Paris Brain Institute

"Somatic mosaicism in epilepsy and cortical malformations"

Stéphanie Baulac is a research director at Inserm and group leader at the Paris Brain Institute (ICM). She obtained a PhD in human genetics in 2001 at University Paris Cité and was then trained as a postdoc fellow at Harvard Medical School. She is an expert in the genetics of epilepsy and is a co-author of more than 110 publications and 10,000 citations. Her current research focuses on somatic mosaicism and cortical malformations associated with focal epilepsies. Her research program encompasses genetic studies on resected brain tissues from epileptic patients to in vitro functional testing using patient-derived brain organoids, and in utero-based mouse models with the ultimate goal to provide insights in targeted therapeutic opportunities. Her work aims to: (1) identify new causative genes; (2) unveil pathogenic underlying focal epilepsies by clarifying links between mTOR activation, neuronal and network malfunction, and seizure generation using mice models; (3) determine the cell-type specific determinants underlying mosaic neurodevelopmental disorders using cortical organoids; (4) investigate rescue strategies toward novel targeted therapeutics

University of Leeds

"Understanding TRPC1/4/5 channels through chemical biology and structural pharmacology"

Robin Bon is Associate Professor of Chemical Biology at the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine, University of Leeds. Robin received his PhD from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, where he worked on isocyanide-based multicomponent reactions with Prof. Romano Orru. Between 2006 and 2009, he worked as an MPI/Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow in the group of Prof. Herbert Waldmann at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund, where he developed chemical tools and assays to study protein lipidation. Robin joined the University of Leeds in 2009 as a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Chemistry, where he established a new research group and contributed to taught courses on all levels. In 2015, Robin was appointed as Lecturer in Cardiovascular Chemistry in Leeds’ School of Medicine, where he was promoted to Associate Professor of Chemical Biology in 2019. Robin’s group uses chemical, biochemical and biophysical approaches to understand molecular mechanisms underlying health/disease and the effects of bioactive small molecules. The focus of the group is on the molecular pharmacology of TRPC1/4/5 cation channels. Robin is a member of the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology and an academic co-founder of the pharmaceutical start-up company CalTIC GmbH. CalTIC´s mission is the development of TRPC inhibitors as a new class of medicines for the treatment of metabolic disease/obesity and pathological cardiac remodelling.

University of Texas Health Science Center

"The smoking gun: Organic cation transporter 3 in the actions of amphetamine and alcohol"

Lynette Daws obtained her PhD from Flinders University of South Australia. She is the Frost Bank Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Research and Director of the Physiology and Pharmacology graduate program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She has served in many capacities, including being the past president of the International Society for Serotonin Research, co-founder and past President of the International Transmembrane Transporter Society, Chair of the Neuropharmacology Division of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, and a member of numerous peer review groups, including National Institutes of Health study sections. Currently she is Editor in Chief of Pharmacological Reviews. She has published over 100 research articles, reviews, book chapters and editorials, in top journals including Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Molecular Psychiatry, Journal of Neuroscience and Neuropsychopharmacology. Dr. Daws has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 2001 and has been the recipient of numerous other awards, including two NARSAD Young Investigator and two NARSAD Independent Investigator Awards. She has trained many students and post-doctoral fellows who have gone onto successful careers. Dr. Daws was among the first to discover organic cation transporter 3 (OCT3) as a crucial player in brain monoamine homeostasis. Most recently, she and her collaborators found OCT3 to be an unexpected but important site of action for amphetamine and ethanol. Given there are no treatments for stimulant use disorders, and effective treatments for alcoholism are lacking, her ongoing research is interrogating OCT3 as a novel target for the treatment of these devastating disorders. Dr. Daws will discuss her most recent findings

Novo Nordisk

"From understanding principles of ion channel functioning to design of protein modulators"

Marina Kasimova is a senior modelling scientist in the Protein Engineering department of Novo Nordisk in Denmark. Her current research interests and tasks include protein optimization, de novo protein design and topics connected to it (such as protein-protein docking, monomer and complexes folding, identification of protein hot spots, etc.) as well as coordination of in silico resources in research projects. Before joining Novo, Marina has been working in academia and was interested in ion channels modelling. Her PhD, which she did in Mounir Tarek's group at the University of Lorraine, was about modulation of potassium voltage-gated ion channels by lipids. Marina further continued as a postdoc in Mike Klein's group and worked on the TRPV1 channel and its activation by heat. She did her second postdoc with Lucie Delemotte and Erik Lindahl and focused on unusual voltage sensitivity of HCN1 channel. Marina will talk about this latest academic work in her presentation together with her current experience at the industry. Marina will also touch upon one of her technology projects at Novo Nordisk.

