February 2, 2016

Speakers 2017

Please click on the photos to know more about each one!

Molecular Biology


Gillian Bates, currently co-director of the Huntington’s Disease Research Centre and professor of Neurogenetics at University College London, is at the forefront of the study of the genetic and molecular causes underlying Huntigton’s Disease.

Previously Head of the Division of Genetics and Molecular Medicine at King’s College London, Professor Gillian Bate’s interests comprise the study of this disease pathogenesis and respective validation of therapeutic targets. Her recognized and well-known work made her one of the biggest authorities on the study of this devastating disease that affects movements skills and cognitive abilities. Gillian Bates is also a member of the select Council of the Royal Society. In a revolutionizing and mesmerizing way, Professor Bates has altered the paradigm of study of neurodegenerative diseases.


Molecular Biology


Professor Ivan Đikić is Director of the Institute of Biochemistry II at the Goethe University of Frankfurt, and Head of the Molecular Signaling Group, having developed relevant advances in the study of cellular signalling mecanisms.

Ivan Đikić has brilliantly demonstrated how ubiquitin, a small ubiquous protein, contributes to regulate a series of pathways in the inner cell. Author to numerous publications in international high impact scientific journals, has dramatically altered how Science sees this molecule. From proteossomal activity to selective autophagyregulation, his undoubtely relevant research is of great scientific interest. Thus, it is no wonder he has received more than a dozen prizes and awards such as The Order of Duke Branimir in 2010 and the 2013 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize.

This speaker is brought to you with the support of EMBO.

Neurosciences Session


Grégoire Courtine is an Associate Professor at the Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne (EPFL). In 2012, he accepted from the International Paraplegic Foundation the Chair in Spinal Cord Repair at EPFL’s Centre of Neuroprosthetics and the Brain Mind Institute.

Initially, his study focused on the understanding of the neural networks of locomotion and neuronal plasticity and the potential of effective rehabilitation of locomotion. Grégoire Courtine became internationally famous when he succeeded to recover mobility in paraplegic rats, using cerebral implants.

In November 2016, Courtine announced on Nature that he had executed this deed in monkeys, a feat that was received with great repercussion from worldwide media. The treatment is a potential boon for immobile patients: Courtine has already started a trial in Switzerland, using a pared-down version of the technology in two people with spinal-cord injury.

Having received numerous prizes, such as the 2007 UCLA Chancellor’s Award and the Schellenberg Prize in 2009, Grégoire Courtine’s work is indeed impressive and the clinic potencial of his accomplishments in the treatment of paralisis are really remarkable.

This speaker is brought to you with the support of Medtronic.

Neurosciences Session

Rodrigo Quiroga is director of the Centre for Systems Neuroscience in University of Leicester, in the United Kingdom. He has remarkably contributed for the development of this field of study. Professor Quiroga, also Head of Bioengineering, has indeed made extraordinary advances regarding memory and visual perception.

By discovering the Jennifer Aniston neurons, brain cells pivotal to the formation of new memories, Professor Quiroga revolutionized the paradigm of study of this scientific area. This discovery may also explain phenomena not fully understood such as the creation of episodic memory or even the flow of conscience.

Currently, Rodrigo Quian Quiroga is studying how is information stored in the human brain, through the analysis of individual neuron’s electric profiles, by taking advantage of intracranial electrodes implanted in epileptic patients. Therefore, his groundbreaking work is of utmost interest and is already allowing the development of novel Neuroprosthetic techniques with true therapeutic potential.

He obtained a young investigator award by the American Epilepsy Society, the 2010 Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award and in 2014 he was selected as one of the 10 UK RISE Leaders in Science and Engineering.

Psychopathy Session


Professor James Fallon is an American neuroscientist, Professor of Psychiatry and a specialist in human behavior. He is also Professor Emeritus of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the Irvine School of Medicine at the University of California

Throughout his career, he has contributed to the development of several topics in the field of neurosciences, namely through the discovery of TGF-α and EGF. He was the first to demonstrate the use of growth factors for stimulation of stem cells in damaged adult brain, on a large scale. He also contributed to research in the fields of Schizophrenia, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.

In 2006, while studying brain PET scans to search for patterns that correlated with psychopathic behavior, he happened to compare them to a scan of his own. The characteristic deactivation of emotional regions was unmistakable: James Fallon found that his own brain fit the profile, which he himself had studied and established. He has since proclaimed himself a pro-social psychopath. His unique perspective on this topic will unequivocally enrich the session.

This speaker is brought to you with the support of FLAD.


Lasker Award

Oncology Session


Dr. Nicholas Lydon has extensive experience in drug discovery and development and is one of the three recipients of the 2009 Lasker Award for the discovery of Imatinib and its applications in the treatment of Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. His work broke new ground in cancer therapy and radically changed the prognosis of CML patients.

Dr. Lydon is a co-founder and Director of  AnaptysBio (San Diego, USA) and of BluePrint Medicines (Cambridge, USA). He previously served as Vice President  at Amgen and was also the CEO and founder of Kinetix Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of selective protein kinase inhibitors.

Dr. Lydon also worked at CIBA-GEIGY (now Novartis), in Basel, Switzerland, where he was responsible for the tyrosine protein kinase inhibitor program, including the discovery and preclinical development of Imatinib (Gleevec®).  He has been awarded the 2009 Lasker Award and the 2012 Japan Prize for his groundbreaking work on this molecule.

