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Speakers & Committee:

Microbiome Dr. Joan W.jpg

Joan W. Bennett
Distinguished Professor
Rutgers University

Joan W. Bennett is a distinguished professor at Rutgers University and a leader in fungal genetics and genomics.   Since Hurricane Katrina, her laboratory has pioneered the use of model systems to investigate the physiological effects of low concentrations of fungal volatile organic compounds, in an attempt to elucidate mechanisms of “sick building syndrome.”    She is a past vice president of the British Mycological Society and the International Union of Microbiological Science; and past president of both the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and The Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (SIMB).  She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 2005 and is currently chairing a NAS study on “The Microbiomes of Indoor Air.”

Christina B Berberich, PHARMD,MPH, RD
Medical Science Liaison, Abbott Nutrition Research,
Scientific & Medical Affairs

 Dr. Christina Berberich is a Medical Science Liaison for Abbott Nutrition Research, Scientific and Medical Affairs. Dr. Berberich earned a Doctor of Pharmacy and Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Berberich is also a registered dietitian. 

In her current role, Dr. Berberich works to translate research science into practice and presents at hospitals, medical centers, and healthcare professional meetings on a variety of topics including malnutrition, lean body mass, prebiotic fibers and the gut microbiome. Prior to this role, she was in Regulatory Affairs and responsible for infant formula labels, promotional materials, and notification with the Food and Drug Administration. 

Prior to joining Abbott, Dr. Berberich worked in both clinical inpatient and outpatient settings as well as for a pharmaceutical advertising firm and the Food and Drug Administration in the Office of Health and Constituent Affairs.

Todd A. Black, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Infectious Diseases
Merck Research Laboratory

Todd Black is the Executive Director for Merck's antibacterial, antifungal, and HCV Basic Research group, and has over 20 years of experience in the discovery and development of novel anti-infective agents. Todd has performed research on a wide range of microbes and processes including prokaryotic cellular differentiation in the cyanobacterium Anabaena, pioneering genomics- based target discovery in model fungal pathogens, toxin production in phytopathic fungi, quorum-sensing control of antifungal metabolite synthesis by Pseudomonas fluorescens and the expression and modification of secondary-metabolite pathways in Myxobacteria and Actinomycetes. Todd has been responsible for supporting the discovery and development of a variety therapies for treatment of infectious diseases, including: evernimicin (Ziracin) a novel antibiotic; posaconazole (Noxafil) antifungal; garenoxacin (FQ-antibiotic); AN2690, a boron-based topical antifungal agent for onychomycosis; vicriviroc, an HIV CCR5 antagonist and led multiple initiatives on novel target discovery programs. His team continues to support the development of novel therapies for HCV, C. difficile anti-toxin therapy, and multiple antibiotic products and programs to treat MDR Gram-negative bacteria.

Keith Bostian, Ph.D.
Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship

Dr. Keith Bostian is an entrepreneur scientist with a distinguished career in industry and academia. He has held executive positions in numerous life science companies, as founder of Microcide Pharmaceuticals, Iconix Pharmaceuticals, Mpex Pharmaceuticals, and Vanta Bioscience, and before this, at Merck, where he led antimicrobial drug discovery as well as discovery of new leads from natural products for Merck’s worldwide drug discovery programs. Most recently, he founded and became CEO of the Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurism (ILSE) at Kean University, serving as a knowledge hub to connect scientists in academia and industry to promote translational research in the life sciences.

Raina Fichorova, MD, Ph.D., M.Sci (Hon)
Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Biology
Harvard Medical School
Director of Genital Tract Biology
Brigham & Women's Hospital

Dr. Raina Fichorova's laboratory is accredited by the College of American Pathologists. For over 20 years Dr. Fichorova has been studying the immunology of the female reproductive tract with focus on vaginal microbiota, inflammation and their impact on reproductive and newborns’ health. Her work contributed scientific discoveries such as the impact of maternal microbes colonizing the placenta on systemic neonatal inflammation as well as technological advances, including preclinical infection models, cell lines, methods, biomarkers, and algorithms for safety evaluation of vaginal formulations and microbicides for women. Her latest research unveils galectin functions in bacterial-protozoan-host interactions and the role of protozoan endosymbiont viruses in human disease. She has published over 120 peer-reviewed original articles in these areas of research.

