Executive Officers

stephenPresident: 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.

de_jongTreasurer: Jill de Jong M.D., Ph.D.
University of Chicago, USA
Professional expertise: Grant review, manuscript reviews, media relations, public outreach, mentoring
Scientific expertise: Disease modelling, cancer, hematopoiesis – benign and malignant, immunity, clinical care/medicine
Jill de Jong is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the section of Hematology-Oncology at the University of Chicago. She received an undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Chicago, subsequently entering the MD/PhD Combined Degree Program at the University of Wisconsin in Madison where she received her PhD in Human Cancer Biology studying IL-2 and IL-15 in the lab of Dr. Paul Sondel. She completed Pediatrics residency and Hematology-Oncology fellowship training at Children’s Hospital Boston and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Her post-doctoral work in the lab of Dr. Leonard Zon included developing a hematopoietic transplantation assay and MHC-immunotyping in the zebrafish. Dr. de Jong joined the faculty at the University of Chicago in 2010, where she cares for children with blood diseases and cancer. Her lab investigates genes that regulate hematopoietic stem cells and leukemogenesis.

Vice President: Joan Heath Ph.D
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia
Professional expertise: Grant review, mentoring
Scientific expertise: Disease modelling, cancer, gastrointestinal disease
Joan Heath is a laboratory head in the Development and Cancer Division at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia. Prior to her current appointment, she spent 18 years at the Melbourne Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and she continues to be a Member and receive funding from this Institute. Joan’s primary research goal is to improve outcomes for patients with colon cancer. She turned to zebrafish to discover genes that are indispensable for intestinal development, arguing that such genes are also likely to be critical for the development and progression of colon tumors. Her laboratory’s positional cloning of a collection of zebrafish intestinal mutants has drawn attention to a group of essential cellular genes (encoding transcription factors, rRNA and mRNA processing factors and nuclear pore components) that are required for the rapid growth of the digestive organs during zebrafish development. Her lab is currently determining whether these genes represent bona fide targets for novel cancer therapies using zebrafish and mouse cancer models, and analysis of human cancer transcriptomes.

Vice President in Waiting: Graham Lieschke M.B., B.S., B.Med.Sc., Ph.D., F.R.A.C.P.
Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, and Royal Melbourne Hospital, Australia
Professional expertise: Grant review, manuscript reviews, mentoring
Scientific expertise: Haematopoiesis – benign and malignant, infectious disease, innate immunity, clinical care/medicine
Graham Lieschke is an Australian clinician/scientist. His current appointments are as Clinical Haematologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and as Professorial Fellow / NHMRC Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University in Melbourne. Since 1997, his research laboratory has been at the forefront of using zebrafish models to understand white blood cell development, function and disease. Current projects use zebrafish models to study the transcriptional regulation of myeloid development and diseases involving leukocytes such as inflammation, infection and leukemia. Prof Lieschke has held fellowships from the Cancer Council of Victoria, Howard Hughes Medicial Institute, Wellcome Trust and NHMRC and significant research funding from NIH and NHMRC. He has held multiple leadership roles in the international zebrafish research and hematology communities. He is also an accomplished organist and conductor, specializing in the music of JS Bach.

leonardSecretary: Len Zon M.D.
Boston Children’s Hospital, USA

Professional expertise: Mentoring, media outreach
Scientific expertise: Cancer, hematopoiesis, disease modelling
Len Zon is the Grousbeck Professor of Pediatric Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Director of the Stem Cell Program, Children’s Hospital Boston. Dr. Zon received a B.S. degree in chemistry and natural sciences from Muhlenberg College (1979) and an M.D. degree from Jefferson Medical College (1983). He subsequently did an internal medicine residency at New England Deaconess Hospital (1986) and a fellowship in medical oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (1989). His postdoctoral research was in the laboratory of Stuart Orkin (1990). Dr. Zon is internationally recognized for his pioneering work in the fields of stem cell biology and cancer genetics. Dr. Leonard Zon has been the pre-eminent figure in establishing the zebrafish as an invaluable genetic model for the study of the blood and hematopoietic development. He is founder and former president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research and chair of the Executive Committee of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI). In 2005, he completed a term as President of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. In that same year, Dr. Zon was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. In 2008, Dr. Zon was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. In 2010, Dr. Zon was awarded the E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize from American Society of Hematology. In 2013, Dr. Zon received the ISEH Donald Metcalf Lecture Award.

jamesPast President: James F. Amatruda
UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, USA
Professional expertise: Grant review, manuscript reviews, media relations, public outreach, mentoring
Scientific expertise: Disease modelling, cancer, clinical care/medicine
James F. Amatruda is Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Molecular Biology and Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX, where he holds the Nearburg Family Professorship in Pediatric Oncology Research. Jim received his A.B. in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University and a combined M.D.-Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis. He did a residency in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a fellowship in Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. A physician-scientist, he divides his time between his research laboratory and Children’s Medical Center, Dallas, where he specializes in the care of children with cancer and blood disorders. His research uses zebrafish models and human genomic approaches to study the genetic causes of childhood cancers, including germ cel tumors, Wilms tumor and sarcomas. Jim is Chair of the Rare Tumors Biology Committee of the Children’s Oncology Group, the national organization that oversees clinical and biological studies of pediatric cancers.