Chair Biographies


- Distinguished Chair 2014-2015 1st semester : Sandra Babcock

- Distinguished Chair 2014-2015 2nd semester : Benjamin tenOever

1st Semester

September 2014 - December 2014


Professor Sandra Babcock
Clinical Professor of Human Rights Law

Cornell University Law School

Hosted by Université de Caen, Basse Normandie
Marie-Joëlle Redor-Fichot
Professeur agrégé des Universités


Sandra Babcock is a Clinical Professor specializing in International Human Rights at Cornell Law School. She has dedicated her career to the advancement of human rights in the United States and around the world.  From 2006-2011, Professor Babcock directed the Human Rights Advocacy Clinic at the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern University School of Law.  There, she supervised students on wide variety of human rights projects, including the representation of a Saudi prisoner detained in Guantánamo, factual investigation for the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, advocacy on behalf of prisoners denied access to justice in Malawi, and the presentation of shadow reports before the Human Rights Committee, Human Rights Council, and the Committee Against Torture.

Since 1991, Professor Babcock has represented dozens of prisoners facing execution in the United States, and is recognized as a leading authority on the intersection of international law and capital punishment.  From 2000-2006, she was Director of the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program, a project funded by the Government of Mexico to assist its nationals in capital cases at trial and on appeal.  In 2004, she was counsel to the Government of Mexico in the case of Avena and other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States), a case brought by Mexico in the International Court of Justice on behalf of 52 Mexican nationals on death row.   She has also litigated before the Inter-American Court on Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 

Professor Babcock continues defend Mexican nationals facing the death penalty in the United States, but is also engaged in efforts to obtain new sentencing hearings for approximately 190 prisoners who were sentenced to death in Malawi.  In 2010, she launched the first publicly accessible database on the application of the death penalty worldwide, available at  And in 2013, she released the first international manual of best practices in the representation of individuals facing the death penalty.

Professor Babcock has taught international human rights, international gender rights, and human rights advocacy.   She is the recipient of numerous awards, and her work has been recognized by national and international organizations.  In 2009, she was awarded the Cesare Beccaria medal by the International Society of Social Defense and Humane Criminal Policy; and in May 2003, she was awarded the Aguila Azteca by the Government of Mexico, which is the highest honor bestowed by the Government of Mexico upon citizens of foreign countries.  Professor Babcock speaks French, Spanish, Italian, and conversational German.


Public Conferences :

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Conference: "Politique, morale et légalité de la peine de mort au XXIème siècle"

Time: 6-8 PM

Place: Mémorial de Caen


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Inaugural lecture: "Cliniques juridiques, enseignement du droit et l'accès à la justice"

Time: 5:30 PM

Place: :  Université de Caen, Bâtiment D – Amphithéâtre Demolombe, Esplanade de la Paix, 14032 Caen – Cedex 5

Watch a recording of the conference here:


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Conference: "Pourquoi la peine de mort survit-elle aux Etats-Unis?"

Time: 6:00 PM

Place: France-Amériques, 9 avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 75008 Paris


Thursday, December 4, 2014 

Conference: "La peine de mort dans le monde: l’exemple des États Unis"

Time: 5:00 PM

Place: Université François Rabelais, Tours



 The Mandatory Death Penalty in Malawi:  The Unrealized Promise of Kafantayeni, with Ellen Wight, in Peter Hodgkinson and Kerry Ann Akers, The Library of Essays on Capital Punishment (Ashgate 2014);

The Limits of International Law:  Efforts to Enforce Rulings of the International Court of Justice in U.S. Death Penalty Cases, 62 Syracuse L. Rev. 183 (2012);

International Standards on the Death Penalty, 28 Thomas M. Cooley L. Rev. 103 (2011);

Human Rights Advocacy in United States Capital Cases, in The Contemporary Human Rights Movement in the United States (2007);

The Global Debate on the Death Penalty, in American Bar Association, Human Rights, Spring 2007.




2nd Semester

Janury-June 2015

Dr. Benjamin tenOever
Professor of Microbiology
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) 

Hosted by Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris
Patrick Charnay
Professor and Coordinator of International Graduate program in Life Sciences


Benjamin tenOever completed his postdoctoral training in biochemistry at Harvard University after receiving a Ph.D. in medicine from McGill University.  He is presently a Fishberg Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.  His research program focuses on the molecular biology of viruses.  He studies how cells respond to virus infection and the countermeasures employed by viruses to curb this response.  The knowledge gathered from these studies is then used as a platform to develop tools for both research and therapeutics.  His efforts have resulted in awards from President Obama, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Vilcek Foundation. Benjamin is also a Pew Fellow and a Burroughs Wellcome Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease.  He will use the Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair Award to teach a complete history of virology, from initial discoveries to present day applications, at the Ecole Normale Supérieur while expanding his research program at the Pasteur Institute.


Public Conferences :

Friday, February 13, 2015

Inaugural lecture: "Shaping Our World: One Virus at a Time"

Time: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Place: Salle Dussane, ENS, 45 rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lecture: "The Interplay Between Small RNAs and the Mammalian Response to Virus Infection"

Time: 11:30 AM

Place: Salle Retrovirus, 1st floor of Lwoff Building, Institut Pasteur, 28 rue du Docteur Roux, 75015 Paris



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Lecture: "Defining in vivo Virus Biology with Recombinant Viral Construction"

Time: 11 AM

Place: Institut Pasteur, 21 avenue Tony Garnier, 69007 Lyon



Perez, J.T. et al. MicroRNA-mediated species-specific attenuation of influenza A virus. Nat Biotechnol 27, 572-6 (2009).

Varble, A. et al. Engineered RNA viral synthesis of microRNAs. PNAS, 107, 11519-24 (2010).

Perez, J.T. et al. Influenza A Virus-Generated Small RNAs Regulate the Switch from Transcription to Replication. PNAS. 107, 11525-30 (2010) 

Backes, S. et al. Degradation of host microRNAs by poxvirus poly(A) polymerase reveals terminal RNA methylation as a protective antiviral mechanism. Cell Host Microbe 12, 200-10 (2012).

Varble, A. et al. An in vivo RNAi screening approach to identify host determinants of virus replication. Cell Host Microbe 14, 346-56 (2012).

Langlois, R.A. et al. MicroRNA-based strategy to mitigate the risk of gain-of-function influenza studies. Nat Biotechnol 31, 844-7 (2013).

tenOever, B.R. RNA viruses and the host microRNA machinery. Nat Rev Microbiol 11, 169-80 (2013)

Shapiro, S. et al. Drosha is an interferon-independent antiviral factor.  PNAS 111, 7108-13 (2014)

Backes, S. et al. The mammalian response to virus infection is independent of small RNA silencing.  Cell Reports 8, 1-12 (2014) 

Moy, R.H. et al.  Stem loop recognition by DDX17 facilitates miRNA processing and antiviral defense. Cell In press (2014)





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