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31st ICAR Speakers' Bios
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Dr. Ester Ballana is an associate researcher at IrsiCaixa-IGTP AIDS research Institute in Badalona, Spain. She graduated in Biology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) in 2001 and completed her PhD in Health and Life sciences at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in May 2007. In June 2007 she joined IrsiCaixa as a post-doctoral researcher, focusing her research on determining the contribution of host genetic factors in viral replication and disease. In 2015 she was awarded with a tenure track position from Spanish Health Ministry (Miguel Servet). Since then, she is leading a research team focused on the study of the coordinated regulation of nucleotide metabolism, viral infection and cell cycle initiation/progression, with the ultimate goal to identify markers of progression and/or therapeutic response to human diseases. Ester scientific and professional career has been based on the study of biological processes associated with health and disease, and she has relevant experience in several areas of biomedicine, such as genetics and genomics and virology and immunity. She has co-authored over 55 papers in international peer-reviewed journals (index h: 19, average number of citations: 22.87) and is currently supervising 3 PhD thesis. She has participated in numerous international conferences and workshops and has been involved in several Spanish- and European-funded collaborative projects. She serves as ad hoc reviewer for several scientific journals Antiviral Research, The Lancet HIV, Retrovirology, Human Immunology and Infection and Genetics and Evolution and has recently joined the editorial board of Antiviral Research. She also participates as evaluator of research projects from the Spanish National Agency for the Evaluation of Research (ANEP) and as a panel member of the expert commission for the Catalan strategic plan for research and innovation in health (PERIS).

William Britt has focused his research on studies of viruses, ranging from retroviruses to herpesviruses. His laboratory has made fundamental contributions to current understanding of virus structure and assembly of human cytomegalovirus as well as in the definition of the antigenicity and immunogenicity of viral proteins that in some cases have been selected for vaccine development. He has also maintained a significant research effort in studies of congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection which worldwide, is the most common virus associated cause of hearing loss and neurodevelopmental abnormalities. His studies of this common perinatal infection have spanned nearly 3 decades and have defined fundamental characteristics of this infection, including the paradigm shifting demonstration that normal seroimmune women can be reinfected with new strains of CMV. More recently his studies have focused on the neuropathogenesis of human CMV infections, including the use of patient cohorts and informative animal models to translate basic immunological and virological findings in these models into new therapies. He currently leads NIH supported multi-investigator studies with scientists from Brazil, Germany, Croatia, and in several centers in the US.


Thijn Brummelkamp received his Msc in biology from the Free University in Amsterdam and his PhD from Utrecht University in 2003. After his PhD he led a research group at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, USA. In 2011 his team moved to the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam and he became an Adjunct PI at Center for Molecular Medicine (CeMM) in Vienna. He is a co-founder of the biotech companies Haplogen (in Vienna) and Scenic Biotech (in Amsterdam). He develops and applies genetic technologies in human cells to study biological processes. The development of application of haploid human cells as a genetic model system resulted in the identification of host factors for pathogens such as the Niemann-Pick C1 gene as the long-sought entry receptor for Ebola virus. 

For his studies, he received the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Award (2003), The Annual NVBMB Award (2004, Dutch Association for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), he was chosen as one of the world's top 35 Young Innovators by MIT's Technology Review Magazine (2005), received the Kimmel Scholar Award (2006), an ERC starting grant from the European Research Council (2012), the 2012 Molecular Biosystems Early Career Award, EMBO's Gold Medal 2013, and the Ammodo KNAW Award (2015).

Dr. Ciuffi obtained her PhD in 2002 at the University of Lausanne, in Lausanne, Switzerland. She is currently a Senior Faculty at the Institute of Microbiology, which is affiliated with both the Lausanne University Hospital and the University of Lausanne. She was quickly fascinated by virology and in particular by the human immunodeficiency virus, and she thus started to work on this virus already from her Bachelor, and still does. She worked with Prof. Pascal Meylan, Prof. Frederic Bushman and Prof. Amalio Telenti, that she all considers as essential and inspiring mentors for her scientific career. Her field of expertise consists in HIV and its interaction with the host cell, leading to successful HIV replication. In particular, her research interests focus on HIV integration, HIV latency and innate immunity, fields in which she published several seminal papers. She recently started to use single-cell technologies to capture cell heterogeneity and investigate cellular differences on HIV replication, HIV latency and HIV reactivation. Dr. Ciuffi is also deeply involved in local and national activities. She is indeed a dedicated teacher at the School of Biology of the University of Lausanne, she is member of the Scientific Board of the Swiss HIV Cohort Study, and she is part of the steering and scientific committee of the Swiss Virology meeting.

