Location: Online

Fees: Free of charge

Day 1: Diagnosis of Infectious diseases: what’s coming up the clinical pipeline?
Date: 22/05/2023 – 14:00 – 19:00 (GMT +1)
Day 2: New Treatments for Infectious diseases: solutions to a public health crisis?
Date: 23/05/2023 –  13:00 – 19:00 (GMT +1)

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About the Speakers

Dr Leon G Leanse

Senior Research Associate

Dr Leanse was born and raised in Gibraltar, where he received his formative education prior to attending University. In 2017, he received his PhD in Molecular Microbiology from Imperial College London. Following his graduation, he was appointed as a research fellow at Harvard Medical School (HMS), working through the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. In late 2021, in recognition of his accomplishments, he was promoted to the Harvard faculty. Alongside his University of Gibraltar appointment, He is currently appointed (part-time) as a researcher at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, USA, where he works to provide ongoing scientific consultation for the Dai Laboratory.
View Dr Leanse's Profile Here

Dr George Carnell

Dr. Carnell read Biology with Microbiology at Imperial College, then went on to take the Medical Microbiology (Virology) MSc at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine under the supervision of Prof. Nick Dorrell, Prof. John Kelly and Dr. Nick Johnson (APHA). He went on to the Viral Pseudotype Unit at the University of Kent for his PhD, under the supervision of Prof. Nigel Temperton and Dr. Simon Scott, through a collaboration with Prof. Sarah Gilbert (Jenner inst. Oxford). Work surrounded the production and use of influenza glycoprotein bearing lentiviral pseudotypes.  This involved various subtypes and strains of this virus, and in particular, the production of a chimeric haemagglutinin used for the detection of stalk-directed and neutralising antibodies – one of many goals for current ‘universal’ influenza vaccine approaches.

Further Information

His current research within the Laboratory of Viral Zoonotics, University of Cambridge, headed by Prof. Jonathan Heeney, involves pre-clinical vaccine research on respiratory viruses, as well as those pandemic potential viruses threatening to spill over from animal reservoirs.  Currently Dr. Carnell is funded by CEPI on a pan-betacoronavirus project with an ambitious final goal to provide protection against all betacoronaviruses.  He is also involved in the enabling science towards this goal, with a particular focus on the development of immunoassays to bat derived sarbeco and merbecoviruses.

Dr Nicholas Cortes

A Gibraltarian, Nick was born, raised and schooled in Gibraltar before reading medicine at the University of Sheffield, UK. After qualification in 1999, Nick has worked in the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, training in internal medicine in Sheffield, Surrey & Southampton. Nick then undertook specialist training in Medical Microbiology & Virology at St Thomas’ Hospital London & Southampton. Nick has been a Consultant Medical Microbiologist in the NHS since 2007. He currently works as a Consultant in Infection at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Basingstoke / Winchester) where he is also the Director of Infection Prevention & Control for the organisation.

Further Information

In 2014 Nick set up the first ever medical microbiology service for the Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) and has been the single-handed Consultant Medical Microbiologist for the GHA since then, a service he provides in parallel with NHS duties. Nick is also Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Southampton Medical School (2009-present) and an Honorary Research Associate and Clinical Lecturer at the University of Gibraltar since 2021.
During the COVID-19 pandemic Nick provided development input and clinical oversight for hospital and public health laboratory testing for SARS-CoV-2 in Gibraltar and has overseen the implementation & continuation of whole genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 in Gibraltar. His research interests lie in antimicrobial stewardship, rapid infection diagnostics & application of genomics to infection prevention & control.
Dr Nick Cortes B Med Sci (Hons), MBChB, MRCP(UK), MSc, FRCPath

Prof Tianhong Dai

Prof. Dai is an Associate Professor at Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School. He is a current world leader responsible for launching the new research area of antimicrobial blue light therapy for multidrug-resistant infections.
Prof. Dai’s past research has resulted in over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals with an h-factor of 55 and >12,000 citations (Google Scholar data), and over 20 invited, plenary and keynote presentations at national and international conferences. In addition, Prof. Dai has been the PI of independent grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (R01, R21, and R13), the Department of Defense, Consortia for Improving Medicine w/ Innovation & Technology (CIMIT), and various other funding agencies. Dr. Dai’s professional recognition is also evidenced by his service on the grant review panels (or study sections) at the US National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, National Science Foundation, Harvard Catalyst, French National Research Agency, Ministry of Education of Singapore, Leibniz Association of Germany, etc.

