Dr. Nancy Sullivan
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at NIH, USA
Tenured Senior Investigator and Chief of the Biodefense Research Section at the Vaccine Research Center, a division of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the NIH.
Dr. Sullivan’s current research is on the immunologic correlates and mechanisms of protection against infection by hemorrhagic fever viruses such as Ebola, Marburg, and Lassa. Dr. Sullivan and her team have developed highly effective vaccine strategies for Ebola virus infection in non-human primates. Her work on filovirus immunology and vaccine development is widely considered as one of the very best in the field despite the difficulties of conducting research under highly specialized BSL-4 containment conditions. More recently, Dr. Sullivan and her team discovered a potently protective monoclonal antibody, mAb114, from a human Ebola survivor that completely rescues Ebola-infected primates, even when given as a monotherapy several days after their Ebola exposure. Studies with the antibody demonstrated that the most potent mechanism of antibody protection is through high affinity, low pH-stable binding that blocks a critical Ebola interaction with its intracellular receptor, Neimann-Pick C1. This antibody is undergoing Phase I clinical trials in 2018 to support stockpiling in preparation for use in future Ebola outbreaks.
Prof. Dr. Kai Matuschewski
Humboldt-Universität, Berlin, Germany
Professor of Molecular Parasitology at the Humboldt-Universität, Berlin, where they focus on the vector-borne infectious disease. The lab employs experimental genetics in the model rodent malaria system to study the roles of parasite and host genes in Plasmodium life cycle progression.
After finishing his PhD in philosophy in 1998 at the Heidelberg University, he became a postdoctoral scientist at the New York University in Manhattan. In 2001, he became junior group leader at the Heidelberg University and thereafter worked as group leader at the Mäx Planck Institute of Infection Biology. Recently, he is professor of Molecular Parasitology at the Humboldt-Universität at Berlin. Achievements during his career include multiple prizes and awards, such as the German Society Tropical Medicine & International Health award (2005), the Eva and Hans Grohe award (2009) and the Joachim Siebeneicher Foundation award (2005).
Dr. Hermelijn Smits
Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum, Leiden
Associate professor and Head of research group focusing on the exploitation of helminth-induced immunoregulatory mechanisms for therapeutic purposes in prevention and treatment of allergic asthma at the LUMC Parasitology department, Leiden.
Dr. Hermelijn Smits studied Biology at the University of Utrecht and did her PhD-studies at the AMC, Amsterdam on microbial priming of the human immune system and modulation of allergen-specific immune responses. She did a post-doc in the lab of Prof. B. Lambrecht on microbial priming and protection against allergic airway diseases in different mouse models.
Throughout her career, Dr. Hermelijn Smits was involved in several EU consortia (Gabriel, IDEA, TheSchistoVac). Currently, she is leading an international consortium on asthma prevention (AWWA -2018). She has been committee member and chair of the ‘Young Investigators’ (2010-2012) within the Netherlands Society of Respiratory Science (NRS), committee member of the Task Force on ‘Training Young Investigators’ (2015). She is the chair of the working group on Infections and Allergy in the EAACI (2015) and will be a member of the scientific programme committee of the Dutch Society of Immunology (NVVI – 2019). She is on the evaluation board of the ZonMw ‘Off Road’ programme.
Dr. Hermelijn Smits is also actively involved in teaching the next generation of researchers by setting up the NRS national Lung course for PhD-students and the new advanced LIFI course on ‘Immunology, Infections and Tolerance’.
Prof. Dr. Wilbert Bitter
VU Medisch Centrum, Amsterdam
Professor of Molecular and Medical Microbiology at the VU university of Amsterdam and VU university medical center, Amsterdam, where they focus on virulence and pathogenesis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and how the cell envelopes of different bacteria function.
After his MSc study in Biology, he completed his PhD in Molecular Microbiology at the University of Utrecht in 1992. In 1993, he won the Unilever research award for young scientist. He then held a postdoc position in parasitology at the Dutch Cancer Institute (NKI). In 1995, he returned to the University of Utrecht for a postdoc and subsequently an assistant professor position. In 2001 he started his own group in the VU university medical center and since 2010 he is a full professor. Prof. Dr. Wilbert Bitter is a member of the Scientific Committee of the Dutch Society of Medical Microbiology (NVMM), and is associate editor of FEMS Microbiology Reviews.
Prof. Dr. Annemiek Geluk
Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum, Leiden
Professor of immunodiagnostics of mycobacterial infectious diseases, leprosy and tuberculosis. Additionally, her research group at the LUMC functions as the national reference centre for routine serological diagnosis of leprosy, and provides this service also in Europe.
Prof. Dr. Annemiek Geluk did her masters in Chemistry at the University of Leiden and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA. Afterwards she did her PhD in Immunology at the LUMC, Dept. IHB (HLA-DR3/Peptide/ T cell Interactions) and worked at Cytel Corporation, San Diego, USA. She received postdoctoral training at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA and was acknowledged a 5-year fellowship by the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences during which period she focused on the immunology of leprosy and tuberculosis, particularly the identification of HLA-restricted Tcell (epitopes) that are essential to protective immunity or immunopathology and biomarkers for development of immunodiagnostics. Currently, her research focusses on Immunodiagnostics of Leprosy including basic-, translational-, applied- as well as field research and Tuberculosis Vaccine Development using HLA transgenic mouse models. She is a member of the steering committee of the IDEAL consortium (Initiative for Diagnostic and Epidemiological Assays for Leprosy) and
has designed and coordinated several large-scale, multi-center studies in e.g. Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia and Nepal.