Opening Session

Saturday 30 August

17:30-20:00, Grand Auditorium

Welcome on behalf of the Marie de Paris by Marie-Christine Lemardeley, FR

Welcome on behalf of SFBBM by Frédéric Dardel, FR

Welcome on behalf of EMBO by Maria Leptin, DE

The birth of EMBO by Gottfried Schatz, CH

Welcome on behalf of FEBS by Israel Pecht, IL

The Foundation and the Early Years of FEBS by William J. Whelan, US

Opening Lecture 1


Catherine Dulac

Catherine Dulac
Harvard University, Cambridge, US

Molecular and Neural Architecture of Social Behavior Circuits in the Mouse

Our group is interested in the cellular and molecular architecture of neural circuits underlying instinctive social behaviors in the mouse. We will describe our recent advances in uncovering the identity of sensory neurons detecting social cues, and of command circuits associated with specific social responses in males and females.


Catherine Dulac is Higgins Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. She is recognized for her research on the molecular biology of olfactory signaling in mammals, particularly including pheromones. She developed a novel screening strategy based on screening cDNA libraries from single neurons and a new method of cloning genes from single neurons.

Opening Lecture 2      

Svante Pääbo

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, DE

A Neandertal Perspective on Human Origins

We have sequenced the genomes of a Neandertal and a Denisovan (an Asian relative of Neandertals) to high quality. These two extinct human forms are the closest evolutionary relatives of all present-day humans. Analyses of these genomes in conjunction with present-day genomes show that both groups have mixed with modern humans after they spread out of Africa. As a consequence, up to 2.0% of the genomes of people living outside Africa derive from Neandertals while an additional ~4.8% of the genomes of people now living in Melanesia derive from Denisovans.

The Neandertal and Denisova genomes allow the identification of novel genomic features that appeared in present-day humans since their divergence from a common ancestor with their closest extinct relatives. I will describe a preliminary analysis of these features and will illustrate how such genes can be functionally analyzed. I will also discuss what has so far been gleaned about the functional consequences of the Neandertal genetic contributions to present-day humans.


Svante Pääbo develops technical approaches that allow DNA sequences from extinct creatures such as mammoths, ground sloths and Neandertals to be determined. He directed the efforts to sequence the Neandertal genome and discovered Denisovans, a new hominin based on DNA sequences determined from a small Siberian bone. He also works on the comparative genomics of humans and apes, particularly the evolution of gene activity and genetic changes that may underlie aspects of traits specific to humans such as speech and language. Svante Pääbo has received several honorary doctorates and scientific prizes and is a member of numerous academines. He is currently a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and a Guest Professor at the University of Uppsala, Sweden.