University of Copenhagen

"Antipsychotics and antidepressants can inhibit α5-containing GABAA receptors by two distinct mechanisms"

Konstantina Bampali is Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Copenhagen since October 2022, where she works with investigating the interplay between GABAA receptor tonic inhibition and phosphorylation mediated by the Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase 2 alpha (CaMKIIa).She studied Biology at the University of Athens and obtained a master’s degree in pharmacology at the University of Oxford. She finished her PhD in 2019 from the Medical University of Vienna, where she studied the structural basis of allosteric GABAA receptor modulation in the group of Assoc. Professor Margot Ernst. During her first postdoctoral work (2019-2022) she worked as part of the Innovative Medicine Initiative of European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program “Neurotoxicity De-Risking in Preclinical Drug Discovery”, where she participated in an extensive collaborative project with pharmaceutical industry and university partners. She has a demonstrated track record in working in academic research with a focus in Neuropharmacology. Konstantina has also been teaching bachelor and PhD students both at the Medical University of Vienna and the University of Copenhagen and is particularly enthusiastic about communicating science. Her talk will be focused on her 2022 publication in the British Journal of Pharmacology, which was one of her main PhD projects. This work gives insight on how tricyclic antipsychotic and antidepressant compounds reduce GABA-mediated effects at ionotropic GABAA receptors.

Charles River Laboratories

"Ionic and immune mechanisms of response to cancer immunotherapy and  severe COVID-19"

Vaibhavkumar aka Vaibhav Gawali, is an electrophysiologist and study director for cardiac safety pharmacology research at Charles River Laboratories, Cleveland, USA. Trained as a pharmacologist at the University of Mumbai, he worked for three years with the leading drug discovery CRO, Jubilant Biosys in Bangalore, India. He entered the first funding cycle of MolTag where his doctoral research was focused on identifying the mechanism of interaction of local anesthetics with voltage-gated sodium channels under the supervision of Prof Hannes Todt. He did internship work at Cytocentrics, GmBH, Rostock, Germany collaborating with Prof Nuno Maulide from the University of Vienna, where they discovered potentially long-acting new type of sodium channel blockers from sparteine derivatives. After completing his PhD studies he moved to the US, to pursue postdoctoral research at the University of Cincinnati. His translational research explored ion channels and immunity, revealing the pivotal role of potassium channels in regulating resistance mechanism to immunotherapy in head and neck cancer patients. He has particular interest in discovery and development of new therapies targeting ion channels. His talk is focused on the role of ion channel signaling in T cells mediated response to immunotherapy and ionic mechanism of response to dexamethasone in severe COVID-19.

National Institutes of Health | NIH

"Computational studies of molecular interactions in the human serotonin and dopamine transporters"

Coming from highly interdisciplinary education and environments, Eva Hellsberg believes her skills as a computational structural pharmacist are best utilized to add atomistic rationale to structural, functional and mechanistic observations from experiments. Throughout her undergraduate study, PhD, and postdoctoral experience she has therefore sought to participate in team projects, and collaborate with computational, structural biology, and biophysical research colleagues. These experiences have driven Eva‘s research objectives and achievements across her career. During her Master’s and PhD projects Eva used various structure-based computational methods to rationalize experimentally measured binding affinities of protein-ligand interactions. Eva performed these studies across three different groups at the University of Vienna, the Medical University of Vienna, and the NIH, where she was trained in the importance of multidisciplinary interactions for exciting, insightful research. Eva‘s research demonstrated that computational tools in biomolecular environments, driven by various collaborations with experimental labs and participation in interdisciplinary research programs, lead to valuable synergies for new knowledge gain in biomedical research. Her background, knowledge and experience in using structure-based computational methods to complement experimental data suits her well in this role, and ultimately drives Eva’s desire to contribute further to the field by obtaining a wider computational skillset complemented with relevant experimental techniques.

