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.

Annual EMBL SAC Meeting 2022

SAC members

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.

James Briscoe (Chair) *

(Membership 2018-2020, 2021-2023)
Senior Group Leader at the Developmental Dynamics Laboratory, Francis Crick Institute (UK)
Research: Studies how the central nervous system (CNS) is formed in embryos, with the goal of identifying the genes involved in spinal cord development and determine how they work to produce and organize different types of nerve cells.

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)
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.

Dana Pe’er *

(Membership 2018-2020, 2021-2023)
Scientific Director, GMTEC; Chair, Computational and Systems Biology Program, Sloan Kettering Institute, New York (US)
Research: Single cell technologies, genomic datasets and machine learning techniques to address fundamental questions including regulatory cell circuits, cellular development, tumor immune eco-system, genotype to phenotype relations and precision medicine.

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

(Membership 2022-2024)
Director of Bristol Population Health Science Institute, Professor of Epigenetic Epidemiology, MRC Investigator and Programme Lead at the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, 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)
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.

Caroline Uhler

(Membership 2023-2025)
Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT; Core Institute Member and Co-Director of the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Center, Broad Institute (US)
Research: Development of machine learning methods, in particular representation learning and causal inference; integrating imaging and sequencing modalities; linking genome packing and regulation; inferring cellular regulatory programs in differentiation, reprogramming and disease contexts.

Mihaela Zavolan *

(Membership 2018-2020, 2021-2023)
Professor, Biozentrum of the University of Basel (CH)
Research: Computational biology, translational control, regulation of protein synthesis at the level of the ribosome, post-transcriptional gene regulation by miRNAs and RNA-binding proteins, in the context of aging and cancers.

* Turning over 31 December 2023

EMBL SAC Reviews and Meetings


EMBL Hamburg Unit Review – Hamburg (Germany) – hybrid format

Monday 20 – Wednesday 22 February

For Review Panel members and Observers only

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

Tuesday 21 – Thursday 23 March

For Review Panel members and Observers only

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

Monday 24 – Wednesday 26 April

For Review Panel members and Observers only

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

Thursday 27 – Friday 28 April

For EMBL SAC Members and Invited Participants only


EMBL Rome Unit Review – Rome (Italy)

Tuesday 20 – Thursday 22 February

For Review Panel members and Observers only

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

Tuesday 5 – Thursday 7 March

For Review Panel members and Observers only

EMBL Genome Biology Unit Review – Heidelberg (Germany)

Monday 22 – Wednesday 24 April

For Review Panel members and Observers only

EMBL Annual SAC Meeting – Heidelberg (Germany)

Thursday 25 – Friday 26 April

For EMBL SAC Members and Invited Participants only



Email: council@embl.org

Fax: +49 6221 387-8211