The Jean Brachet Memorial Lectures

Jean Louis Auguste Brachet became President of the International Society of Differentiation at the Society’s founding in 1971 and later was named Honorary Life President until his death in 1988. A founder of modern cell and developmental biology, Brachet began his studies on the cellular localization and functions of RNA and DNA in the 1920’s, before their genetic significance was understood. Using cytochemical techniques, he discovered RNA and demonstrated that it was enriched in nucleoli. He went on to show that it moves from the nucleus to the cytoplasm where it directs protein synthesis. In other seminal discoveries, Brachet showed that chloroplasts contain DNA and that chloroplast specific RNA can be made independent of the nucleus. He also described the first example of transport of a protein from the cytoplasm into the nucleus. Brachet believed that biochemistry was central to development and was fond of referring to his field as “Chemical Embryology”. The International Society of Differentiation honored Brachet’s contributions to science and to the Society with the first Jean Brachet Memorial Lecture at the 6th International Conference on Differentiation held in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1990. The lecture series has continued at every ISD sponsored international conference since that time.

The Jean Brachet Memorial Lectures

2024, Roberto Mayor (UK)

​​Exploring Neural Crest Develo​pment

2023,  Virginia E. Papaioannou (USA)

In the Beginning: A Brief History of Mouse Embryology

2022, Malta, Richard Harland (USA)

Control of tissue stiffness and integrity during Xenopus Gastrulation

2018, Sydney, Elizabeth Robertson (UK)

An expanding job descritpion for the Zinc finger transcriptional repressor Blimp1/Prdm1

2016, Boston, Douglas Melton

Islet biology and diabetes from a developmental perspective

2014, London, Sir John Gurdon (UK)

Brachet en route to nuclear reprogramming

2012, Amsterdam, Hans Clevers (NL)

Lgr 5 stem cells in self-renewal and cancer

2010, Nara, Marianne Bronner (USA)

Formation of the neural crest from a gene regulatory perspective

2008, Singapore, Giullo Cossu (IT)

Towards Cell Therapy for Muscular Dystrophies

2006, Innsbruck, Rudolph Jaenisch (USA)

Nuclear Loning, Embryonic Stem Cells and Cell Therapy: Promise, Problems, Reality

2004, Honolulu, Robert Horvitz (USA)

Genetic Control of Programmed Cell Death in C. elegans

2002, Lyon, Nicole Le Douarin (FR)

Neural Crest, a Pluripotent Structure of Vertebrate Embryos

2006, Gold Coast, Australia, Sir John Gurdon (UK)

Cell Signaling in Early Development

1998, Houston, Pierre Chambon (FR)

Retinoid Signaling in Development

1996, Pisa, Marie A. Di Berardino (USA)

Genomic Potential- Acetabularia to Mammals

1994, Hiroshima, Masatoshi Takeichi (JP)

Control of Morphogenetic Cell Assembly: Roles of the Cadherin-Catenin Adhesion System

1992, Helsinki, Peter Gruss (DE)

Murine Developmental Control Genes

1990, Vancouver, Sir Henry Harris (UK)

The Role of Differentiation in the Suppression of Malignancy

The Anne McLaren Award for Outstanding Women in Developmental Biology

Renowned and revered geneticist and reproductive biologist, Professor Dame Anne Laura Dorinthea McLaren worked for more than 50 years at the forefront of studies on mammalian fertility, developing techniques for mouse embryo transfer, implantation, and chimera formation. This early work led to the development of techniques currently used in clinics for human in vitro fertilization. When not in the lab, she addressed the ethical issues associated with her research, serving on several British and European ethics panels as a policy advisor, and subsequently argued in favor of studies using human embryonic stem cell lines. She was well regarded for her ability to articulate scientific information to nonscientists and to explain potential implications of controversial technologies with clarity, which helped provide ethical guidelines for their use and facilitated government support.

Professor McLaren was an active member of the International Society of Differentiation for over twenty-five years, and, in those years, she made innumerable contributions to the society. Her service on the Board of Directors, as well as Chair of the Publications Committee, was dedicated and steadfast. Moreover, she actively participated in strengthening the content of our journal Differentiation and helped to establish a strong economic base for the ISD through negotiated publishing contracts.

