ABCD 2023 • The Biennial Congress of the Italian Association of Cell Biology and Differentiation

Paestum | Italy 21-23 September 2023


ABCD 2023 • The Biennial Congress of the Italian Association of Cell Biology and Differentiation

Paestum | Italy 21-23 September 2023


ABCD 2023 • The Biennial Congress of the Italian Association of Cell Biology and Differentiation

Paestum | Italy 21-23 September 2023

Paestum | Italy
21-23 September 2023

Andrea Ballabio

M.D. degree and residency in Pediatrics at the University of Naples, Italy. Post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Genetics and Biophysics in Naples and at Guy’s hospital in London UK. Assistant and then Associate Professor and Co-director of the Human Genome Center at the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston TX USA. In 1994 founding director of the Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine (TIGEM). Currently, Director of the Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine (TIGEM), Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of Naples “Federico II” and Visiting Professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Co-Founder of CASMA Therapeutics. Winner of the Advanced European Research Council (ERC) 5 year-grant twice (2010 and 2016). Winner of the 2106 Louis-Jeantet prize for Medicine. Advisory Board Member of INGM Milan, IGBMC Strasbourg, Human Technopole Milan, and VIMM Padua and of the companies Next Generation Diagnostics, Avilar Therapeutics and Coave Therapeutics. EMBO member since 1998 and former member of the EMBO council. Author of over 380 publications in international peer-reviewed journals. Honorary titles: "Commendatore" in 2007, and "Grande Ufficiale" in 2021, of the Italian Republic from the President of Italy, in 2022 "Laurea Honoris Causa" (honorary degree) in Biological Sciences from the Univ. of Camerino and the membership of the Accademia Lincei in Rome.

Cristian Bellodi

Cristian Bellodi is an Associate Professor and head of the RNA and Stem Cell Biology group at the University of Lund (Sweden). He received a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Leicester in 2009, studying the function of leukemia-associated fusion proteins. From 2009 to 2013, Dr. Bellodi trained as a postdoctoral fellow under the supervision of Prof. Davide Ruggero at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), USA, focusing on the role of ribosome biogenesis in cancer development. In 2014, Dr. Bellodi joined the Lund Stem Cell Center at Lund University to start his research group. He currently holds an Associate Professor position within the Division of Molecular Hematology and received several awards, including the prestigious Swedish Research Council and Cancerfonden Young Investigator, and was appointed Ragnar Söderberg’s Fellow in Medicine. The Bellodi’s laboratory studies how RNA epigenetics and metabolism impact normal and malignant hematopoiesis by coupling mouse genetics with state-of-the-art sequencing approaches to unravel new gene expression facets at the interface between RNA modifications, splicing, and translation. Dr. Bellodi recently co-founded Sacra Therapeutics, a spin-off company targeting RNA-modifying proteins in cancer.

Stefano Biffo

Stefano Biffo earned a degree of Doctor in Biology from the University of Torino. Subsequently, he was a fellow at Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, Nutley, NJ, U.S.A., and postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry, Martinsried, Germany. In this period he earned a Ph.D. in neuroendocrinology and focused on the study of neuronal differentiation. From 1995, he moved at San Raffaele Scientific Institute, where he stayed until 2013 first as a senior scientist and then as a group leader. Here he cloned eIF6, an initiation factor necessary for growth factor-induced translation. His work focuses on the role that translational control plays in disease with a focus on cancer and inherited Swachman Diamond syndrome. In 1998 he became Associate Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Eastern Piedmont. He moved in 2014 at INGM. His current work focuses on the molecular mechanisms by which translational control regulates cell growth and proliferation. Since 2014 he is Full Professor of Comparative Anatomy at the University of Milan.