Further Information

Prof. Dai is the Founding Chair of the conference “Photonic Diagnosis, Monitoring, Prevention, and Treatment of Infectious Diseases” at the SPIE Photonics West. He is also the Executive Organizing Committee member of the SPIE Photonics West and the Symposium Chair of the newly established “COVID- 19 Application Track” at the SPIE Photonics West. In 2019 and 2020, Prof. Dai was named SPIE Community Champion by the SPIE for his contributions to the community. In addition, Prof. Dai is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal “Recent Patents on Anti-Infective Drug Discovery” as well as an Editorial Board Member of several peer-reviewed journals, such as the “Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology”, “Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine, and Laser Surgery”, etc.

Dr Pu-ting Dong

Pu-Ting, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard School of Dental Medicine, graduated from University of Science and Technology of China on 2014 for her Bachelor’s degree, and Ph.D. degree on Chemistry at Boston University on 2020 under the mentorship of Professor Ji-Xin Cheng. She then came to Forsyth Institute for her postdoc study. Her postdoc advisors are the prominent microbiologists: Drs. Xuesong He, Wenyuan Shi and Gary Borisy. Currently she is a NIH T90 postdoctoral fellow. Her research interest lies in unraveling important host/microbe-microbe interaction problems through advanced imaging approaches. So far she has published 21 papers with 10 of them being the first or co-first authors.

PhD Candidate Alena Marie James

Alena Marie James is a PhD student at George Mason University studying microbiology and infectious disease in the College of Science’s School of Systems Biology Biosciences doctoral program. Her current research, spear headed by Dr. Monique van Hoek, focuses on investigating the application of peptide nucleic acids and oligonucleotides for the targeted disruption of a toxin-antitoxin gene system in multidrug resistant bacteria and biothtreat bacteria as a new treatment approach.  Alena is a 2023 COSMOS Scholar, was an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Chemical and Biological Defense Fellow in 2017, and currently works as a Research and Development Advisor at Analytical Services (ANSER)  delivering solutions to clients to tackle tough science and technology challenges.

Dr Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli

Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering and the School for the Environment at University of Massachusetts Boston. She obtained her S.B. in Chemistry from MIT in 1994 and Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 2000. She was a faculty member at MIT in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Biological Engineering as a faculty member from 2002-2012. From 2012-2015 she was at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in the Bioengineering Systems and Technologies Group. Since 2015 she has been a faculty member at UMass Boston. She received an ONR Young Investigator Award and was named a Fellow of the Foresight Institute in 2017. Her research is focused on using nanotechnology for biological applications, such as infectious disease, cancer therapy, and food safety. Projects in her research lab include the development of low-cost diagnostics for viral diseases such as dengue, zika, yellow fever, and Ebola, the bacterial pathogen Vibrio parahaemolyticus, and biomarkers that can distinguish between viral and bacterial infections.

Prof Michael R Hamblin

Michael R Hamblin was a Principal Investigator at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, an Associate Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School for 25 years, and is now a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa and affiliated faculty at Radiation Biology Research Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. He gained his PhD in organic chemistry from Nottingham Trent University in England. His research interests include photodynamic therapy, photobiomodulation, drug delivery, nanomedicine, and tissue engineering. His research program was supported by NIH, CDMRP, USAFOSR and CIMIT.

