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Catalysts program

On the occasion of its 40th anniversary, The EMBO Journal has launched the Catalysts program with the aim to give the next generation of group leaders a stronger voice in all aspects of publishing at the journal. We consider this an important step towards a fresh viewpoint on different scientific fields, with the potential to precipitate further innovations of the journal’s publishing workflows and policies, and to increase inclusiveness.

Brian Altman (he/him/his)

University of Rochester Medical Center, USA

Lab website

Brian's research focuses intersections between circadian rhythm and cancer. He utilizes cell line and mouse models of MYC-driven lung cancer to focus on how amplified MYC and metabolic stress disrupt circadian rhythm control in tumors. He also studies how circadian disruption affects outcomes in cancer survivors. Better understanding of how circadian disruption impacts tumorigenesis and patient outcomes could aid in developing novel treatment strategies and interventions.

circadian rhythm, cancer, metabolism, transcription factor, microenvironment


Peter Ebert Andersen (he/him/his)

Aarhus University, Denmark

Lab website    

Peter heads a research lab at Aarhus University, Denmark. With his team, he aims to understand how the pervasive genetic mess from intragenomic conflicts shapes life at the molecular level, and to uncover the evolutionary forces that create the mess. To do so, they study germline biology and transposon regulation using genomics and proteomics methods in Drosophila insect systems. Peter's favorite rabbit holes include presentation skills, research education+politics, and wacky genetics.

germline, genome regulation, genetic conflicts, transcription, transposons


Effie Apostolou (she/her/hers)

Weill Cornell Medicine, USA

Lab website    

Effie did her PhD studies in Athens on mechanisms of stochastic gene expression. In 2009, she moved to MGH and Harvard Stem Cell institute in Boston to unravel epigenetic mechanisms that drive somatic cell reprograming to iPSCs. Since 2014, she leads her own research team in Weill Cornell Medicine in New York studying the critical interplay between TFs, 3D chromatin organization and transcription during cell cycle or cell fate transitions. Effie has received several awards, including the NIH Director’s New Innovator award and the Emerging Leader Award from the Mark Foundation. She is currently a member of the 4D Nucleome Consortium.

chromatin, epigenetics, 3D genome organization, stem cells, transcriptional regulation, enhancers, development


Kristin Brown 

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and The University of Melbourne, Australia

Lab website    

Kristin received her PhD from the University of Otago, New Zealand and undertook postdoctoral training at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School, USA. In 2016 she moved to Australia to establish her research laboratory at The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre/University of Melbourne. Her research is focussed on understanding the ways in which aberrant cell metabolism contributes to tumour progression and therapy resistance in cancer. This fundamental knowledge is applied to the pre-clinical development of more effective interventions for cancer therapy.

cell metabolism, cell signalling, cancer biology


Yi-Wei Chang (he/him/his)

University of Pennsylvania, USA

Lab website    

Yi-Wei Chang is an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Yi-Wei received his PhD in structural biology from National Tsing-Hua University and Academia Sinica in Taiwan. He was then trained with Grant Jensen at the California Institute of Technology as a postdoc using cryo-electron tomography to study macromolecular structures and mechanisms in the cellular context. In 2019 Yi-Wei launched his own laboratory continue to use and improve cryo-electron tomography for studying cellular structural biology.

structural biology, cryo-electron tomography


Arnab Ray Chaudhuri 

Department of Molecular Genetics, Erasmus University Medical Center, Netherlands

Lab website        

Arnab received his Ph.D. from the University of Zurich and postdoctoral training at the NIH. He started his lab at the Erasmus University Medical Center (Department of Molecular Genetics) in 2017. His lab aims to understand the intricate structural and molecular mechanisms that link genome instability resulting from replication stress with tumorigenesis and chemoresistance. Work from Arnab’s lab has uncovered mechanisms by which destabilisation of replication machinery results in genome instability and how this can be targeted for the treatment of chemoresistant tumors.

