Adriano Aguzzi directs the Institute of Neuropathology at the University of Zurich. His research focuses on prions - exploring how they damage brain cells, why they accumulate in lymphoid organs, and how they reach the brain after entering the body from peripheral sites. Prof. Aguzzi has provided the first evidence that prions can be halted in vivo with therapeutic antibodies (Heppner et al., Science 2001) and that epitope specificity is crucial to the action of such antibodies (Sonati et al., Nature 2013). His lab has discovered the prion protein receptor (Küffer et al., Nature 2016).
Prof. Aguzzi is the Director of the MD-PhD program at the University of Zurich and Past President of the Swiss Society of Neuropathology. He is the Founding Director of the Swiss National Reference Center for Prion Diseases. Prof. Aguzzi has patented diagnostic and therapeutic methods in the prion field. He has advised the British, Italian, and Swiss government on prion diseases. He serves on the editorial board of the journal Science and is Editor-in-Chief of the Swiss Medical Weekly. Among other honors, Prof. Aguzzi has won the Ernst-Jung, Marcel-Benoist, Baillet-Latour, and Robert-Koch Prizes as well as the Gold Medal of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). He was awarded three Doctorates honoris causa from the Universities of Bologna, Teramo, and Liege.
Magdalini Polymenidou is an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Molecular Life Sciences, with a double appointment between the Faculty of Science and the Medical Faculty of the University of Zurich. Her lab is investigating the molecular pathways triggering neurodegeneration, with focus on the interplay between protein aggregation and RNA misregulation, characterizing both diseases. Trained as a pharmacist in Thessaloniki (Greece), she received her PhD in 2006 in the laboratory of Adriano Aguzzi in Zurich. In 2008, she joined Don Cleveland (University of California in San Diego) as a postdoctoral fellow, where she used genome-wide approaches to decipher the function of RNA-binding proteins associated with ALS and FTD. Among other honors, she has received the Swiss National Science Foundation Professorship, the K99 Pathway to Independence Award from the National Institutes of Health, the Career Development Award from the Human Frontier Science Program, and the Georg-Friedrich Götz Prize from the University of Zurich. Magdalini is the coordinator of the Gender Equality Committee of the Neuroscience Center Zurich.
Arnold von Eckardstein studied medicine in Giessen and Kiel and then specialized in laboratory medicine and clinical chemistry after internships in Frankfurt and Münster (Germany). After several years of work as a consultant at the University Hospital of Münster and research group leader at the Institute of Arteriosclerosis Research in Münster, he became professor at the medical faculty of the University of Zurich and the director of the Institute of Clinical Chemistry of the University Hospital of Zurich in 2001. His main research interests include risk factors and biomarkers of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases as well as structure, function, and metabolism of high density lipoproteins (HDL) and sphingolipids. Arnold von Eckardstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Atherosclerosis as well as editorial board member and executive board member of several research journals and scientific societies, respectively, with a focus on cardiovascular diseases or lipid metabolism or laboratory medicine.