Genetics Retreat - NVHG graduate meeting

Keynote speakers

Each Genetics Retreat - NVHG graduate meeting features a keynote address by a renowned scientist known for his/her groundbreaking research in the broader research areas relevant to human genetics and disease. During and following the keynote address, there is ample opportunity to interact with the keynote speaker. Each NVHG keynote address is concluded with a social evening in one of the ancient distinctive arched cellars of the Augustinian abbey. This setting offers excellent opportunity for further discussion and networking. See: programme 2020.

René Bernards, NKIProf. René BernardsProf. René Bernards (keynote 26 March 2020: New approaches to cancer therapy: if you do what you did, you get what you got) studied Medical Biology at the University of Amsterdam. After obtaining his PhD at the University of Leiden, and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Whitehead Institute (Cambridge, MA, USA), he joined the Netherlands Cancer Institute in 1992. Ever since Bernards has gained worldwide fame as an innovative and leading scientist in cancer research. His team applies functional genetic screens to investigate the biological mechanisms of therapeutic resistance and thus to expose weaknesses of cancer cells; these weaknesses are then exploited with the help of phased combination therapy using existing and novel drugs. He has successfully introduced such rationally designed, personalized treatment to the clinic. René Bernards was appointed member of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Academy in 2018 and was elected as a member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2019. 

Rianne LetschertProf. Rianne Letschert (photo by Harry Heuts)Prof. Rianne Letschert (keynote 26 March 2020: The do’s and don’ts of academic leadership; where do we stand?) studied International Law at Tilburg University, the University of Amsterdam and the University of Montpellier. She obtained her PhD degree at Tilburg Unbiversity in 2005. In March 2011 Letschert was appointed professor to the newly established chair in Victimology and International Law at Tilburg University. She has directed the International Victimology Institute Tilburg (INTERVICT) and acts as an expert consultant on casualty cases to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Her research focus is on the impact of international tribunals on societies and people confronted with serious human rights violations and international crime. Letschert became a member of the Young Academy of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in 2012, and holds a lifelong research membership to the Clare College in Cambridge. Rianne Letschert was appointed Rector Magnificus of Maastricht University in 2016; in 2019 she was awarded the title Topwoman of the year.

Musa MhlangaProf. Musa MhlangaProf. Musa M. Mhlanga (keynote 25 March 2020: Having fun with with dark matter), USA citizen, American-born male cell biologist, holds a PhD in cell biology & molecular genetics from New York University School of Medicine (2003). He began his PhD at the Rockefeller University in the laboratory of David Ho where he worked on spectral genotyping of human alleles. He then went on to work on the development of in vitro and in vivo applications of molecular beacons for their use in visualizing RNA in living cells with Fred Russell Kramer and Sanjay Tyagi at New York University School of Medicine. Upon completion of his doctoral work he was awarded a US National Science Foundation post-doctoral fellowship at the Institut Pasteur in Paris (France) to work in the laboratory of nuclear cell biology. There he worked on RNA transport and single molecule visualization and tracking of RNA in living cells. In late 2008 he moved his lab to South Africa to join the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research as the Research Leader of the Synthetic Biology Emerging Research Area. Recently he moved his laboratory to the University of Cape Town Medical School. His laboratory works on gene regulation, host-pathogen interactions, single molecule imaging of gene expression and the development of cell-based visual high-throughput biology techniques for screening in basic and clinical biology. 

Keynote speakers since 2000

  • 2019: Prof. Thierry Voet (KU Leuven), 'Single-cell multi-omics to study DNA mutation, genetic heterogeneity and disease' 
  • 2018: Prof. Cisca Wijmenga (UMC Groningen), 'We and our small friends: ins and outs of gut microbiome'
  • 2017: Nick Loman, PhD (University of Birmingham, United Kingdom), 'Introducing the portable nanopore single molecule sequencing revolution'
  • 2016: Prof. Miikka Vikkula, MD, PhD (University of Louvain, Belgium),'Vascular malformations: from examples of human genetic mosaicism towards clinical trials'
  • 2015: Prof. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (Tübingen/Germany) 'The development of colour patterns in fishes. Towards an understanding of the evolution of beauty'
  • 2015: Prof. Johan Braeckman (Gent, Belgium) 'Why people are extremely gullible'
  • 2014: Thijn Brummelkamp, PhD (Amsterdam/Vienna) 'Haploid genetics in human cells unravels portals for pathogens'
  • 2013: Prof. Michael Snyder (San Francisco, USA) 'Adventures in personal genomics and whole omics profiling'
  • 2012: Prof. Johannes Krause (Tübingen, Germany) 'Learning about human population history from ancient and modern genomes'
  • 2011: Prof. Joe Nadeau (Seattle, USA) 'Transgenerational genetic effects on phenotypic variation'
  • 2010: Prof. Allan Balmain (San Francisco, USA) 'Systems genetics analysis of cancer suspectibility: from mouse model to humans'
  • 2009: Prof. Edith Heard (Paris, France) 'X-chromosome inactivation: a paradigm for monoallellic gene expression and epigenetics'
  • 2008: Prof. Stylianos E. Antonarakis (Geneva, Switzerland) 'The mystery of conserved non-coding sequences'
  • 2007: Prof. Marcus Pembrey (London, United Kingdom) 'Male-line, transgenerational responses in humans – is the Y-chromosome involved?'
  • 2006: Prof. Roel van Driel (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) 'Where do we go to in the nucleus?'
  • 2005: Prof. Jürgen Brosius (Münster, Germany) 'Echoes from the past – are we still in an RNP world?'
  • 2004: Prof. Brian Hendrich (Edinburgh, Scotland) 'Early development, stem cells and epigenetics'
  • 2003: Prof. Stephan Beck (Cambridge, United Kingdom) 'From Genomics to Epigenomics'
  • 2002: Prof. Michel Georges (Liège, Belgium) 'QTL-analysis'
  • 2001: Prof. Gert Vriend (Nijmegen, the Netherlands) 'Genomics and bioinformatics'
  • 2000: Prof. Doug Fambrough (Boston, USA) 'Using DNA microarrays to dissect biological problems'