Jay Shendure, M.D., Ph.D.

Jay Shendure is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. Dr. Shendure's 2005 PhD included one of the first successful demonstrations of massively parallel or next generation DNA sequencing. His research group in Seattle has made significant contributions to technologies including exome sequencing and its application to identify the basis of Mendelian disorders and autism spectrum disorders; genome-wide experimental haplotyping and its application to non-invasive whole genome sequencing of a human fetus; massively parallel reporter assays and saturation genome editing; combinatorial indexing for single cell analyses; and whole organism lineage tracing. He is the recipient of the 2012 Curt Stern Award from the American Society of Human Genetics, the 2013 FEDERAprijs, a 2013 NIH Director's Pioneer Award, and the 2014 HudsonAlpha Life Sciences Prize. Dr. Shendure serves or has served on the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director, its Working Group on the US Precision Medicine Initiative, and the National Human Genome Research Advisory Council. He received his BA summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1996, his PhD from Harvard University in 2005 and his MD from Harvard Medical School in 2007.

Michael Elowitz, Ph.D.

Michael Elowitz is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering, and Applied Physics at Caltech. Dr. Elowitz's laboratory has introduced synthetic biology approaches to build and understand genetic circuits in living cells and tissues. Elowitz developed the Repressilator, an artificial genetic clock that generates gene expression oscillations in individual E. coli cells, and since then has continued to design and build other synthetic genetic circuits for programming or rewiring cellular functions. His lab also showed that gene expression is intrinsically stochastic, or ‘noisy’, and revealed how this noise functions to enable a variety of cellular functions, from probabilistic differentiation to time-based regulation. Currently, Elowitz’s lab is bringing synthetic “build to understand” approaches along with dynamic, quantitative single-cell imaging, to the kinds of developmental genetic circuits that allow organisms to develop from fertilized eggs into complex multicellular organisms. In particular, his lab has focused on cell-cell communication, epigenetic memory and cell fate control processes. Most recently, in collaboration with Long Cai, his lab demonstrated a synthetic system called MEMOIR that allows cells to record their own histories in their genomes. Elowitz received his PhD in Physics from Princeton University, and did postdoctoral research at Rockefeller University. Honors include the HFSP Nakasone Award, MacArthur Fellowship, Presidential Early Career Award, Allen Distinguished Investigator Award, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Alex Schier, Ph.D.

Alex Schier obtained his PhD from the Biocenter in Basel, Switzerland, where he studied the transcriptional regulation of homeobox genes in Walter Gehring's lab. He spent his postdoc in Wolfgang Driever's lab in Boston, where he screened for and characterized mutants affecting zebrafish development. He started his lab in 1996 at the Skirball Institute of the New York University School of Medicine and joined Harvard University in 2005, where is the Leo Erikson Life Sciences Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. Dr. Schier’s lab has contributed to the understanding of the molecular basis of embryogenesis and behavior and to the development of zebrafish as a model system. Dr. Schier was a McKnight Scholar for Neuroscience, an Irma T. Hirschl Scholar, and an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association and received the Harland Winfield Mossman Developmental Biologists Award of the American Association of Anatomists and the Everett Mendelsohn Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring. He received a NIH MERIT award in 2016. Members of his lab have gone on to PI positions at leading institutions, including Princeton, Caltech, UCLA, University of Toronto, Yale, NYU School of Medicine, University College London, MPI Dresden, UCSD, IMP Vienna, and MPI Tuebingen.

Carlos Lois, Ph.D.

Carlos Lois is a Research Professor in Neurobiology at the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering at Caltech. Dr. Lois' PhD work demonstrated that the subventricular zone in the brain of adult mice contains stem cells that move long distances through the brain and differentiate into neurons in the olfactory bulb, via a new form of migration that is now known as neuronal chain migration. As a postdoctoral fellow he developed lentiviral transgenesis, an effective method that is now widely used to genetically manipulate animal species that were previously refractory to germline molecular manipulations, such as birds and non-human primates. The Lois lab currently focuses on the generation of neuronal diversity and assembly of neuronal circuit assembly during postnatal neurogenesis. To address these questions his laboratory develops new methods to genetically manipulate the development and biophysical properties of neurons. Honors include the Ellison Foundation New Scholar award, the Packard Foundation Scholar award, and two NIH BRAIN initiative awards. He received his MD from the University of Valencia (Spain), his PhD in neurobiology from The Rockefeller University in 1995, and did postdoctoral work at MIT and Caltech.  

Long Cai, Ph.D.