Dr Corti is Senior Vice President & Chief Scientific Officer of Humabs Biomed SA (Bellinzona, Switzerland).  He published  key  papers on among other, antibody recognized by influenza in prominent scientific journals. He is inventor of over fifteen patents. Dr. Corti was previously Senior Scientist and a member of the Immune Regulation Unit led by Prof. Antonio Lanzavecchia at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) in Bellinzona. He holds a PhD in immunology from the University of Bern. He also holds a master degree in pharmaceutical biotechnology from the University of Milan, Italy, and worked in the AIDS Immunopathogenesis Unit of the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan.




David Durantel obtained his PhD at the University of Montpellier in 1997. After three postdoctoral trainings respectively at Oxford Brookes University (UK), University of Oxford, and at INSERM-U271, he obtained a tenure position at INSERM in 2005, his Habilitation in 2008 from the University of Lyon (UCBL), and was recently promoted Director of Research. He currently heads a group at the Cancer Research Center of Lyon (CRCL, INSERM-U1052) in France on a program of research aiming at better understanding the interplay between HBV/HDV and liver innate immunity in order to contribute to the development of novel immune-therapeutics.
He has been involved in the past on several research projects related to drug discovery, in particular research on HCV/HBV morphogenesis inhibitors, research on PRR agonists as potential adjuvant for immune-therapeutic concepts, as well as to antiviral resistance.
He has authored/co-authored 85 PubMed-recorded publications, as well as numerous reviews/editorials, proceedings and book chapters. He acts as reviewers for many journals, including Gastroenterology, Gut, Hepatology, J. Hepatol, Plos-Pathogen, etc…
Since 2014, he is editor for the Antiviral Research journal, section viral hepatitis.
He contributes to national coordination on HCV/HBV/HDV research at ANRS and is member of the executive board of AFEF (French association for liver research).

Ron Fouchier received a PhD in Medicine from the University of Amsterdam in 1995 for studies on HIV and continued to study HIV as a post-doc at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, from 1995-1998. He subsequently started a new group to study the molecular biology of respiratory viruses, in particular influenza A virus, at the Viroscience Department of Erasmus MC Rotterdam. As a fellow of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW), he studied influenza virus zoonoses and pathogenicity. Achievements of his team include the identification and characterization of several "new" viruses; the human metapneumovirus (HMPV), human coronavirus NL63, the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV), the MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and a new influenza A virus subtype (H16). Currently, his research is focused on the evolution and molecular biology of respiratory viruses in humans and animals, with special emphasis on influenza virus antigenic drift, zoonoses, transmission, and pandemics and on HMPV. Fouchier is elected member of the KNAW and the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities, recipient of the 2006 Heine-Medin award of the European Society for Clinical Virology and the 2013 Huibregtsen prize for top innovative science with societal impact. He co-authored more than 350 publications that have been cited >30,000 times. Fouchier is an editor for several infectious disease journals, and member of advisory committees for Dutch government and (international) scientific organizations and conferences. He is Scientific Director of the postgraduate school Molecular Medicine and the MSc program Infection and Immunity of Erasmus MC. His group is part of an NIH/NIAID Center of Excellence for Influenza Research, and his research is further funded by several EU programs and Dutch and US government. 

Paul Griffiths is Professor of Virology at University College, London. He is Editor-In-Chief of Reviews in Medical Virology. His research concerns cytomegalovirus infection, where he has helped to define the natural history and pathogenesis of this infection and used this information to design randomised controlled trials of antiviral drugs and prototype vaccines.





Michael Jacobs is Consultant Physician in Infectious Diseases at the Royal Free Hospital in London. He trained at Oxford and London universities before completing a PhD in Virology. He is interested in all aspects of clinical infectious diseases with a special interest in serious viral infections. He is director of the UK High Level Isolation Unit and is a member of the UK Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens. He worked at the centre of the UK response to the West Africa Ebola outbreak, and served on several national and international Ebola advisory committees. He is NHS England Programme Director for High Consequence Infectious Diseases. He was knighted in 2016 for services to the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.



