From left to right: Emmanuel Boucrot, Michael Kitonga Mbiti and Natasha Martin
Dr Emmanuel Boucrot is an Associate Professor at University College London (UK), where he teaches Molecular Cell Biology and leads a research group.
His team is addressing two research questions:
1. Can we discover new portals of entry into cells to increase drug targeting efficacy? His team found that cells from different organs have different absorption capacity which, if better understood, could lead to the design of new drugs having less side effects, as they would be absorbed mostly by the organs to be treated.
2. Why do stem cells rest in a dormant state in adults until they are awoken to heal injuries? Adults have stem cells resting in dormancy and located in many organs: from skin to muscle or bone marrow. Following an injury, they are reactivated to provide all the new cells required to heal wounds and to regenerate organs. Unfortunately stem cells are progressively lost upon ageing, leading to decreased regenerative capacity. Understating what make stem cells dormant would reveal ways to maintain them in such state and prolong regeneration, and to accelerate the healing of traumatic injuries.
Emmanuel obtained a BSc and a MSc in Biochemistry at the University of Geneva (Switzerland) before moving to Marseille (France) to do a PhD. His doctorate work revealed the main human protein targeted by the bacterium Salmonella, the causative agent for typhoid fever and for many cases of food poisoning. Following PhD graduation, he worked for 7 years as a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard Medical School (USA) and at the University of Cambridge (UK), before moving in 2011 to his present position at UCL.
Besides his passion for science, Emmanuel enjoys rock climbing and reading, in particular critical thinkers such as Blaise Pascal, Immanuel Kant and Ayn Rand.
Michael Kitonga Mbiti
Michael is a lawyer from Kenya.
He previously worked for Transparency International, an international NGO with offices in Kenya. He then joined the leading Kenyan law firm Anjarwalla & Khanna to work on complex corporate and project finance transactions. He is now a Research Associate for the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation in the US, based out of Kenya.
Michael attended his undergraduate legal studies in Kenya, graduating top of his class with a First Class Honours degree in 2012. He completed his post-graduate diploma at the Kenya School of Law, which is a prerequisite to qualifying to the Kenyan bar. In 2015 he joined Harvard Law School (USA) for his master's studies (LL.M.) and graduated in 2016. His specialty is Corporate law, Capital Markets and M&A.
Michael is a qualified lawyer in Kenya, and is currently pursuing his qualification to the New York State bar.
Michael is passionate about volunteering, inspired by his past life experiences, having lived most of his childhood in one of the most deprived parts of Kenya.
Natasha is an adventure and sustainable tourism specialist.
For the last decade, she has worked with destinations, associations and tourism companies around the world, from Greenland to Namibia, to ensure the sectors' development supports environmental conservation, cultural heritage preservation and enhances the lives of local residents.
Adventure and sustainable tourism are an effective avenue for countries to create jobs and generate foreign exchange, and provide an invaluable opportunity for travellers and hosts to learn about cultures, traditions, and aspirations different from their own. Natasha believes strongly in the potential of tourism to contribute to global peace: the more we travel, the more we understand about the world and people who are different from us.
In addition to consultancies, Natasha teaches courses in online marketing and branding for tourism at the New York University (NYU) School of Professional Studies (USA).
Natasha holds a Master of Tourism from The George Washington University (USA). Born to a Ugandan mother and an American father in Canada, she now calls Hong Kong home.