2021 Confirmed Plenary Speakers

Yvonne Y. Chen

University of California, Los Angeles | Los Angeles/USA

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Dr. Yvonne Chen is an Associate Professor of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is also a faculty, by courtesy, in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and a member researcher of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. The Chen Laboratory focuses on applying synthetic biology and biomolecular engineering techniques to the development of novel mammalian-cell systems for clinical use. The Chen Lab’s work on engineering next-generation T-cell therapies for cancer has been recognized by the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, the NSF CAREER Award, the Hellman Fellowship, the ACGT Young Investigator Award in Cell and Gene Therapy for Cancer, the Mark Foundation Emerging Leader Award, and the Cancer Research Institute Lloyd J. Old STAR Award. Prior to joining UCLA in 2013, Yvonne was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows. She received postdoctoral training at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and in the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. Yvonne received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology.

Mirjam H.M. Heemskerk

Leiden University Medical Center | Leiden/The Netherlands

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Dr. Mirjam H.M. Heemskerk, Ph.D., is Associate Professor and Head of the Laboratory of Experimental Hematology at the Department of Hematology, Leiden University Medical Center, and was a postdoctoral fellow from 1994 till 1998 at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam. In 1999 she received a Gisela Their fellowship and started her own research group in 2001 at the Department of Hematology, LUMC, Leiden. Identification of high affinity TCRs, useful for TCR gene therapeutic strategies in both hematological malignancies and solid tumors, is one of the pillars of my research. In addition, biology of TCRs, and optimizing TCR gene transfer is studied intensively in my group. We recently demonstrated that creation of a non-competitive TCR environment following simultaneous knock out of both endogenous TCRαβ chains by CRISPR/Cas9 genomic editing resulted in an improved cellular therapeutic with increased performance in preclinical murine models for multiple myeloma. Since TCRs intrinsically exhibit cross-reactive potential, different methods to analyse safety and specificity of TCRs have been develop in my laboratory. Part of tumor-specific-TCRs are currently tested in clinical TCR gene therapy studies. In 2013 the first clinical TCR gene therapy study in the Netherlands for treatment of high risk leukemia using the HA-1H-TCR (N2021789) was started in LUMC. A new Phase I/II dose-escalation HA-1H-TCR clinical trial has started in July 2020.

Ugur Sahin

BioNTech | Mainz/Germany

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Prof. Ugur Sahin, M.D., Co-Founder and CEO of BioNTech, is a physician, immunologist and leader in the development of novel approaches to fight cancer and infectious diseases. Sahin is one of the world’s foremost experts on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) medicines. He has pioneered several breakthroughs enabling the development of mRNA vaccines and other types of immunotherapies. Sahin initiated and oversees “Project Lightspeed,” the historic development of the first mRNA vaccine for COVID-19, moving from lab and clinical testing to conditional approval within an unprecedented 11-month period. He also leads BioNTech’s research and development of neoantigen specific mRNA cancer vaccines which are individually tailored and produced on demand according to the profile of non-synonymous mutations identified by next-generation sequencing in patients’ tumors. Ugur Sahin is co-inventor of more than 500 filed patents applications and patents. Sahin’s academic credentials include serving as a Full Professor (W3) in Translational Oncology & Immunology at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, where he was the supervisor for more than 50 PhD students. He also holds the role of Chairman of the Scientific Management Board of the Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON), also in Mainz.

Sjoerd van der Burg

Leiden University Medical Center | Leiden/The Netherlands

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Sjoerd H. van der Burg, Ph.D. is a professor in the immunotherapy of cancer at the department of medical oncology of the Leiden University Medical Center and a senior investigator of the Oncode Institute. He leads the experimental cancer immunology and therapy group consisting of about 30 scientists and technicians. The aim of his program is to implement immunotherapy as a treatment modality for patients with solid tumors. The program is focused on the exploration of key factors in host-tumor interactions that determine successes and failures in the immune control of cancer in order to drive the improvement of immunotherapeutic strategies against solid tumors. The fundamental, translational and clinical studies in his group had led to insights in the role of the tumor immune microenvironment, immune suppression and escape in cancer progression and therapy resistance. Furthermore, it led to the development of a powerful therapeutic vaccine concept and an adoptive cell transfer strategy for the treatment of cancer.

