Elizabeth Ballou is a Wellcome Trust Henry Dale Fellow and Lister Fellow at the University of Exeter, where her lab focuses on the human fungal pathogens in the order Mucorales and the basidiomycete Cryptococcus neoformans. Her work reveals how interactions with bacteria influence fungal stress resistance, morphogenesis, and pathogenesis. Dr Ballou earned her PhD in Genetic and Genomics from Duke University in 2012, undertook postdoctoral work at the University of Aberdeen, abd then moved to the University of Birmingham in 2017 as a BBSRC AFL Fellow. In 2021, she joined the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology at Exeter.
Heike Brötz-Oesterhelt has been working in antibacterial drug discovery in the academic and pharmaceutical industry setting for more than 25 years. After her diploma in biology and PhD in microbiology, she joined the Anti-Infectives Department of Bayer HealthCare, evaluating novel targets, identifying lead structures and heading project teams in structure optimization campaigns. She also co-founded the biotech company AiCuris, Wuppertal, Germany, dedicated to antibacterial and antiviral discovery and development. In 2010, she returned to academia as a professor for Pharmaceutical Biology at the University of Duesseldorf. Since 2014 she has been a full professor for Microbiology at the University of Tübingen, heading the Department of Microbial Bioactive Compounds. Heike is co-speaker of the Cluster of Excellence “Controlling Microbes to Fight Infection”, and deputy speaker of the partner site Tübingen within the German Center of Infection Research (DZIF). Her main research interest lies in molecular mechanisms of new antibiotic lead structures and operation modes of novel antibacterial targets.
Petra Dersch studied Biology in Ulm and Konstanz and graduated 1995 under the supervision of Erhard Bremer in Microbiology at the University of Konstanz and at the Max-Planck-Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology Marburg. As a DFG-supported postdoctoral fellow, she worked in the laboratory of Ralph Isberg at the Tufts Medical School, Boston/USA, started her own group in the laboratory of Regine Hengge at the Freie Universität Berlin, and was Junior Research Group Leader at the Robert Koch Institute Berlin (2003-2005). 2005 she was appointed at the Technische Universität Braunschweig as Associate Professor in Microbiology, and from 2008-2019, she was the Head of the Department of Molecular Infection Biology at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig and associated professor for Infection biology at the Technische Universität Braunschweig. Since 2019 Petra Dersch is the director of the Institute of Infectiology in the Center of Molecular Biology of Inflammation (ZMBE) at the University of Münster.
She is particularly interested in the molecular pathogenesis of enteric pathogens, regulation of pathogenicity factors and virulence-relevant processes, and host-pathogen interactions.
Petra Dersch is a member of the VAAM, DGHM, and the newly-founded InfectNet, an elected member of the Leopoldina (2023) and the European Academy of Microbiology (EAM, 2018), and received the Main Prize of the DGHM in 2013.
Current positions Since 2013: Head of Department ‘Bacterial Networks and Interactions’, Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, IBG-1, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany Since 2017: Associate Professor (W2) “Bacterial
Previous positions 2013-2017: Assistent Professor (W1), Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf 2010-2016: Helmholtz Young Investigator group, IBG-1, Forschungszentrum Jülich 2008-2009: Postdoc, Institute of Microbiology, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Education 2007: PhD, Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, IBG-1, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany 2004: Dissertation for university degree (Diplom), Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg, Germany 2003: Erasmus/Socrates fellowship, University of Oxford, UK 1999 -2004: Degree in Biology (Diplom), Philipps University of Marburg, Germany
Awards and Fellowships 2017: ERC Starting Grant “PRO_PHAGE” of the European Research Council 2016: VAAM honorary award (Association for General and Applied Microbiology) 2011: Helmholtz Young Investigator Group 2009: Jülich Excellence Prize, Forschungszentrum Jülich 2008: Early career encouragement award, Bacterial Networks Conference, Spain 2008: DSM Science & Technology Award 2008: Long-term fellowship of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) 2003: Erasmus/Socrates fellowship, University of Oxford, UK
Speaker: Dr. Michael Y. Galperin, PhD
Lead Scientist, Computational Biology Branch National Center for Biotechnology Information, NLM National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
Dr. Michael Y. Galperin is Lead Scientist at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. He graduated from the Lomonosov Moscow State University (Moscow, Russia) School of Biology with a Diploma in Biochemistry in 1979 and received a PhD in Microbiology and Biochemistry from the same University in 1987. In 1991, he moved to the United States and gained postdoctoral experience at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, and the University of Connecticut at Storrs. In 1996, Dr. Galperin joined NCBI as a GenBank Fellow, became a Staff Scientist in 1999, and in 2012 was appointed Lead Scientist at the NCBI's Computational Biology Branch. His research interests include biochemical evolution and genomics of bacterial metabolic and signaling pathways, particularly two-component and cyclic dinucleotide-mediated signaling. He also performs protein family annotation for the NCBI’s Clusters of Orthologous Genes (COG) database. His key results include, among others, description of several enzyme superfamilies and various sensory and signal transduction domains, including HD-GYP, PilZ, MshEN, and the MASE domain series. Dr. Galperin is an author of more than 220 scientific publications and – together with Eugene Koonin – a textbook on bioinformatic analysis entitled ”Sequence – Evolution – Function”. In 2008-2016, he served as Executive Editor of the Nucleic Acids Research annual Database Issue. He is currently Editor of Journal of Bacteriology and Genomics Updates in Environmental Microbiology and member of editorial boards of several other journals.
