MBI’s Scientific Advisory Board
Overseeing the mission of the Mechanobiology Institute to establish itself as a global leader in developing a robust multi-disciplinary approach to the study of mechanobiology, the Governing Board and the Director of MBI are advised by the MBI Scientific Advisory Board (SAB).
Appointed by the Chairman of the Governing Board, the SAB makes annual visits to MBI to review research programmes and projects of the Mechanobiology Institute and provide counsel and recommendations to the Board and the Director of MBI.
The first Scientific Advisory Board was appointed in 2010 chaired by Prof Daniel Louvard (Institut Curie) and formed by members Prof Ueli Aebi (University of Basel), Prof Albert Libchaber (Rockefeller University) and Prof James Spudich (Stanford University). Each Board serves a term of 3 years. Today, the Scientific Advisory Board consists of Chairman Prof David Drubin (University of California, Berkeley), and members Prof Mary Beckerle (Huntsman Cancer Institute), Prof. Maria Leptin (EMBO), Prof. Fiona Watt (King’s College London) and Prof David Weitz ( Harvard University).
David Drubin, Chair
Editor in Chief of Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBoC); Co-chair, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley
David Drubin has served on the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley for 28 years. His research combines live cell imaging, molecular and cell biology, genetics and biochemistry. The primary focuses of his research are the cytoskeleton and membrane trafficking events. He studies these processes in budding yeast and mammalian cells. In recent years his lab has begun to genome edit human stem cells for investigations of how the cytoskeleton and membrane trafficking events are altered during differentiation to serve the specific biological demands of the differentiated cells. Through collaboration with Fyodor Urnov and his colleagues at Sangamo Biosciences, David’s lab became the first to use genome editing to express fluorescent fusion proteins at native levels in mammalian cells to avoid perturbing the processes being investigated.
Currently, David is Editor in Chief of the American Society for Cell Biology’s research journal, Molecular Biology of the Cell. Previously, he served as Head of the Division of Cell and Developmental Biology and the Graduate Program in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley. He has served on numerous editorial boards and NIH grant review study sections, and has organized several international research conferences. In 1999 he was Program Chair for the American Society for Cell Biology’s annual national meeting. He received the Ira Herskowitz Award from the Genetics Society of America in 2008 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010.
David earned a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at UC Berkeley working on transcription enzymology with Michael Chamberlin, and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics with Marc Kirschner at the University of California, San Francisco. He performed his postdoctoral studies with David Botstein at MIT. Read more about Prof Drubin.
Ralph E and Willia T Main Presidential Professor; Distinguished Professor of Biology; CEO and Director, Huntsman Cancer Institute; Associate Vice President of Cancer Affairs, University of Utah
Prof Beckerle is CEO and Director of Huntsman Cancer Institute and Associate Vice President for Cancer Affairs at the University of Utah. Prof Beckerle joined the faculty of the University of Utah in 1986, and is a distinguished professor of biology and oncological sciences, holding the Ralph E and Willia T Main Presidential Professorship.
Prof Beckerle’s research has defined a novel molecular pathway that regulates cell motility, and her lab is currently focused on understanding the impact of this pathway on tumor progression, particularly in Ewing’s sarcoma. Her scientific work has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Cancer Society for over 23 years. Prof Beckerle is the principal investigator of Huntsman Cancer Institute’s NCI Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG).
An active participant in national and international scientific affairs, Prof Beckerle served as president of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) in 2006, and was recently appointed to the American Association of Cancer Research Science Policy and Legislative Affairs Committee. She has served on numerous strategic planning and peer review committees for the NIH. She has served on the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director and as President of the American Cancer Society Council for Extramural Grants. In addition to serving on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Mechanobiology Institute, Singapore, she currently serves on the Scientific Review Board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Coalition for Life Sciences Board of Directors, and the Scientific Advisory Board of the National Center for Biological Sciences at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, the premiere life sciences research institute in India. In 2013, she was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Association for Cancer Research.
In 2000, Prof Beckerle was appointed as a Guggenheim Fellow and a Rothschild-Yvette Mayent Award Scholar at the Curie Institute in Paris. She received the Utah Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology in 2001, the Sword of Hope Award from the American Cancer Society in 2004, and the Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence (the University of Utah’s highest honor) in 2007. Prof Beckerle was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2008. Learn more about Prof Beckerle.
Director, EMBO; Professor, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL); Member of Academia Europaea; Chair, Grant Evaluation Panel for the European Research Council; Editorial Board for Developmental Cell
Maria Leptin received her PhD in 1983 for work on B cell activation carried out at the Basel Institute for Immunology, Switzerland, under the supervision of Fritz Melchers. She switched to the study of development in Drosophila when she joined the laboratory of Michael Wilcox at the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge, UK, for her postdoctoral work on Drosophila integrins. After a research visit at the laboratory of Pat O’Farrell at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), where she began her work on gastrulation, she spent 1989-1994 as a group leader at the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen, Germany. In 1994, she became Professor at the Institute of Genetics University of Cologne.
In January 2010, Maria Leptin became the Director of EMBO and established a research group in Heidelberg at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL).
The group studies cell biology and biophysics of cell shape changes and the mechanism of innate immunity. Professor Leptin is an elected member of EMBO and the Academia Europaea. She also serves on the editorial boards of Developmental Cell and Developmental Biology and on the advisory boards of several academic institutions. She has chaired and is a member of one of the evaluation panels for European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Investigator Grants. Learn more about Prof Leptin.
Director, Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at King’s College London; Fellow of the Royal Society; Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences
Fiona Watt obtained her first degree from Cambridge University and her DPhil, in cell biology, from the University of Oxford. She was a postdoc at MIT, where she first began studying differentiation and tissue organisation in mammalian epidermis. She established her first research group at the Kennedy Institute for Rheumatology and then spent 20 years at the CRUK London Research Institute. She helped to establish the CRUK Cambridge Research Institute and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research and in 2012 she moved to King’s College London to found the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine. Fiona Watt is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. She is internationally recognised for her work on stem cells and their interactions with the niche in healthy and diseased skin.
Fiona Watt is director of the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at King’s College London. She is internationally recognised for her work on stem cells and their interactions with the niche in healthy and diseased skin. Read more about her research at www.wattlab.org.
David A Weitz
Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, Director of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, Co-Director of the BASF Advanced Research Initiative, Member, Kavli Institute for Bionano Science & Technology
Weitz received his PhD in physics from Harvard University and then joined Exxon Research and Engineering Company. He then became a professor of physics at the University of Pennsylvania and moved to Harvard at the end of the last millennium as professor of physics and applied physics. Learn more about his research at weitzlab.seas.harvard.edu.