Yardena Samuels

Weizmann Institute of Science | Rehovot/Israel

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Prof. Yardena Samuels received her BSc from Cambridge University, UK in 1993, and earned an MSc in immunology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in 1997. She completed a PhD at Imperial College, London in 2002. She worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Prof Vogelstein’s laboratory at Johns Hopkins University from 2003 to 2006. She served as an assistant professor at NIH before joining the Weizmann Institute in 2012. Today she is the director of the EKARD Institute for Cancer Diagnosis Research and is the incumbent of the Knell Family Professorial Chair. Prof. Samuels is the recipient of the Pezoller Foundation - EACR Cancer Researcher Award, the Youdim Family Prize for Excellence in Cancer Research and has recently been nominated an EMBO member.
Prof Samuels’ focus involves the identification of gene mutations that play a role in the progression of cutaneous melanoma. Her aim is to delineate ideal protein target combinations in melanoma to achieve lasting disease control. Her lab was part of the TCGA workgroup who published the Genomic Classification of Cutaneous Melanoma. Her lab has developed novel methods to identify melanoma neo-antigens using genetic and proteomic methods. She has further been characterizing the immune response to these neo-antigens and developed relvant mouse models to investigate the role tumor heterogeneity plays in the tumor immune response.

Darrell Irvine

Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Cambridge/USA

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Dr. Irvine obtained an Honors Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Pittsburgh.  As a National Science Foundation graduate fellow he then studied Polymer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Following completion of his Ph.D., he was a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell postdoctoral fellow in immunology at the Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine. He is presently a Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is also an Associate Director for the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and serves on the steering committee of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard.

Laurence Zitvogel

Institut Gustave Roussy | Paris/France

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Laurence Zitvogel graduated in Medical Oncology in 1992. She started her scientific career when she was at the University of Pittsburgh, US. She became Research Director at Institut National de la Santé et Recherche Médicale U1015, and Scientific Director of the Immuno-Oncology program at Gustave Roussy, the largest cancer Center in Europe. She has been actively contributing to the field of cancer immunology and immunotherapy. She pioneered the concept of immunogenic cell death and and discovered the critical impact of gut microbiota in cancer immunosurveillance and therapies. She was the recipient of many awards including the French National Academy of Medicine, the Translation Research INSERM Prize, the ASCO-SITC, the Brupbacher Awards 2017, the ESMO Immuno-Oncology Award 2017, the Baillet Latour Prize 2019 and the Griffuel Prize 2019.

Johanna Olweus

Oslo University Hospital | Oslo/Norway

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Johanna Olweus earned her MD degree in 1992 and received her PhD with a thesis focused on hematopoietic stem cell biology in 1998, at the University of Bergen, Norway. Following clinical training resulting in specialization in Immunology and Transfusion Medicine in 2006 in Oslo, Norway, she built up a research group focused on studies of T cell-based cancer immunotherapy. She was the Director of K.G. Jebsen Center for Cancer Immunotherapy, awarded in national competition through the universities of Norway, during both terms (2013-2019). Since 2008 she holds the position as Head of the Dept of Cancer Immunology at the Institute for Cancer Research at the OECI-accredited Comprehensive Cancer Center at Oslo University Hospital, and Professor at the University of Oslo.
Her training in transplantation immunology inspired her to work towards the following goal: to utilize the powerful immune responses of graft-versus-tumor-reactivity and graft rejection to reject cancer cells in a specific and controlled manner. In 2019 she got an ERC Consolidator grant to pursue this goal.