In addition to being an outstanding scientist and public educator, Professor McLaren was also admired as a role model and mentor to young scientists. Ever patient and nurturing, she maintained a strong desire to see others succeed. Because of that and as a result of her untimely passing in 2007, Hans Clevers, with Executive Board support, recommended that the International Society of Differentiation pay tribute to her life in a notable and lasting manner. As such, in honor of Anne McLaren and the innumerable contributions she made throughout her life, especially her support for younger scientists, the Board approved an Anne McLaren named-lecture to be featured at the international meetings of the ISD. This award is given specifically to an outstanding mid-career developmental biologist.

Anne McLaren Award Recipients

Elvan Böke

2024, Chile


Loydie A. Jerome-Majewska
2023, Chicago

Sally Lowell
2022, Malta

Anna Philpott
2018, Sydney

Yoshiko Takahashi

2016, Boston

Carole Labonne
2014, London

Amy Wagers
2012, Amsterdam

Mikiko C. Simomi
2010, Japan

Magdalena Zernicka-Gotez

2008, Singapore

The Beverly Kerr McKinnell Award for Exemplary Research as a Student

The ISD’s pioneering administrative officer, Beverly Kerr McKinnell, passed away on November 15, 2005, following a brief battle with lung cancer. The International Society of Differentiation benefited enormously from Beverly’s talents and dedicated quarter century of service.

Although not trained as a scientist, Beverly became involved very early in ISD affairs through her husband, Bob, who was one of its founding members in the early 1970’s. As the Society matured, it established its place at the interface between development and cancer, began regularly to hold international conferences bringing scientists in those disciplines together, and launched the journal, Differentiation, as its official organ. It also became administratively more complex, developing features that conventionally trained scientists are largely unprepared to handle. Beverly took on the Society’s administrative affairs, initially quite informally. With time and experience she was formally appointed the ISD’s first Administrator, a post she held with consummate professionalism until her death.

Those who were elected to serve as officers and board members of the ISD came quickly to recognize Beverly’s dedication to the society. She was always there to remind them of what needed doing, when it needed doing, and to prod if it wasn’t getting done. She took very little credit for that, being concerned not with kudos but with the continued vitality of the society. Largely unknown to those who knew her only through the ISD, Beverly was very active in her community and was a dedicated wife, mother and grandmother. She served the League of Women Voters as President of the Saint Paul chapter, President of the Minnesota chapter and First Vice President of the national organization. Her effectiveness was recognized by two special honors, the Hope Washburn Award and the Fay Lyksett Award.

Her outstanding service on appointed state and county commissions was specially acknowledged by Minnesota Governor Arnie Carlson, who designated 28 April 1992 as Beverly Kerr McKinnell Day. She was an avid bird watcher, an interest she had ample opportunity to pursue as she accompanied Bob on his pursuit of frogs in the wild. Beverly took particular pleasure in the participation of budding young scientists in ISD conferences. To honor her memory, beginning with the Innsbruck conference in 2006, the ISD instituted a special award for outstanding research presented by a student. The award takes the form of a cash prize equivalent to 1,000 euros.

Beverly Kerr McKinnell Award Recipients

Martin Estermann, 2018, Sydney
TGIF1, a new player in female gonadal development

Victoria Prior, 2018, Sydney
Mimicking the biomechanical features of the brain

Alison Wirshing, 2016, Boston
Development of organized stress fibers in a model contractile tube coincides with cell contraction following tissue stretch and is dependent on Ca2+ signaling and myosin II activity

Rachael Lumb, Ph.D., 2013, London
Neuropilins define distinct populations of neural crest cells

Tahsin Stefan Barakat, Ph.D., 2012, Amsterdam
RNF12 activates Xist and is essential for X inactivation in female mouse embryonic stem cell

Yuju Atsuta, Ph.D., 2010, Nara
Tubular extension and cell epithelialization are coordinately regulated and influenced by adjacent tissues

Michael D. Hall, 2008, Singapore
TIG1 contributes to cytokinesis in mammalian cells, and participates in hindbrain development and somitogenesis in the zebrafish

Beate Lichtenberger, Ph.D., 2006, Innsbruck
Conditional deletion of VEGF impairs SOS-dependent skin tumor development in transgenic mice