EMBL Council

Scientific Advisory Committee


Council establishes the Scientific Advisory Committee, which gives advice to Council, in particular with regard to proposals from the Director General on the realisation of the programme of the Laboratory.

SAC is composed of distinguished scientists appointed in their own right, not as representatives of member states. Membership of the committee is drawn from scientists in a wide range of relevant fields of science in order to cover as far as possible both the field of molecular biology and other appropriate scientific disciplines.

After due consultation with, in particular the EMBO Council and appropriate national institutions, the Director General and the Chair of EMBO Council propose to the Council a list of candidates which the Council considers in appointing the members of SAC.

EMBL Scientific Advisory Committee 2023
Annual EMBL SAC Meeting 2023

SAC members

Brenda Andrews (Chair) *

(Membership term 2019-2021, 2022-2024)
Director of the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research and Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto (CA)
Research: analysis of genetic interaction networks in budding yeast and mammalian cells, high through-put genetics platforms, high content microscopy for systematic analysis of cell biological phenotypes.

M. Madan Babu

(Membership 2024-2026)

Director, Center of Excellence for Data Driven Discovery, Endowed Chair in Biological Data Sciences, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN (US)
Research: GPCR Signaling, Regulation and Pharmacology, Intrinsically Disordered Proteins in Biology and Disease, Gene Expression, Gene Regulation, Protein Degradation and Protein Homeostasis, Methods for Biological Data Science, Systems Biology and Network Biology, Computational Biology and Structural Bioinformatics, Drug Discovery and Chemoinformatics, Human Genetics, Population Genetics and Cancer Genomics

Nathalie Q. Balaban

(Membership 2023-2025)
Full Professor, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (IL)
Research: Biophysical description of the responses of bacteria under antibiotic treatments, and their implications for understanding treatment failure and evolution of resistance.

Adrian Bird

(Membership 2022-2024)
Buchanan Professor of Genetics, University of Edinburgh (UK)
Research: Studies how the genomic landscape of mammals influences gene expression. His laboratory identified CpG islands as gene markers and discovered proteins that read DNA methylation to influence chromatin structure. Mutations in one such protein, MeCP2, cause the neurological disorder Rett Syndrome, which he found to be reversible. His recent work indicates that DNA base composition can be read as a signal to influence cell fate.

Job Dekker

(Membership 2024-2026)
Principal Investigator, Professor, Departments of Systems Biology, and Biochemistry & Molecular Biotechnology; Joseph J. Byrne Chair in Biomedical Research, UMass Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA (US)
Research: Mechanisms of Chromosome Folding: Determining the pathways by which cells build mitotic chromosomes and segregate sister chromatids; Elucidating the molecular mechanisms by which cells fold their genomes during the cell cycle; Mapping how genomic rearrangements in cancer cells rewire enhancer-promoter interactions; Analysing the impact of nuclear organisation on DNA damage repair outcomes.

Elina Ikonen

(Membership 2023-2025)
Professor, University of Helsinki (FI)
Research: Cell biology of cholesterol and related lipids, developing tools to visualize their distribution and trafficking in cells.

Frank Jülicher

(Membership term 2021-2023, 2024-2026)
Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems and Professor of Biophysics at the Technical University of Dresden (DE)
Research: study of cellular oscillations, cellular signaling and the cytoskeletal dynamics during cell division and cell motility, the biophysical basis of hearing, the biophysical properties and dynamics of tissues and epithelia.

Ruth Lehmann

(Membership 2022-2024)
Director, Whitehead Institute and Professor of Biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (US)

Research: Using Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism, the Lehmann lab studies how germ cells are set apart from somatic cells during embryogenesis, how early germ cells are guided to the gonad and how germ cell fate is maintained and protected throughout life in order to generate egg and sperm.

Dianne K. Newman

(Membership 2022-2024)
Gordon M. Binder/Amgen Professor of Biology and Geobiology; Executive Officer for Biology & Biological Engineering, Division of Biology and Biological Engineering, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) (US)

Research: Bioenergetics and survival physiology of metabolically diverse, genetically-tractable bacteria involving redox-active metabolites. Biofilm biology principles and applications in the context of human chronic infections and crop rhizospheres.