Ido Amit

Weizmann Institute of Science | Rehovot/Israel

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Born in Kibbutz Hazor, Prof. Ido Amit earned his PhD in biological regulation at the Weizmann Institute of Science in 2007. He conducted a four-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Broad Institute of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, before joining the Weizmann Institute in 2011. He is the incumbent of the Eden and Steven Romick Professorial Chair. Prof. Amit is a world leader and pioneer in the fields of single-cell genomics and clinical big-data analytics. He has spearheaded the application of these technologies to generate a comprehensive “google map” of the entire immune system and how it is perturbed in disease. Prof. Amit’s research addresses some of the most fundamental questions in immunology. His discoveries are enabling the development of new immunotherapy strategies,—wotking with the leading biopharma his  discoveries are driving immense innovation in targeted immunotherapy for autoimmune disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer – which will lead to the next generation of immunoitherpahy treatments. In addition, Prof. Amit is renowned in the science community as a leader in immunogenomics, a new field aimed at detecting and engineering specific immune activity to combat disease. Prof. Amit is the recipient of numerous awards for academic and scientific excellence, including the Michael Bruno Memorial Award from the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2020), the Sanofi-Institute Pasteur Junior Award (2019), recognition as an International Research Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (2017), the EMBO Gold Medal Award (2016), the Helen and Martin Kimmel Award for Innovative Investigation (2016), and the Rappaport Prize (2016) for his work in revealing the function of the immune system. He was elected as a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in 2017.

Hassane M. Zarour

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center | Pittsburgh/USA

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Dr. Hassane Zarour is Professor of Medicine, Immunology, and Dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh. He is co-leader of the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program at Hillman Cancer Center. His translational research focuses on novel immunotherapies of melanoma and other solid tumors, the mechanisms of tumor-induced T cell dysfunction, and the role of the gut microbiome in cancer immunotherapy. His work has led to the identification of multiple inhibitory pathways that cooperate with PD-1 to impede tumor antigen-specific T cell responses to solid tumors. He is also investigating the role of the gut microbiome in regulating clinical and immune responses to immune checkpoint blockade in the context of clinical trials with fecal microbiota transplant.  .

Zlatko Trajanoski

Medical University of Innsbruck | Innsbruck/Austria

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Zlatko Trajanoski has a PhD in biomedical engineering from the Graz University of Technology, Austria. He is full professor for bioinformatics, head of the Institute of Bioinformatics, and director of the Biocenter at the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria. The research in his laboratory focuses on deciphering tumor-immune cell interactions using computational approaches and developing analytical tools for precision immuno-oncology. His recent work focuses on the identification of mechanisms of intrinsic and acquired resistance to immunotherapy in colorectal cancer using combined experimental/computational approaches.  

Vincenzo Bronte

University of Verona | Verona/Italy

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Vincenzo Bronte is currently Full Professor of Immunology at the University of Verona, Head of the Immunology Section of the Department of Medicine of Verona University and of the Immunology Unit of the “Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Integrata (AOUI) of Verona.  
Prof. Bronte’s major achievements are the definition and characterization of the myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) immune regulatory cells, whose negative influence on antitumor immunity represents an obstacle to a successful immunotherapy of cancer. Current projects in the laboratory are further exploring the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying tumor-induced immune dysfunctions, with the attempt to define novel drugs and approaches targeting tumor microenvironment, to be used alone or in combination with either active or passive immunotherapy strategies. These interests recently led the group to consider the intervention of myeloid cells in other pathologies, such as in regulating cytokine release syndromes like Covid-19. He was awarded by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Rome, Italy) with the International Prize "Francesco De Luca" for scientific Oncology careers, and by the Italian Foundation for Cancer Research (FIRC) with the Prize "Guido Venosta" for oncology researchers.  
In 2008, the journal “Science” dedicated an article to him and his colleague Dmitry Gabrilovich for the seminal discovery of MDSCs in cancer. He authored more than 190 peer-reviewed articles. Invited speaker for 190 congresses and inventor in 9 patents, he was included in the immunologist list of Highly Cited Researchers for the years 2018-2019-2020 by “Clarivate Analytics”, for scientists with exceptional research performance, authors of multiple highly cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year in Web of Science. He is member of several cancer research associations, scientific societies and consultant/advisor for different companies, in Europe and US. Some of these Companies are developing new drugs in the field of onco-immunology based on the discoveries of Prof. Bronte.

Andrea Schietinger

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center | New York/USA

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Andrea Schietinger, PhD is an Associate Member of the Immunology Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Schietinger aims to understand when, why, and how immune cells become unresponsive to tumors. Her lab utilizes genetic cancer mouse models that mimic cancer development in patients, investigate T cell responses over the course of tumor development, and define the molecular and epigenetic mechanisms that are responsible for the failure to control and eliminate tumors. Dr. Schietinger received her PhD from the University of Chicago and University of Munich, and conducted her postdoctoral training at the University of Washington.

