Invited Speakers

Leticia Bentancor

Leticia Bentancor

National University of Quilmes Bernal, Argentina

Leticia’s efforts are concentrated on developing novel therapeutic approaches to Hemolytic uremic syndrome. Her research group was the first to describe eukaryotic promoters driving toxin expression. In addition, her research team has discovered compounds that have the capacity to inactivate bacteriophage. These compounds can be used to block phage infection and replication in bacteria. They can also interfere with the interaction of bacteriophage with eukaryotic cells.
Petya Berger

Petya Berger

Principle Investigator, Institute of Hygiene, University of Münster, Münster, Germany

Petya was born in Burgas, Bulgaria and moved in 2003 to Germany to pursue her university education. She obtained a B.Sc. and M.Sc. from the international Jacobs University in Bremen and a doctoral degree from the Humboldt University and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin. In 2013, Petya moved to Münster, where she was a PostDoc in the research groups of Helge Karch and Alexander Mellmann at the Institute of Hygiene, University of Münster. Since 2016, she is a principle investigator of a project funded by the German Research Foundation. Her research focuses on transcriptomics-based analysis of STEC and in particular of the German 2011 E. coli O104:H4 outbreak strain.

Martina Bielaszewska, M.D., Ph.D.

Martina Bielaszewska, M.D., Ph.D.

Senior microbiologist; National Institute of Public Health, Prague Czech Republic, National Reference Laboratory for E. coli and Shigella, Prague, Czech Republic

Martina completed her PhD at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Charles University, Prague in 1983. She became an Associate professor at Charles University in 1992 and spent one year as a visiting professor at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. After serving as an associate professor at the University of Wuzburg in the Institute for Hygiene in Germany from 2001-2016, she returned to Prague as the senior microbiologist for the national reference laboratory for VTEC and Shigella in 2017. Martina has authored over 200 peer reviewed manuscripts and is recognized internationally for her work on the pathology of VTEC in relation to HUS and cellular responses.
Lauren Cowley

Lauren Cowley

Prize Fellow of Bioinformatics; Department of Biology and Biochemistry University of Bath in England, UK

Lauren did her PhD on the use of whole genome sequencing to understand the molecular basis of phage type for STEC O157. She was based at Public Health England between 2012-2016 and was supervised by Claire Jenkins, Tim Dallman and David Gally. During this period, she published several papers on the typing STEC O157 phages and the basis of their infectivity. Post PhD, Lauren took up a postdoc position at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and broadened her skills in microbial genomics by investigating large sequencing datasets of Streptococcus pneumoniae and performing GWAS analysis. After 2 years at Harvard, Lauren obtained her first independent research position at the University of Bath as the prize fellow of Bioinformatics. She has begun her own program of research focusing on applying machine learning techniques to predict phenotypes of STEC O157 from sequencing data. She continues to work with Tim and Claire at Public Health England and has had significant success creating models that predict Stx type, phage type and geographical source attribution.

Nigel French

Nigel French

Chief Scientist; New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre Distinguished Professor of Food Safety and Veterinary Public Health; Massey University, New Zealand

Nigel is Chief Scientist for the New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre and Distinguished Professor of Food Safety and Veterinary Public Health at Massey University, New Zealand. He is co-Director of One Health Aotearoa, and founder and Executive Director of Massey University’s Infectious Disease Research Centre, specializing in research and training in molecular and genomic epidemiology, food safety and the control of infectious diseases. Nigel is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and a Fellow of Food Standards Australia and New Zealand. He holds an honorary professorship at the University of Otago Medical School in New Zealand.
Victor Gannon

Victor Gannon

Senior Research Scientist Predictive Genomics Unit of the Division of Enteric Diseases at the National Microbiology Laboratory of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Alberta, Canada

Vic is a senior Research Scientist in charge of the Predictive Genomics Unit of the Division of Enteric Diseases at the National Microbiology Laboratory of the Public Health Agency of Canada. He received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Saskatchewan in 1982 and a PhD in Veterinary Microbiology from the University of Guelph in 1987. His expertise and accomplishments in food safety, waterborne diseases and bacterial genomics are internationally recognized. Current research projects focus on bioinformatics software development, the use of machine learning to predict levels of antimicrobial resistance and VTEC/STEC ecology, epidemiology and evolution.

