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24.05.2018 / Announcements


July 16–20, FORTH, Herakleion, Crete

The Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH) and the Onassis Foundation join forces again this year towards the advancement of the educational and research potential of students and young researchers from Greece and around the world. Focusing on Biology and Chemistry, the 2018 Onassis Lectures will offer students and researchers the opportunity to interact with distinguished scientists from all over the world.
The 2018 Onassis Foundation Science Lecture Series is dedicated to Biology and Chemistry and will take place July 16–20 at the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH) in Herakleion, Crete.  The theme of this year lectures is “Eukaryotic Transcription and its Regulation”, and the lead speaker  will be the 2006 Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry, Professor Roger Kornberg of Stanford University, who was honoured for his research into the molecular mechanisms of eukaryotic transcription.

The 2018 Onassis Lectures 2018 will also feature  the following scientists of international repute: Victor Corces (Howard Hughes Professor, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, US); Claes Gustafsson (Professor at the University of Gothenberg, Sweden); Achilles Kapanidis (Professor at the University of Oxford, UK); Roberto Mantovani (Professor at the University of Milan, Italy);  Robert Roeder (Professor at the Rockefeller University, New York, US, winner of the 2003 Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research); Jesper Svejstrup (Professor at the Francis Crick Institute, London, UK); and Ioannis Talianidis (Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, Herakleion, Crete).

For this year's Lectures the Onassis Foundation will support travel and accommodation expenses for up to thirty-five Greek students and up to fifteen International students, selected on the basis of their excellent academic performance. The lectures are also open, but without financial support, to students from institutions based on Crete, as well as to researchers from Greece and abroad whose applications meet similar academic criteria.

To submit an application visit the Lectures website, where detailed instructions can be found. The deadline for the receipt of applications is 12 June 2018.

The Onassis Lectures, which take the form of a summer school and have been jointly offered by the Onassis Foundation and FORTH since 2001, address topics at the cutting-edge of scientific research and are recognized worldwide. The scientists who have delivered lead lectures thus far include 18 Nobel laureates, 4 A.M. Turing Award recipients, and the Fields Medal holder, Edward Witten. The Onassis Lectures aim to provide talented young scientists (graduate and final-year undergraduate students from Greece and beyond) the opportunity to be introduced to contemporary research issues in their respective field of interests. The ultimate goal of the organizers is to help the participants realize their creative potential and to offer them the best possible prospects for the advancement of their scientific careers.

A brief description of the subject matter of the 2018 Onassis Foundation  Lectures
The sequence of bases in DNA constitutes an organism's genetic code. This means that it contains within it all the information which may be called upon in the future—at the right time and place—to direct the biochemical processes that contribute to the organism's morphogenesis and to the regulation of its overall metabolism. However, this stored information, as such, represents a static state. By analogy, it resembles the notes of a music score, which come to life – and their melody is perceived – only when the score is executed by the orchestra.

Something similar happens with the information stored in DNA, which remains static until it is “activated” (transcribed) through dedicated and specific biochemical steps. The first stage in this expression is the transcription of the gene from the DNA to RNA molecules (messenger, mRNA) through the action of protein enzymes (DNA-dependent RNA polymerases). The nucleotide-sequence code in the mRNA is then translated within the ribosome into the amino acid code, that is, into sequences of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) that yield specific protein molecules, such as a multitude of metabolic catalysts (enzymes), structural proteins, etc., but also to some regulatory, non-protein-coding RNAs.

The 2018 Lectures are focused on gene transcription (specifically, on the stereochemistry and the biochemical mechanisms of transcription) and on the crucial role that certain regulatory factors play in ensuring that the genetic potential manifests itself at the right place and at the right time (tissue and developmental stage ). Every deviation from the correct genetic expression causes an imbalance in the metabolism of the cell, which often manifests itself in bodily dysfunction and illness. This year’s speakers are pioneers and leaders in their fields. The individual presentations will cover critical enzymatic stages in the transcription of eukaryotic cells within the cell nucleus, in the mitochondria, on the link between transcription and the correction of 'faults' in the genome, and on examples of specialized, tissue-specific transcription regulation. New data will be presented that correlate dynamic shifts in the 3-D organization of the nuclear genome with the correct (in place and time) genetic transcription as well as with epigenetics. Recent technological developments will also be presented which enable us to investigate transcription mechanisms at the level of single molecules and with millisecond-time resolution.

Clarification:  Although the substrate of the enzymatic process of transcription is chromatin, the 2018 lectures will not deal with issues of chromatin structure, assembly, remodelling, etc. It is hoped that these important topic, will be addressed separately at a future time.

Chairman of the Organizing Committee
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