Ina Koch studied chemistry and did her diploma’s thesis in quantum chemistry at the University of Leipzig. She received her Ph.D. in the field of theoretical computer science with the topic “A graph-theoretical application of the pairwise and multiple alignments of protein structures”.
Ina Koch has been working at different places, among them the Max Delbrück Center in the group of Jens Reich and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in the group of Martin Vingron. Since 2010 she holds a full professorship in bioinformatics at the Goethe University Frankfurt.
Her research has been dedicated to different topics, ranging from the investigation of protein structure topology using graph theory to the analysis of SNPs and alternative splicing, and, in the last years, more and more to the analysis of biochemical systems. For about 20 years, Ina Koch has been applying Petri nets to model biochemical systems, including metabolic systems, signal transduction pathways, and gene regulatory networks. Ina Koch is the spokesperson of the Fachgruppe Bioinformatik (FaBI) and a member of the DFG review board “Foundations in Biology and Medicine”, as well as a member of several Scientific Advisory Boards.
Markus Künzler studied Natural Sciences at ETH Zürich and completed his studies in 1989 with a Diploma thesis on the transcriptional regulation of aromatic amino acid biosynthesis in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae in the laboratory of Prof. Ralf Hütter and PD Gerhard Braus at the Institute of Microbiology. He continued this studies as a PhD student in the same laboratory and graduated in 1994.
As an EMBO postdoctoral fellow, he then joined Prof. Jeremy Thorner's laboratory in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley (California, USA) where he studied the role of RanGTP-binding proteins in the nucleocytoplasmic transport of proteins and RNA in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In 1997, Markus moved back to Europe to continue these studies in the laboratory of Prof. Eduard Hurt at the Biochemie-Zentrum Heidelberg (BZH) at the Ruprecht-Karls University (Heidelberg, Germany). During this period, his research was funded by the SNSF, the HFSPO, the Ruprecht-Karls University and the DFG (independent research grant for two PhD students).
In 2001, Markus returned to the Institute of Microbiology at ETH Zürich and joined the laboratory of Prof. Markus Aebi as a leader of a subgroup focusing on the role of lectins in the sexual development of the model mushroom Coprinopsis cinerea. Upon the discovery of the toxicity of these lectins for nematodes, Markus built up his own research direction on molecular defense mechanisms of fungi against bacterial competitors and animal predators for which he secured funding by the SNSF, ETH Zürich and Innosuisse.
In 2004, Markus was appointed Senior Research Scientist (tenured) and became member of the Institute Board. Since 2018, Markus is Adjunct Professor of Mycology at ETH Zürich and, since the retirement of Markus Aebi in 2020, an independent groupleader at the Institute of Microbiology.
Anita Marchfelder is director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of Prokaryotes at Ulm University. Her research interest focuses on CRISPR-Cas functions beyond defence, small RNAs, ribonucleases and small proteins in halophilic archaea.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Vera Meyer runs the Chair of Molecular and Applied Microbiology at the Technische Universität Berlin. Her focus is on researching and optimising fungal cell factories, with the aim of making more effective use of fungal metabolic potentials for the production of medicines, platform chemicals, enzymes and biomaterials in the sense of a sustainable bioeconomy and circular economy. Together with her team, she pursues a holistic approach and develops and combines methods from systems biology, synthetic biology, process engineering and bioinformatics. Vera Meyer is a board member of DECHEMA and a member of acatech. Her inter- and transdisciplinary research projects combine natural and engineering sciences with art, design and architecture and create bio-based scenarios for possible living environments of the future. Vera Meyer is also active as a visual artist under the pseudonym V. meer and uses the means of art to make society more aware of the potential of fungi for a sustainable future.