Dr. David Kimberlin holds the Sergio Stagno Endowed Chair in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he is Vice Chair for Clinical and Translational Research and Co-Director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. Dr. Kimberlin also is the Principal Investigator for the Collaborative Antiviral Study Group (CASG).  Funded continuously by NIH/NIAID/DMID since the early 1970s, the CASG is a network of pediatric academic medical centers that evaluates antiviral therapeutics in rare diseases with a large unmet medical need, including neonatal herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections, congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease, congenital Zika syndrome, neonatal and infantile influenza infection, and neonatal enteroviral sepsis syndrome.  The number of participating academic medical centers varies by study, but generally ranges from 15 to 30 across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Peru.  Studies conducted by the CASG have led to new drug indications and label changes for acyclovir, valganciclovir, and oseltamivir, and non-CASG studies conducted by Dr. Kimberlin also have led to label changes for valacyclovir. Current CASG studies are evaluating novel diagnostic modalities for and incidence of neonatal herpes, treatment studies of congenital CMV infections, and natural history studies of Zika virus infection in pregnancy. These studies build upon previous CASG studies conducted by Dr. Kimberlin that have defined the standard of care for the treatment of neonatal HSV and congenital CMV infections.

Dr. Kimberlin also is Editor of the 2018 AAP Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases (Red Book), and was Editor of the 2015 edition and Associate Editor for the 2009 and 2012 editions. He served as a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Infectious Diseases (COID) from 2005-2011. Dr. Kimberlin also is the AAP Red Book liaison to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), having served in this capacity since 2006. During this time, he has served as the COID liaison to six different ACIP Working Groups.

Dr. Kimberlin is a Past-President of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS), which is the world's largest organization of professionals dedicated to the treatment, control, and eradication of infectious diseases affecting children. In 2016 he received the Ronald McDonald House Charities 2016 Medical Award of Excellence. He has received numerous education awards.

Frank van Kuppeveld obtained his PhD in the lab of Medical Microbiology at the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands. The research of his group primarily focused on picornaviruses (e.g. enteroviruses, rhinoviruses, EMCV and FMDV), with particular interest in identifying receptors, entry mechanisms, and the molecular aspects of viral genome replication. Using state-of-the-art virological, biochemical, cell biological (e.g. siRNA and haploid genetic screens), and microscopy (e.g. life cell imaging and tomography) approaches, his group extensively studies the role of picornavirus proteins and hijacked host factors in the formation and the architecture of the viral replication organelles as well as in the process of viral RNA synthesis that takes place in these specialized replication sites. In 2012, he moved with his whole group to the University of Utrecht to become chair and full professor at the Virology department (which has a longstanding tradition on basic and translational research on influenza and coronaviruses). His work has been rewarded with prestigious prizes from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences and grants of the Netherland Organization of Scientific Research (e.g. VIDI and VICI grants). He coordinated the EU Training Network "EUVIRNA” on +RNA virus replication and antiviral drug development (2011-2015) and is currently coordinating the EU Training Network "ANTIVIRALS” (2015-2019).

Dr. Desiree LaBeaud is a physician-scientist, epidemiologist, and associate professor for the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. She received her MD from the Medical College of Wisconsin, and trained with the Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital pediatric residency program and the pediatric infectious disease fellowship program at Case Western Reserve University, while earning her master’s degree in Clinical Research and Epidemiology. Dr. LaBeaud studies the epidemiology and ecology of domestic and international arboviruses and emerging infections, with an interest in the vector, host, and environmental factors that affect transmission dynamics and spectrum of disease. Her current field sites include Kenya, Grenada, and Brazil. She currently heads a clinical research lab focused on better understanding the risk factors and long-term health consequences of arboviral infections and the most effective means of prevention. She was elected as Chair of the American Committee on Arthropod-Borne Viruses in 2017 and was just selected as the recipient of the 2018 Women in Science Award from the International Society for Antiviral Research.

Dr. Leavitt received her Medical and Ph.D. degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1978.  She completed her Internal Medicine training at Yale-New Haven Hospital.  She spent the next 11 years in the Laboratory of Immunoregulation NIAID where she did fellowship training in infectious diseases and allergy/immunology and was subsequently a Senior Investigator in the Laboratory of Immunoregulation NIAID. Dr. Leavitt has specialty boards in Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases and Allergy and Immunology. Dr. Leavitt joined Merck in 1993 and has been involved with clinical studies of antiviral drugs including CRIXIVAN™, Stocrin, Isentress and letermovir and HIV Vaccine development.  Presently, Dr. Leavitt is an Executive Director, Infectious Diseases at Merck & Co., Inc.