Francesco Cecconi

Francesco Cecconi graduated with honors in Biological Sciences at the Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences of the University of Rome Tor Vergata in 1992, and obtained a PhD in Molecular Cell Biology at the same Faculty in 1996. After four years of post-doctoral research activity at the Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie of Göttingen (Germany), and following long-term ambitious development of novel techniques, to study cell death and survival by means of highly interdisciplinary approaches, his own group was established in 2000 in Rome, Italy, in the context of the Dulbecco Telethon Institute (Telethon Foundation), where he remained as Assistant and then Associate Researcher until 2010. After his seminal work on the activating molecule in Beclin 1-regulated autophagy (AMBRA1), Francesco Cecconi became a world-leader scientist in the field of autophagy in development and disease, placing his group among the most prominent European teams in the fundamental research about the key cellular process of autophagy. In particular, he discovered AMBRA1 as one of the few members of the vertebrate autophagy core complex and of the mitophagy apparatus, a downstream direct target of mTORC1, responsible of autophagosome formation, essential for brain development and immune cell homeostasis, and involved in controlling cell proliferation, death and differentiation through links with the ubiquitin-proteasome system.
Francesco Cecconi directs since 2013 in Copenhagen the Cell Stress and Survival Group at DCRC, through which he is committed in elucidating the role of autophagy in a number of tumours and in identifying novel strategies in cancer treatment, based on autophagy manipulation. His more recent work is best characterised as a successful combination of uncompromised and innovative basic science at highest quality with strong translational interest. Of note, Prof. Cecconi has published more than 200 papers in important scientific journals, such as Cell, Nature, Nature Cell Biology, Nature Neuroscience, which obtained >25,000 citations by peers; further, he is elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), the European Cell Death Organization (ECDO), the Cell Death Society (CDS) and the Nordic Autophagy Society (NAS). Also, Francesco Cecconi is Deputy Director of the Center of Excellence for Autophagy, Recycling and Disease (CARD) in Copenhagen. In the period 2006-2022 Francesco Cecconi was Full Professor of Developmental Biology at the University of Rome Tor Vergata; then he has been appointed (2022) as Full Professor in Biochemistry at the Institute of Biochemistry and Clinical Biochemistry at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome. He has acted as mentor of a large number of Postdocs, PhD and Master Students and, since 2013, he has Co-supervised students enrolled in the PhD School in Molecular Mechanisms of Disease (MoMed) of the University of Copenhagen. Also, since 2014 he collaborates with the Department of Onco-hematology, Cell Therapy, Gene Therapies and Hematopoietic Transplantation at the Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital in Rome. Further, in the period 2017-2019 he has been the Coordinator of the PhD School in Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Rome Tor Vergata. Francesco Cecconi has received various awards and recognitions. He is member of numerous national and international scientific societies, panelist for many research funding agencies, including the European Research Council, and is a member of the Medical Academy of Rome.

Stephanie Ellis

Stephanie J Ellis is an Assistant Professor and Group Leader at the University of Vienna and Max Perutz Labs where she established her group in 2022. She completed her undergraduate and graduate training in Cell and Development Biology at the University of British Columbia in the laboratory of Guy Tanentzapf where she worked on regulation of cell-ECM adhesion dynamics in the fly embryo. She then carried out a postdoctoral fellowship at Rockefeller University with Elaine Fuchs. In the Fuchs lab, she developed a genetically-tractable system to study cell competition in mammalian skin; this work forms the basis for her independent research program. Stephanie is the recipient of a Vallee Scholar Award (2022), an NIH Pathway to Independence Award (2019), the New York Stem Cell Foundation Druckenmiller Fellowship (2019), and a Human Frontiers Science Program Fellowship (2015).

Cordelia Imig

Cordelia leads an externally funded research group at the Department of Neuroscience, University of Copenhagen, Denmark ( Her group’s research focuses on establishing how the distinct molecular and structural features of different neuronal synapses and other secretory cells shape their respective neurotransmitter and hormone release properties. The key goal is to understand of how dynamic, highly regulated, and ultrafast membrane trafficking processes are ultimately linked to physiology, behaviour, and metabolism in health and disease. Cordelia is a Lundbeck Foundation Fellow and has received several awards including the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society (2016) and the Society for Neuroscience Jennifer N. Bourne Prize in Brain Ultrastructure (2021; co-awardee Wei-Chung Allen Lee).

