The 2015 Lectures in Biology: Stem Cells: From basic biology to translational research.

Stem cell biology has established the simple but overwhelming fact that all somatic cells in the body are descendants of a single zygote cell produced by merging the sperm cell and the oocyte. Traditionally this was considered to be a one way path leading to irreversible cell differentiation that makes up all the mature organs and tissues essential for life but at the cost of being unable to regenerate damaged or aged body parts. Stem cells derived from early embryos are pluripotent, meaning that they have the potential to differentiate into any body cell type. During cell specialization the developmental potential is reduced although the genetic information is not altered.

Early break-through studies in this area provided compelling evidence that the differentiation path of a cell does not destroy genetic potential to reprogram life. By using a mature cell nucleus implanted into the frog egg Sir John Gurdon succeeded in reproducing a tadpole in 1963. The same approach was used in 1996 to produce Dolly, the first cloned animal. Ten years later, armed by the revolutionary tool box that modern molecular biology has provided in the mean time, Prof. Shinya Yamanaka was able to induce mature cells to reverse their development and become stem cells by just few pure genes, a technique now known as induced pluripotency (2006). Sir John Gurdon and Prof. Shinya Yamanaka shared the 2012 Nobel price of Medicine/physiology “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent”.

Cell reprogramming has come a way now and many new improvements are emerging. Disease models in a dish and stem cell therapies are realistic goals to be achieved in the road ahead to fight lethal or devastating diseases.

The 2015 Onassis Lectures is dedicated to the fundamental properties and capacities of stem cells from simple and complex organisms. The amazing experimental strategies to harness them to regenerate human tissues in brain, heart or pancreas will be discussed. These great discoveries will allow scientists to exploit life‘s full potential and to improve human health.

John B. Gurdon
Professor em., Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research U.K.,
The Gurdon Institute, Cambridge UK.
Nobel Prize (2012) in Physiology or Medicine

Xin Chen
Assoc. Professor, Dept. of Biology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA.

Androniki Kretsovali
Senior Scientist, Institute of Molecular Biology & Biotechnology, FORTH, Crete, Greece.

Christine L. Mummery
Professor, Chair Dept. of Anatomy and Embryology, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Malin Parmar
Assoc. Professor, Wallenberg Neuroscience Center, University of Lund, Lund, Sweden.

Henrik Semb
Professor, DanStem, Human Stem Cell Biology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Susan Strome
Distinguished Professor, Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA.

Azim Surani
Professor, Director of Germline and Epigenomics Research, Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research U.K., The Gurdon Institute, Cambridge, UK.

Stavros Taraviras
Assoc. Professor, Dept. of Physiology, Medical School, University of Patras, Patra, Greece.

Andreas Androutselis - Theotokis
Dr., Group Leader, Dept. of Internal Medicine III, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresen, Germany.
Monday 06 July 09:00 - 09:45R e g i s t r a t i o n
09:45 - 10:00Welcome
10:00 - 11:15"Some principles of cell fate determination in vertebrate development"
Prof. em. John B. Gurdon
11:15 - 11:45B r e a k
11:45 - 13:00"The stability and reversibility of cell differentiation in vertebrates"
Prof. em. John B. Gurdon
13:00 - 14:30L u n c h   B r e a k
14:30 - 15:30"Cellular reprogramming: making new neurons via direct conversion in vitro and in vivo",
Prof. Malin Parmar
Tuesday 07 July09:30 - 11:00"Mammalian Germline: Specification of primordial germ cells and epigenetic programming for totipotency and development"
Prof. Azim Surani
11:00-11:30B r e a k
11:30 - 12:30"Remember or forget - Asymmetric histone inheritance in Drosophila male germline stem cell"
Prof. Xin Chen
12:30 - 14:00L u n c h  B r e a k
14:00 - 15:00"Epigenetic inheritance in adult stem cells"
Prof. Xin Chen
Wednesday 08 July09:30 - 10:30"Germ granules protect the fate and totipotency of germline stem cells in C. elegance"
Prof. Susan Strome
10:30 - 11:00B r e a k
11:00 - 12:00"Transmitting epigenetic memory across generations and through development"
Prof. Susan Strome
12:00 - 13:00"Mechanisms controlling self-renewal and differentiation decisions in cortical progenitor cells during embryogenesis"
Prof. Stavros Taraviras
13:00 - 14:30L u n c h   B r e a k
14:30 - 15:30"Transcriprional and epigenetic regulation of stem cell pluripotency"
Dr. Androniki Kretsovali
20:00 "Prospects of cell replacement therapy - who decides?"
Public Lecture by Prof. em. John B. Gurdon
Thursday 09 July09:30 - 10:30"Deriving cardiovascular cells from human pluripotent stem cells"
Prof. Christine L. Mummery
10:30 - 11:00B r e a k
11:00 - 12:00"Modelling cardiovascular disease using human pluripotent stem cells"
Prof. Christine L. Mummery
12:00 - 13:00"Stem cell therapy for Parkinson ’s disease"
Prof. Malin Parmar
13:00 - 14:30L u n c h   B r e a k
14:30 - 15:30"Establishing the subependymal neurogenic niche"
Prof. Stavros Taraviras
Friday 10 July09:30 - 11:00"Stem cells for beta replacement therapy"
Prof. Henrik Semb
11:00 - 11:30B r e a k
11:30 - 12:30"Neural stem cells"
Dr. Andreas Androutselis - Theotokis
12:30 - 13:30"Cancer stem cells"
Dr. Andreas Androutselis - Theotokis
13:30 - 15:00L u n c h   B r e a k

Deadline for Application
Sunday May 31, 2015



Researchers, Postdoctoral Associates, Graduate
and advanced Undergraduate students.

Financial Aid


The Onassis Foundation will support travel and accommodation expenses for up to thirty five Greek students and up to fifteen International students, selected on the basis of their academic performance. The financial aid for the travel of non-European students cannot exceed the maximum amount of the reimbursement provided for the travel of European students. Interested students should attach to their CV, a list of courses taken, their grades and two letters of recommendation. Excellent knowledge of English is required.



Students admitted on the basis of their academic performance will receive a certificate after successful participation in the lectures.


Application Form*
*Please use latin characters

Dear Sir,
I wish to participate in "The 2015 Lectures in Biology"

First Name:
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Please attach your CV (if applicable): (Select your CV file from your computer).

Additional Requirements for Students

  • Graduate students should attach their CV with a detailed description of their studies so far. Advanced undergraduate students should add to their CV a list of courses taken and their grades.
  • Two letters of recommendation should be sent by E-mail directly by the recommending persons to: