Meeting Organizers

Tin Tin Su, Chair
Gio Bosco
Pamela Geyer
Noah K. Whiteman

Drosophila Home      PROGRAM: Invited Speakers

Invited Speakers

Keynote Speaker

Terry Orr-Weaver

Terry L. Orr-Weaver is a Member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and American Cancer Society Research Professor in the Department of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research addresses regulation of cell division and cell size during development. Her laboratory has discovered crucial control proteins for chromosome segregation and DNA replication. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She received the FASEB Excellence in Science award in 2013.

Plenary Speakers

Yashi Ahmed

Yashi Ahmed is an Associate Professor of Molecular and Systems Biology at the Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth College. She is known for her work on the regulation of the evolutionarily conserved Wnt signal transduction pathway, which directs fundamental cellular processes in development and tissue homeostasis, and is deregulated in a number of human diseases. Her lab uses genetic, cell biological, and biochemical approaches to understand the function of known Wnt pathway components and to identify new components that have the potential to serve as therapeutic targets for intervention in Wnt-driven diseases.

Irene Chiolo

Irene Chiolo is the Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Southern California. Studies from the Chiolo lab have revealed surprising dynamics triggered by double-strand breaks (DSB) in heterochromatin: the entire domain expands and repair sites display a dramatic relocalization to the nuclear periphery, while repair progression is tightly regulated in space and time. This pathway is essential for accurate repair in heterochromatin, because its deregulation results in aberrant recombination and genome instability. Which molecular mechanisms control heterochromatin dynamics and how they influence repair are still unclear. Using the Drosophila system—currently the best working model for heterochromatin repair studies—Chiolo’s research aims to identify the mechanisms involved, and to address how they protect genome integrity at cellular and organismal levels.

Cassandra Extavour

Cassandra Extavour is a Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University. The Extavour laboratory is interested in understanding early embryonic development, the genes that control this development, the evolutionary origins of these genes, and how their functions have changed over evolutionary time. The lab is particularly interested in the development and evolution of reproductive systems, including both germ cells, which are cells that make eggs and sperm in sexually reproducing animals, and somatic gonad cells, which create the structures to house and protect the germ cells, and regulate egg and sperm production.

Tatsushi Igaki

Tatsushi Igaki is a Professor in the Graduate School of Biostudies at Kyoto University. His laboratory explores how cells communicate with each other to establish and maintain multicellular systems. Clonal analysis, combined with classical genetics and advanced imaging techniques in Drosophila, provides the best model system for studying cell-cell communication in living animals. The laboratory focuses on understanding epithelial cell-cell communications such as cell competition and cooperation, which govern tissue growth, homeostasis, and cancer.

Leonie Moyle

Leonie Moyle is a Professor of Biology at Indiana University Bloomington. The Moyle lab studies the genetics and genomics of adaptation and speciation, and the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that create new trait variation and new species. By using diverse approaches and both model and non-model organisms, they aim to dissect the complex processes that collectively contribute to speciation, including the major drivers of speciation, and the genetic architecture, genes, and specific mutations that underlie this process.

Michael O'Connor

Michael B. O'Connor is Professor of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine and College of Biological Sciences. In addition, he is the holder of the Ordway Chair in Developmental Biology. His lab’s primary area of interest is learning how cells communicate with one another during development. One group of signaling molecules that they study is the TGF-ß family of secreted polypeptides. These signaling factors influence a wide variety of cellular processes including tissue growth, differentiation, and death as well as metabolic and synaptic homeostasis. The second general area of interest in the lab is to understand how timing of developmental processes is regulated. They are working to identify the neuroendocrine signals that trigger steroid production and release in the fruit fly and are also interested in characterizing the cell biology of steroid production and secretion in endocrine cells.

Ben Ohlstein

Benjamin Ohlstein is an Associate Professor of Genetics and Development and of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. For the intestine to carry out digestive functions and act as a chemical and bacterial barrier, its cells must be replenished at a high rate. This steady cellular turnover requires highly controlled mechanisms of regeneration. Benjamin Ohlstein investigates the regulatory pathways that control intestinal stem cell behaviors necessary to maintain balance in the tissue.

Anandasankar Ray

Anandasankar Ray is an Associate Professor at University of California, Riverside. He is known for his work on the neurobiology of the olfactory system, using it as a model to understand how to disrupt behavior in mosquitoes that transmit diseases like Malaria, Dengue and Zika. He also uses the olfactory system to study the role of epigenetic regulation in neuronal development and neuro-degeneration.

Julien Royet

Julien Royet is a Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at Aix-Marseille University. He is known for characterizing signaling pathways involved in the fruit fly antibacterial response and more specifically the mechanisms that Drosophila use to detect the presence of bacteria and trigger an ad hoc immune response. He currently studies the mechanisms by which some neurons of Drosophila are able to sense bacteria and how this translates into behavior changes in the host.

Ting Wu

Ting (C.-ting) Wu is a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. She is also Director of the Consortium for Space Genetics and Director of the Personal Genetics Education ( Project. Her group focuses on chromosome behavior and genome organization, and to that end, they also develop methods for imaging the genome in situ. Two such methods, OligoSTORM and OligoDNA-PAINT, enable ≤20 nm resolution. Her group also studies sequence ultraconservation in mammals and its potential role in maintaining genome integrity. Through pgEd, she works to enable equal access to awareness and dialogue about personal genetics and genetic technologies.

Amir Yassin

Amir Yassin is a CNRS researcher at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris. His research aims at identifying the genomic basis of adaptive traits. It focuses on the systematics and evolution of flies in the family Drosophilidae. Drosophila melanogaster is undoubtedly a genetics star, but our understanding of the morphological and ecological diversity of non-melanogaster drosophilids remains nebulous. Yassin aims to establish a comprehensive phylogenetic classification of the family based on molecular and morphological data. He combines population and functional genomics approaches to unravel the basis of two traits: first, an apparent case of sexual color mimicry, which has independently evolved in more than 20 species, and second, a recurrent specialization on a toxic fruit in an island population of a generalist species.

Daniela Zarnescu

Daniela Zarnescu is a Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Arizona. She uses Drosophila to study RNA-based mechanisms in aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Recently, her laboratory identified mechanisms by which RNA granule components contribute to synaptic dysfunction and neuronal degeneration in flies and humans.