Tobias Feuchtinger

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität | Munich/Germany

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Dr. Feuchtinger is full professor and Head of the Department of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation at Hauner University Children’s Hospital of Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich in Germany. He is a graduate of the universities of Hamburg, Witten-Herdecke, and Cleveland OH (1993 - 1999), and received his clinical board certification in pediatrics and postdoc at University Children’s Hospital Tübingen. From 2007 until 2015, Dr. Feuchtinger was attending physician pediatric hematology, oncology, and stem cell transplantation at University Hospital Tübingen, where he was also Head of the Immunotherapy Laboratory and GMP-qualified person (from 2007-2015). He was a Board Member and PI of the Collaborative Research Centre SFB-685 “Immunotherapy – Molecular basis and clinical application” (2005-2017). His research is focused on the development of experimental knowledge to clinical application of T-cell therapy approaches. His group focuses on antiviral antigen-specific T cells and the development of new technologies for CAR T cells against pediatric leukemia. They have successfully initiated first-in-man clinical trials for adoptive T-cell therapies.

Fyza Shaikh

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine | Baltimore/USA

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Fyza Shaikh is an Instructor in Cancer Immunology in the Department of Oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She has completed her MD/PhD at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine followed by a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Medical Oncology fellowship at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Her clinical and research focus includes examining the role of the gut microbiome in tumorigenesis and responses to immunomodulatory cancer therapeutics.  Her prior research experiences include evaluation of c-Myc and KRAS induction on the polarized acinar structure of breast epithelium, mechanisms of Respiratory Syncytial Virus assembly and budding, c-Met expression in hepatocellular carcinoma, and characterization of PDL-1 expression in EBV-associated gastric cancer.

Ana Anderson

Harvard Medical School | Cambridge/USA

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Dr. Anderson is the Albert H. Coons Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, Scientist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Institute Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Core Faculty of the Evergrande Center for Immunologic Diseases, and Co-Chair of the Infectious and Immunologic Diseases Program at the Brigham Research Institute. She obtained her B.S. in Microbiology and Immunology in 1993 from the University of Miami, where she graduated summa cum laude. She obtained her Ph.D. in Immunology from Harvard University in 1999.  During her Ph.D. she was awarded a fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Anderson works in the field of cancer immunology, specifically on the regulation of the anti-tumor T cell response. Her laboratory identified the co-inhibitory molecule Tim-3 as a key regulator of T cell dysfunction in cancer and has identified gene programs associated with activated, dysfunctional, and stem-like CD8+ T cell states in cancer. Prior to working in the field of cancer immunology, Dr. Anderson worked in the field of autoimmunity. Dr. Anderson has published over 50 original papers, 19 reviews, and 5 book chapters. Her work on T cell cross-reactivity in autoimmunity was selected by Nature Immunology as a ‘Classic Paper in Autoimmunity’. She has also had several papers selected as either ‘must-read’ or ‘recommended’ by the Faculty of 1000. Dr. Anderson is on the editorial board for OncoImmunology, Cellular Immunology, and The Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer. She currently serves on the scientific advisory boards for the Center for Immuno-Oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Tizona Therapeutics, Trishula Therapeutics, Compass Therapeutics, Zumutor Biologics, and ImmuneOncia and is a consultant for iTeos Therapeutics and Larkspur Biosciences.

Ping-Chih Ho

University of Lausanne/Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research | Lausanne/Switzerland

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Ping-Chih Ho is a cancer immunologist with particular research interest in immunometabolism, the tumor microenvironment and viral infection. My ultimate goal is to exploit our findings to better harness our immune system in fight against infection and malignancy. In addition, I also envision to reprogram the tumor microenvironment, reverse immunosuppression and broaden and boost the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy. Png-Chih's  research is also acknowledged by several international awards, including the CRI Lloyd J. Old STAR Award, EMBO Young Investigator award, MRA-SITC Young Investigator award, CRI CLIP-investigator award, and the Swiss Bridge Award.

Göran B. Jönsson

Lund University | Lund/Sweden

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Göran Jönsson obtained his PhD in molecular oncology at Lund University in 2005 and is currently heading the Melanoma Genomics Unit at the Department of Oncology, Lund University. He was recently appointed Professor in Molecular Oncology at Lund University. Prior to that he was holding a prestigious Young Investigator Award from the Swedish Cancer Society. His research program is currently focused on understanding the interplay between the immune microenvironment and tumor cells with a particular interest in tumor-associated tertiary lymphoid structure.  He is an active member of GenoMEL and MELGEN, two international melanoma consortia.

Alexander Rubinsteyn

University of North Carolina | Chapel Hill/USA

Robert Seder

NIH-NIAID | Rockville/USA

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Dr. Seder received his BA degree from Johns Hopkins University, his MD degree from Tufts University, and his residency in Internal Medicine at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.  Dr. Seder came to the NIH in 1989 and performed postdoctoral training in the Laboratory of Immunology at the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) under Dr. William Paul.  Dr. Seder was subsequently appointed as Chief of the Cellular Immunology Section in the Vaccine Research Center in the NIAID in 2000.  At the Vaccine Research Center, Dr. Seder has focused on the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which vaccines and adjuvants mediate protective immunity in mouse, and non-human primate (NHP) models of HIV, Malaria, Tuberculosis and cancer. Dr. Seder’s scientific focus has been on T cell quality, and how the route of vaccination can be used to generate protective tissue resident T cell immunity against TB and malaria.  Recently, Dr. Seder has also focused his efforts on discovery of monoclonal antibodies to prevent malaria infection. Dr. Seder has translated his scientific discoveries and led the first in human clinical studies using intravenous vaccination to generate protective immunity with an attenuated malaria vaccine and using a monoclonal antibody to prevent malaria infection.  Over the past year, Dr. Seder has been intimately involved in COVID vaccine development with the Moderna mRNA vaccine in the non-human primate model of SARS-CoV2 infection. This work has focused on developing immune correlates and mechanisms of protection, durability of protection and how the vaccine will protect against viral variants. 

Patrick Ott

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute | Boston/USA

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Dr. Patrick Ott is currently the Clinical Director of both the Melanoma Disease Center and the Center for Immuno-Oncology at DFCI, serves as attending physician in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and has an appointment as Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA.  He is a clinical investigator and an integral member of the clinical trials program at Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, where he designs and conducts phase 1 immunotherapy trials for patients with melanoma and a wide range of other tumors. His primary research interests are in melanoma and immunotherapy, specifically the development of innovative tumor vaccine approaches. Dr. Ott has been the Principal Investigator of a first in man clinical trial testing a personalized neoantigen vaccine (NeoVax) in patients with melanoma. The results of the study, reported in in Nature in 2017 and in Nature Medicine in 2021, established the feasibility and safety of this novel cancer vaccine approach for the first time in a coordinated clinical trial setting.  Strong and consistent immunogenicity was demonstrated in patients with high risk melanoma, providing the basis for further testing of this innovative new treatment concept in other cancers. A study using an almost identical personal neoantigen vaccine in combination with nivolumab in patients with metastatic melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, and urothelial cancer also demonstrated that robust vaccine specific responses were generated. Furthermore, complete pathologic responses and epitope spreading were associated with clinical benefit, suggesting vaccine induced anti-tumor activity (Ott et, Cell, 2020). Dr.  Ott has been the Principal Investigator and co-investigator on over 30 treatment trials, including those that have been instrumental in the clinical development of the newly FDA approved drugs pembrolizumab and nivolumab for the treatment of advanced melanoma, small cell lung cancer, and many other cancers.

Noel de Miranda

Leiden University Medical Center | Leiden/Netherlands

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Principal Investigator of the Cancer Immunogenomics research group at the department of Pathology of the Leiden University Medical Center. His group develops work on several aspects on cancer immunology and genomics with a particular focus on colorectal and pancreatic cancers. The group’s translational aims are to: 1) identify cancer-specific antigens that can be targeted by immunotherapy and 2) elucidate the potential of immune cell subsets other than T cells for immunotherapeutic exploitation. These aims are accompanied by a strong curiosity in understanding and mapping out the complex and multicellular nature of anti-cancer immune responses.

