Virgis Šikšnys (KEYNOTE SPEAKER)

University of Vilnius; Lithuania

Virginijus Šikšnys holds the chair of distinguished Professor of Vilnius University and serves as Chief scientist/head of the department at the Institute of Biotechnology. His research is focused on the structural and molecular mechanisms of antiviral defense systems in bacteria and development of novel genome editing tools. His research on the CRISPR-Cas has had a major impact in the field of gene editing. He together with co-authors, published seminal papers on Cas9 biochemistry that were the foundation for the translation of CRISPR-Cas bacterial immune system into a powerful genome-editing tool. His work has been recently recognized with several awards and prizes. 

rotem sorek

Weizmann Institute of Science; Israel

Rotem Sorek is a Professor at the Department of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institute of Science. He received his  

Ph.D. in Human Genetics from Tel Aviv University in 2006. After postdoctoral studies in Berkeley, CA, he joined the Weizmann Institute of Science in 2008, where he heads the Knell Family Center for Microbiology. His group is interested in phage-bacteria interactions, especially their defence systems including CRISPR and beyond. 

dipali sashital

Iowa State University; USA

Dipali Sashital is an Associate professor at Iowa State University in Ames, IA, USA. She received her B.Sc. in Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley and The Scripps Research Institute. Her lab uses structural, biochemical, biophysical, and genetic approaches to understanding the mechanisms of CRISPR adaptation and interference.

peter fineran

University of Otago; New Zealand

Peter Fineran is a Professor at the University of Otago, New Zealand and leads the Phage-host interactions (Phi) laboratory. He obtained a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry from the University of Canterbury, NZ, then completed his Ph.D. and post-doctoral training at the University of Cambridge, UK. Peter’s group researches the interactions between bacteriophages, other mobile elements and their bacterial hosts – in particular in the area of CRISPR-Cas and phage defence. Peter has received many awards in recognition of his research, including the Fleming Prize from the Microbiology Society, UK and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

malcolm white

University of St. Andrews; UK

Malcolm White is a Professor of Biochemistry at the University of St Andrews. He obtained his Ph.D. at Edinburgh University and his first academic position was at Dundee University, following a postdoc at UC Berkeley. He is interested in mechanisms of prokaryotic anti-viral immunity involving cyclic nucleotide signalling, including both type III CRISPR and CBASS systems. 

eugene koonin

National Institute of Health; USA

Eugene V. Koonin is an NIH Distinguished Investigator and leader of the Evolutionary Genomics Group at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NIH). He received his  

Ph.D. in Molecular Biology in 1983 from Moscow State University, joined the NIH in 1991 and became a Senior Investigator in 1996. His research interests focus on evolutionary genomics of prokaryotes, eukaryotes and viruses, host-parasite coevolution and general theory of the evolution of life. Dr. Koonin made extensive contributions to the study of the functions and evolution of CRISPR systems. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. 

lennart randau

Philipps Universität Marburg; Germany

Lennart Randau is a Professor of Genetics at the Philipps-Universität in Marburg, Germany. From 2011-2019, he was a group leader of the Max Planck Research Group “Prokaryotic RNA Biology” at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg. He was trained as a postdoctoral associate at Yale University after he obtained his Ph.D degree in 2006 at the Technical University of Braunschweig. One research focus of the Randau lab is placed on Class I CRISPR-Cas activity. In his lab, biochemistry and microbiology methods are employed to unravel functions and mechanisms of non-model Type I and Type IV effector complexes. 

ASMa hatoum-aslan

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; USA

Asma Hatoum-Aslan is an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She received her M.Sc. in Biochemistry from the American University of Beirut, Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Cornell University, and postdoctoral training at the Rockefeller University in the Laboratory of Bacteriology. Her research investigates the molecular interactions between bacteria and their viruses (i.e. phages), with a focus on bacterial immune systems such as CRISPR-Cas and the phage-encoded mechanisms that counter them. She has received several honors, including an NIH K22 Award, an NSF CAREER Award, and a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases Award. 

lotta-riina sundberg

 University of Jyväskylä; Finland

 Lotta-Riina Sundberg is an Associate professor, Scientific Director of the Nanoscience Center, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. She obtained her Ph.D. at the University of  Jyväskylä, Finland. She is interested in the ecology and (co-)evolution of phage-bacterium interactions, and the use of bacteriophages in control of bacterial diseases – especially on what factors select for CRISPR-Cas immunity rather than other resistance mechanisms, and the patterns of co-evolutionary arms race between phage and bacteria. 

ekaterina semenova

Rutgers University; USA

Ekaterina Semenova is an Assistant Research Professor at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. She graduated from Novosibirsk State University and received her Ph.D. at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Novosibirsk. She joined the Waksman Institute in 2003 to study different aspects of phage-host interactions, regulation of phage development, and bacterial defense mechanisms. Her work focuses on understanding the mechanistic basis of adaptive immunity in prokaryotes including RNA-guided RNA-targeting type VI CRISPR-Cas systems. 


Institut Pasteur; France 

David Bikard is the head of the Synthetic Biology lab at the Institute Pasteur in Paris. He obtained an engineering degree from AgroParisTech and a Ph.D. from Paris Diderot University for his work performed at the Institut Pasteur on the integron bacterial recombination system. He then joined the laboratory of Luciano Marraffini at the Rockefeller University as a postdoctoral fellow where he started to work on CRISPR systems. David is interested in the genetic innovation that occurs as a result of the competition between bacteria and phages and how it can be harnessed for biotechnological applications.

JOE Bondy-Denomy

University of California San Francisco; USA

Joseph Bondy-Denomy is an Associate Professor at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of California, San Francisco. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 2014. He is interested in bacterial immune systems that antagonize phages and also the counter immunity systems of phages, including CRISPR-Cas and anti-CRISPR systems.

stineke van houte

University of Exeter; UK

Stineke van Houte is a Professor in Microbiology at the University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, UK. She combines molecular and evolutionary approaches to understand evolutionary interactions between bacterial defences (including CRISPR) and genetic parasites such as phages and plasmids.  She also applies this fundamental knowledge to tackle real-world challenges, e.g. the spread of antibiotic resistance or the potential of microbiome engineering. She was trained at Wageningen University, the Netherlands before moving to the UK in 2014 as a Marie-Curie postdoc fellow. After obtaining a permanent position in 2018, she now lead of group of 8 postdocs, technicians and Ph.D. students. 


omar abudayyeh

Massachusetts Institute of Technology; USA

Omar Abudayyeh is a McGovern Institute Fellow at MIT where he directs a lab developing next-generation cell profiling, molecular diagnostics, gene editing, gene delivery, and synthetic biology technologies. He previously was at Harvard Medical School and MIT as a graduate student in Feng Zhang’s lab at the Broad Institute, where he earned a Ph.D. researching novel CRISPR enzymes for genome editing, therapeutics, and diagnostics. He is a pioneer in the gene editing space as an inventor on dozens of patents and patent applications relating to gene editing and diagnostic innovations. He is also co-founder of Sherlock Biosciences and Proof Diagnostics, which are commercializing CRISPR-based diagnostics for healthcare and at-home testing, as well as numerous other stealth starts ups in the gene therapy space, including Tome Biosciences, Moment Biosciences, and Hooke Therapeutics.  

samuel H. sternberg

 Columbia University; USA

Samuel H. Sternberg is an Assistant professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Columbia University. He obtained his B.A. from  Columbia University and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests are in CRISPR-Cas, Antiviral defense systems, Transposons, and Genome engineering.