Prisca Liberali

(Membership 2024-2026)
Professor, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel (CH)
Research: Aims to understand the collective properties of multi-cellular systems and their patterns, including how such properties arise from single-cell behaviour and organisation. Develops and applies experimental and theoretical frameworks to study cellular heterogeneity during collective cell behaviour.

Lori Passmore

(Membership 2024-2026)
Group Leader, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge (UK)
Research: Using an integrated approach combining structural, biochemical and functional studies, she aims to reconstitute multi-protein complexes and their activities. She determines high-resolution structures of these complexes to understand their mechanisms.

Martin Polz

(Membership 2023-2025)
Professor, University of Vienna (AT)
Research: Structure-function relationships within microbial communities. Ecological and evolutionary dynamics of microbial population. In situ molecular approaches, environmental genomics, traditional physiological and genetic techniques and modeling.

Caroline Relton (Vice Chair)

(Membership 2022-2024)
Pro Director, Research and Academic Development of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London, Professor of Epigenetic Epidemiology, University of Bristol (UK)
Research: The application of molecular epidemiology to understand the causes and consequences of common complex diseases, including the development and application of causal inference methods in molecular epidemiology. The use of omic technologies in the prediction of exposures, disease incidence, prognosis and treatment response.

Félix Rey *

(Membership 2019-2021, 2022-2024)
Head of Structural Virology Unit, Institut Pasteur, Paris (FR)
Research: Structural virology, functional studies of RNA-dependent RNA polymerases and associated replication enzymes, viral capsids and nucleocapsids, cryo-microscopy, crystallography.

Fabian Theis

(Membership 2020-2022, 2023-2025)
Head of Institute Helmholtz Zentrum München, Institute of Computational Biology (DE)
Research: Find hidden patterns in biomedical data sets and use those to predict and understand future behavior of these systems. For this together, with his team, he develops and adapts methods from machine learning as well as from dynamic modeling, and apply them to molecular read outs, in particular in single cell genomics and microscopy. With their experimental partners, he thus solves complex biological and medical questions such as stem cell decision making or risk prediction in systems medicine.

* Turning over 31 December 2024

Incoming Members (from January 2025)

Alexander Schier *

(Membership 2025-2027)
Professor, Biozentrum, University of Basel (CH)
Research: Studies the mechanisms underlying embryonic development and the regulation of sleep in vertebrates, applying single-cell methods to construct lineage trees that capture the major decisions made by cells as they differentiate, with the long-term goal of understanding the statistics of development.

* Elected for 2024, membership start postponed to 2025

EMBL SAC Reviews and Meetings


EMBL Rome Unit Review – Rome (Italy) – hybrid format

Tuesday 20 – Thursday 22 February

For Review Panel members and Observers only

EMBL IT Services and Support Review – Hinxton (United Kingdom) – hybrid format

Tuesday 5 – Thursday 7 March

For Review Panel members and Observers only

EMBL Genome Biology Unit Review – Heidelberg (Germany) – hybrid format

Monday 22 – Wednesday 24 April

For Review Panel members and Observers only

EMBL Annual SAC Meeting – Heidelberg (Germany) – hybrid format

Thursday 25 – Friday 26 April

For EMBL SAC Members and Invited Participants only


EMBL Grenoble Unit Review – Grenoble (France) – hybrid format

Tuesday 25 – Thursday 27 February

For Review Panel members and Observers only

EMBL-EBI Research Review – Hinxton (United Kingdom) – hybrid format

Tuesday 25– Thursday 27 March

For Review Panel members and Observers only

EMBL Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit Review – Heidelberg (Germany) – hybrid format

Monday 05 – Wednesday 07 May

For Review Panel members and Observers only

EMBL Annual SAC Meeting – Heidelberg (Germany) – hybrid format

Thursday 08 – Friday 09 May

For EMBL SAC Members and Invited Participants only



Email: council@embl.org

Fax: +49 6221 387-8211