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Speakers announced for Innate Immunity: The first line of defence


These are the biographies of some of our accepted speakers.  Not all our speakers are listed here


Mihaela Gadjeva, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, United States

Dr. Gadjeva received her BSc and MSc in Biochemistry at Sofia University in Bulgaria, and was trained in Immunology at Oxford University.   Dr. Gadjeva is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and holds a Research Scientist position at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Gadjeva is interested in host-pathogen interactions, and more specifically, how the immune responses to pathogens can be therapeutically manipulated to induce resistance to infection. Dr. Gadjeva’s current research provides new insights into the impact of microbiota on regulating susceptibility to ocular infections by P. aeruginosa, and may lead to novel therapeutic agents.

Catherine Leimkuhler Grimes, Department of Chemistry, University of Delaware, USA

Dr. Catherine Leimkuhler Grimes is an assistant professor in Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Delaware.  Her research laboratory at UD focuses on using tools from chemical biology to understand how the human body interacts with bacteria (both commensal and pathogenic).  She is a Pew Biomedical Scholar, a Cottrell Scholar and has received funding from the Mizutani Glycosicences Fund.

Daniel Menendez, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), Durham, United States

Daniel Menendez received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. In 2002 he joined the laboratory of Dr. Michael Resnick at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), North Carolina, and USA, where he did his postdoctoral fellowship. Currently he is a Staff Scientist at the Genome Integrity and Structural Biology Laboratory at the NIEHS. His research interests focuses on the characterization of the human tumor suppressor p53 master regulatory network, including functional impact of p53 mutations, gene regulation and crosstalk with other signaling pathway as the immune response and the DNA repair process.

Henry McSorley, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

In 2004, Henry McSorley graduated from the University of Glasgow with an M.Sci in Immunology, and carried out a PhD in the laboratory of Prof Rick Maizels, University of Edinburgh, on regulatory T cell responses induced by filarial parasite infection. His first postdoc position was with Prof Alex Loukas in Brisbane and Cairns, Australia on a clinical trial using live parasitic worm infection to treat celiac disease. In 2010 he returned to the University of Edinburgh to investigate the immunosuppressive effects of H. polygyrus in mouse models of asthma. In 2014 he was awarded an independent position under the Chancellor’s Fellowship scheme.

Paula Nunes, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

Dr. Paula Nunes is a Senior Lecturer at the the Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism at the University of Geneva since 2014. She obtained her B.Sc. at the University of Toronto in 2004, her Ph.D at Harvard Medical School in 2009, and performed her post-doctoral studies at the University of Geneva. Dr. Nunes is interested in understanding the intracellular signaling and membrane trafficking events that allow different cells to perform specialized functions. Her work has included investigations of neuronal synaptic vesicles, hormone receptors and transporters in the kidney, endosome trafficking during cellular stress, and phagocytosis in immune cells.

Martina Schroeder, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Maynooth, Ireland

Dr Schroeder carried out her PhD research in Medical Immunology at the Charite University Hospital in Berlin/Germany. In 2003, she moved to Ireland to work as a postdoctoral scientist at the School of Biochemistry and Immunology at Trinity College Dublin. In 2008 she took up her current position at Maynooth University where she heads the Host-Pathogen Interaction Laboratory and contributes to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.

Steven R. Van Doren, University of Missouri, Columbia, United States

Steve Van Doren is Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Missouri, where he specializes in structural biology, including studies of human proteases known as MMPs. His projects each touch upon lung health and disease. He earned his Ph.D. in Biophysics at the University of Illinois in 1991. His postdoctoral training was in Biophysical NMR at The University of Michigan where his MMP research began. NIH subsequently supported his investigation of MMP complexes for about 14 years. His group recently reported groundbreaking structural studies of transient MMP complexes with cell surface components and collagen mimics.

John H. White, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Vitamin D has emerged as an important regulator of innate immunity in humans. Vitamin D signaling lies upstream and downstream of pattern recognition receptor function, and the hormonal form of vitamin D regulates the expression of genes encoding several aspects of innate immune responses. Intriguingly, regulation of menay of these genes appears to be human/primate specific.

Hasan Zaki, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, United States

Hasan Zaki, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Pathology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, USA. Dr. Zaki studied Microbiology in his undergraduate at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and obtained his doctoral degree from Kumamoto University School of Medicine, Japan. Dr. Zaki moved to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where he investigated the role of NOD-like receptors (NLRs) in inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancer. His current research interests include host-pathogen interaction in the gut and the role of pathogen sensors in the regulation of inflammatory disorders.

Melanie Scott, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, United States

Dr. Scott is a principal investigator in the department of surgery at the Univesity of Pittsburgh. Her main research interest is investigating mechanisms of innate immune responses in models of surgical trauma, hypoxia, hemorrhagic shock and in sepsis, with a focus on inflammasome activation in non-immune cells that traditionally are not considered to be important players in inflammatory responses. She has published over 40 papers in major journals, as well as multiple invited reviews. Her work is funded by grants from the National Institutes for Health.

Antje Blumenthal, The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, Woolloongabba, Australia

A microbiology graduate from Kiel University (Germany), Dr Antje Blumenthal pursued her PhD research in Immunology at the Leibniz Research Center for Medicine and Biosciences (Germany). After postdoctoral work at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York (USA), Dr Blumenthal now heads the Infection and Inflammation Group at The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute in Brisbane, Australia.

Dr Blumenthal’s research focuses on innate immune sensors, regulators of inflammation, and discovery of new therapeutic opportunities for challenging infectious diseases, with a specific emphasis on tuberculosis and sepsis. The Blumenthal lab employs in vivo and in vitro model systems, and fosters cross-disciplinary collaborations with immunologists, microbiologists, systems biologists, chemists, clinical research teams and industry partners.

Jitendra Maharana, Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, Bhubaneswar, India

In 2011, Mr. Jitendra Maharana recieved his M.Sc. degree in Bioinformatics from Dept. of Bioinformatics, Orissa University of Agriculture and Technlogy (OUAT), Bhubaneswar, INDIA. Currently, he is acting as an Independent Researcher at Dept. of Bioinformatics, OUAT. At present, he is investigating the structural and functional behavior of immune regulatory proteins; mostly pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) with a special focus on structural bioinformatics. In particular, his research work deals with structural and dynamic aspects of NOD-like receptors (NLRs) in response to pathogenic ligands, nucleotides and adapter molecules.

Oral Presenters

Dr. Oreola Donini, Soligenix, Inc., Princeton, United States

Dr. Donini is a co-inventor and leader of the Innate Defense Regulator (IDR) technology, responsible for overseeing the manufacturing, preclinical and early clinical testing of dusquetide, which demonstrated efficacy in combating bacterial infections and mitigating the effects of tissue damage. Dr. Donini received her PhD from Queen’s University (Canada) and completed her post-doctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco. Her research has spanned drug discovery, preclinical development, manufacturing and clinical development in infectious disease, cancer and cancer supportive care. Dr. Donini has more than 15 years experience in drug discovery and development biotechnology companies.

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