Chad Laing

Chad Laing

Research Scientist; National Centre for Animal Diseases, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Chad is a Research Scientist at the National Centre for Animal Diseases, Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. He has dealt extensively with molecular biology, bacterial genomics, bioinformatics, and software development, with a focus on enteric bacterial pathogens, including Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli. His current work focuses on using predictive genomics to more rapidly identify and characterize bacterial pathogens affecting human and animal health, as well as those pertaining to the safety and security of Canadians.
John Leong

John Leong

Trilling Professor and Chair Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology Tufts University School of Medicine; University in Boston, Massachusetts USA

John is Trilling Professor and Chair, Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine. The major focus of his laboratory is the interaction of bacterial pathogens with host cells. He has investigated the ability of enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) to alter the mammalian cytoskeleton upon colonization of intestinal epithelial cells, identifying mechanisms of virulence factors translocated into mammalian cells. Additionally, his laboratory was involved in the generation of a mouse model for EHEC infection utilizing a Shiga toxin-producing version of Citrobacter rodentium, a natural murine pathogen that colonizes the intestine in a manner similar to EHEC. This model provides an experimental system to investigate the pathogenesis of EHEC infection and disease. He is currently collaborating with Drs. Cheleste Thorpe and Olga Kovbasnjuk to investigate EHEC and Shiga toxin interactions in human colonoid models. John has served on numerous NIH review panels, as a divisional chair of the American Society for Microbiology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Tim McAllister, Ph.D.

Tim McAllister, Ph.D.

Principal Research Scientist, Ruminant Nutrition & Microbiology Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research Centre, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Tim obtained his M.Sc. in Animal Biochemistry at the University of Alberta and his Ph. D. in microbiology and nutrition from the University of Guelph in 1991. He obtained a NSERC postdoctoral fellowship with the University of Calgary where he conducted studies on microbial biofilms. His work with STEC has focused on its ecology within cattle production systems and the development of strategies to mitigate it throughout the production chain. This has included the use of lytic phage, probiotics and plant bioactive to reduce STEC in the host, food and food processing environments. Tim has authored over 750 scientific papers and is a recipient of a number of industry, national and international awards.
Stefano Morabito

Stefano Morabito

Director Unit of Food-borne diseases of the Food Safety, Nutrition and Veterinary Public Health Department; Istituto Superiore di Sanitàl; Rome, Italy Director, European Union Reference Laboratory for E. coli. Rome, Italy

Stefano is active in the field of genomics-based solutions to study the genomic assets of food-borne bacterial pathogens with a focus on Shiga toxin-producing E. coli and to improve the signalling of food borne outbreaks. Other interests include the use of genomics for the study of STEC phylogeny and the evolution of different pathogenic E. coli types. He is author of about 80 peer- reviewed publications and edited the book “Pathogenic Escherichia coli, molecular and cellular microbiology”, published by Caister Academic press. He is the coordinator of the ARIES project, concerning the development of a shared workspace and set- up of a public web server for the analysis of genomics data. He is also coordinating the national collection of genomics data from human isolates of Listeria monocytogenes and STEC. This work is being developed as a concept for the large scale

application of this approach to the enhanced surveillance of bacterial food borne diseases.

Yoshitoshi Ogura, Ph.D.

Yoshitoshi Ogura, Ph.D.

Department of Bacteriology, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, Japan

Yoshitoshi has expertise in the fields of genomics and evolution of microorganisms. His work has focused for more than ten years on the genomic diversity of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157 strains (DNA Res 13:3-14, 2006; Sci Rep 16;5:16663, 2015; EID 24:2219-2227. 2018) and the parallel evolution of STEC O157 and non-O157 strains (Genome Biol., 8:R138, 2007; PNAS 106:17939-17944, 2009). His work also focused on the population structure of STEC O26 strains (Microb Genom. 3. mgen.0.000141. 2017). He is currently working on analyzing the evolutionary processes and host adaptation of STEC strains (Genome Res., 29:1495-1505. 2019).
Deborah Stearns - Kurosawa, PhD

Deborah Stearns-Kurosawa, PhD

Associate Provost and Associate Dean ad interim, Boston University School of Medicine, Associate Professor of Pathology at Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts USA

DJ Stearns-Kurosawa, PhD is Associate Provost and Associate Dean ad interim, Boston University School of Medicine, bringing a background in academia, industry and the private research sector to this position. She is also Associate Professor of Pathology at BUSM, active in Master’s and PhD graduate education, policy development and trainee mentoring. Her basic and translational biomedical research for nearly 30 years has focused largely on the pathophysiology of sepsis, the host responses to infection and coagulation abnormalities that arise as complications. Her collaborative research group developed a nonhuman primate model of Bacillus anthracis, demonstrating distinctions between anthrax toxin-mediated events and the inflammatory processes that drive lethality. This research group also developed and characterized the nonhuman primate model of E.coli Shiga toxin-induced hemolytic uremic syndrome, emphasizing the role of the host response to the toxins and the distinct coagulopathy that arises. A fundamental motivation is application of these animal models for therapeutic intervention to minimize disease severity and subsequent morbidity.

Gillian A.M. Tarr, PhD, MHS, CPH

Gillian A.M. Tarr, PhD, MHS, CPH

Infectious disease epidemiologist and Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Gillian is an infectious disease epidemiologist and Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on foodborne and other enteric infections, specializing in the spatial and genomic epidemiology of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli. She undertook her epidemiology training at the University of Washington and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in pediatric enteric infections at the University of Calgary. Gillian has earned prestigious fellowships from both the National Institutes of Health and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.