Symposium: Technologies that are rewriting the future of the life sciences

August 28, 2017
Ian Demsky, 734-647-9837,


DATE: Friday, Sept. 15, 2017

EVENT: Saltiel Life Sciences Symposium: “Game Changers: Technologies that are rewriting the future of the life sciences.” Free to the public.

PLACE: Forum Hall, Palmer Commons

MEDIA: Open to the media, but please RSVP to Ian Demsky, 734-647-9837 or

DETAILS: Technological advancements and innovations are reshaping the life sciences at a breathtaking pace. Each day brings new headlines about the possibilities of gene editing, viewing living systems at ever finer resolutions, and targeting the tiny biological miscues underlying many human diseases.

This year, the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute’s annual symposium explores the galloping pace of discovery, bringing to campus five pioneers and innovators in different areas of bioscience technology and research. Speakers include:

  • George Church, a professor at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who, as a STAT News profile put it, “has been stirring controversy, and excitement, in the scientific community for decades. He wants to reanimate the woolly mammoth, edit pig genes so their organs can be transplanted safely into people—oh, and reverse aging.”
  • Karl Deisseroth, a psychiatrist and researcher from Stanford University, whose optogenetics technique The New Yorker noted, “has given researchers unprecedented access to the workings of the brain, allowing them not only to observe its precise neural circuitry in lab animals but to control behavior through the direct manipulation of specific cells.”
  • Philipp Keller, from Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus, whose team developed a microscope that can quickly produce three-dimensional images of entire organisms, like zebrafish or fruit fly larvae.
  • Daniela Nicastro, an associate professor from the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center, who uses cryo-electron microscopy to study, for example, cilia in the human body that are 500 times thinner than a hair—a breakthrough for studying ciliopathies, diseases that affect these tiny structures.
  • David Walt, a researcher and professor at Harvard and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, whose noteworthy career as a chemist, engineer, innovator and entrepreneur includes founding extremely successful life sciences startups focused on genetic screening and ultra-sensitive protein analysis.

“While the University of Michigan’s bicentennial year has been a time of reflection on accomplishments and progress, it is also an opportunity to look toward the future and what the coming decades may hold in store,” said LSI Director Roger Cone, who in May was also appointed vice provost and director of the U-M biosciences initiative.

This year’s event marks the 16th annual LSI symposium.

SPONSOR: U-M Life Sciences Institute


In 2002, while construction of the institute was still underway, the LSI held its first symposium. The event continues to represent the LSI’s most important values: excellence in science, investment in high-impact research, and especially the synergy that happens when top scientists from a range of fields meet and share their work around a common theme.

In 2016, the annual LSI symposium was named the Saltiel Life Sciences Symposium thanks to an endowment made possible by the support of the LSI’s faculty, Leadership Council, Scientific Advisory Board and friends. The name recognizes the leadership and scientific contributions made by former LSI Director Alan Saltiel during his 13-year tenure.