Pieter Neels

Vaccine Advice BV | Zoersel/Belgium

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Dr Pieter Neels is a native of Belgium where he trained as an MD (University of Antwerp, 1985) and was boarded as a general practitioner. In 1997, he joined the Belgian Ministry of Public Health as a senior evaluator of the clinical part of registration files in the field of cardiology, nephrology, endocrinology (diabetes), ...  In 2001 he was appointed CPMP member. In 2002 he was asked to take over all Belgian central vaccine rapporteurships. He was elected vice-chair of Vaccine Working Party, a CHMP workgroup for vaccines for discussion on development and evaluation of registration files for vaccines until June 2013.  WHO has asked Dr Neels to attend many meetings on vaccine development all over the world in order to share the EU regulatory requirements/competence in vaccinology. Dr Neels is also a member of the worldwide network on vaccine promotion as he is asked to attend the ADVAC course (Foundation Mérieux) and the IABS conferences. In 2013 Dr Neels was nominated associate Professor at the Namur University for a course in Vaccinology, he retired in 2020. In June 2013 Dr Neels stepped down from the CHMP and left the Belgian Federal Agency to start his own consultancy company “Vaccine-Advice” in order to be able to support vaccine development in a more efficacious way. In 2014 Dr Neels was elected board member of IABS-EU and in 2016 he accepted to chair the Human Vaccine Committee of IABS.

Christian Drosten

Charité Berlin | Berlin/Germany

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After obtaining his PhD in medicine, Prof. Drosten held various positions at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg from 2000 until 2007. In 2007, he became professor and head of the Institute of Virology at the Medical Faculty of Bonn University, before moving on to Charité Berlin in 2017 to direct the Institute of Virology. In his research, he focuses on exploring newly emerging viruses. Prof. Drosten is one of the co-discoverers of the first SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV). He developed the first standard test used globally for both MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2.                   

Sergio Quezada

Achilles Therapeutics | London/UK

Chaohong Fan

FDA | Potomac, Maryland/USA

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Dr. Fan is a lead oncology medical officer with 15-year-experience at Center of Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) and Center of Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. Fan is responsible for conducting clinical reviews and implementing regulations for cell and gene therapies for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancers at the Office of Tissues and Advanced Therapies (OTAT), CBER. This office reviews, evaluates, and approves most innovative cancer therapeutics with curative potential, including chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, adoptive T cell therapies, tumor neoantigen-based personalized immunotherapies, oncolytic viruses, and combinations of these immune-oncologic therapeutics with checkpoint inhibitors and other agents. Dr. Fan is a board-certified medical oncologist and internist by American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). She received an M.D. from Zunyi Medical College, and a M.Sc. in medical genetics from Hunan Medical University, in China, and a Ph.D. in medical genetics from Umea University in Sweden. Prior to joining FDA, Dr. Fan conducted post-doctoral research in gene mapping and cloning for neurogenetic disorders, including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) at Northwestern University in Chicago, USA. Her regulatory expertise focus on clinical trial design and development of advanced biologic therapies and precision medicine in oncology. 

Josef Penninger

University of British Columbia | Vancouver/Canada

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Dr. Penninger is currently the Director of the Life Sciences Institute (LSI) at the University of British Columbia. He studied medicine at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. From 1990 to 1994 he worked as post-doctoral fellow at the Ontario Cancer Institute, thereafter until 2002 at the Department of Immunology and Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto. As Principal Investigator of Amgen, his independent lab contributed to the development of the antibody Denosumab for bone loss and also found the first connection for RANKL to mammary gland development in pregnancy and breast cancer. In 2002, he moved to Vienna, Austria to start and develop the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA), which has become one of the prime research centers in the world. Dr. Penninger envisions to recreate this environment at the LSI to nurture and train the best and brightest young minds of UBC scholars. His major accomplishments include pioneering insights into the molecular basis of osteoporosis and breast cancer, and demonstrating a critical role for ACE2 as the cellular receptor for the SARS Coronavirus infections and linking ACE2 to lung failure in such infections.  He has published extensively in several multidisciplinary scientific journals, with over 60 publications in Cell, Nature, and Science. Josef has received numerous awards including the Wittgenstein Prize of the Austrian Federal Government, the Descartes Prize for Research, the Ernst Jung Prize for Medical Excellence, the Innovator Award of the US Department of Defense, and the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art First Class.