Upcoming Seminars and Events

IMX Seminar Series - Ultimately sensitive organic bioelectronic transistor sensors

Prof. Luisa Torsi, University of Bari Italy

Organic bioelectronic sensors are gaining momentum as they can combine high performance sensing level with flexible large-area processable materials. This opens to potentially highly performing biomarkers sensing systems for point-of-care health monitoring at low-cost. Prominent to detect biochemical recognition events are the Electrolyte-Gated Organic Field-Effect Transistors that have been recently shown capable of label-free single-molecule detections, even in blood serum.
Indeed, Label-free single-molecule detection has been achieved so far by funneling a large number of analyte molecules into a sequence of single-binding events with few recognition elements host on nanometric transducers. Such approaches are inherently unable to sense a cue in a bulk milieu. Conceptualizing cells’ ability to sense at the physical limit by means of a transducing interface comprising highly-packed recognition elements, a millimetric sized electrolyte-gated field-effect-transistor is used to detect a single molecule. To this end, the gate is bio-functionalized with a self-assembled-monolayer of trillions of capturing antibodies, endowed with a hydrogen-bonding network enabling cooperative-interactions. The selective and label-free single-molecule detection is strikingly demonstrated in diluted saliva while few tens of antigens are assayed in whole serum. The suggested sensing mechanism triggered by the affinity binding event, involves a work-function change that is assumed to propagate in the gating-field through the electrostatic hydrogen-bonding network. The proposed immunoassay platform is general and can revolutionize the current approach to protein detection.
Bio: Luisa Torsi received her PhD from the University of Bari and was post-doctoral fellow at Bell Labs and invited professor at the University of Anger and Paris 7. In 2005 she was appointed full professor of chemistry at the University of Bari and since 2017 she is adjunct professor at the Abo Academy University in Finland. In 2010 she was awarded with the Heinrich Emanuel Merck prize for analytical sciences, this marking the first time the award is given to a woman. Recent main awards are also the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry 2019 Distinguished Women in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering prize and the analytical chemistry division of the European Chemical Society Robert Kellner Lecturer 2019. She has been also elected 2017 Fellow of the Material Research Society, for pioneering work in the field of organic (bio) electronic sensors and their use for point-of-care testing.
In 2014 she has been appointed as member of the H2020 Program Committee by the Italian Minister for Education and Research and is still serving in this role. She is also the immediate past president of the European Material Research Society being the first women to serve on this role.
Awarded research funding for over 26 million euros in thirteen years, comprises several European contracts as well as national and regional projects. She is presently coordinating the SiMBiT project a H2020-ICT-2018-2020 research and innovation action. Torsi is also coordinating a PRIN-17 national project (“ACTUAL” 2017RHX2E4).
She has authored almost 200 ISI papers, including papers published in Science, Nature Materials, Nature Communications, PNAS, Advanced Materials, Scientific Reports and is co-inventor of several international awarded patents. Her works gathered almost 11.100 Google scholar citations resulting in an h-index of 50. She has given more than 170 invited lectures, including almost 25 plenary and key notes contributions to international conferences.
 
 


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Building and deconstructing epilepsy circuits using mice and human brain organoids

Christopher Makinson, PhD, Department of Neurology, Stanford University

Epileptic seizures represent abrupt switches in brain state that often arise from a background of normal activity to interrupt ongoing processes before terminating just as quickly. Understanding how these events are generated and maintained is an important clinical and basic goal. Using mice carrying a mutation in the voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.6 (Scn8a) as a model of absence epilepsy, we show how seizures can be caused by a breakdown in synaptic inhibition within a specific pathway of a rhythm-generating circuit within the thalamus. This pathway, we propose, represents an endogenous seizure suppressing component of the thalamocortical circuit that may also constrain synchronous features of physiological rhythms. Interestingly, while conducive of absence seizures via increased thalamic excitability, these Scn8a mutations also effectively suppress cortically-driven convulsive seizures. We find that Scn8a-dependent cortical seizure suppression arises via two co-conspiring factors, reduced excitatory neuron output and reduced disinhibition (i.e. reduced inhibition of inhibitory cells).
Lastly, I will share with you our recent efforts to understand epilepsy pathogenesis using a novel 3D human cell culture model of the developing cortex that is generated from induced pluripotent stem cells. Using this system, we find that an epilepsy mutation in the L-type calcium channel Cav1.2 (CACNA1C) alters the formation of cortical networks, in part, by impairing the migratory behavior and excitability of integrating inhibitory cells.
Together these results demonstrate that the origins of some epilepsies can be traced back to the very earliest phases of circuit assembly, often before seizures or other overt aspects of the disorder are apparent and highlight the need to continue to advance new methods to understand brain development and function.