Further Information

He has published over 750 peer-reviewed articles, over 150 conference proceedings, book chapters and International abstracts and holds 10 patents. He is Editor-in-Chief of “Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine and Laser Surgery”, Associate Editor for 10 journals, on the editorial board of a further 60 journals. He has an h-factor 148 and > 88,000 citations. He has authored/edited 36 textbooks on PDT, photomedicine, and nanomedicine including 13 SPIE proceedings. Dr Hamblin was elected as a Fellow of SPIE in 2011, received the 1st Endre Mester Lifetime Achievement Award from NAALT in 2017, the Outstanding Career Award from the Dose Response Society, the 1st Ali Javan award for Photobiomodulation Basic Science Research from WALT in 2018, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from European Medical Laser Association in 2022.

Dr Weili Hong

Beihang University
Dr. Weili Hong is currently an associate professor at the School of Biological Science and Medical Engineering at Beihang University in Beijing, China. He graduated from the department of Physics at the University of Science and Technology of China in 2008 and obtained his PhD from the department of Physics at the University of Utah in USA in 2014. After that, he switched his research interests to biomedical engineering and worked at the Purdue University as a postdoc from 2015 to 2017. Since then, he had been focused on the development and application of coherent Raman scattering imaging in microbiology field. He has over 20 publications in journals including PNAS, Advanced Science, and Analytical Chemistry, and has been supported by the National Science Foundation of China, the National key Research and Development Program of China, and the Natural Science Foundation of Beijing.

Dr Frédéric Leblond

Frederic Leblond, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Engineering Physics at Polytechnique Montreal and Director of the Laboratory for Radiological Optics (LRO). He is also a research scientist at the CRCHUM medical research center and co-founder of the companies ODS Medical (now Reveal Surgical) founded in 2015, and Tridan-Exclaro, founded in 2022.
Prof. Leblond is a physicist and engineer with a Google H-index of 36, over 100 publications, more than a dozen patent applications and more than 200 conference proceedings to date. He is a Full Professor at Polytechnique Montreal and leads a research laboratory there and at CRCHUM. His lab is currently composed of 18 members, including graduate students, postdocs and research professionals.

Further Information

Prof. Leblond holds research grants from organizations such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Fonds de recherche Nature et technologies du Québec (FRQNT) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).
 Prof. Leblond holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from Polytechnique Montreal, a Master’s degree in Physics from Laval University and a PhD in Physics from McGill University. After his Ph.D., he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Enrico Fermi Institute of the University of Chicago. He was then a senior researcher for three years and worked on the development of medical instruments at a Montreal medical imaging company. Prior to joining Polytechnique, Professor Leblond was a professor of engineering at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, for five years, where he was also affiliated with the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Dr. Leblond’s research is related to the development of light-based medical devices to characterize biological tissues to improve the accuracy and safety of surgical procedures, as well as to develop techniques to improve the accuracy of medical diagnostics.

Dr Sanjay Marasini

Dr Sanjay Marasini is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. With a keen interest in infectious ocular surface diseases and novel treatment methods of targeting microorganisms in an infection, his current research investigates the safety and efficacy of UVC as a potential treatment option for microbial keratitis. Sanjay has published 20+ papers in diverse aspects of Ophthalmology and Vision Science. His most recent publications appear in the most reputed Ophthalmology journals, such as The Ocular Surface. He is also an invited author of the British Contact Lens Associations’ international Contact Lens Evidence-based Academic Reports, published in 2021. Having practised as an Optometrist in different countries and observing the gaps in the affordability of treatments, Sanjay believes it is not only about how effective a treatment is but also how accessible it is. He is looking to develop UVC technology as an empiric treatment method for microbial keratitis.

Dr Ronan McCarthy

Ronan gained his Bachelor of Science in Genetics with first class honours from University College Cork, Ireland in 2010 and was awarded the title of College Scholar. In autumn 2010, Ronan was awarded an Irish Research Council PhD Scholarship to study novel biofilm inhibition strategies against the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the lab of Professor Fergal O’Gara. In 2014, Ronan joined the research group of Professor Alain Filloux at the MRC Centre for Bacteriology and Infection at Imperial College London. As a Postdoctoral Research Associate, Ronan interrogated the second messenger signalling cascades that govern the biofilm mode of growth in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Following on from his time at Imperial College Ronan joined the Microbiology Department at the Animal and Plant Health Agency where he used host transcriptomics and pathway analysis to profile the host response to infection.

