Université de Strasbourg

Symposium 2021

USIAS Annual Symposium 2021

poster symposiumThursday 18 November 2021, 14:30-16:30
Salle de conférence, ISIS
8 allée Gaspard Monge, Strasbourg (access)

The 2021 Symposium features Professor Denis Duboule, a renowned specialist in developmental genetics and a pioneer in research on Hox genes, the “architect” genes, which orchestrate the development of limbs and organs. At the symposium, Professor Duboule will talk about the past and future of “Evo-devo”, the field of evolutionary developmental biology, which is revolutionizing our understanding of how the extraordinary range of living organisms came to be.

The Symposium will present the new Fellows of 2020 and 2021, as well as the trailer for the film "To the heart of the social network : Neighbourhood quarrels of the Columbian ground squirrel"

The symposium is open to the public and the lecture will be given in French.


14:30 Opening words by Rémi Barillon, Vice Chairperson of Research, Doctoral Training and Open Science, University of Strasbourg
14:35 Presentation of the USIAS 2020 and 2021 Fellows by Thomas Ebbesen, ISIS, Director of USIAS
14:55 Introduction by Jean-Louis Mandel, IGBMC, USIAS Chair of Human Genetics
15:00 Keynote lecture: The history of our two origins: Species evolution and embryonic development, by Denis Duboule, International Chair of the Evolution of Genomes and Development at the Collège de France, EPFL Lausanne and University of Geneva, Switzerland
16:00  Discussion
16:30 Reception

The history of our two origins: The evolution of species and embryonic development

Embryo image

Complex relationships exist between two of the essential questions of our existence; on the one hand, the question of our ontogenetic origin (where we come from as an individual, our embryogenesis) and, on the other hand, our phylogenetic origin (where we come from as a group of individuals, as a species). Can these two questions be treated scientifically within the same epistemological perimeters? Can a theory of embryonic development, long-awaited since the end of the 19th century and gradually taking shape, be integrated into the theory of evolution as we understand it today? 

In the 1980s, technological developments made possible an explosive encounter between genetics, developmental biology and molecular biology, an encounter that gave rise to a new synthetic discipline for some and an unstable transitional equilibrium for others. The discipline of evolutionary developmental biology or Evo-Devo will, however, revive the search for the mechanisms which underlie the variation of living forms, and which complement the mechanisms of their selection by external forces. But how do we navigate the borderline between these two conceptual frameworks, which are so different from each other and yet essential to each other for understanding our personal and collective paths?

Biography - Denis Duboule

Denis Duboule

Denis Duboule was born in Geneva, and holds both Swiss and French nationalities. He studied biology at the University of Geneva (Switzerland) where he received a PhD in the field of mammalian embryology in 1984. He then spent ten years abroad, first at the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics of Eukaryotes (LGME; now IGBMC) of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Strasbourg, then at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg (Germany), before being appointed Professor at the University of Geneva in 1993. In 2006, he was also appointed Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), where he heads the Laboratory of Developmental Genomics. In 2017, he was appointed Professor at the Collège de France, where he holds the international chair The Evolution of Genomes and Development. 

His research activities focus on the genetics and genomics of mammalian development, in the general context of the evolution of structures and organs. In particular, his laboratory has been involved in numerous studies in the field of structural and functional analysis of architect genes (Hox) and their transcriptional regulation during early development. 

Professor Duboule is also active in the field of science policy and communication. He is a member of the French Académie des Sciences, the Academia Europea and other academies. He is also a foreign member of the Royal Society (UK) and the American National Academy of Sciences (NAS). He has received several awards and distinctions, including the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine in 1998 and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) International Prize in 2010.

Film - To the heart of the social network

After the presentation of the 2020 and 2021 Fellows, Professor Ebbesen drew attention to a film on a theme related to that of the symposium that is an output of the USIAS project of Stephen Dobson, and his host Vincent Viblanc. The film "To the heart of the social network: Neighbourhood quarrels of the Columbian ground squirrel" was awarded as Best Science Film 2021 by the Green Screen Film Awards.

The short trailer was projected during the symposium:

Teaser - To the heart of the social network from Aurélien Prudor - Wild Talks on Vimeo.


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