Christopher Makinson, PhD, is a research fellow in the Department of Neurology at Stanford University working under the mentorship of Drs John Huguenard and Sergiu Pasca. His research focuses on understanding the role of ion-channels in development and neurological diseases such as epilepsy using rodent and human brain organoid models.
During his postdoc with Dr John Huguenard, Dr Makinson studied how mutations in ion-channels cause absence epilepsy. These studies provided insight into how the thalamus controls network synchrony and identified a novel mechanism of seizure generation. Dr Makinson also worked with Dr Sergiu Pasca to develop some of the first human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived brain organoids.
Next year Dr. Makinson will join the faculty of the departments of Neurology and Neuroscience at Columbia University where he will continue to study the role of ion-channels in early development.


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Les coûts cachés de nos choix alimentaires - Campus Lecture par Ed Winters

Ed Winters

Alors que la consommation de produits d’origine animale par personne croit chaque année dans une population mondiale grandissante, nous sous-estimons souvent l’impact de l’élevage et de l’agriculture sur l’environnement et les écosystèmes. Nos choix alimentaires actuels ont un impact conséquent sur la planète et le climat, et font souffrir des milliards d’individus.

Les études et recherches récentes d’organisations comme le GIEC indiquent qu’un changement drastique de notre système alimentaire et de notre alimentation doit être opéré. De nombreux politiciens, scientifiques et institutions ont relevé à quel point il est urgent de prendre en main ce défi, indiquant qu’adopter une alimentation végétale est une opportunité majeure pour réduire les effets du changement climatique et s’y adapter.

Nombre d’entre-nous ignorons comment notre nourriture est produite; nous sommes éloignés des procédés et des élevages, et ne réalisons pas l’entier des implications que nos choix de vie peuvent avoir sur les animaux et l’environnement.

A l’occasion d’une conférence qui poussera certainement à la réflexion, notre invité Ed Winters montrera à quel point la façon dont nous traitons et mangeons les animaux est à la fois non-durable et indésirable.

Une discussion conjointe avec le président Martin Vetterli et modérée par la Professeure Anna Fontcuberta i Morral suivra la conférence.
Un buffet sera servi au terme de la session.

Cet événement aura lieu le lundi 16 décembre 2019 à 17h15 (UTC+1) au Forum Rolex, EPFL. Entrée libre.

Plus d'informations: https://go.epfl.ch/EdWinters_fr


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Dietary Control of Stem Cells in Physiology and Disease

Professor Ömer H. Yilmaz, MD, PhD, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA, United States

BIOENGINEERING SEMINAR
 
Abstract:
Organismal diet has a profound impact on tissue homeostasis and health in mammals. Adult stem cells are a keystone of tissue adaptation that alter tissue composition by balancing self-renewal and differentiation divisions. Because somatic stem cells may respond to organismal physiology to orchestrate tissue remodeling and some cancers are understood to arise from transformed stem cells, these findings raise the possibility that organismal diet, stem cell function, and cancer initiation are interconnected. Here I will present work from my group that describes our emerging view of how diet, metabolites and nutrient-sensing pathways instruct mammalian intestinal stem cell fate in homeostasis, adaptation to diet and diseases such as cancer.

Bio:
Ömer Yilmaz is the Eisen and Chang Career Development Associate Professor of Biology at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and a gastrointestinal pathologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School, where he performed his thesis work under the guidance of Professor Sean Morrison. He has also spent three years as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Professor David M. Sabatini, a member of the Whitehead and Koch Institutes. In 2014 he established his lab, which focuses on understanding how intestinal stem cells and their microenvironment adapt to diverse diets in the context of tissue regeneration, aging, and cancer initiation/progression. His achievements, to date, have been recognized with a Harold Weintraub Award (2007), a V Scholar Award (2015), a Pew-Stewart Trust Fellowship (2016), a Sidney Kimmel Fellowship (2016), a Sabri Ulker International Science Prize (2018), and AAAS Martin and Rose Wachtel Cancer Research Prize (2018). 
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Non-invasive brain stimulation and neurofeedback: from basic research to decoding motor intentions

Prof. Nici Wenderoth, ETH Zurich, CH.