Further Information

He joined the Biosciences Division in Brunel University to continue his analysis of the regulatory networks that govern pathogenicity, antimicrobial resistance and biofilm formation in the Gram negative opportunistic pathogens Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii. In 2021, Ronan was awarded a BBSRC New Investigator Award to study the regulation of desiccation tolerance and biofilm formation in Acinetobacter baumannii and to identify compounds that could disrupt these survival mechanisms.

Prof Thomas Milner

Thomas Milner is the Director of the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic and a Professor in the Department of Surgery and Biomedical Engineering.  Milner co-invented the dynamic cooling device that is used on laser dermatological surgical instruments worldwide.  He is one of the early developers of optical coherence tomography – a diagnostic imaging technology used clinically in ophthalmology and cardiology. He is the recipient of the Coherent Young Investigator Award, numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health, and Inventor of the Year at the University of Texas at Austin. He is an inventor of 70 issued U.S. patents and five international patents that have been licensed to six companies. He is a co-founder of CardioSpectra and Dermalucent. Milner’s patent royalties to University IP Owners/Licensees have returned over US$100 million. He has authored over 200 peer-reviewed articles and twelve book chapters.  Milner is a member of the National Academy of Inventors, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery.

Dr Frank Sams-Dodd

Frank Sams-Dodd has a M.Sc. degree from Copenhagen University in biology and a Ph.D. degree from Cornell University, USA in integrative neurobiology and physiology. In 2001, he received the doctoral degree (Dr.med.) in medicine from Copenhagen University.
He is Managing Director of Willingsford Ltd, a UK healthcare company with a marketed wound treatment. Previous positions include Research Fellow at the Danish pharmaceutical company H. Lundbeck A/S where he particularly was involved in schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease research; VP & CSO at Sams-Dodd, S.L., a company offering contract research, licensing and consulting services to the pharmaceutical industry; Director of Physiology at Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in San Diego the area of metabolic disorders; Head of Psychopharmacology at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma, Germany focusing on drug discovery in Alzheimer’s disease and psychiatry; and Vice President of Pre-Clinical Research at Bionomics Ltd., an Australian biotech company; and CEO of Neurofit SAS, a pre-clinical CRO located in Strasbourg, France, which is fully owned by Bionomics.

Further Information

He has published several papers on the development and validation of an animal model of the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia, a model that subsequently has become the industry standard for assessing drug effects on the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. He has also published several papers in Drug Discovery Today on approaches to improve the output of the drug discovery process and regularly gives talks at academic and industry meetings on the strengths and weaknesses of different drug discovery approaches. Finally, he has served on the Wellcome Trust Technology Transfer Challenge Committee and been advisor to the Trust’s Seeding Drug Discovery Initiative; as a consultant to several pharmaceutical companies on drug discovery strategies, and he served for several years on the Board of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Danish Society for Neuroscience.

Dr Yanfang Feng

Yanfang Feng received her Ph.D. in molecular microbiology at the University of Amsterdam under the supervision of Professor Stanley Brul. She then came to Harvard Medical School for Postdoc training under the mentorship of Professor Tayyaba Hasan, who has more than three decades of passion and experience in the development of optical methods for the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases and cancers. Dr. Feng is now an instructor in Professor Hasan’s research group. She is the recipient of multiple competitive awards for young scientists, including the Eleanor and Miles Shore Faculty Development Award from Harvard Medical School, the Outstanding Postdoctoral Fellow Award from the International Photodynamic Association, and the Rubicon Postdoc Award from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. Her current research focuses on bacterial infection diagnostics and novel antimicrobial therapy and susceptibility test development by using a variety of wet and dry lab approaches.

