Beckman Symposium 2015 - Innovation in the Biosphere

25th Anniversary | February 23, 2015 | Berg Hall - LKSC

Program Schedule

8:45 AM Lucy Shapiro, Director of the Beckman Center, Stanford University Introductory Remarks
9:00 AM Adam Arkin, UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Biomolecular Response to Biosphere Challenges
9:50 AM Jay Keasling, UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Reengineering Life
10:35 AM BREAK  
10:50 AM Uri Alon, Weizmann Institute - Israel Laws of Genetic Microcircuits
11:40 AM Jonathan Weissman, UC San Francisco Deep Reading of Genomes
12:30 PM LUNCH  
1:30 PM Stephen Quake, Stanford University Precision Measurement in Biology
2:20 PM  Karl Deisseroth, Stanford University Optogenetics Manipulating Brain Circuitry
3:05 PM BREAK  
3:20 PM Carla Schatz, Stanford University New Synapses in Old Brains
4:10 PM J. Craig Venter, J. Craig Venter Institute Life from Scratch
5:00 PM Paul Berg, Emeritus Director of the Beckman Center and Nobel Laureate, Stanford University Closing Remarks

Speaker Profiles

Uri Alon holds the Abisch-Frenkel Professorial Chair in the Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Faculty of Biology, Weitzmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel. His research focuses on the cell-wide analysis of protein activity and how cells make decisions and process information. He is a systems biologist working to develop a "blueprint" of a living cell and has determined that the biochemical circuitry in the cell is composed of repeating circuit patterns called network motifs, each of which performs a specific information-processing task. The lab studies these biological networks and circuits, and more recently, has taken up studying the principles of human network interactions, using a combined experimental and theoretical approach, aiming to uncover general underlying principles that govern their functioning and evolution.

Adam Arkin is the Dean A. Richard Newton Memorial Professor of Bioengineering, College of Engineering, University of California, Berkeley. He is also Director, Physical Biosciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and Co-Director, Virtual Institute of Microbial Stress and Survival. His laboratory for systems and synthetic biology seeks to uncover the evolutionary design principles of cellular networks and populations and to exploit them for applications. To do so, they are developing a framework to effectively combine comparative functional genomics, quantitative measurement of cellular dynamics, biophysical modeling of cellular networks, and cellular circuit design to ultimately facilitate applications in health, the environment, and bioenergy.

Karl Deisseroth is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and the D. H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine. His research group pioneered optogenetics, a technology that uses light to control millisecond-precision activity patterns in defined cell types in the brains of freely moving mammals, and CLARITY, a chemical engineering technology that enables high-resolution structural and molecular access to intact brains. The lab continues to develop and apply these and other tools (integrated with optical, electrophysiological, computational, molecular, and behavioral approaches) for the study of neural physiology and behavior in freely moving mammals.

Jay Keasling is Professor of Bioengineering and the Hubbard Howe, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering, University of California, Berkeley. He is also Director, Physical Biosciences Division, LBL and Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center, and CEO of the Joint BioEnergy Institute. Dr. Keasling's research focuses on the metabolic engineering of micro-organisms for degradation of environmental contaminants or for environmentally friendly synthesis. He has developed a number of new genetic and mathematical tools to allow more precise and reproducible control of metabolism. These tools are being used in such applications as synthesis of biodegradable polymers, accumulation of phosphate and heavy metals, and degradation of chlorinated and aromatic hydrocarbons, biodesulfurization of fossil fuels, and complete mineralization of organophosphate nerve agents and pesticides.

Stephen Quake is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor of Bioengineering at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The focus of his laboratory is the application of precision measurement to biological processes. The lab has pursued two main avenues of technology development in order to improve biological measurement techniques. The first has been to develop the biological equivalent of the integrated circuit: microfluidic large-scale integration (LSI). The devices take advantage of the unusual physics of fluids in small volumes. The second technology is the development and application of ultra-high throughput DNA sequencing technology, which led to the first demonstration of single molecule sequencing. Work in this area has opened up new research avenues in human genetics and immunology, and the development of new clinical diagnostics.

Carla Shatz is the Sapp Family Provostial Professor in the Departments of Biology and Neurobiology, Stanford University. She is also the David Starr Jordan Director of the Stanford Bio-X Program. By studying the visual system of mammals, the Shatz Lab discovered that adult wiring emerges from dynamic interactions between neurons involving neural function and synaptic plasticity. Even before birth and long before vision, the eye spontaneously generates and sends coordinated patterns of neural activity to the brain. Blocking this activity in utero, or preventing vision after birth, disrupts normal tuning up of circuits and brain wiring. In turn, neural activity regulates the expression of genes involved in the process of circuit tuning. To discover cell and molecular underpinnings of circuit tuning, her lab has conducted functional screens for genes regulated by neural activity. The lab is exploring a role for these molecules in synaptic plasticity, learning, memory and neurological disorders.

J. Craig Venter is Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of the J. Craig Venter Institute. He is also co-founder, executive chairman and co-chief scientist of Synthetic Genomics, Inc., a privately held company, and is co-founder, Executive Chairman and CEO of Human Longevity, Inc. In the late 1980s, Dr. Venter developed Expressed Sequence Tags or ESTs, a revolutionary new strategy for rapid gene discovery. In 1995, he and his team decoded the genome of the first free-living organism, the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae, using the whole genome shotgun technique. In 1998, he sequenced the human genome using new tools and techniques he and his team developed, which resulted in the February 2001 publication of the human genome in the journal, Science. He has since sequenced and analyzed the first complete diploid human genome, and in a recent groundbreaking advance, created the first self-replicating bacterial cell constructed entirely with synthetic DNA.

Jonathan Weissman is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco. His lab looks at how cells ensure that proteins fold into their correct shape, as well as the role of protein misfolding in disease and normal physiology. He is also developing experimental and analytical approaches for exploring the organizational principles of biological systems and globally monitoring protein translation through ribosome profiling. A broad goal of his work is to bridge large-scale approaches and in-depth mechanistic investigations to reveal the information encoded within genomes.

Lucy Shapiro, Beckman Center Director, is the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research in the Department of Developmental Biology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Shapiro is a microbial geneticist whose research has resulted in major advances in understanding cell differentiation. Her innovative use of the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus has yielded fundamental insights for understanding the bacterial cell as a paradigm for an integrated system in which the transcriptional circuitry is interwoven with the three-dimensional deployment of key regulatory and morphological proteins. Dr. Shapiro showed for the first time that bacterial DNA replication occurred in a spacially organized way, and that the act of replication and the subsequent segregation of the DNA to opposite ends of the cell dictates the cellular position and time of function of the cell division machine. She has won numerous awards and distinctions for her contributions to the field of microbial genetics including the 2005 Selman Waksman Award, the 2009 Canada Gairdner International Award, the 2012 Louisa Horwitz Prize, the 2012 National Medal of Science, and most recently the 2014 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize awarded by Rockefeller University to celebrate the achievements of outstanding women in science.