Plenary Speakers

A diverse line up of exceptional experts shaping the forefront of metallomics.

Prof. Hongzhe SUN

Hongzhe SUN is the Norman & Cecilia Yip Professor in Bioinorganic Chemistry at the University of Hong Kong. As a leading expert in the field of biological inorganic chemistry and metallomics, his research interests lie in the frontier of metalloproteomics and metallomics, discovery of antimicrobial and antiviral agents, and inorganic chemical biology. His seminal contributions to the field of metallomics/metalloproteomics have garnered significant recognition.

For his pioneering work uncovering potential metallodrug binding proteins in pathogens, he was recently awarded the Dalton Horizon Prize (RSC, 2023), given to teams and collaborations that open new directions in contemporary chemical science through groundbreaking scientific developments.

His recent interest lies in integrative metallomic approaches for overcoming emerging infectious diseases. He has published over 230 papers, and edited a book entitled “biological chemistry of arsenic, antimony and bismuth” (John Wiley, 2011). He is the recipient of the AsBIC Outstanding Achievement Award (2022), UC Berkeley Muetterties Lectureship (2018) and WuXi AppTech Life Chemistry Research Award (2016). He is an editor of the Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry (Springer) and was a series editor of Metallobiology (RSC).

Dr. Mak Saito

Dr. Mak Saito is a Senior Scientist in the Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts USA. He received his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-WHOI Joint Program and did postdoctoral research at Princeton University.

The Saito laboratory studies the nutritional role of metals in marine microorganisms and their role on global biogeochemical cycling. With human economies now large enough to impinge upon many of these cycles, obtaining an understanding of the mechanisms that create and maintain these biogeochemical cycles is critical in achieving sustainable economies.

His team has participated in over 30 oceanographic expeditions to remote environments from Antarctica to Arctic Ocean and applies a variety of proteomic and analytical chemistry techniques. His group’s research has examined the roles of zinc, cobalt (including vitamin B12), iron, nickel, and other metals in the sustenance of marine phytoplankton, bacteria, and Archaea. He is the lead PI for the Ocean Protein Portal Project and the Biological Chemical Oceanographic Data Management Office (BCO-DMO).

Prof. Ute Krämer

Ute Krämer is a Full Professor at the Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, where she holds the Chair of Molecular Genetics and Physiology of Plants. She received a D.Phil. at the University of Oxford, UK, and did postdoctoral research at Rutgers University, NJ, USA. Renowned for her ground-breaking work on metal hyperaccumulation in plants, she has deciphered how certain plants flourish in heavy metal-laden soils, surviving at concentrations toxic to most.

The Krämer lab’s investigations dissect the complex interactions between plants and soil, particularly the uptake and management of both essential nutrients and non-essential heavy metals. Her team adeptly combines physiology, molecular and cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, genomics, and field studies to elucidate the integration of metal homeostasis with plant metabolism, growth, and development. This multifaceted approach shines a light on the intersection of molecular mechanisms with evolutionary ecology, especially in the metal hyperaccumulator Arabidopsis halleri.

Ute Krämer is a member of the prestigious German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and was awarded an Advanced Grant of the European Research Council in 2018.

Prof. Louise Horsfall

Louise Horsfall is a Professor of Sustainable Biotechnology at The University of Edinburgh. She earned her MChem from Oxford and a PhD in Biochemistry from Université de Liège. After roles at Leeds and Glasgow Universities, she joined Edinburgh in 2012. A founding member of the European Federation of Biotechnology’s (EFB) Bioengineering Division, she is interested in multidisciplinary challenges utilising Biotechnology and Synthetic Biology towards a sustainable, circular economy.

The Horsfall group is renowned for developing the most advanced bio-based lithium-ion battery recycling process to date and contributing to the roadmap for sustainable circular economy in lithium-ion and future battery technologies. Their innovative research merges biosynthesised nanoparticles with green chemistry for enhanced catalysis.

Prof. Horsfall serves on the EFB’s Executive Board and holds memberships in European Synthetic Biology Society, SynBioUK Advisory Boards, EPSRC’s Strategic Advisory Team for manufacturing and circular economy, BBSRC Strategy Advisory Panel for advanced manufacturing and clean growth, the Carbon Technology Research Foundation Advisory Council, the Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance strategic group and the Scottish Science Advisory Council – providing independent advice and recommendations on science strategy, policy and priorities to the Scottish Government.

Prof. Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede

Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede is a Professor at the Life Sciences Department at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. She launched her independent research career at Tulane University in 1999, following a PhD in physical chemistry and a postdoc at the California Institute of Technology. Prof. Wittung-Stafshede continued her impactful career at Rice University, and Umeå University, ultimately moving to Chalmers University’s newly established Life Sciences Department in 2015.

Having pioneered discoveries concerning metals in protein folding, macromolecular crowding effects on folding reactions, and the mechanisms of copper-transport proteins, Prof. Wittung-Stafshede’s current research focuses on elucidating the roles of copper transport proteins in cancer processes and exploring the cross-reactivity between amyloidogenic proteins and metals in neurodegenerative diseases.

Prof. Wittung-Stafshede, a member of the Royal Swedish Academies of the Sciences and the Engineering Sciences, joined the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry committee and has been lauded with numerous awards throughout her career, publishing over 265 scientific articles and 50 popular texts. In 2019, she spearheaded “Genie,” a substantial gender equality program at her university, further establishing herself as an international spokesperson for gender equality in science.

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