Laurus Bio Bangalore

"Enzyme engineering to resist feedback inhibition in 3-deoxy-D-arabino-heptulosonate 7-phosphate synthase"

Kumaresan Jayaraman is working as a senior scientist at Laurus Bio Pvt Ltd, Bangalore, India. Laurus Bio is a renowned biotechnology company based in India which has capabilities in recombinant DNA technology, biocatalysis and precision fermentation. As Kumaresan is an expert in computational biophysics, he will take the lead to generate testable hypotheses using in-silico methods to improve enzymes for the biocatalysis projects. Moreover, adapting artificial intelligence for biocatalysis and enzyme engineering to accelerate and improve the prediction process. He did PhD under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Harald H Sitte at the Institute of Physiology and Pharmacology, Medical University of Vienna, Austria. In his PhD, Kumaresan explored the structure and function of both bacterial and human transporters by the molecular dynamics simulations. They developed a model for the oligomerization of dopamine transporters (DAT) and predicted various oligomeric interfaces. For his postdoctoral research, Kumaresan went to Prof. Dr. Holger Gohlke’s lab at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Germany. Here he worked on the rate limiting enzyme 3-deoxy-D-arabino-heptulosonate 7-phosphate synthase (DAHPS) of shikimate pathway and generated variants to restrict the feedback inhibition. Further, the predicted variants were tested with site directed and saturation mutagenesis by Prof. Dr. George Sprenger’s lab at University of Stuttgart, Germany.

University of Copenhagen

 "Development of novel selective tool compounds for the nutrient amino acid transporters (SLC6A15-20)"

In 2021 Stefanie Kickinger received a Lundbeck postdoc fellowship to investigate the therapeutic potential of nutrient amino acid transporters (SLC6A15-20) at the University of Copenhagen in the lab of Prof. Petrine Wellendorph. She is currently combining computational structure-based-design (e.g. virtual screening) together with molecular pharmacology methods (e.g. radioligand uptake assays) to develop the first tool compounds for modulating nutrient amino acid transporter function. Her research focuses on understanding the molecular determinants that drive the selectivity and activity of particularly highly related transporters. In 2020, Stefanie obtained her PhD in the Pharmacoinformatics Research Group of Prof. Gerhard Ecker at the University of Vienna where she was investigating the molecular aspects of GABA transporter inhibition with computational methods such as homology modeling, molecular docking and molecular dynamics simulations as well as regression modelling. As a former MolTag associated fellow she was able to perform internships at Yale University and at the University of Copenhagen which inspired and encouraged her to peruse her own independent research project.

Agricultural Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

"Optimizing for Information Content on IonFlux Mercury Automated Patch Clamp"

After completing the MolTag program, Péter Lukács returned to Budapest and began working in a newly established laboratory of Opto-Neuropharmacology. The research focused on testing photo-crosslinkable sodium channel inhibitors to investigate their mechanism of sodium channel inhibition and potential application in local anesthesia. Peter’s next project was to study insect olfactory receptors and assess their potential for plant protection. He moved to Martonvásár, and started working in the Agricultural Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. There, the group secured funding for the purchase of an Ionflux Mercury high-throughput automated electrophysiology device to examine insect ORs. Additionally, the group utilized the same device to further our research on sodium channels and alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. During their work, they encountered a challenge with the analysis methods traditionally used to evaluate patch-clamp results, as they proved to be excessively time-consuming. They needed to find an alternative approach. The factory software of the device, primarily designed for pharma industry screening, presented complications when attempting to analyze high-quality kinetic measurements. To overcome this obstacle, they developed a new analysis method and designed intricate voltage protocols that allowed to maintain high throughput while extracting detailed kinetic information.

University of Copenhagen

 "Exploiting GPCR Regulation of Transporter Trafficking to Rescue Defective Neurotransmitter Homeostasis"

Felix P. Mayer was born in upper Austria and then moved to Vienna to obtain his BSc and MSc in molecular biotechnology (FH Campus Wien, Vienna, Austria). Subsequently, Mayer pursued his PhD the group of Prof. Dr. Harald H. Sitte – Institute of Pharmacology at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria- as an associate of the MolTag doctoral program. After completion of his doctoral training, Mayer joined the group of Prof. Dr. Randy Blakely at the Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute at Florida Atlantic University, where he studied the impact of human disease-associated variants on neurochemistry and behavior in knock-in models, using state-of-the-art techniques, including fiber photometry in freely moving animals, utilizing genetically encoded sensors for calcium, dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.Recently, Mayer moved to Copenhagen to expand his training in microscopy and in vivo measurements of neurotransmitter dynamics at the Department of Neuroscience, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, under guidance of Prof. Dr. Ulrik Gether. Mayer’s research interests include drugs of abuse, neuropsychiatric disorders, neurotransmitter release/clearance and the interplay between transporter-mediated clearance and presynaptic receptors. His talk will cover the potential of GPCR-mediated regulation of the dopamine transporter as a treatment for disorders that are linked to aberrant dopamine-signaling.