Operant conditioning based on neurofeedback is increasingly used in both basic research and neurorehabilitation. Electroencephalography (EEG) is likely the most popular non-invasive modality for neurofeedback in humans, but applications are challenged by a low signal-to-noise ratio and poor anatomical and functional specificity. Here I will present an alternative approach where we apply transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in a non-invasive neurofeedback context. I will show (i) that healthy participants can learn to volitionally up- or down-regulate the state of their motor system and elucidate which neurophysiological mechanisms mediate this effect; (ii) how this approach can be extended to decoding intended finger and hand movements; and (iii) that TMS neurofeedback training is feasible in stroke patients. 

Bio. Professor Nici Wenderoth is full professor for Neural Control of Movement in the Department for Health Sciences and Technology at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. Her main research focus is on human systems neuroscience. Additionally, she actively pursues translational research in animal models and clinical applications. She is currently Director of the Institute of Human Movement Sciences and Sport, Director of the interdisciplinary Future Health Technologies research programme at the Singapore-ETH Campus and President of the Betty and David Koetser Foundation for Brain Research.
 


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Memory aids on the chromatin ? Deciphering epigenetic mechanisms of memory storage and change

Dr Johannes Graeff, SV / BMI / UPGRAEFF

Abstract :
My laboratory is interested in the cellular and molecular underpinnings of memory. To investigate these, we focus on neuroepigenetic processes and hypothesize that with their Janus-faced property of being at once dynamic and stable, epigenetic mechanisms harbor the potential to better explain memory formation, storage and loss. Of special interest in the lab are memory deterioration in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and particularly robust memories such as those occurring in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For the former, we have thus far revealed the first methylation quantitative trait locus (mQTL) in AD, and thereby identified a novel candidate gene – PM20D1 – that bestows neuroprotection. For the latter, we have delineated key brain areas and cellular subpopulations implicated in the attenuation of long-lasting traumatic memories, and thereby provided the first engram-specific evidence for memory updating that may underlie the treatment of PTSD. These achievements now enable the next level of investigation of PM20D1-related and engram-specific epigenetics essential for memory storage and change.

Short Bio :
Johannes Gräff is Assistant Professor on Tenure Track at the Brain Mind Institute of the School of Life Sciences at EPFL, Switzerland. Originally from St. Gallen, Switzerland, he obtained his M.Sc. from the University of Lausanne, his PhD under the guidance of Isabelle Mansuy at ETHZ, and conducted his postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Li-Huei Tsai at the Picower Institute of Learning and Memory at MIT. In 2014, he has received the Young Investigator Award of the Swiss Society for Biological Psychiatry, and in 2020 the Boehringer Ingelheim FENS Research Award.
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The Applied Machine Learning Days

  See our workshop sessions, the 29 featured tracks and the list of speakers.

The Applied Machine Learning Days is one of the largest machine learning and artificial intelligence events in Europe. It focusses specifically on the application of machine learning and AI, making it particularly interesting both for industry and academia, thus creating a unique audience. For the fourth year in a row, we look forward to welcoming leaders in the fields of academia, business, and technology from the 25th to the 29th of January 2020 at the SwissTech Convention Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The first two days of the event are focussed on hands-on sessions with over 30 workshops, training, coding classes, and tutorials. The main conference is taking place over the following three days and will uncover over 29 different topics. The first two days are focussed on more technical aspects of machine learning and AI hosting leading speakers in their field, poster sessions and, an exhibition. The third and final day is a novelty for this fourth edition of AMLD, this day will address how AI affects labour markets, hiring practices and jobs, and the political and social consequences of this reuniting experts in the field of business and technology. It will also host our very first Startup Day whereby our team will have selected very promising startups in AI and machine learning to exhibit at the conference and also to pitch. 

This years notable speakers include:
Max Tegmark Professor at MIT, David Autor Ford Professor of Economics at MIT, Danny Lange VP of AI and Machine Learning Unity Technologies, Christine McLeavey Payne MuseNet researcher OpenAI, Jakob Uszkoreit Head Google Brain Berlin.

The event wouldn't be complete without multiple networking opportunities, all lunches included in the ticket price and an evening cocktail to wrap up the conference. Registration is mandatory.
 