Romina Goldszmid, Ph.D.
Cancer & Inflammation Program
NIH Stadtman Investigator

Romina Goldszmid received her Ph.D. from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina. She conducted her postdoctoral research in the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. She then joined the Laboratory of Experimental Immunology as a Staff Scientist. She is now an NIH Earl Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator in CCR’s Laboratory of Experimental Immunology. Her research focuses on linking the microbiome, mononuclear phagocyte development, and cancer and infectious disease.

Gerard Honig, Ph.D.
Founder & CEO
Symbiotic Health

Dr. Honig founded Symbiotic Health in 2013 to develop microbiome-based therapeutics to address critical public health challenges. He directs all aspects of the company’s strategy and operations. He has received numerous awards for this work, including the FIGHT CDIFF Innovator’s Award from the Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation. Gerard, a New York native, received his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and received a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of California, San Francisco, where he held a Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellowship. He later worked in microbiome research and pathogenesis with Dan Littman and Betty Diamond.

Sathapana (Sam) Kongsamut, Ph.D.*
Owner and Principal
Rudder Serendip LLC

Sam Kongsamut obtained his PhD at the University of Chicago and had postdoctoral training at Cornell and Yale Universities. He joined the pharmaceutical industry in 1991, working for a succession of five different companies (Hoechst-Roussel Pharmaceuticals Inc, Hoechst Marion Roussel, Aventis, sanofi aventis. now sanofi), and experiencing two mergers, one takeover, and one "transformation" without moving anywhere. Sam has managed various-sized groups of scientists in biochemical pharmacology that served multiple project teams in the neuroscience area, and has been a member of the CNS Board that managed the CNS project portfolio. He has led or worked on a variety of drug discovery and development projects covering a range of neuroscience areas (OCD, anxiety-depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, sleep disorders, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, stroke), helping to translate animal pharmacology to human pharmacology, including being involved with two drugs that are now helping patients. More recently, Sam was Director of External Innovation at sanofi-aventis, using his experience to identify opportunities for collaboration and licensing for broad therapeutic interests within the Aging Unit. Since leaving Sanofi in 2012, Sam founded Rudder Serendip LLC (steering from the rear close to the data towards serendipity), a consulting practice that serves clients at universities, foundations and biotechnology companies with advice on R&D plans and business development.

Winston Kuo*
Predicine Holdings, Ltd

Predicine Holdings Ltd is an international organization committed to providing healthcare solutions related to precision medicine, development of innovative diagnostics and therapeutics, integrating data analytics.

Dr. Kuo has spent over 20 years in academia and 3 years in industry. He was formerly Chief Operating Officer of the IES Diagnostics, developing molecular immune diagnostics tests for use in personalized medicine focused on measuring interferons for auto-immune diseases and cancer.

Prior to industry, Dr. Kuo was Assistant Professor in the Department of Developmental Biology at Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Director. As founder of the Harvard Clinical and Translational Science – Laboratory for Innovative Translational Technologies at Harvard Medical School he worked to provide the Harvard biomedical research community with early access to disruptive and enabling leading edge translational technologies. This was an integral part of the Harvard Catalyst Clinical and Translational Science Center at Harvard Medical School.

Laurel Lagenaur*
Senior Scientist

Dr. Lagenaur received her doctorate in Microbiology and Immunology from Stanford University, and completed post-doctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco studying HIV-associated viral infections.  She joined Osel in 1998 and was the principal investigator on Osel’s first research grant to develop MucoCept-HIV as a novel live biotherapeutic to prevent HIV transmission in women.  She moved to Bethesda with her husband (who is an investigator in the NIH intramural program) and became a guest researcher at NIH.