Long Cai has extensive experience in developing single molecule methods to measure gene expression in single cells. In particular, his lab developed an in situ method that allows a large number of mRNAs to be profiled in single cells in their native environments in tissues. They accomplished this by developing a sequential barcoding method that is akin to sequencing RNAs in cells with sequential fluorescence in situ hybridization (seqFISH) (Lubeck et al, Nat Meth 2014). The multiplexing capacity of this method scales exponentially, potentially allowing the entire transcriptome to be barcoded. Overcoming the bottleneck of coding for different mRNAs in cells opens the door for answering a large range of problem in spatially heterogeneous tissues that are inaccessible with existing methods. They have been translating this method to solve fundamental questions in developmental biology and neuroscience (Shah et al, Neuron 2016, Frieda, Nature 2016, Takei, Biophys J. 2017). Cai has received Allen Distinguished Investigator, NIH New Innovator, and McKnight Innovation awards.

Marshall Horwitz, M.D., Ph.D.

Marshall S. Horwitz, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Pathology, Medicine, and Genome Sciences and a Paul G. Allen Distinguished Investigator, is a physician-scientist whose research focuses on the hereditary basis of bone marrow failure and malignancy while building on their molecular genetic pathogenesis in order to elucidate development at a single cell level. He received his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Revelle College at UCSD and is a graduate of the University of Washington M.D./Ph.D. program (MSTP), which he now directs. For his dissertation research with Dr. Lawrence Loeb, he was among the first to develop Directed Evolution and cofounded the biotech firm Darwin Molecular, which later became part of multinational biopharmaceutical company UCB. He completed postdoctoral training in developmental biology with the late Hal Weintraub at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Among other disorders, his laboratory is responsible for clinical and molecular genetic discovery and definition of hereditary neutropenia due to mutations in ELANE and other genes and familial leukemia syndromes resulting from mutations in GATA2 and other transcription factors. His honors include the Presidential Early Career Award (PECASE), NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, and election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and Association of American Physicians (AAP).

Cole Trapnell, Ph.D.

Dr. Cole Trapnell is a computer scientist and cell biologist who wrote some of the most widely deployed bioinformatics tools in use today. His laboratory develops single-cell genomics assays and the algorithms needed to analyze them. He then applies these technologies to dissect the genetic architecture that governs cell fate decisions in development, reprogramming, and disease. Dr. Trapnell has formal training in both computational and experimental biology, with a broad background in functional genomics and specific training in next generation sequencing and gene expression analysis. As a graduate student working with Steven Salzberg and Lior Pachter, Dr. Trapnell co-developed the ultrafast short read alignment program Bowtie and wrote TopHat, which discovers novel splice sites by aligning RNA-Seq reads to the genome.  To discover new genes and study transcriptional regulation, he built a third program, Cufflinks. As a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, he trained at the bench, studying cell differentiation. There, he developed pseudotemporal analysis, a new approach to studying development using single-cell RNA-Seq. Since starting his lab at the University of Washington, Dr. Trapnell has developed several new techniques that deploy single-cell genomics to answer fundamental questions surrounding cellular plasticity and the regulation of cell differentiation.

Kelley Harris, Ph.D.

University of Washington

Kelley Harris is a computational biologist. She uses population genetic theory and high-throughput biological sequence analysis to study recent evolutionary history in humans and other species. One of her primary interests is the evolution of mutagenesis, the spontaneous and/or exposure-driven processes by which genetic mutations come about. Although DNA is replicated and repaired by well-maintained housekeeping pathways, the mutation rate appears to evolve surprisingly fast over evolutionary time. Harris’ lab works to decipher how this variation is genetically and environmentally determined and what evolutionary pressures (such as cancer, congenital disease or life history) might drive mutagenesis to change. Other research interests include the impact of demography, inbreeding and hybridization on the dynamics of natural selection, particularly in the wake of gene flow between humans, Neanderthals and other extinct hominids. She and her colleagues have developed statistical models that refine our understanding of how genomes and populations evolve.

Magda Zernicka-Goetz, Ph.D.

California Institute of Technology & University of Cambridge

Magda Zernicka-Goetz is a Bren Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering at Caltech, California and Professor of Mammalian Development and Stem Cells at the University of Cambridge, UK. She developed technologies to track lineages and alter gene expression, which led to re-define our thinking about the earliest events governing cell fate specification in the mammalian embryo. She developed systems to culture mouse and human embryos in vitro to the point of gastrulation that allowed her reveal the mechanisms of embryogenesis after implantation. This research was winner of the people’s vote for Science Breakthrough of the Year 2016. She showed that chromosomally abnormal cells become eliminated through apoptosis in embryonic but not extra-embryonic tissues and discovered the minimal embryonic cell number that have to be established by implantation to ensure successful development. She pioneered development of 3D stem cell-derived embryos. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Biology from Warsaw University with Andrzej Tarkowski, and did postdoctoral research at University of Cambridge with Martin Evans and John Gurdon. Honors include Promising Young Scientist Prize 1993, Young Investigator Award from EMBO 2001, EMBO Membership 2007, Fellowship of British Academy of Medical Science 2013, International Foundation IVI Award for the Best Basic Research in Reproductive Medicine 2017, COGI and RBMO Award in recognition of lifetime contribution to reproductive medicine 2018, NIH Director's Pioneer Award 2020.