Philippe Lemey is an Associate Professor at the Rega Institute, University of Leuven. His research interests lie in the fields of molecular epidemiology, computational biology and viral evolution. In particular, he has studied the evolutionary processes that shape viral genetic diversity, spanning from large-scale epidemic processes, such as population growth and spatial dispersal, to small-scale transmission histories and within-host evolutionary processes. Specific applications include the origin of HIV, the source-sink dynamics of seasonal influenza, rabies metapopulation dynamics, and Ebola virus patterns of spread. Philippe is the lead author of the second edition of the Phylogenetic Handbook and a two-time ERC grant awardee. His team has made important contributions to the popular BEAST software, which was acknowledged by the Mitchell prize in Bayesian statistics.

Dr. Nicolas Manel is senior group leader at Institut Curie, Paris, France and holds a position of Director of Research at INSERM. He obtained his PhD from University of Montpellier, France, where he identified the entry receptor for HTLV in the lab of Marc Sitbon. He performed his postdoctoral training in the lab of Dan Littman at New York University School of Medicine. There, he demonstrated that HIV-1 escapes from an immune response in dendritic cells. He also investigated CD4+ Th17 lymphocytes of humans and mice. Since 2010, his lab at Institut Curie is interested in the basic principles that operate at the intersection between innate immunity and viral replication, and their impact on adaptive immunity, focusing on the HIV model. His lab identified cGAS as an essential sensor of HIV in dendritic cells. The lab also discovered a Trojan horse mechanism of immune signal transmission, based on the transfer of the immune second messenger cGAMP by viral particles between cells. The lab recently showed that the nuclear envelope protein SUN2 modulates early steps of HIV replication. Currently, the lab is exploring the principles that allow immune cells to recognize and manage viral infections.
Prof. Meier, born 1962 in Berlin, Germany, received a diploma and a doctorate (Ph.D.) in Chemistry from the University of Marburg, Germany. In his Ph.D. thesis, he worked on the synthesis of so-called ultimate carcinogens formed by metabolic steps from aromatic amines and which are involved in the induction of the chemical carcinogenesis in the group of Prof. Gernot Boche. He joined the Organic Chemistry Division at the Pasteur-Institute in Paris, France headed by Prof. Jean Igolen and Prof. Tam Huynh-Dinh as a Post-Doc and started working on nucleoside chemistry and prodrugs. He returned to Germany joining the University of Frankfurt/Main in 1991 as an Assistant Professor under the mentorship of Prof. Joachim Engels. In 1996 he obtained the Habilitation in Organic Chemistry from the University of Frankfurt/Main, Germany. He was appointed as Associate Professor at the University of Würzburg, Germany and then in 1999 he joined University of Hamburg, Germany as a full professor. He is the current president elect of the International Society on Nucleoside, Nucleotides and Nucleic Acids (IS3NA) and is the Scientific Director of the Centre for Structural Systems Biology (CSSB) in Hamburg. Recently he was awarded as being a Zhiquiang-Guestprofessor from Shanghai University, China. Before that he was an invited guest professor and visiting professor at the University of Montpellier II and Toulouse, France and Shanghai, China. His research focuses are pronucleotide development, structure-based drug design of small molecule antivirals against Bunya viridae and hemorrhagic fever viruses, carbohydrate chemistry, phosphorylation methods in nucleoside chemistry and the synthesis of photocaged compounds, e.g. second messengers. He has published more than 220 scientific publications and is the inventor of 10 issued patents.

Xavier Saelens obtained his PhD in the laboratory of Walter Fiers at Ghent University. He is currently a group leader in the VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology and a full professor at Ghent University (Belgium). The research of his group is primarily focused on the development of novel vaccines and antibody-based antivirals against influenza A and B viruses and human Respiratory Syncytial virus. A more fundamental research line of his team is to try to elucidate how the interferon induced GTPase MX1 exerts its antiviral activity. His group is well known for its work on a broadly protective influenza vaccine that is based on M2e, an approach that was conceived by Walter Fiers. More recently, his group proposed a novel human RSV vaccine candidate and reported the discovery of prefusion F-specific single domain antibodies that can potently neutralize RSV.




Marco Vignuzzi has been a faculty member at Institut Pasteur since 2008, developing computational and experimental tools to study RNA virus evolution. His laboratory studies the behaviour of viruses as populations during infection, trying to identify stages of the virus multiplication, dissemination and transmission cycle that are most sensitive to antiviral strategies. His lab takes an evolutionary perspective to target virus fitness by trying to hinder, alter or subjugate their adaptation and evolution.







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