Speacker biographies & Abstracts

Biographies of the speakers participating in Building Bridges 2021 plenary conference and the abstracts for their corresponding sessions will be posted in this section as they become available. Delegates are encouraged to return to this section during the weeks prior to the conference.

Professor Dr. Sierd Cloetingh

Professor Dr. Sierd Cloetingh

AFFILIATION: Utrecht University, Department of Earth Sciences

LINK TO WEBPAGES: http://www.ae-info.org/ae/Member/Cloetingh_Sierd



Sierd Cloetingh is Utrecht University Distinguished Professor. His research field is Earth Sciences. He published more than 367 papers in international peer-reviewed journals (Scopus: 16,732 citations, h-index 72) and has been promotor of close to 80 PhD students of 18 different nationalities.

Currently he serves as President of the Academia Europaea, Member of the Board of SAPEA (Scientific Advice for Policy by European Academies) and Chair Regional Coordinating Committee of the International Lithosphere Program. Past functions include President of the Association for European Cooperation in Science & Technology (COST), Membership of the Scientific Council (2009-2015) and Vice-President of the European Research Council (ERC), President of the European Geophysical Society (1998-2000), President of the International Lithosphere Program (ILP), Distinguished Professor of the Royal Netherlands Academy for Arts and Sciences (KNAW, 2006-2015), Editor-in-Chief of the international journal «Global and Planetary Change» and Chairman of the TOPO-EUROPE collaborative research program.

Sierd Cloetingh received honorary doctorates from five European universities and numerous medals and awards. He is member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, the Royal Norwegian Academy, the Royal Danish Academy, the German national Academy for Technical Sciences (acatech), the Heidelberg Academy, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He was distinguished in 2006 as Chevalier de Legion d’Honneur and in 2014 as Knight of the Royal Order of the Netherlands Lion for his contributions to science and European scientific cooperation in research and education.


Professor Mara Dierssen

Professor Mara Dierssen

AFFILIATION: Group Leader at the Center for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona

LINK TO WEBPAGE: https://www.ae-info.org/ae/Member/Dierssen_Mara


TITLE OF PRESENTATION: The mysteries of memory: how it is stored (the engram) and how it is retrieved (the ecphory). How to erase, manipulate or cure memory loss


How much storage capacity has the human brain? How is the information encoded so that it is «storable»? Do we also “learn” to forget? Why are scents or music so powerful to bring forth such vivid memories? And how do these processes get altered in cognitive and neurodegenerative disorders?  We still do not have the answer to those questions. However, powerful new tools to probe and manipulate memory function at the cell and neuronal circuit level allows us explore how memory traces are formed and ‘reawaken’ and provides an exciting avenue for answering questions about learning and memory, and also testing new strategies to treat cognitive pathology leading to memory loss, like in Alzheimer’s disease, or to intrusive and involuntary recollection and re-experiencing trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.


Professor Mara Dierssen is MD, PhD from the University of Cantabria (1989). She directs the Cellular and Systems Neurobiology laboratory at the Center for Genomic Regulation and is associate researcher of the Hospital del Mar Research Institute, where she promoted the creation of a translational research program to study new therapeutic approaches in intellectual disability. Her main current scientific interests are focused on the study of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying memory and learning and their alteration in complex diseases (polygenic and multifactorial) and in the development and application of this knowledge to the field of clinical practice.

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