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2020 CCMX Winter School “Nanoparticles: from fundamentals to applications in life sciences”

Featured speakers include Paul Bowen (EPFL), Ruth Schmid (Sintef), Peter Wick (Empa), Cordula Hirsch (Empa), Matthias Rösslein (Empa), Neill Liptrott (University of Liverpool), Marco Siccardi (University of Liverpool), Fanny Caputo (Sintef), Christophe Studer (Vareala), Gerrit Borchard (University of Geneva), Adriele Prina-Mello (Trinity College Dublin), Beat Flühmann (Vifor Pharma), Christoph Geers (AMI/NanoLockin), Sofiya Matviykiv (Empa) and Inge Herrmann (Empa.) 

The CCMX Winter School will once again take place in Kandersteg, Switzerland and aims to bring together a group of no more than 24 PhD students from various research institutions. This course is designed to cover a series of important scientific aspects regarding the development, characterization and application of nanoparticles for medical applications and to provide an in-depth review of their corresponding fundamentals. It aims to offer a skill set relevant to the participants’ research projects and future careers.

Scientists highly recognized in their fields will cover important aspects, ranging from fundamentals in material synthesis and characterization via pre-clinical safety aspects and translational needs all the way to clinical challenges.

Presentations from small groups of participants and lectures will fill up the mornings and early evenings, while the afternoons are mostly left free for winter sports and networking. This course may be validated for 2 ECTS credits in the doctoral programs of EPFL, ETH Zurich and other universities after acceptance by the corresponding institution.

 


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Swiss Cytometry Meeting 2020

https://swisscytomeeting.epfl.ch/speakers/

Dear colleagues,
After a successful first meeting in February 2018, which was met with a lot of enthusiasm from both attendees and commercial companies, we are delighted to announce the organization of the second Swiss Cytometry Meeting. This conference will take place at the SwissTech Convention Center in Lausanne from the 5th to the 7th of February 2020 and we would like to invite you to join us for this second meeting.
We hope that this conference will strengthen and consolidate the ties among the cytometry community across Switzerland as we see this conference as the perfect opportunity to discuss ideas and science, interact and socialize. We also hope the program we have put together will raise interest and stimulate discussion among the delegates.
We look forward to seeing you at this second Swiss Cytometry Meeting in Lausanne.
Best Regards,
The organizing committee


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[EPFL Swiss Federal Offices Day | Research Day]



Save the date to explore research funding opportunities offered by Swiss Federal Offices!

Aim
Don’t miss the opportunity to get

  • an overview of the landscape of funding opportunities offered by Swiss Federal Offices
  • an insight into the Swiss Federal Offices vision for the next few years
  • network with representatives from main Swiss Federal Offices
  • best practices and tips for submission given by former grantees
 This is the perfect opportunity for researchers to obtain all the necessary information and put their questions directly to the people responsible.

Already several Offices confirmed their participation:
  • Armasuisse
  • Federal Roads Office (FEDRO)
  • Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG)
  • Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA)
  • Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP)
  • Federal Office for Environment (FOEN)
  • Federal Office of Information Technology, Systems and Telecommunication (FOITT)
  • Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH)
  • Federal Office of Transport (FOT)
  • Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO)
  • Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI)
  • Federal Office of Communication (OFCOM)
  • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
  • Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE)
  • Federal Office of Topography (swisstopo)
>> Full programme here

Registration
This event is open to any researcher from EPFL as well as from any other Swiss research institution.
>> Pre-registration here
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Lecture Demonstrations in the age of YouTube

Ilya Eigenbrot

Demonstrations have been used to make lectures more interesting and accessible for a very long time – but is there any point in investing time and effort into demonstrations in the age of smartphones and instant YouTube clips? This workshop will discuss this question, as well as give practical tips on designing and using demonstrations in different settings. You will also get the chance to design one or more demos relevant to your own area of teaching expertise. Facilitated by Ilya Eigenbrot with 20 year experience in the popularisation of science.


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Development of a Cortical Visual Neuroprosthesis for the blind

Prof. Eduardo Fernandez, University Miguel Hernandez and CIBER BBN, SP.