E11 Bio

"A versatile tool for the comprehensive analysis of nervous tissue organization with light microscopy"

Julia Michalska is a Scientist for Optical Connectomics at the California-based non-profit organization E11 Bio. As part of the E11 Bio team, her goal is to make single-cell brain circuit mapping routinely available to the scientific community. Julia obtained her PhD at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria with support from the MolTag Doctoral Program and a EU2020 Marie-Skłodowska Curie fellowship. During this time, Julia developed tools for the visualization and interrogation of nervous tissue with (super-resolution) light microscopy. Her talk will focus on the methodology CATS (Comprehensive analysis of nervous tissue across scales), which elucidates brain organization by labeling the extracellular space.

University of Trento

 "circHTT, a novel circular RNA molecule from the Huntington’s disease gene locus: functional characterization and pathophysiological implications"

Jasmin Morandell is an EMBO postdoctoral fellow at the Dept. for Cellular, Computational and Integrative Biology (CIBIO) at the University of Trento, Italy. There, her research focuses on non-coding RNA species and their involvement in Huntington`s Disease (HD). Specifically, she is investigating the functional role(s) of a circular RNA stemming from the HD gene locus and its potential as novel disease biomarker and/or molecular drug target. Prior to joining Dept. CIBIO in Spring 2022, Jasmin received her doctorate from the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) where she worked in the lab of Dr. Gaia Novarino, studying the pathophysiologic mechanisms driving genetic forms of neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Charles University Prague

 "Selaginella Natural Products as a Platform for Evaluation of New Synthetic Methods, Structural Aspects Elucidation and Drug Discovery"

Lukáš Rýček entered the world of chemistry in 2005 at Masaryk University in Brno, where he obtained his BSc. in 2009. Later, he moved to Amsterdam, where he received MSc from Vrije Universiteit in 2011. At the same year, Lukas stared his dissertation work in group of Prof. Marko D. Mihovilovic at Vienna University of Technology, where he successfully defended his PhD in 2015. After that he spent two and half year as a postdoc in the group of Prof. Tomas Hudlicky at Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada. He came back to Czech Republic in 2017 and spent one year as a development chemist in pharmaceutical company Zentiva, k.s. Then he returned to academia and after one year of working as a postdoc in the group of Prof. Martin Kotora at the Department of Organic Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Charles University, he started his independent career at the same department in 2020. His research interest includes chemistry of bioactive natural products, catalysis and catalyst development. His talk will cover the recent development from his laboratory related to the chemistry and biology of Salaginallaceae natural polyphenols. The aspects such as effective preparation, elucidations of the structural discrepancies, and development of biologically active derivatives will be discussed.

Brigham Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School

"Pharmacological chaperone-rescued cystic fibrosis CFTR-F508del mutant overcomes PRAF2-gated access to endoplasmic reticulum exit sites"

Kusumika Saha obtained her PhD 2016 under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Harald Sitte in Neuropharmacology where she explored the novel mechanism of action for second generation drugs of addiction. She went on to do her Postdoctoral research with Prof Stefano Marullo in Cell Biology where she examined the impact of protein trafficking in the disease model of Cystic Fibrosis and elucidated the drug target in mammalian cells. Presently, she is working with Dr. Calum Macrae at the Cardiovascular Division of Brigham Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School investigating the cardiometabolic changes due to environmental stressors. Her research interest is in the field of Cell Biology and understanding the biological responses under environmental or pathological stresses. In her talk, she will take you through a novel protein trafficking checkpoint and its implication in the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis.

Medical University of Vienna

"Selective vulnerability of dopamine neurons in Parkinson’s disease"

Thomas Steinkellner is a tenure-track assistant professor in molecular pharmacology at the Institute of Pharmacology, Medical University of Vienna (MUW). Thomas studied molecular biology and obtained a Mag.rer.nat. degree at the University of Vienna (MUW). Following his PhD in pharmacology within the ‘MolTag’ program under the supervision of Harald Sitte at the Medical University of Vienna, Thomas joined the lab of Tom Hnasko in the Department of Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego before starting his own lab at MUW in October 2020. The main research focus of Thomas’ group is to elucidate the contribution of neurotransmitter transporters to selective vulnerability of neurodegenerative diseases with an emphasis on Parkinson’s disease