Eiríkur Steingrímsson

Eiríkur is a professor of Molecular Biology in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Iceland. He finished his BS in Biology from the University of Iceland in 1985 and a 4th-year project in 1986. He then went to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where he finished a PhD degree in Biology in 1992. He was then a postdoc at the National Cancer Institute from 1993-1997 when he returned to Iceland. He has been a representative of Iceland in EMBL council since 2005 and is currently the chair of council. 

Plenary talk title: MITF and phenotype plasticity in melanoma 

Abstract: The microphthalmia associated transcription factor (MITF) is a critical regulator of melanocyte development and differentiation. It also plays an important role in melanoma where it has been described as a molecular rheostat that, depending on activity levels, allows reversible switching between different cellular states. How it mediates this plasticity has not been clear. We propose a model where MITF acts as an activator of a set of genes and a repressor of another set of genes and that this balance between activation and repression sets the phenotypic state. The evidence for this model will be presented and how MITF acts as a repressor will be discussed.