This speaker is brought to you with the support of ASPIC.


Surgery Session

Dr. Tomoaki Kato is a notable pioneer in multiple-organ transplantation, as well as a pediatric liver transplantation specialist. He is the current Surgical Director of Adult and Pediatric Liver and Intestinal Transplantation at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and is, simultaneously, a professor of surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Kato is known for unique and innovative surgeries for adults and children, including a six-organ transplant; a procedure called APOLT (auxiliary partial orthotopic liver transplantation) that resuscitates a failing liver by attaching a partial donor liver, and the first successful human partial bladder transplantation involving the transplant of two kidneys together with ureters connected to a patch of the donor bladder.

In a highly publicized case, he led the first reported removal and re-implantation, or auto-transplantation, of six organs to excise a hard-to-reach abdominal tumor.

Surgery Session

Mark Sullivan is a Consultant Urological Surgeon with research interests in the area of kidney cancer, laparoscopy and robotic surgery, specialising in vasectomy reversal surgery.

His practice is based at the Churchill Hospital, Oxford and the Horton General Hospital, Banbury. He set up a research collaboration with Dr. Valentine Macaulay and has supervised PhD students looking into the molecular biology of kidney cancer. He is the Clinical Lead for Renal Surgery in Oxford, sits on the NCRI Renal Studies Group and SPED, the NCRI Screening Committee.

He is currently developing successful work regarding Ex-vivo Partial Nephrectomy (EPN) and Renal auto-transplantation for complex renal malignancies. In April 2012, NHS Specialised Services appointed Oxford University Hospitals as the national referral centre for ex-vivo partial nephrectomy and auto-transplantation.

Biotechnology Session




Dr. Tobias Hasenberg is a senior scientist and engineer for TissUse‘ proprietary microphysiological system. Following his diploma thesis on the generation of three-dimensional liver equivalents for the platform, he became part of the core team in 2013.

In his PhD thesis, he focused on the emulation of human microvascular networks in the chips for the supply of incorporated organoids. For this Tobias not only took the biological microenvironment into account but also mechanical cues that are required for physiological cell behavior. His academic studies carried him from the Technische Universität Berlin to the Duke University, North Carolina, to the Robert Koch-Institut and eventually to TissUse. In his five years there he can look back to several young scientist awards and grants from various conferences such as the World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences or the European Society for Animal Cell Technology.

Today, Dr. Tobias is directly involved in the development of the Multi-Organ-Chip platform: a unique technology that simulates the activities, mechanics and physiological response of entire organs and organ systems! This human-on-a-chip device is aimed at accelerating the development of pharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetic, and personalized medical products. For the first time ever, preclinical insight using human tissue and enabling the direct prediction of chemicals’ effects is provided on a systemic level.

Biotechnology Session



Levi J. Hargrove, PhD, P.Eng, received his MScE and PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Brunswick (2005, 2008). He is currently the Associate Director of Center for Bionic Medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), and an Associate Professor in the Departments of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University.

His research interests include signal processing, pattern recognition, and myoelectric control of powered prostheses. A major goal of his research is to develop clinically realizable myoelectric control systems that can be made available to persons with limb loss in the near future.

In 2012, Dr. Hargrove co-founded Coapt, a company to commercialize control algorithms for prosthetics and orthotics. His research addresses all levels of amputation and has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine and multiple patents. Key projects include the development of advanced and adaptive control systems for prosthetic legs, improving control of robotic hand prostheses, and intramuscular EMG signal processing.

This speaker is brought to you with the support of FLAD.

Nobel Prize

Chemistry Session

Ada Yonath is focusing on protein biosynthesis and antibiotics hampering it. She is Director of the Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular-Structures at the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS), where she is a Professor. In the seventies, she established the first structural-biology laboratory in Israel. During 1986-2004 she also headed Max-Planck Research Unit for Ribosome Structure in Hamburg.

She is a member of the German Pontificia Accademia-delle-Scienze and she also holds honorary doctorates from Oslo, NYU, Mount-Sinai, Oxford, Cambridge, Hamburg, Berlin-Technical, Patras, De-La-Salle, Xiamen, Grenoble, Strasbourg, Mendel and Lodz Universities.

Some of her awards include the Louisa-Gross-Horwitz, the Wolf, the Harvey, several Israel Prizes, the Linus-Pauling Gold Medal, the UNESCO/L’Oreal Award, the Albert-Einstein Award for Excellence and the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009

Keynote Session



Manuel Sobrinho Simões is a Cathedratic Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of University of Porto, Director of Pathology at São João Hospital and Founder and Director of IPATIMUP.

His research has focused on gastric carcinogenesis and specially on thyroid cancer pathology: etiopathogenesis, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment selection.

One of the world’s most renowned scientists researching thyroid cancer, his papers have received more than 10.000 citations. Member of numerous scientific committees and international past president of the European Society of Pathology, Professor Sobrinho Simões was distinguished by his peers in 2015 as the world’s Most Influential Pathologist on the British journal The Pathologist.

Throughout the years, he has received a great number of awards and distinctions, namely Prémio Pessoa in 2002.

This speaker is brought to you with the support of Banco Carregosa.