the signaling pathways activated by TLRs. He also identified many other molecules with non-redundant function in the immune response.
Beutler is currently a Regental Professor and Director of the Center for Genetics of Host Defense at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He also holds the Raymond and Ellen Willie Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research in honor of Laverne and Raymond Willie, Sr. He has authored or co-authored more than 300 papers, which have been cited more than 46,000 times. Before he received the Nobel Prize, his work was recognized by the Shaw Prize (2011), the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research (2009), election to the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine (2008), the Frederik B. Bang Award (2008), the Balzan Prize (2007), the Gran Prix Charles-Leopold-Mayer (2006), the William B. Coley Award (2005), the Robert-Koch-Prize (2004), and other honors.
Professor Emeritus, Molecular and Integrative Neuroscience Department, The Scripps Research Institute
Former President of AAAS and editor-in chief of Science, Dr. Bloom is a leading authority in neuroscience. An elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Philosophical Society and the Royal Swedish Academy, Dr. Bloom has also been awarded 6 honorary doctorates. Currently Head of the Laboratory for Neuropharmacology of the National Institute of Mental health, with over 400 publications to his name, Dr. Bloom is widely respected as one of the leading neuroscientists in the world
Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical Physiology,
The Scripps Research Institute
Dr. Cravatt is a Professor in the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology and Chair of the Department of Chemical Physiology at The Scripps Research Institute. His research group is interested in understanding the roles that enzymes play in physiological and pathological processes, especially as pertains to the nervous system and cancer. To address this challenge, they develop and apply an array of biochemical, chemical, and genetic technologies. The Cravatt group has obtained fundamental insights into the chemical, biochemical, and physiological workings of several important mammalian serine hydrolases, including enzymes involved in the neurobiology of pain and in proteases associated with tumor progression.
Dr. Cravatt obtained his undergraduate education at Stanford University, receiving a B.S. in the Biological Sciences and a B.A. in History. He then trained with Drs. Dale Boger and Richard Lerner and received a Ph.D. in Macromolecular and Cellular Structure and Chemistry from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in 1996. Professor Cravatt joined the faculty at TSRI in 1997 as a member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology and the departments of Cell Biology and Chemistry. His honors include a Searle Scholar Award (1998-2001), the Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry (2004), a Cope Scholar Award (2005), the Irving Sigal Young Investigator Award (2007) and the Tetrahedron Young Investigator Award in Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry (2008).
Chair Professor of the Department of Biochemistry and Director of the Molecular Neuroscience Center at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Professor Nancy Ip obtained her PhD in Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, and is currently the Chair Professor of Biochemistry, and the Director of the Molecular Neuroscience Center of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Professor Ip is well known for her discoveries in the biology of neurotrophic factors and their therapeutic potential for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. She is also internationally recognized as a leader in synapse development and plasticity. A highly accomplished researcher, she has published close to 200 scientific papers with 13,000 citations and holds 18 patents. She is an Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, and has received numerous awards including the L’OREAL-UNESCO For Women in Science Award.
Professor, Chair of Genomic Medicine.
Scientific Director, Genome Research Centre, The University of Hong Kong
Professor Lok received his training at the University of Toronto and has more than 15 years experience in the bio industrial sector. He was Principal Scientist at ZymoGenetics in Seattle, where he provided scientific leadership in the discovery of biologics through functional cloning, screening and genomics. Notable achievements include the discovery of thrombopoietin, the long sought regulator of megakaryocytopoiesis, the glucagon receptor and a host of other receptors and hormones. He also led the technology development group and is the author on multiple publications and patents in the areas of biologics and biotechnology.
Professor Lok is currently the Scientific Director of the Genome Research Centre of the University of Hong Kong. The state-of-the-art genomics facility has extensive genotyping expertise and is engaged in a number of genome wide association studies aimed to identify genes contributing to complex diseases. Professor Lok and his group have developed new innovative methods for the analysis of fine-scale genomic variations and whole genome methylation. These and other tools are being used in conjunction with the next generation DNA sequencers for biomarker discovery and to characterize the geneome, methylome, and transcriptome for the advancement of genomic medicine. Active areas of investigations include the role of microRNAs in disease and the role of rare genomic variations in complex disorders such as cancer.
Professor, Department of Basic Medical Sciences, The Institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo
Professor Osamu Nureki, Department of Basic Medical Sciences of the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Tokyo.
A globally-recognized expert in protein crystallography, Professor Nureki is well known for his contributions in elucidating the structures of aminoacyl tRNA synthetases. Professor Nureki obtained his Ph. D. in Biophysics and Biochemistry from the University of Tokyo. After postdoctoral research studies at the Protein Engineering Research Institute and the Crystallography Laboratory in RIKEN in Tokyo, Professor Nureki went on to a series of increasingly senior positions at the University of Tokyo. He has been the recipient of numerous awards recognizing his contributions to the understanding of protein structure, such as the Promoting Award of the Crystallographic Society of Japan, and two Teshima Memorial Research Awards from the Teshima Commemorative Foundation. In addition, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has awarded Professor Nureki Prizes for Science and Technology, as well as the Commendation for Science and Technology. In 2008, Professor Nureki was awarded the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Prize. Professor Nureki has published over 100 peer reviewed articles in highly respected journals such as Science, Nature, EMBO, and Cell.
Stanford University, Professor of Statistics
A member of the U.S. national Academy of Sciences and a fellow of AAAS, Professor Wong has made significant contributions in developing statistical methods and software for analyzing complex databases, such as those from high throughput genomics research. With over 100 publications in peer reviewed journals, Professor Wong has developed ground-breaking methods for turning large data sets into useful information about biological systems. His contributions to biological advancements through computational analysis are many, and include methods and algorithms for the analysis of gene expression data from microarray chips, identification of gene regulatory elements in developmental genomics, and elucidation of genetic networks.
After completing undergraduate studies at University of California Berkeley, Professor Wong did his graduate studies (Masters in Computer Science and Ph. D. in statistics) at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He spent 14 years on the faculty at the University of Chicago, rising from assistant professor to full professor in 8 years. During this tenure, he was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship (1987). In 1994 he moved to Hong Kong to become Chair of the Department of Statistics and Associate Director of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences at Chinese University of Hong Kong. Professor Wong was then named to the faculty of UCLA before taking a full professorship at Harvard University’s Department of Statistics and Biostatistics in 2000-2004. In 2004, he moved to his current position at Stanford University where he is Professor of Statistics (School of Humanities and Sciences), Professor of Health Research and Policy (School of Medicine), and honorary Professor of Biological Sciences.