Prof Alessandra Nara de Souza Rastelli

Dr. Alessandra Nara de Souza Rastelli is a DDS, graduated at the State University of Ponta Grossa-UEPG, School of Dentistry, Parana, Brazil (1996) and completed her Master’s (2002) and Ph.D. Degree (2004) at the São Paulo State University – UNESP, School of Dentistry, Araraquara, SP, Brazil. She already worked as a Visiting Scientist at different Universities around the world, such as: University of Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany; Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam – ACTA, Amsterdam, Netherlands; University of Birmingham, Dental School, Birmingham, UK and Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, University of Harvard, Boston, MA, USA. Since 2009. 

Further Information

Dr. Alessandra Nara de Souza Rastelli is an Associate Professor at School of Dentistry, Araraquara, Department of Restorative Dentistry of the São Paulo State University – UNESP, Brazil. Since 2015, she is the head of the Biophotonics and Bionanomaterials Laboratory at School of Dentistry, Araraquara, Department of Restorative Dentistry of the São Paulo State University – UNESP, Brazil where she works on different research projects based on the application of different light sources (lasers and LEDs) in the oral health for different purposes (antimicrobial photodynamic therapy, dental bleaching, photoactivation of dental materials and biostimulation). She is a supervisor of Master’s and Ph.D.’s students and already published more than 100 papers based on the Biophotonics field. She was the head of the Department of Restorative Dentistry of the School of Dentistry, Araraquara, at São Paulo State University – UNESP, Brazil (2016, 2020-2022). Currently, she is an Associated Editor of the Brazilian Dental Science Journal.

Prof Robert Schooley

Dr. Schooley is a Distinguished Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health at the University of California San Diego. He completed medical school and an internal medicine residency at Johns Hopkins and infectious disease fellowships at the NIH and Massachusetts General Hospital.  He joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School in 1981. His longer-term research efforts are directed at the pathogenesis and therapy of RNA virus infections. He has been heavily involved in the development of antiviral chemotherapy directed at HIV, HCV and the herpesgroup viruses as well as in research, teaching and infrastructure building efforts in sub-Saharan Africa.  Following his successful treatment of a multidrug resistant A. baumannii infection in a fellow faculty member at UC San Diego, he has become interested in the use of viruses as therapeutic agents – namely the use of bacteriophages to treat multidrug resistant bacterial infections.

Prof Monique van Hoek

I am a professor in the School of Systems Biology at George Mason University in Virginia, USA. The van Hoek lab is focused on the study of antibiotic-resistant and biothreat bacteria, especially gram-negative bacteria.
Antimicrobial Approaches: We are exploring novel antimicrobial approaches including antimicrobial peptides, and an approach involving peptide-nucleic acids against bacteria.
Antimicrobial Peptides: We have projects to discover and invent antimicrobial peptides against the multi-drug resistant ESKAPE (wound-infecting) pathogens as well as biothreat bacteria. We study cell-to-cell communication and biofilm formation in these dangerous bacteria, including ways to disperse biofilms (peptides, DSF, chitinase) and regulate biofilm formation (quorum sensing via small molecules). We have discovered powerful antimicrobial peptides naturally expressed by alligators, crocodiles, and Komodo dragons, and continue to develop novel synthetic antimicrobial peptides for in vivo studies.

Further Information

Biothreat Bacteria: We study the fundamental microbial physiology of Francisella tularensis, the causative agent of tularemia. Additionally, we have projects focused on the ability of Nanotrap particles to be used in the detection and study of bacteria.
Current Projects include: Antimicrobial peptides to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria and biothreat bacteria, Computational design of antimicrobial peptides against multi-drug resistant gram-negative infection, Francisella physiology (protein secretion, PGA production, TCS regulatory systems, quorum sensing); Francisella chitinase enzymatic activity and biofilm regulation, Nanotrap particles to detect markers of bacterial biothreat agents.