Witold Filipowicz - Curriculum vitae#

Education/ Professional Degrees:
  • 1968 M.D., Medical University, Lodz, Poland
  • 1973 Ph.D., Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
  • 1977 Habilitation; Associate Professor of Biochemistry, Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw
  • 1991 Professor of Biochemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
  • 1997 Titular Professor of Biochemistry, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Switzerland

Positions and professional experience:
  • 1967 - 1968 Research studentship in neurochemistry (9 months), Center of Neurochemistry of CNRS, Strasbourg, France (Dr. P. Mandel)
  • 1968 - 1973 Pre-doctoral fellow, Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw (Dr. P. Szafranski)
  • 1974 - 1976 Post-doctoral fellow, New York University and Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, Nutley, NJ, USA (Drs. S. Ochoa and A.J. Shatkin)
  • 1976 - 1984 Adjunct and Associate Professor, Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Warsaw
  • 1978 Visting Scientist, Institute Jacques Monod, Paris (Dr. A.-L. Haenni)
  • 1980 - 1981 Visiting Scientist (sabbatical), Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, Nutley, NJ, USA (Dr. A. J. Shatkin)
  • 1984 - Senior Staff Scientist and Group Leader, Friedrich Miescher Institute, Basel. Formally retired in mid 2012 but still conducting research in the Institute with a group of 5 post-docs and students

  • 1972 Prize for Young Biochemists, Polish Biochemical Society
  • 1972 and 82 Awards of the Scientific Secretary of the Polish Academy of Sciences
  • 1974 and 80 Awards of the Biological Section of the Polish Academy of Sciences
  • 1978 The Skarzynski Award, Polish Biochemical Society
  • 1985 The Jakub Karol Parnas Award, Polish Biochemical Society
  • 2011 Lifetime Achievement in Science Award of RNA Society, RNA2011, Kyoto
  • 2013/14 Gutenberg Chair (Chaire Gutenberg) 2014 Prize, Strasbourg

Other professional distinctions:
  • 1979 - 1984 Member and Secretary, Committee of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • 1993 - 1995 Member, Committee on Gene Nomenclature, International Society for Plant Molecular Biology
  • 1997 - 2002 Member, Long Term Fellowship Committee, Human Frontier Science Program, Strasbourg
  • 1994 - Member, European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO)
  • 1998 - 2005 Member, Schweizerische Kommission für Molekularbiologie (SKMB)
  • 2005 - Member, Academia Europaea
  • 2005 - Foreign Member, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • 2013 - Elected Chairman of the Committee of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry of the Academia Europaea

Other distinctions include:
  • Keynote presentations and special lectures at numerous international Meetings and Congresses, and different Universities
  • Organization or co-organization of international meetings (e.g., Annual RNA Society Meetings RNA2008 and RNA2013, Keystone Meeting in Victoria, Canada, two EMBO Workshops)

Editorial Boards:
  • 1988 - Editorial Board, Molecular Biology Reports
  • 1997 - Editorial Board, RNA
  • 1997 - 2002 Editorial Board, Plant Journal
  • 2004 - Editorial Board, RNA Biology
  • 2012-2013 Editorial Board, Silence
  • 2009 - Editorial Boards, Cell
  • 2009 - Editorial Board, Journal of Molecular Cell Biology (Shanghai)
  • 2012 - Editorial Board, Translation

Scientific Advisory Boards:
  • 1991 - 1998 Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • 2006-2011 Member of Scientific Advisory Board of the EC Network of Excellence „Eurasnet“ (Alternative Splicing)
  • 2006/10 - Current Membership in Scientific Advisory Boards:
    • Institute Européen de Chimie et Biologie (IECB), Bordeaux; France;
    • International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Warsaw, Poland;
    • Max-Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tuebingen, Germany; RNAREG, Program of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation "Post-transcriptional regulation and its impact on disease";
    • Uppsala RNA Research Centre, Uppsala, Sweden;
    • French Network of Excellence NetRNA "Networks of Regulatory RNAs across kingdoms and dynamical responses to biotic and abiotic stresses", Strasbourg, France (Chair of the Board)
  • 2006/14 Ad hoc Member of Reviewing or Scientific Advisory Boards:
    • Institute of Plant Molecular Biology, CNRS, Strasbourg;
    • Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan;
    • several CNRS-INSERM Research Units in France;
    • Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology at Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine Berlin-Buch;
    • Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Sydney, Australia;
    • Center of Genomic Regulation (CRG), Barcelona, Spain;
    • EMBL Monterotondo Out-station, Monterotondo, Italy.


My research has been focused on biogenesis and function of RNA and ribonucleoprotein particles (RNPs), enzymes involved in RNA metabolism, and on RNA interference and microRNAs in mammals. The contributions extend from the discovery of a new cyclase operon in E. coli (Genschik et al., 1998) and determination of the X-ray structure of the bacterial RNA 3’-terminal phosphate cyclase (Palm et al., 2000), through the co-discovery of first m7G-cap-binding protein (Filipowicz et al., 1975), the elucidation of the intron recognition mechanism in plants (Goodall and Filipowicz, 1989), and the discovery/characterization of tRNA splicing ligases (Konarska et al., 1981; 1982; Filipowicz and Shatkin 1983; Filipowicz et al. 1983), to the most recent work describing mechanistic aspects of Dicer function (Zhang et al., 2002; 2004), the mechanism and reversibility of repression by microRNAs (Pillai et al., 2005; Bhattacharyya et al., 2006; Fabian et al., 2009; Chekulaeva et al. 2011) in mammalian and Drosophila cells, and regulated turnover of miRNAs in neurons (Krol et al. 2010). The finding were published in over 160 papers, many of them appearing in high profile journals like Cell, Nature and Science.

This research resulted in a discovery/characterization of several important enzymes involved in the metabolism of nucleic acids. Among them are: two eukaryotic RNA ligases involved in tRNA splicing, the RNA 3’-phosphate cyclase, and different cyclic phosphate 3’-phosphodiesterases. Work on small non-coding RNAs and their biogenesis led to the detailed analysis of the biogenesis of intron-encoded small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs), and also some unexpected features of snRNA and snoRNA gene promoters, testifying to the common evolutionary origins of pol II and pol III transcription systems. We also described a first example of the gene, which has changed its polymerase specificity during evolution. Our research has contributed to the understanding of biogenesis, structure and function of mammalian RNPs such as RNase MRP, and also to biogenesis of eukaryotic ribosomes (identification of the 3’-phosphate-cyclase-like protein, Rcl1p, and a GTPase Bms1p as factors essential for ribosome maturation).

Our present research is focused on biochemistry and biology of RNAi and function and metabolism of miRNAs in mammalian cells. The accomplishments include: the characterization of the human Dicer protein, and formulation of a model of its catalytic activity; demonstration that miRNAs repress translation at the initiation step in human cells and that repressed mRNAs are targeted to P-bodies; discovery that miRNA-mediated repression is a reversible process; collaborative work leading to the establishment of the mechanism of miRNA-mediated deadenylation; studies on a role of miRNAs in ES cell differentiation and in hepatitis C; and discovery of a rapid turnover of miRNAs in retinal and non-retinal neurons. Additional collaborative work led to the identification of factors involved in regulation of miRNA biogenesis.
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