Potential & Limitations of Evolutionary Processes Conference
8-12 May 2022 | Israel
The main goal of this unique interdisciplinary, international conference is to bring together scientists and scholars who hold a range of views on the potential and possible limitations of chemical and biological processes in evolution, and to explore and discuss new experimental strategies to enhance our understanding of such mechanisms and pathways.
In November 2016, the Royal Society in London held a conference entitled ‘New Trends in Evolutionary Biology: Biological, Philosophical and Social Scientific Perspectives’ that openly spoke of the need for a ‘revision’ of the ‘standard’ (neo-Darwinian) model of evolutionary theory. The current conference will pick up some of the themes addressed in the Royal Society meeting but will, in addition, encourage both discussion of the potential and limitations of the standard models and encourage discussion of possible alternative models.
The conference will include presentations from a broad spectrum of disciplines, including chemistry, biochemistry, biology, origin of life, evolution, mathematics, and philosophy. Open-floor discussion will be geared towards delineating mechanistic details, with a view to discussing and debating in such a way that speakers and participants feel comfortable expressing different opinions and different interpretations of the data, in the spirit of genuine academic inquiry.
Fine-Tuning of the Universe
Origin of Life: Pre-biotic chemistry
Origin of Life: Lipids
Origin & Fine-tuning of the Genetic Code
Pathways to Functional Islands in Protein Sequence Space
Evolution of Novel Proteins by Modification
Fine-tuning of Biological Systems
New approaches in Evolutionary Theory
What is emerging?
Weizmann Institute of Science
Tony Futerman is the Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Biochemistry in the Department of Biomolecular Sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, where he has run a research group since 1990 that focuses on understanding the roles of lipids in biological processes. Recently, he has become interested in the role of lipids in origin of life models, and in the complexity of membrane lipid bilayers, such that he suggested that lipid bilayers can best be described as ‘finely-tuned molecular assemblies’. He has published over 250 papers, was an editorial board member of the Journal of Biological Chemistry for 10 years and has chaired two Gordon conferences, one on Lysosomal Diseases (2011) and the other on Sphingolipids (2006).
Technical University of Munich
Siegfried Scherer is the Chair of Microbial Ecology at the Department of Molecular Life Sciences, Technical University of Munich. With his coworkers, he conducts research into molecular genetics and ecology of food-borne bacteria, taxonomy and evolutionary biology. Scherer’s research groups recently investigated the pathogenic bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli EHEC with a special focus on the de novo formation of protein coding genes via overlapping encoding. He has published more than 240 peer-reviewed papers. More details about Scherer’s research and publications can be found at
University of Georgia
Russell Carlson is Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BCMB), and of the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center (CCRC) at the University of Georgia (UGA), Athens, Georgia. Prior to retiring in 2014, Carlson was Professor of BCMB, Executive Technical Director of Analytical Services at the CCRC, and Adjunct Professor of Microbiology at UGA. His area of research is microbe-host interactions; specifically, the role that microbial cell surface carbohydrates have in determining the virulence of both animal and plant pathogens (and symbionts). He has nearly 200 peer-reviewed publications and his research was funded over the years by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture, as well as contracts with the Centers for Disease Control. More details about Carlson’s research and publications can be found at https://www.ccrc.uga.edu/personnel/index.php?uid=22&personnel=Tenure-Track%20Faculty.
Weizmann Institute of Science
Joel Sussman’s research is focused on 3D structure/function of proteins & nucleic acids. In collaboration with Israel Silman, they were the first to determine the atomic structure of acetylcholinesterase, as well as more than 40 complexes of it with a broad repertoire of drugs, toxins and other ligands, which includes essentially all the 1st generation anti-Alzheimer drugs. Their structural studies may lead to improved therapies with fewer side effects. In collaboration with Tony Futerman and Israel Silman, they were the first to determine the 3D structure of acid beta-glucosidase, the defective enzyme in Gaucher disease. Joel, and his colleagues, developed Proteopedia (http://proteopedia.org), a free, collaborative 3D encyclopedia of biomacromolecules to aid in the communication on their structure & function. There are now over 4,700 registered users in 65 countries contributing to Proteopedia.