Cortical prostheses are a subgroup of visual neuroprostheses capable of evoking visual percepts in profoundly blind people through direct electrical stimulation of the occipital cortex. This approach may be the only treatment available for blindness caused by glaucoma, end-stage retinal degenerations, optic atrophy or trauma to the retina and/or optic nerves. However, there are still a relevant number of open questions and more experiments should be done to achieve the clinical goals envisioned by this new technology.
We are now facing the challenge of creating a cortical visual neuroprosthesis, based on intracortical microelectrodes, which could allow to provide a limited but useful visual sense to profoundly blind.  We will introduce preliminary results of electrical stimulation of human visual areas and review some of the principles and difficulties related to the development of a cortical visual neuroprosthesis for the blind using intracortical microelectrodes. We will emphasize the need of customize the visual prosthetic device for the needs of each patient and the role of neural plasticity in order to achieve the desired results. Finally, we will discuss some of the exciting opportunities and challenges that lie in this intersection of neuroscience research, biomedical engineering, neuro-opthalmology and neurosurgery.

Bio. Dr. Fernandez received a M.D. degree from the University of Alicante (1986) and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience with honors in 1990. He is currently Professor and Chairman of the Department of Histology and Anatomy of the University Miguel Hernández (Spain), Director of the Neural Engineering Group of the Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red (CIBER) in the subject area of Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN, Spain), and Adjunct Professor at John Moran Eye Center (University of Utah, USA). He is a qualified MD who combines biomedicine (molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology and regenerative medicine) with the physical sciences and engineering to develop innovative solutions to the problems raised by interfacing the human nervous system. In the latest years he has been coordinating several National and International projects to demonstrate the feasibility of a visual neuroprosthesis, interfaced with the occipital cortex, as a means through which a limited but useful sense of vision could be restored to profoundly blind. Furthermore, he is also working on brain plasticity and brain reorganization in severe vision loss.


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Roll Out Swiss Solar Boat's boat



The association Swiss Solar Boat (member of the MAKE fund) aiming to participate to the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge is proud to present its first boat created by students. The unveiling will consist in a presentation of the project and the path taken, some interventions by our partners, the unveiling and an aperitif to talk about the adventure.


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Non-invasive neural inferfacing with high-information transfer with the human spinal cord

Dario Farina, Professor and Chair in Neurorehabilitation Engineering, Imperial College London, UK.

Alpha motor neurons receive synaptic input that they convert into the ultimate neural code of movement -- the neural drive to muscles. The study of the behaviour of motor neurons provides a window into the neural processing of movement. Recently, the interfacing (bioelectrodes) and processing methods for identifying the output of motor neuron pools from interference electromyogram (EMG) signals have been advanced substantially. In the past decade, these methods have indeed allowed the monitoring of the behaviour of tens to hundreds of motor neurons concurrently, with minimally invasive or non-invasive methods. This new population analysis has opened new perspectives in the study of neural control of movement. The talk will overview the technology for motor neuron interfacing as well as the potential of motor neuron recording technology for man-machine interfacing. Examples of closed-loop neural interfacing based on non-invasive decoding of spinal motor neuron behaviour will be discussed in relation to assistive and rehabilitation devices.

Bio
Dario Farina received Ph.D. degrees in automatic control and computer science and in electronics and communications engineering from the Ecole Centrale de Nantes, Nantes, France, and Politecnico di Torino, Italy, in 2001 and 2002, respectively, and an Honorary Doctorate degree in Medicine from Aalborg University, Denmark, in 2018. He is currently Full Professor and Chair in Neurorehabilitation Engineering at the Department of Bioengineering of Imperial College London, UK. He has previously been Full Professor at Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark, (until 2010) and at the University Medical Center Göttingen, Georg-August University, Germany, where he founded and directed the Department of Neurorehabilitation Systems (2010-2016). Among other awards, he has been the recipient of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Early Career Achievement Award (2010), The Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2016), and has been elected Distinguished Lecturer IEEE (2014). He has also received continuous funding by the European Research Council since 2011. His research focuses on biomedical signal processing, neurorehabilitation technology, and neural control of movement. Within these areas, he has (co)-authored >450 papers in peer-reviewed Journals, which have currently received >27,000 citations. Professor Farina has been the President of the International Society of Electrophysiology and Kinesiology (ISEK) (2012-2014) and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the official Journal of this Society, the Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology. He is also currently an Editor for Science Advances, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, IEEE Transactions on Medical Robotics and Bionics, Wearable Technologies, and the Journal of Physiology. Professor Farina has been elected Fellow IEEE, AIMBE, ISEK, EAMBES.


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Assessment Matters

Roland Tormey

To develop assessment techniques which are valid and objective, notably to test if students have met the required learning outcomes.


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Leveraging Labs for Learning

Siara Isaac

Explore ways to design lab experiments that help students develop a scientific approach which is transferable to real world complexity.


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