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Straight & Musacchio
Walter & Musacchio
Alison, Aaron and Andrea
Andrea & Ciferri

Andrea Musacchio in California for VVP sabbatical

Andrea Musacchio, PhD, Director, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology, Dortmund, has recently returned from his VVP sabbatical at Stanford University.  This proved to be a transformative experience, both personally and professionally. Three key pillars guided his decision to choose Stanford: the prestigious reputation of the university, the opportunity to engage with a stellar constellation of researchers, and the warm hospitality of Dr Aaron Straight, Chair of the Department of Biochemistry, who facilitated the visit by making countless introductions and providing valuable insights into the university's culture and resources.

Upon arrival in the San Francisco Bay area, Andrea embarked on a journey filled with enriching encounters and experiences, both scientific and social.  Meetings with faculty members highlighted the diverse and cutting-edge research conducted in the region.  Discussions ranged from molecular biology to the challenges facing scientific funding in the United States.  Fast-paced walks with Aaron revealed not only the physical beauty of Stanford but also its vibrant intellectual atmosphere.  Their open and frank discussions provided much food for thought as well as the possibility of several collaborative projects to explore in the near future.  

Musacchio gave two talks at Stanford, the first, on March 7, was the Frontier in Biology Lecture in which he covered his 25 years of work on the kinetochore and on the cell cycle checkpoint it controls, the spindle assembly checkpoint.  His second lecture, on March 25, was on the topic of phase separation.  Both lectures were very well attended and elicited lively discussion.

Visits beyond the Stanford campus included trips to: UC Berkeley, where Andrea met with Eva Nogales, Vallee Foundation Director, VVP, and Distinguished Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology; Peter Walter, VVP and Distinguished Investigator at Altos Labs; and Arshad Desai and Karen Oegema  at UC La Jolla.  Andrea also met up with Stephen Harrison, his former postdoc advisor at Harvard, and Claudio Ciferri, one of Andrea’s former graduate students who supervises all the structural biology projects at Genentech.  

Dr Musacchio left California with a deeper appreciation for Stanford's contributions to science and the generosity of their hosts. Aaron Straight's parting gift—a handmade box symbolizing craftsmanship and technical prowess—served as a fitting reminder of the multifaceted nature of scientific endeavor.

In conclusion, the Vallee Visiting Professorship at Stanford University offered not only academic enrichment but also profound insights into the challenges and opportunities shaping contemporary scientific research. Through collaboration, dialogue, and exploration, Andrea’s time at Stanford underscored the enduring importance of curiosity-driven inquiry in advancing knowledge and innovation.