Johanna Ivaska

Johanna Ivaska is currently a Finnish Cancer Institute K. Albin Johansson Research Professor. She is also Professor of Molecular Cell Biology at Turku Bioscience Center at the University of Turku in Finland. She was nominated EMBO member 2015 and EMBO Council member 2023-. After obtaining her PhD at the University of Turku in 2000 she did a post-doc in the laboratory of Peter Parker in CR-UK London Research Institute. She moved to VTT technical Research Centre of Finland to establish her research group “Cell adhesion and cancer” in 2003 and in 2013 moved to her current position in University of Turku. In 2014 she was a Visiting Professor at Institute Curie in Paris and currently she is an Affiliate Professor at University of Glasgow and CR-UK Beatson Institute for Cancer Research. Her main research interests relate to the biological role of integrins in cancer progression. The current main research focus are integrin mediated cell adhesion and migration, cell-matrix interactions and mechanosensing as well as molecular mechanisms governing endosomal traffic of integrins and growth factor receptors in cancer. Her research is currently funded by grants from the Academy of Finland and national foundations like the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, Sigrid Juselius Foundation and the Finnish Cancer Organization. She is director of Academy of Finland Center of Excellence in Biological Barrier Mechanics and Disease 2022-2029. She is a scientific editor for JCB (since 2016) and editorial and advisory board member of several journals such as Current Biology, Cell Reports, J. Cell. Sci, Current Opinion in Cell Biology, Molecular Oncology and Trends in Cell Biology.

Kim Jensen

Kim B. Jensen is Professor and Deputy Director at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Kim Jensen received his training in stem cell biology at the London Research Institute - CRUK and the University of Cambridge, UK. He is interested in the molecular mechanisms that govern stem cell fate specification, and how extracellular signals integrate with gene regulatory networks to control tissue maturation and cellular plasticity in developing and regenerating adult epithelial tissues including the skin and the intestine. By combining studies using mouse models and clinical specimens the long-term aim of the research in the Jensen lab is to translate result from in vitro and in vivo models into regenerative therapies.

Na Ji

Na Ji received her B.S. in Chemical Physics from the University of Science & Technology of China in 2000. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 2005, working in the laboratory of Yuen-Ron Shen at the Department of Physics. She became intrigued by the brain and moved to Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute for her postdoctoral training in 2006. She became a Group Leader at Janelia in 2011 and continued to develop novel imaging methods and apply them to understand neural circuits involved in visual processing. She returned to Berkeley and joined the Physics and Molecular & Cell Biology Departments in 2016, where she is the Luis Alvarez Memorial Chair in Experimental Physics and a professor of neurobiology. She is also affiliated with the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, as well as the Biophysics, Bioengineering, Vision Sciences, and Applied Science & Technology graduate programs. She is a faculty scientist at the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Anna Kajaste-Rudnitski

Anna Kajaste-Rudnitski (AKR)’s training is in molecular virology and innate immunity. After studying innate immune responses and genetic susceptibility to flaviviral infections during her PhD at the Pasteur Institute, Paris, France, she continued her post-doctoral training in molecular virology at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute, OSR, Milan, Italy, working on Influenza and HIV. She then joined the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy (SR-Tiget), OSR, in Milan as Project Leader in 2012, promoted Group Leader in July 2016.
The AKR Lab studies the molecular mechanisms of host-vector interplay and innate immunity in the context of gene therapy and investigates these pathways in the context of pathological conditions of the central nervous systems and autoimmune diseases. The long-term goal is to provide insight into how pathogen recognition and consequent innate immune signaling may affect efficacy and safety of gene therapy approaches in clinically relevant target cells as well as to shed light on how these same pathways may contribute to autoimmune and inflammatory pathologies.
AKR currently holds an ERC Consolidator Grant and received the Outstanding New Investigator Award from the American Society of Cell and Gene Therapy in 2019. Overall, her studies have significantly contributed to the emerging field of innate immune hurdles to gene therapy and provide insight for the development of innovative cell and gene therapies and to fight infectious and autoimmune diseases in the future.

