ZDMS Membership Newsletter Winter 2016 Edition

ZDMS Membership Newsletter – Winter 2016 Edition

Farewell from Jim Amatruda, ZDMS Past President

Dear friends,

As 2016 comes to a close I’d like to send a salute to all our members and a brief update on the Society. One of the big highlights of the year was of course our annual meeting in Sinagpore in early October, which was a great success. Many thanks to Phil Ingham and the rest of the Local Organizing Committee for all of their efforts. Despite a last-minute venue change due to circumstances beyond our control, the meeting went off without a hitch in the beautiful surroundings of the Marina Bay Sands convention center. Thanks also to Nathalie Whitton and her team as Site Solutions Worldwide, whose hard work and dedication made this possible. Scientifically, the meeting was extremely successful, featuring Keynote addresses from John Mattick and Stuart Cook, almost 60 platform presentations, flash talks, and 3 well-attended poster sessions. 9 different Research Interest Groups held meetings during the conference, many featuring further excellent short talks. We enjoyed a Welcome Recepetion at the LKC School of Medicine, a delightful evening banquet, and opportunities to explore the hospitality of Singapore.

Congratulations to the winners of the ZDM9 Poster Awards! Graduate Students Margherita Peron, Kelsey Temprine and Wen Hui Tan; and Postdoctoral Fellows Chris Moore, Genevieve Kendall and Kazuhide Okuda.

Another highlight of the meeting was the announcement of results from our first full election. We’re grateful to our outgoing Board members for their service: Jeroen den Hertog, Herman Spaink, Derek Stemple, Uwe Strahle, Lalita Ramakrishnan and Monte Westerfield. And we’re pleased to welcome our new Board members Annemarie Meijer, Dave Langenau, Christian Mosimann, Liz Patton, Rich White and Clarissa Henry. Last but not least, we welcome new Vice-President-in-Waiting Graham Lieschke, Vice-President Joan Heath, and new ZDMS President Steve Ekker!

It has been my great honor to serve as President of ZDMS this past year. Under the leadership of Steve, Joan, Graham and the rest of the ZDMS Board, and with the energy and participation of our terrific Members, we can look forward to another great year. Please save the date for ZDM10, August 5-9, 2017. Warm holiday wishes to all, and see you in San Diego!

James Amatruda

Past President

Zebrafish Disease Models Society

Meet the New ZDMS President

Stephen Ekker, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic, USA

Professional Expertise: Mentoring, manuscript reviews, public outreach

Scientific Expertise: Biotechnology/Genome modification, disease modeling, genetics and genomics

Stephen Ekker received two bachelor of science degrees (Genetics and Developmental Biology, Electrical Engineering) from the University of Illinois, and PhD from Johns Hopkins on the biochemistry of Hox gene action. Post-doctoral work studied the biochemistry and function of hedgehog proteins. At the University of Minnesota, Dr. Ekker was the founding Director of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Transposon Research (now called the Center for Genome Engineering). He is Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota, USA) and Director of the Mayo Addiction Research Center. Dr. Ekker is Editor-in-Chief of the Zebrafish journal. The Ekker laboratory has pioneered the use of transposons, morpholino antisense oligonucleotides and targeted genome editing in zebrafish using custom nucleases, the latter suited to functional testing of sequence variants of unknown significance. The Ekker lab is focused on the betterment of human health using the zebrafish as a model system.

ZDMS Executive Officers

President: Stephen Ekker Ph.D.

Vice President: Joan Heath Ph.D

Treasurer: Jill de Jong M.D., Ph.D.

Secretary: Len Zon M.D.

Vice President in Waiting: Graham Lieschke M.B., B.S., B.Med.Sc., Ph.D., F.R.A.C.P.

Past President: James F. Amatruda


We frequently receive new and exciting opportunities to post to our website, so be sure to check it out for a current list of exciting jobs available!


Congratulations to ZDMS Members Dr. Alexa Burger and Prof. Christian Mosimann, recipients of the Swiss-Bridge Award of 250,000 Swiss Francs.

Membership Portal Available

ZDMS membership portal is available for registration, allowing for easy online transactions and renewals.

Highlighting the Skeletal Research Interest Group

There is a vital and active community of fish researchers working on aspects of skeletal and craniofacial biology, with a long history of research relevant to human disease. This history has its roots in early screens for mutants in craniofacial development, and continues with the generation of direct models of human disorders and close collaborations with clinicians and human geneticists. Despite a slowly growing presence at the ZDMS meetings, we are not represented proportionately in the society. The recent meeting of the Skeletal Research Interest Group in Singapore generated exciting suggestions for roles that the RIG could play, to serve its members and encourage more extensive participation in the Society and in its annual meetings. As the newly recruited leaders, we are working to accomplish those goals.

