Symposium: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Biology


This CUSO-funded Symposium will cover the development of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning technology, its application in Biology related areas and ethical issues arisen from AI development.

Date: Friday, June 5th, 2020
Time: 9:00-17:20
Venue: 1S081 (Sciences III), University of Geneva
Registration: free and online

The symposium is open to everyone, and PhD students can receive credits through registering to CUSO StarOmics Doctoral Program.
“Meet the speaker” lunch is planned for student and postdocs.

Conference: Reconsidering conceptual change in science education in light of recent findings in the neurosciences


Recent  findings in neuroscience show that in science learning, new conceptions do not replace previous ones. Prof. Patrice Potvin, from the Univ of Montréal, will discuss the implication of these findings in neuroscience for science teaching and learning, especially with regard to conceptual change.
This conference is aimed primarily at researchers in science, education and the neurosciences.

Mercredi 26 février 14h -16h U 159 – Uni Dufour (in French)

Wednesday February 26, 6-7 pm, A150 – Sciences II (in English)

Molecular mechanism for the recognition of sequence-divergent CIF peptides by the plant receptor kinases GSO1/SGN3 and GSO2


The plant leucine-rich repeat receptor kinases GSO1/SGN3 and its peptide ligands CIF1 and CIF2 are essential for the formation of the Casparian strip. The Hothorn group from the Department of Botany and Plant Biology, in collaboration with the Geldner group from UNIL, has now uncovered in molecular detail how the SCHENGEN 3 receptor complex tightly binds CIF1 and CIF2.

Crystal structure of the GSO1/SGN3–CIF complex reveals a binding pocket for sulfotyrosine and extended back-bone interactions with CIF2. Structure-guided sequence analysis allowed to uncover previously uncharacterized CIF peptides conserved among higher plants. Quantitative binding assays with known and novel CIFs suggest that the homologous LRR-RKs GSO1/SGN3 and GSO2 have evolved unique peptide binding properties to control different developmental processes. A quantitative biochemical interaction screen, a CIF peptide antagonist and genetic analyses together implicate SERK proteins as essential coreceptor kinases required for GSO1/SGN3 and GSO2 receptor activation.

This work provides a mechanistic framework for the recognition of sequence-divergent peptide hormones in plants and was published in PNAS on January 21, 2020.


Toxoplasmosis rids its host of all fear


Toxoplasma gondii is a neurotropic parasite that infects all warm-blooded animals, including humans. Its objective is to reach the intestines of felids, the definitive host in which it reproduces sexually. To do so, the parasite first infects mice and drastically alters their behaviour. The natural aversion of mice toward cats is decreased – a phenomenon called fatal attraction – making them easy preys.

Using a set of complementary behavioral tests, Ivan Rodriguez and Dominique Soldati-Favre groups showed that T. gondii lowers general anxiety in infected mice, increases explorative behaviors, and surprisingly alters predator aversion without selectivity toward felids.

Their findings refute the myth of a selective loss of cat fear in T. gondii-infected mice and point toward widespread immune-related alterations of behaviors.

The study was published in Cell Reports on January 14, 2020.


A novel protease contributes to the repair of DNA-protein crosslinks


DNA-protein crosslinks (DPCs) are formed in the course of normal cell metabolism. However, their prolonged persistence can be extremely toxic, cause genome instability and promote diseases such as cancer.

The Stutz laboratory, together with the Kornmann (University of Oxford) and Loewith groups,describes a new mechanism required for the efficient DPC disassembly. Through a yeast genetic screen, Serbyn and collaborators identified the enigmatic Ddi1 protease as a new candidate degrading the protein moiety of DPCs. The authors show that Ddi1 helps to resolve a broad variety of DNA-protein crosslinks and functions independently of the known pathways involved in proteolytic DPC elimination.

Loss of Ddi1 sensitizes cells to several compounds that trap DPCs, including approved anti-cancer drugs. The latter provides novel insights into the putative mechanisms of drug resistance often observed in therapeutics.

The study was published in Molecular Cell on January 2, 2020.


The elephant’s trunk will inspire a revolutionary robot


An international team, including the group of Professor Michel Milinkovitch, will analyse the African elephant’s trunk, and its exceptional agility and versatility, to create a new generation of manipulative robots capable of operating in unstable environments, adapting quickly to unexpected situations and performing a multitude of concrete tasks.

Read the press release

Conférences 2020: Modéliser le réel


Modéliser le réel: un outil et un défi pour la science

Les conférences organisées par l’UNIGE et Culture&Rencontre en janvier-février 2020 se consacrent à la modélisation du vivant et de phénomènes naturels et ses applications dans différents domaines scientifiques, dont le climat, la biologie et l’environnement.

L’histoire d’un lézard: quand Darwin rencontre Von Neumann et Turing

Prof. Michel Milinkovitch – Mercredi 8 janvier 2020, 20h

Jusqu’où peut-on modéliser le monde qui nous entoure?

Prof. Bastien Chopard – Mercredi 15 janvier 2020, 20h

Modélisation et ADN préhistorique: à la recherche de nos origines

Dr Mathias Currat – Mercredi 22 janvier 2020, 20h

Comprendre le climat grâce aux simulations numériques

Dre Maura Brunetti – Mercredi 29 janvier 2020, 20h

Un ordinateur et des maths pour simuler la matière et le vivant

Prof. Assyr Abdulle – Mercredi 5 février 2020, 20h

Entrée libre

Aula du Collège de Saussure – 9, Vieux-Chemin-d’Onex, Petit-Lancy

Soirée publique : découvrir la médecine personnalisée, un exemple en oncologie

Soirée publique au Bioscope, le 26 mars 2019 de 18h-20h, au CMU

Séquençage à haut débit, génomique, big data… La médecine personnalisée repose sur des technologies de pointe.

Quelles implications dans le traitement des cancers ? Des thérapies sur mesure à partir de l’information contenue dans notre ADN… est-ce une réalité?

Venez aborder ces questions à l’aide d’ateliers pratiques et de discussions.

Inscriptions SVP (gratuit)