Nico Mitro

Nico Mitro is an associate professor of Biochemistry of the Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences of the University of Milan and a group leader of the Department of Experimental Oncology at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan.
After the Ph.D. in experimental medicine: atherosclerosis obtained at the University of Siena, Nico Mitro spent almost two years as postdoc at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation and other two years as research associate at The Scripps Research Institute both in San Diego, CA, USA.
In 2008, Nico Mitro started his own laboratory at the University of Milan through the Armenise- Harvard Foundation career development grant.
Nico Mitro’s research activity is carried out through the conception, practical implementation and analysis and interpretation of the results of the experiments. The experimental work conducted by Nico Mitro is part of the study of lipid, glucose, amino acids, and energy metabolism with the primary aim of understanding the role of metabolic regulators, both in physiological and pathological conditions.
Currently Nico Mitro's research activity is focused on the molecular mechanisms that control the functionality of mitochondria in age related diseases such as neurodegeneration, diabetes, and cancer. In the development of projects, Nico Mitro applies cutting-edge technologies in the field of genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, and bioinformatics analysis.

Nuria Montserrat

I became interested in organ regeneration and stem cells during my master and PhD training that finished in 2006. The same year I got a Postdoctoral fellowship from the Fundaçao para a Ciência e Tecnología (Portugal). In 2007 I moved as a post-doctoral researcher at the Hospital of Santa Creu i Sant Pau in Barcelona. In 2008 I joined the Center of Regenerative Medicine of Barcelona (CMRB) thanks to the support of a Juan de la Cierva fellowship under the direction of Dr. Izpisúa Belmonte. In 2010 I first co-authored how to reprogram cord blood stem cells for the first time (Nature Protocols, 2010). Then I first-coauthor the first work deriving iPSCs with new factors (Cell Stem Cell, 2013). I also collaborated in projects aimed to characterize the genomic integrity of human iPSCs as well as in the differentiation of iPSCs towards different lineages for disease modeling (Stem Cells 2011; Nature 2012; Nature Methods 2012, Nature 2012, Nature Communications 2014). I have first co-authored how the reactivation of endogenous pathways can be artificially reactivated and promote heart regeneration in mammals (Cell Stem Cell, 2014). My expertise in the fields of somatic reprogramming and organ regeneration helped me to be awarded an ERC Starting Grant by 2014 that allowed me to became  Junior group leader at the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC). In January 2015 I got a Ramon y Cajal fellowship and from 2019 I am ICREA Research Professor and Senior Group Leader. During these years our findings in the field of Regenerative Medicine led to the derivation, for the first time, of cardiac grafts from human pluripotent stem cells and decellularized cardiac myocardium (Biomaterials 2016), and the derivation of renal analogues with 3D bioprinting (Materials Today 2017). I have recently led the derivation of vascularized kidney organoids (Nature Materials, 2019) and co-led on the application of kidney organoid technology to model SARS-CoV-2 infections (Cell, 2020) identifying a therapeutic compound that nowadays is under clinical trial in COVID19 patients (The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 2020; EMBO Molecular Medicine 2020). I have recently led the first work on the identification of metabolic regulators protecting the renal tubule from acute injury exploiting kidney organoid technology (Cell Metabolism, 2020), among others. In December 2020 the ERC has recognized all these efforts and I have been awarded with the prestigious ERC-Consolidator Grant to study the interplay between mechanobiology and metabolism during kidney development and disease. 

Francesco Nicassio

Francesco Nicassio is a Senior Researcher Tenured at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) and Principal Investigator of the Genomic Science research line. He was born in Bari, where he graduated in in Biology in 2000. He got a PhD in Life Science in 2004 as a student enrolled in the Open University and working at the European Institute of Oncology (IEO-Milan) with Prof. Di Fiore. He joined the the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) in 2012 as Researcher with his own scientific group. Since 2017 is the Coordinator of the Center of Genomic Science (CGS) of IIT@SEMM in Milan, supervising, directing, and managing scientific activities of CGS and related infrastructure (approx. 30 people). In 2022, he was tenured as Senior Researcher.
Scientific interests are centered on the exploitation of genomic approaches to the study of mechanisms in the control of gene expression dynamics provided by non-coding RNAs (microRNAs and long non-coding RNAs) and their impact on cell behavior and human disease, with emphasis on Cancer. He is recognized for his crucial contribution to non-coding RNAs, particularly for characterizing the function and regulation of microRNAs in the gene expression regulatory network. After pioneering the exploitation of circulating microRNAs for diagnostic purposes in Cancer, he has recently brought to attention the mechanisms of miRNA degradation, highlighting the involvement of a novel mechanism, Target-Dependent miRNA degradation (TDMD), to whose discovery his lab decisively contributed. Recently, he has implemented a technological platform for RNA research in IIT, including single-cell platforms (single cell RNAseq, multi-omics), CRISPR-based optical pooled screening (CROP), and single molecule analysis of native RNA (Nanopore RNA sequencing) and developed ad hoc tools for their application to human disease and clinical research.