DNA replication stress, DNA damage response, genome stability, replication fork remodelling


Olivia Corradin (she/her/hers)

MIT/Whitehead Institute, USA

Lab website    

Olivia was recently appointed as a Whitehead Member and Assistant Professor at MIT. She began her independent career in 2016 through the Whitehead Fellows program, a program designed to enable young scientists to start their own labs directly out of graduate school. Prior to that, Olivia completed her PhD at Case Western Reserve University under the mentorship of Dr. Peter Scacheri. The Corradin Lab investigates genetic and epigenetic variation that contribute to diverse human diseases including multiple sclerosis and opioid use disorder.

genetics, genomics, gene regulation, opioid addiction


Yasin Dagdas 

GMI Vienna, Austria

Lab website    

Yasin studied Biotechnology at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. In 2009, he moved to the UK to join the lab of Nicholas Talbot for his PhD at University of Exeter. There, he studied the role of cellular morphogenesis in the pathogenicity of the rice blast fungus. Yasin then did a postdoc with Sophien Kamoun from 2013-2016 at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, where together with his colleagues, he discovered subversion of autophagy by a plant pathogen. In 2017, he established his own group at the Gregor Mendel Institute in Vienna. Research in his lab focusses on autophagy-mediated cellular quality control mechanisms.

plant autophagy


Andrew Deans (he/him/his)

St Vincent's Institute, Australia

Lab website    

Andrew received his PhD from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and subsequently moved to the London Research Institute to postdoc with Steve West. Currently, he is Associate Director, and Head of the Genome Stability Unit at St Vincent’s Institute in Melbourne, Australia. Andrew is interested in the regulation of DNA repair and replication, especially the roles of proteins with the Fanconi Anaemia-BRCA pathway, and how alterations in this pathway predispose to cancer or can be targeted in therapies for cancer or genetic syndromes.

genome stability, ubiquitination, homologous recombination, gene editing


Daniele Fachinetti 

Institut Curie and CNRS, France

Lab website    

Daniele is director of research at the CNRS and team leader of the Molecular Mechanisms of Chromosome Dynamics team at I. Curie in the department of Cell Biology and Cancer since 2015. He received his PhD at the University of Milan working in IFOM (Italy) and he did his post-doctoral studies at Ludwig Cancer Research within University of California San Diego (USA). Along his career, Daniele addressed novel questions in the fields of replication, cell division, genome integrity that impact upon our understanding of aneuploidy and cancer development.

cell division, genome stability, DNA replication, centromere


Claudio A. Franco 

Instituto de Medicina Molecular João Lobo Antunes, Portugal

Lab website    

Claudio is a Group Leader at the Instituto de Medicina Molecular and an Invited Associate Professor of Vascular Biology at the University of Lisbon. He graduated in Biochemistry at the University of Porto. He did his PhD at Denis Diderot University, in Paris, and his postdoc at the London Research Institute, in London. Claudio's lab aims to understand the principles formation and function of blood vessels, and investigates the fundamental mechanisms regulating the morphogenesis of blood vessels aiming at finding new ways to stimulate or inhibit vessel growth and function.

angiogenesis, cell migration, cell polarity, morphogenesis


Jianping Fu (he/him/his)

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA

Lab website    

Jianping's research interests lie at the nexus of engineering, biology and medicine. Specifically, his lab integrates micro/nanoengineering, single-cell technologies, and systems and synthetic biology methods with new discoveries of mechanobiology, epigenetics, and stem cell biology for advancing understanding of human development and diseases.

mechanobiology, stem cell biology, developmental biology, bioengineering, BioMEMS


Mauro Gaya 

Centre d'Immunologie Marseille Luminy (CIML), France

Lab website    

Mauro received his BSc degree from the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and his PhD from the University College London (UK). He then joined the Ragon Institute (USA) as postdoctoral fellow. During these years, he uncovered a role for lymph node macrophages and unconventional T cells in the induction of B cell immunity. In 2018, he was recruited as team leader and tenured researcher at the Luminy Center for Immunology in Marseille (France) where he studies B cells at the tissue barriers.

b cells, innate t cells, influenza, infection, imaging


Nelson Ong'ondo Gekana 

Stockholm University, Sweden

Lab website    

After studying Biochemistry (1998) in Kenya, Nelson moved to the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), Germany where he completed his Ph.D. in Immunology (2005), then a postdoc (2008). After a second postdoc at the University of Cologne, in 2010, he moved to Umeå - Sweden to head a research group within The Laboratory of Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS) - a Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine. Since 2019 he is an associate professor at Stockholm University, Department of Molecular Biosciences, The Wenner-Gren Institute, Sweden.

