Key Note Speakers

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Robin Warren,

Australian pathologist & Nobel Laureate

Australian pathologist and Nobel Laureate, Robin Warren, needs no introduction. He won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2005 for the discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in the gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. Warren’s life took a major turn when he noticed an unexpected bacterial growth in the gastric biopsy of a patient. Determined to find out the cause of it, he ventured forth and began extensively studying the same along with Barry Marshall. It took the duo seven years to eventually establish the presence of bacterium Helicobacter pylori as the major cause for peptic ulcer. Interestingly, their finding and research was not accepted by the scientific society which rebuffed the fact that bacteria of any kind could survive in the acidic environment of the stomach. It was only later on that the global community accepted the duo’s finding and thus awarded them with the prestigious Nobel Prize. His discovery has allowed for a breakthrough in understanding a causative link between Helicobacter pylori infection and stomach cancer.

Jorge E. Galán,
D.M.V., Ph.D.

Lucille B. Markey Professor of Microbiology
Chair, Department of Microbial Pathogenesis
Yale University School of Medicine

Dr. Jorge E. Galán is the Lucille B. Markey Professor of Microbiology, Chair of the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis and Professor of Cell Biology at the Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Galán is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the the Hans Sigrist and the Robert Koch and the Prizes and membership of the USA National Academy of Science. Dr. Galán has made numerous contributions to the field of bacterial pathogenesis pioneering the study of the cell biology of infection and the mechanisms of pathogenesis of the enteric pathogens Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter jejuni as well as the mechanisms of protein secretion in bacterial pathogesn.

Brendan Wren,
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Brendan Wren studied for a PhD in Physical Chemistry and published seminal papers on the effect of ionizing radiation on DNA. He then changed subject discipline and took a Microbiology position at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London to study Helicobacter and Campylobacter.

 In 1999 he moved to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and was awarded a chair in Microbial Pathogenesis. His primary research interest includes the molecular characterization of bacterial virulence determinants and the evolution of virulence. Much research has focused on bacterial glycostructures, including the characterization of lipo-oligosaccharides, capsular polysaccharides and glycosylation systems. Of note, basic research on Campylobacter glycosylation systems has facilitated glycoengineering in E. coli. To date, the major application of this technology is the construction of more affordable recombinant glycoconjugate vaccines.

He has published over 320 scientific papers including over 100 on Helicobacter and Campylobacter species relating to genomics, epidemiology and pathogenesis.

Prof Steffen Backert

My group is working in the field of Microbial Pathogenesis for more than 20 years. Our major research interest is the investigation of molecular signalling pathways during host-pathogen interactions in enteric infections such as that of Helicobacter pylori and Campylobacter jejuni. We focus on the identification of new bacterial virulence factors (secreted or injected), which could represent potential novel targets for therapeutic intervention. During recent years, my team made significant progress in characterising the genetics and infection cycles of the gastric pathogen and class-I carcinogen H. pylori and C. jejuni, analysing its pathogenicity mechanisms and host signal transduction pathways using modern cell biology and biochemical approaches.

One highlight of our research was the discovery that the H. pylori virulence factor CagA is translocated by a type-IV secretion system (T4SS) into mammalian host cells, where CagA targets tyrosine kinases and induces oncogenic signalling processes. In addition, we discovered the first host cell receptor of a bacterial T4SS, integrin-β1. We also identified the first eukaryotic kinase for a bacterial effector protein (Src for CagA) and described the first bacterial factor, which mimics a human extracellular matrix protein in vitro and during infection in vivo (H. pylori CagL as a mimetic of fibronectin). Finally, we are working on a newly discovered secreted factor, serine protease HtrA. HtrA interacts with components of intercellular tight junctions (Occludin and Claudin-8) and adherens junctions (E-cadherin), followed by the T4SS-pilus contacting integrin-based focal adhesions to disrupt and transform the epithelial cell layer in the human stomach.

Ursula Lavery, 
Technical and R&D Director Europe

Ursula joined Moy Park in 1987 as a Marketing Executive having graduated from Queen’s University, Belfast with a BSc (Hons) in Food Science. Ursula moved into Technical and Quality Management and since then has steadily help build Moy Park’s reputation as a leading food company with absolute commitment to food safety and quality. Appointed to the Executive Board as Technical Director Europe in 2013, now Technical and R&D Director Europe, Ursula is responsible for establishing an Integrated Europe-wide Technical organisation. Recognised as a leading authority on Food Safety, Ursula has been involved in several advisory bodies including the FSA Acting on Campylobacter Together (ACT) board, IGD Technical Leadership Forum, Chilled Food Association (CFA) Executive Committee, and is a board member of the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) and the Industrial Advisory Board of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast.

Ursula is also a non executive board member of Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Livestock (CIEL).

Richard L. Guerrant, M.D.,
Founding Director, Center for Global Health

Dr. Guerrant is the Thomas H. Hunter Professor of International Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Medicine at University of Virginia, and is Founding Director of the Center for Global Health at UVa, one of the first Trans-University Centers for Global Health.  He is a member of the IOM/National Academy of Medicine and formerly chaired its Board on Global Health. Having lived and worked in Congo, Bangladesh and Brazil and trained at Davidson College, UVa, Harvard-BCH and Hopkins, his research is focused on understanding and ameliorating the long-term impact of diarrhea and repeated enteric infections in developing countries. In his longstanding collaboration with the Federal University of Ceará in Northeast, Brazil he has conducted NIH-funded field research on interventions for childhood diarrhea for more than 25 years (5 U01 AI026512), in which he, among others have discovered the vicious cycle of diarrhea or enteric infections and malnutrition with ablation of catch up growth by increasing diarrhea burdens and long-term consequences for stunted growth and cognitive development.

He further discovered that the cognitive deficit most affected was Alzheimer-like semantic fluency impairment and hence examined the ApoE4 allele and found the initially surprising protection against diarrhea and its cognitive impairment in children with heavy diarrhea burdens, perhaps helping explain the evolution of this troubling allele.  He is senior editor of 7 books including “Tropical Infectious Diseases,” “At the Edge of Development: Health Crises in a Transitional Society,” and is author of over 650 scientific articles (18 with UVa’s 3 Nobel Laureates, Gilman, Murad and Marshall) and reviews, and has just published his book on “Evolution of Evolution: The Survival Value of Caring.” He is past president of the ASTMH and recipient of its highest honor, the Walter Reed Medal; as well as the IDSA Mentor Award; Virginia Outstanding Scientist; UVa’s highest honor, the Thomas Jefferson Award, and the NFID Maxwell Finland Award.

Guerrant loves kayaking with his high school sweetheart and wife of 53y and boating with kids and grandkids.

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