Aurelien Roux

As a Ph.D student (Curie Institute, Paris, 2000-2004) he worked between cell biologists (Bruno Goud’s lab) and physicists (Patricia Bassereau’s lab) studying how membrane properties influence various stages of membrane traffic. He found that Lo lipids, characterized by an increased bending rigidity of the liquid-ordered (Lo) phase they form compared to liquid-disordered (Ld) phase, were partially excluded from membrane tubules pulled from giant liposomes by molecular motors. This is due to the increased energy requirement for incorporating such lipids into curved structures (Roux et al., EMBO J, 2005). Even though postulated in the 80’s, this study is the first experimental proof of curvature-dependent lipid sorting. He went on with a post-doctoral work in Pietro de Camilli’s laboratory (2004-2007, Yale, USA). He created an assay with which he could monitor membrane fission induced by Dynamin (Roux et al., Nature 2006). After addition of GTP, he observed the contraction of the tubules and the formation of super-coils. This suggested a twisting activity of dynamin that he confirmed by attaching a small bead that rotated around the dynamin tubules during GTP hydrolysis. This study was the first study to show full reconstitution of membrane fission in an in vitro assay. More recently, as CNRS staff scientist (2007-2010) and assistant professor of Biochemistry, Geneva (2010-present), he showed, together with his first PhD student Sandrine Morlot, that dynamin mediated-membrane fission occurs at the edge of its helix, explaining why constriction is required but not sufficient for fission (Morlot et al. Cell 2012).
Aurélien Roux studied biology at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France (1997-1999), with a minor in Physics. He did a Master of Physics, University Denis Diderot, Paris (1999-2000). As a Ph.D student with Patricia Bassereau and Bruno Goud (Curie Institute, Paris, 2000-2004), he studied how lipids can be sorted by membrane curvature. He then did his post-doctoral work with Pietro de Camilli (2004-2007, Yale, USA), reconstituting in vitro dynamin mediated membrane fission, which he continued as a CNRS staff scientist (Institut Curie, Paris, 2007-2010). Appointed assistant professor of Biochemistry, Geneva (2010-2015), he expanded his work towards ESCRT-III, the most ancient and ubiquitous fission machinery in the cell. In 2016, he was tenured to associate professor at Unige, and then Full professor in 2020. During this period, he developed assays to reconstitute spontaneous morphogenesis of cellular assemblies in vitro.

Verena Ruprecht

Verena Ruprecht is a Group Leader and ICREA professor at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) Barcelona, Spain. She studied physics and did her doctoral work in experimental biophysics at the Johannes Kepler University Austria. She continued her postdoctoral work in the field of cell and developmental biology at the Institute of Science and Technology (IST) Austria. Her laboratory studies single cell and multicellular dynamics during tissue development and homeostasis using an interdisciplinary approach that combines quantitative methods from physics and biology and bridges in vivo and synthetic bottom-up in vitro systems.

Giorgio Scita

Giorgio Scita obtained his Ph.D. in Food Chemistry and Technology at the University of Parma, Italy, in the Department of Biochemistry. He did his postdoctoral training at the University of California, Berkeley and at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 1995, he returned to Italy, to the European Institute of Oncology (IEO), Milan. In 2001, he became Principal Investigator at the IFOM Foundation, the FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology, Milan. In 2006, he was appointed associate professor of General Pathology at the School of Medicine of the University of Milan. His primary research interest has been on dissecting basic mechanisms of cell migration and invasion focusing on signaling leading to spatial and temporal regulation of actin dynamics: the powerhouse for cell motility. More recently, he has been investigating the impact of endocytic networks on the biomechanics of collective cell migration, tumor plasticity and dissemination, focusing specifically on the tissue-level solid-to-liquid-like transition underlying human breast ductal adenocarcinomas progression.
Scientific productivity: He has authored more than 145 publications, which include more than 120 original articles and 12 invited reviews in refereed journals. The average impact factor of these publications is slightly above 10. Notably, the average impact factor of the 55 publications of the last 10 years is above 10 and, of these, 23 publications (42%) have appeared in journals with an impact factor >10. (e.g., Cell, Nature Cell Biology, Nature Materials, Nature Communications, Immunity, Developmental Cell).
H factor: Currently, Scita has an overall Hirsch "h" factor of 66 (google Schoolar), 55 (Scopus).
He is ERC awardee (ADVANCED-2011; SYNERGY-2022) and EMBO member since 2014