Ruth Schmitz-Streit studied biology at the University of Marburg and did her doctorate in 1992 on molybdenum- and tungstate-containing enzymes in methanogenic archaea supervised by Rolf Thauer. This was followed by a two-year post-doctoral period during which she worked at UC Berkeley in the laboratory of Sydney Kustu on the transcriptional regulation of nitrogen fixation in Klebsiella pneumoniae. In 1996, she returned to Germany to the Institute of Microbiology and Genetics at Göttingen University and habilitated in microbiology and genetics in the Institute of Gerhard Gottschalk on nitrogen fixation in bacteria and archaea in 2001. From 2001 to 2004 she worked as a Heisenberg Fellow at Göttingen University. She has been a C4 professor of Molecular Microbiology at Kiel University since October 2004, and in 2016 Kiel University successfully managed to keep her in Kiel despite an attractive call to Regensburg University. Her scientific work ranges from the regulation of nitrogen metabolism in bacteria and archaea, archaeal viruses, the nitrogen cycle in the oceans, and the identification of new biomolecules from the ocean to studies of host-microorganism interactions. Ruth Schmitz-Streit was a member of the DFG Review Board Microbiology (2008-2016), VAAM president (2017-2019), and is currently a member of the steering committee of SFB1182 'Origin of Metaorganism', and the spokesperson of the DFG Priority Program SPP2002 on ‘Small Proteins in Prokaryotes, an Unexplored World’.
Prof. Dr. Sylvia Schnell
Diplom (Biology), University of Konstanz, 1988 Dr. rer. nat. (Microbiology), University of Tübingen, 1991 Postdoc (Microbial Ecology), University of Maine, 1991-1994 Habilitation (Microbiology), Philipps University Marburg, 1998 Research associate at the Department of Biogeochemistry at the MPI Marburg, 1995-1999 Research associate at the MPI for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, January - October 2000
Professor for General and Soil Microbiology at the University of Giessen since October 2000
Invited Postdoc Lecture
Hans-Günter-Schlegel Lectures (2022 and 2023)
Regine Hengge studied Biology and obtained her doctorate at the University of Konstanz in Germany. After a post-doctoral phase at Princeton University (USA), she started her own junior group and completed her Habilitation in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics again at the University of Konstanz. She has been a Full Professor of Microbiology at Freie Universität Berlin (1998-2013) and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (since 2013). She has done fundamental research on signal transduction and gene regulation in stationary phase bacteria and bacterial biofilms, recently with a focus on the role of the second messenger c-di-GMP. Regine Hengge received the prestigious Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize and an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant. She is an elected member of the German National Academy Leopoldina, EMBO, the American Academy of Microbiology and the European Academy of Microbiology.
Erhard Bremer (1954*) studied Biology at the University of Tübingen with a special emphasis on Microbiology and Bacterial Genetics. He graduated from the University Tübingen with a PhD in 1982 that was obtained under the supervision of Prof. Ulf Henning (Max-Planck Institute for Biology) and Prof. Volkmar Braun (University of Tübingen). Supported by fellowships from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), Erhard Bremer spent 2 ½ years as a post-doctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick (Maryland; USA) in the group of Prof. Tom Silhavy to broaden his skills in bacterial genetics. From 1984-1992 he worked as a staff scientist in the group of Prof. Winfried Boos at the University of Konstanz and attained his Habilitation in the fields of Microbiology and Genetics (1989). In 1999, Erhard Bremer obtained an offer from the University of Saarbrücken for a tenured Associated Professorship, an offer that he declined. Instead, he moved to Marburg where he served as the tenured Head of an independent research group (1992-1995) at the newly founded Max-Planck Institute for terrestrial Microbiology in the Department for Biochemistry headed by Prof. Rolf Thauer. In 1996 Erhard Bremer accepted an offer by the University of Marburg (Department of Biology) for a Full Professorship in Molecular Microbiology where he worked until his official retirement in 2020. In 2002, Erhard Bremer declined on offer for a Full Professorship in the field of Microbiology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (succession of Prof. August Böck). Erhard Bremer served as Vice-Speaker/Speaker of two Collaborative Research Centers (SFB’s) that were funded by the DFG: the SFB-395 and the SFB-987. Since his retirement in 2020, Erhard Bremer is still scientifically active and is associated with the Center for Synthetic Microbiology (University of Marburg).
Erhard Bremer’s main research interests focus on microbial stress responses to environmental challenges with a special emphasis on bacterial osmoregulation. His “favorite microorganism” is Bacillus subtilis.
Erhard Bremer is a long-time member of the VAAM and served on behalf of the VAAM for 18 years on the editorial board of the BIOspectrum. He is an elected Fellow of the European Academy of Microbiology (EAM) (2011 - current) and an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) (2015 – current). In 2013, Erhard Bremer was a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University (USA) at the Department of Molecular Biology. In his honor, within the phylum Planctomycetota, the genus Bremerella (currently comprising three species) was generated in 2020.