innate Immunity, DNA repair, inflammation, infection, genome instability


Sjon Hartman 

CIBSS, Germany

Lab website    

Sjon Hartman is a Junior Professor of Plant Environmental Signalling & Development at the University of Freiburg. Prior to this, Sjon was a postdoctoral Rubicon fellow at the Daniel Gibbs lab of the University of Birmingham. He did his PhD in the Plant Ecophysiology group at Utrecht University, under the supervision of Prof. Rens Voesenek. Sjon’s research primarily focuses on how plants detect, survive and remember flooding stress at the molecular level.

plant flooding stress


Ya-Chieh Hsu (she/her/hers)

Harvard University, USA

Lab website    

Ya-Chieh completed her B.Sc from National Tsing-Hua University in Taiwan, her Ph.D. at Baylor College of Medicine, and her postdoc at the Rockefeller University. She is a Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University. Her lab seeks to understand how tissue formation, regeneration, and repair in the skin are shaped by diverse stimuli at the level of the niche, physiology, and the external environment. She is a recipient of several awards, including the Pew Biomedical Scholars Award, the NYSCF–Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Award, and the LEO foundation Award.

stem cells, development, niche, nerve-stem cell interactions


Matteo Iannacone 

San Raffaele Scientific Institute & University, Italy

Lab website    

Matteo obtained a M.D. degree from the University of Milan, Italy, followed by a residency in Internal Medicine and a Ph.D. in Immunology from Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan, Italy. He trained as a postdoctoral fellow at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA and at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Since 2010, he directs the Dynamics of Immune Responses Laboratory at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy. By combining cutting-edge in vivo imaging techniques and advanced animal models, Matteo has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the immune response and viral-induced immunopathology.

antiviral immunity, adaptive immunity, t cells, b cells, liver, lymph nodes, imaging, hepatitis b virus, SARS-CoV-2


Axel Innis 

INSERM, CNRS, University of Bordeaux, France

Lab website    

Axel received his PhD from the University of Cambridge, where he worked on the structural biology of growth factor signaling in the lab of Tom Blundell. In 2002, he joined R. Sowdhamini's computational biology group at NCBS in Bangalore, before joining the lab of Thomas Steitz at Yale University – HHMI as a postdoc, where he worked on structural aspects of bacterial translation. He joined INSERM and set up his group at IECB / ARNA in Bordeaux in 2013, where he studies ribosomes, antimicrobial resistance and bacterial adaptation, using a combination of structural biology and high-throughput biochemistry.

ribosomes, protein synthesis, antibiotics, antimicrobial peptides, bacterial gene regulation, structural biology


Madeline Lancaster (she/her/hers)

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, UK

Lab website    

Madeline is a Group Leader in the Cell Biology Division of the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB), part of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus in Cambridge, UK. Madeline studied biochemistry at Occidental College, Los Angeles, USA, before completing a PhD in 2010 in biomedical sciences at the University of California, San Diego, USA. She then joined the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA) in Vienna, Austria as a postdoctoral researcher where she developed the first cerebral organoids, before joining the LMB in 2015. Research in the Lancaster lab focuses on human brain development using stem cells to generate brain organoids that allow modelling of human brain development in vitro. In addition to developing new organoid-based technologies, the laboratory studies the most fundamental differences between human brain development and that of other mammalian species.

organoids, brain, development, stem cells, evolution


Martin Leeb 

Max Perutz Labs Vienna, Austria

Lab website    

Martin performed his PhD thesis in the Wutz lab at the IMP in Vienna. From 2011 to 2015 he was a post-doc in the lab of Austin Smith at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute. Since 2015 he is group leader and since 2021 Associate Professor at the Max Perutz Labs in Vienna, where the Leeboratory works on deciphering the molecular control of cell fate decisions.

stem cells, genetics, pluripotency, cell fate


Qing Li 

Peking University, China

Qing received her B. S. and Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Peking University (PKU) and performed postdoctoral studies at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, USA. She started her independent group at PKU in 2012. Her studies have uncovered novel mechanisms underlying DNA replication-coupled nucleosome assembly. Her current efforts aim to dissect molecular mechanisms of chromatin replication and its contributions to epigenetic inheritance, and to explore the interplay among epigenetic inheritance, genome stability, and cell fate determination.

histone chaperones, chromatin replication, epigenetic inheritance, genome stability


Sonja Lorenz (she/her/hers)

Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences, Germany

Lab website    

Sonja is an independent group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences, Göttingen. She received a PhD from the University of Oxford, working with Iain Campbell and Martin Noble, followed by postdoctoral research with John Kuriyan at UC Berkeley. Her group explores the structural mechanisms of posttranslational modifications - specifically ubiquitination and phosphorylation - by combining X-ray crystallography, cryo EM and NMR with biochemical and cell-based approaches.

ubiquitin biology, kinases, posttranslational modifications, structural biology, enzymatic mechanisms


Sebastian Lourido (he/him/his)

MIT/Whitehead Institute, USA

Lab website    

Lourido grew up in Colombia before attending Tulane University, where he earned degrees in Art and Biology. He then worked with Arturo Zychlinsky, at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, before pursuing his Ph.D. at Washington University with L. David Sibley. In 2012, in lieu of traditional postdoctoral training, Lourido started his own lab as a Whitehead Fellow studying the molecular hallmarks of apicomplexan parasitism through proteomics and functional genomics. Lourido was recruited to his present position in 2017 where he continues his research and co-teaches courses in Microbial Pathogenesis and Cell Biology.

parasitology, proteomics, functional genomics, cell biology, signaling


Yansong Miao (he/him/his)

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Lab website    

Yansong conducts interdisciplinary research on molecular condensation in signal transductions and actin remodeling during plant immunity and fungal polarity. Yansong did his Ph.D. at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, studying plant endomembrane trafficking. He then became an HFSP Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley, he studied actin cytoskeleton assembly and sphingolipid biosynthesis in budding yeast. Since 2015 he has led his group at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and became an EMBO Global Investigator in 2020.

phase separation, cell signaling, plant immunity, fungal polarity, actin cytoskeleton


Alexandre Persat (he/him/his)

EPFL, Switzerland

Lab website    

Alex is an Assistant Professor at the EPFL Global Health Institute and the Institute for Bioengineering. He obtained his BSc at Ecole Polytechnique, Paris and his MSc and PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University, USA. After a postdoc in the department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, USA, he started his lab at EPFL where he combines engineering and microbiological approaches to understand how bacteria sense, respond and adapt to their mechanical environment. His multidisciplinary approach and novel technologies provide a deeper understanding of microbial physiology, ecology and infectious diseases.

microbiolgoy, infection, host-microbe interactions, mechanobiology, biophysics


Filipa Rijo-Ferreira (she/her/hers)

University of California, Berkeley, USA

Lab website    

Filipa is an Assistant Professor of Public Health and Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Filipa graduated from the Nova University of Lisbon, Portugal from where she was awarded an MSc degree for her thesis at Imperial College London, UK. Filipa earned a PhD from University of Porto, Portugal followed by postdoctoral training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, USA. The Rijo-Ferreira lab takes an integrated approach to study circadian rhythms in parasitic diseases, in particular Malaria and Sleeping sickness. Filipa is a NIH Pathway to Independence awardee and a recipient of the Brown-Goldstein Excellence in Postdoctoral research award.

parasitic infections, circadian rhythms, sleep-wake cycles, host-parasite interactions


Anne Rios 

The Princess Maxima Center, Netherlands

Lab website    Lab     Personal 

Anne started her scientific career by developing and applying advanced imaging technologies to gain insight into developmental processes and stem cell biology. The Large-scale, Single-cell Resolution 3D (LSR-3D) imaging technology she developed allows for visualization of intact organs, tumors and organoids up to sub-cellular resolution and can reveal novel and unexpected features of both normal organ development and function, as well as cancer progression. As principal investigator and head of the imaging center at the Princess Máxima Center she combines multi-omics, 3D imaging and organoid into AI-based technological platform to drive discovery into the underlying mechanisms of cancer and advance cellular immunotherapies for solid tumor targeting in a patient-personalized manner.

imaging, cancer, immunotherapy, AI, organoid, stem cells


Ruth Scherz-Shouval (she/her/hers)

Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

Lab website    

Ruth is an assistant professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Her research focuses on mechanisms of stromal reprogramming in the tumor microenvironment, and specifically on the role of stress responses in transcriptional reprogramming of tumor stroma. Her long-term goal is to broaden and deepen our understanding of the evolutionary conflicts between tumorigenesis and tissue homeostasis and to explore new paths of research at the interface of stress responses, cancer, and evolution. She joined the Weizmann Institute as a principal investigator in August 2015, after carrying out her postdoc research at the Whitehead Institute, MIT. She received her BSc from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and her PhD from The Weizmann Institute.

cancer research, tumor microenvironment, cancer-associated fibroblasts, extracellular matrix, stress responses, inflammation, transcription


Marta Shahbazi (she/her/hers)

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, UK

Lab website    

Marta obtained her Ph.D. in 2013 at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre. In 2014 she joined the laboratory of Prof. Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz at the University of Cambridge to study mammalian embryo development at implantation. Since 2020 Marta is a group leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge (UK). Her group is interested in understanding how cell fate decisions and tissue shape changes are coordinated during mammalian embryo development.

embryo, pluripotency, embryonic stem cells, epithelial tissues, pregnancy loss, implantation, human development


Sara Sigismund 

European Institute of Oncology and University of Milan, Italy

Lab website

Sara is Associate Professor at the University of Milan, and leads the Endocytosis Research team at IEO, Milan. Her long-standing research goal is to understand the role of endocytosis in the regulation of EGFR signaling. Sara’s work led to the discovery of a novel mechanism of endocytosis, involving contact sites between the endoplasmic reticulum and the plasma membrane, critical for EGFR signaling extinction. Within the field of endocytosis, she contributed to establish the concept that integration of distinct endocytic pathways determines the final signaling output.

endocytosis, trafficking, signalling, membrane contact sites, growth factor receptor


Minhaj Sirajuddin 

Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine (inStem), India

Lab website    

Minhaj did his PhD at MPI Dortmund, where he determined the structure of septin complex. At UCSF, his postdoctoral work provided biochemical evidence for the tubulin code hypothesis. He returned to India and joined inStem, Bangalore where he has established a research program to study cytoskeleton and contractile systems at various organization scales. Minhaj has also created a popular science book and documentary films about forgotten Indian Scientists, which can be found in his lab website.

structural biology, biochemistry and cell biology


Andrew Stergachis (he/him/his)

University of Washington, USA

Lab website

Andrew received his undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago, and his MD and PhD in Genome Sciences from the University of Washington (UW). He completed Internal Medicine and Medical Genetics residency at Harvard Medical School, and in 2020 joined the UW as an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Medical Genetics. His lab focuses on developing single-molecule chromatin fiber sequencing approaches to study how alterations in gene regulation impact human disease.

chromatin, genetics, epigenetics, single-molecule, rare disease


Susanne Wegmann (she/her/hers)

German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), Germany

Lab website    

Susanne graduated with an engineering degree in Biotechnology at the Technical University in Berlin, then decided to pursue a PhD in the field of Biophysics with Prof Daniel Mueller at the Technical University in Dresden and later at the ETH Zurich in Basel (Institute for Biosystems Science and Engineering). During this time, she began to study the folding and assembly of the intrinsically disordered microtubule associated protein Tau (MAPT), which is famous for its aggregation in Alzheimer's Disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. To expand her understanding to the role of Tau in the brain, she joined Prof. Bradley T. Hyman at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston as a postdoctoral fellow, and later was appointed there as an instructor of Molecular Neurology. In 2018, she started her own research group at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, DZNE, in Berlin. The research in her group employs an interdisciplinary mix of research fields and approaches with the aim to identify different biological and pathological functions of Tau and integrate them for the development of novel therapeutic approaches for tauopathies.

Alzheimer's disease, neurodegeneration, tau protein, biophysics


Xiufang Xin 

CAS Center for Excellence in Molecular Plant Sciences/Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, China

Lab website

Xiufang got her bachelor's degree in biology at China Agricultural University in 2008 and then went to Michigan State University for Ph.D. study. After getting her doctoral degree in 2014, she stayed at Michigan State University for 3 years of postdoc and joined Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Shanghai, to start her own group in 2017. Her lab is also affiliated to the joint program of CAS-John Innes Centre, Centre of Excellence for Plant and Microbial Sciences (CEPAMS). She is interested in understanding the molecular interplay between plant immunity and pathogen virulence strategies as well as phyllosphere microbiota.

plant-pathogen interaction, plant immunity, microbial pathogenesis, phytobiome