Katja Simon

Katja Simon trained as an Immunologist at the Deutsche Rheuma-forschungszentrum, Berlin and during her PhD showed that TH1 cytokines are found in excess in human rheumatoid arthritis joints. She was awarded the European League Against Rheumatism EULAR award. After postdocs at the Centre d’Immunologie Marseille Luminy and at the Weatherall Institute in Oxford, where she focused on cell death pathways in the immune system, she became a principal investigator. With her team, she pioneered the field of autophagy in the immune system. Her group discovered that autophagy, the main cellular bulk degradation pathway, promotes differentiation of healthy red blood cells and neutrophils, and maintains long-lived cells such as stem and memory T cells. She also showed that it prevents ageing of immune cells and can be used to reverse immune senescence. She has been a Wellcome investigator since 2015. In 2016 she moved to the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology and became a full professor. In 2022 she started a new group at the MDC in Berlin with funding from the Helmholtz Society for distinguished professors. She received the 2018 Ita Askonas prize for outstanding achievements as a female European group leader in Immunology and became a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in the UK.

Tobias Walther

Tobias C. Walther is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Member and Chair of the Cell Biology Pregame at Sloan Kettering Institute, Professor at Weil Cornell Medical School, Professor at the Gerstner graduate school and the Enid E. Haupt Chair at MSKCC in New York City.
Dr. Walther was trained in Iain Mattaj’s laboratory (Ph.D.) at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany and in Peter Walter’s laboratory at UC San Francisco studying membrane biology. In 2006, he started his laboratory at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany and then Yale’s School of Medicine (New Haven, USA) studying the biochemistry, cell biology and physiology of lipid droplets. In 2014, long-time scientific partners Drs. Walther and Farese merged their laboratory at Harvard, where Dr Walther was a professor fo Cell Biology, Molecular metabolism, the director of the Center on causes and prevention of cardiovascular disease and a member of the Broad Institute. In 2022, he joined Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Through their work together, Farese & Walther elucidate the molecular mechanisms for triglyceride synthesis and storage in lipid droplets (LDs). They uncover fundamental mechanisms of LD formation, LD expansion, protein targeting to LDs, and cellular lipotoxicity when TG storage in LDs is overwhelmed. They elucidate the physiology and pathologies linked to oil synthesis and storage in LDs, including discovering mutations in these pathways that lead to congenital diarrhea syndrome or lipodystrophy in humans. Their work also has enabled the development of therapeutic strategies for fatty liver disease, currently in phase 2/3 clinical trials.
Dr. Walther has received numerous honors, including the Merck Award of ASBMB, Avanti Award for Lipid Research, lifetime ASCB fellowship and an honorary professorship at Tsinghua University.

Christian Frezza

Dr. Christian Frezza is the Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Metabolomics in Ageing, at CECAD, at the University of Cologne. He studied Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Padova, Italy, and gained his MSc in 2002, after a period of research on mitochondrial toxicity induced by photoactivable anticancer drugs. Christian then joined the laboratory of Luca Scorrano in Padova to start a PhD on mitochondrial dynamics and apoptosis. In 2008, he moved to the Beatson Institute of Cancer Research in Glasgow as the recipient of an EMBO Long-Term Fellowship, where he investigated the role of mitochondrial defects in tumorigenesis. He moved to the MRC Cancer Unit in 2012 as a tenure track Group Leader and became a Programme Leader in 2017. In 2021, as the recipient of the Alexander Von Humboldt professorship, he moved his laboratory to CECAD at the University of Cologne.
By using a combination of biochemistry, metabolomics, and systems biology, he investigates the role of altered metabolism in cancer initiation and progression. His aim is to exploit these findings to establish novel therapeutic strategies and diagnostic tools for cancer.