As an important first step, we have assembled a contact list of over 50 researchers worldwide with a history in the areas covered by the RIG, to be posted on the ZDMS web site. In addition to contact information, each listing will include a short description of research interests and a list of personnel within each laboratory. Our hope is that having the list available will encourage collaborations, within the group and with researchers from other communities. It can also serve as an aid for trainees looking for a position, or a means to disseminate information about meetings and other news items. Finally, we would especially urge anyone not on the list who would like to be included to contact us. You do not have to join ZDMS or attend the meetings – our aim is to create an inclusive community with shared goals and common interests.

Fortunately, our efforts are building on the history in our community of disease–relevant research and collaborations across species. Two recent meetings highlight that history. In October of 2015, an organizing committee of Ronald Kwon, David Karasik, and Matthew Harris put together the FishBone meeting, as a satellite of the annual American Society for Bone and Mineral Research meeting in Seattle (http://blogs.uw.edu/fishbone/). Topics included “Fish models of musculoskeletal disease” and “Genetic engineering in fish”, and all four of the invited keynote speakers were members of this RIG. Importantly, the meeting served as a forum for human geneticists and clinicians to interact with members of our community informally, and to hear directly how research on fish might be relevant to them.

More recently, Michel Bagnat organized a symposium on zebrafish models of spine development and scoliosis, in September of this year at Duke University. The chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery was an enthusiastic supporter of the symposium, which received financial backing from Duke School of Medicine. Speakers included zebrafish researchers as well as human geneticists and those using mice as a model system. As with FishBone, the small meeting size and informality encouraged interactions across fields. These are only two of many meetings over the past several years that have highlighted work on fish to broader communities of skeletal and craniofacial biologists. These meetings are not always widely advertised in the fish community; one important role the RIG will play in the future is to bring these meetings to the attention of our members beforehand.

We thank everyone for their enthusiastic responses so far, and look forward to working with you to accomplish additional goals for the Skeletal RIG over the next several months. Most importantly, we welcome input from our members. We want to know what the RIG can do for you, and we hope to see many of you at the next ZDMS meeting.

Published by: Shannon Fisher and Christoph Winkler

ZDM10 Save The Date

Sponsorship Opportunities

Along with our ZDM10 Save the Date release, we are excited to announce that our ZDM10 Sponsorship Prospectus is also now available!

Abstracts To Check Out

Zac Stephens W, Burns AR, Stagaman K, Wong S, Rawls JF, Guillemin K, Bohannan BJ.

ISME J. 2016 Mar;10(3):644-54

Zhao X, Lorent K, Wilkins BJ, Marchione DM, Gillespie K, Waisbourd-Zinman O, So J, Koo KA, Shin D, Porter JR, Wells RG, Blair I, Pack M.

Hepatology. 2016 Sep;64(3):894-907

Cox AG, Hwang KL, Brown KK, Evason KJ, Beltz S, Tsomides A, O'Connor K, Galli GG, Yimlamai D, Chhangawala S, Yuan M, Lien EC, Wucherpfennig J, Nissim S, Minami A, Cohen DE, Camargo FD, Asara JM, Houvras Y, Stainier DY, Goessling W.

Nat Cell Biol. 2016 Aug;18(8):886-96

DeRossi C, Vacaru A, Rafiq R, Cinaroglu A, Imrie D, Nayar S, Baryshnikova A, Milev MP, Stanga D, Kadakia D, Gao N, Chu J, Freeze HH, Lehrman MA, Sacher M, Sadler KC.

Mol Biol Cell. 2016 Apr 15;27(8):1220-34

Hu M, Bai Y, Zhang C, Liu F, Cui Z, Chen J, Peng J.

PLoS Genet. 2016 Feb 22;12(2):e1005881

Feng G, Long Y, Peng J, Li Q, Cui Z.

BMC Genomics. 2015 Nov 19;16:979

Tang V, Cofer ZC, Cui S, Sapp V, Loomes KM, Matthews RP.

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2016

Navis A, Bagnat M.

Dev Biol. 2015 Mar 15;399(2):237-48

News From The Field

For questions or future submissions, please contact us at info@zdmsociety.org

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