Dr. Lagenaur is a molecular biologist with extensive experience in virology and bacteriology.  Her research interests are in modulating the vaginal microbiome to improve Women’s Health and to prevent HIV.  

Sridhar Mani, MD
Professor of Medicine
Albert Einstein School of Medicine

Dr. Mani's laboratory focus is on on defining the role of SXR and other orphans by using novel and dynamic models of human pathophysiology in (i) xenobiotic metabolism and pharmacology; (ii) carcinogenesis, organogenesis and anticancer drug resistance and (iii) innate immunity. Recently, the laboratory has directed interests in the mammalian microbiome. We have discovered a novel link between the microbial metabolome and orphan nuclear receptor, SXR/PXR. Further work in the laboratory is focused on defining how the microbial environment shapes health and disease.

Camilia R. Martin, M.D., M.S.*
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Harvard Medical School
The Establishment of the Early Microbiome in Neonates:
Determinants, Risks, & Therapeutics

Camilia R. Martin M.D., M.S. is the Associate Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Director for Cross-Disciplinary Research Partnerships in the Division of Translational Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Boston, MA. Dr. Martin received her M.D. from Cornell University School of Medicine in 1992 and completed her internship and residency at Children’s Memorial Hospital/Northwestern School of Medicine in 1995 where she also served as Chief Pediatric Resident in 1996. Dr. Martin completed her fellowship in Perinatal-Neonatal Medicine at the Harvard Combined Program in Neonatology in 1999. During her fellowship training, she completed a Masters in Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health in 1998.

Dr. Martin’s research interests are focused in neonatal nutrition and its impact on health and disease in the preterm infant. She has participated in multi-site clinical trials serving as the Principal Investigator at BIDMC evaluating growth and long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes in the extremely preterm infant. In 2009, Dr. Martin received a Harvard Catalyst Faculty Fellowship Award facilitating her transition from general epidemiology to translational research. Her current research focus is on fat and fatty acid metabolism, postnatal intestinal adaptation including the microbiome, development of immune defenses, and regulation of the inflammation. In September 2014, Dr. Martin was awarded an R01 grant from NIDDK to examine the “Impact of fatty acid imbalance in intestinal health and disease in prematurity”.

John Pace, Ph.D.*
Executive Director, Scientific Research
ATCC Center for Translational Microbiology
Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship
Kean University

As the senior most position within the organization, Dr. Pace is responsible for helping to set the direction of the Center, including the establishment of near-term and long-term strategic and operating plans in partnership with the Executive Committee and founders of the Center. 

He is an experienced biotech/pharmaceutical industry scientist with more than 25 years’ experience spanning pathogenesis research, and antibiotic and vaccine R&D.  He has led efforts that resulted in the evaluation of 14 clinical candidates, and the approved antibiotic drugs AvyCaz, Altabax/Altargo, and Vibativ the latter of which he is also co-inventor.  

He has worked for anti-infective companies on both coasts, as well as in France and Denmark, and is an Adjunct Associate Professor with the Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise-North Carolina Central University. 

Tasha Santiago-Rodriguez, Ph.D.
ATCC-Center for Translational Microbiology
Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship

Dr. Tasha Santiago-Rodriguez's current role involves the development and implementation of standards in microbiome research. Dr. Santiago-Rodriguez received a Ph.D. from the University of Puerto Rico in Public Health Water Microbiology. She moved to San Diego for a postdoctoral appointment at the University of California where she worked in the characterization of the meta-transcriptome of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteriophages in the human bloodstream, microbiome and virome in association with urinary tract infections, and short and long-term effects of antibiotics to the human virome. Dr. Santiago-Rodriguez was also a recipient of a fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to work in the characterization of ancient human microbiomes, viromes and resistomes.

Michael Sherman, MD, Ph.D.
School of Medicine
University of Missouri Health

Michael P. Sherman, MD, PhD (hc), FAAP is a Professor of Child Health at the University of Missouri in Columbia and a Professor Emeritus (Neonatology) at the University of California in Davis. He also currently serves as the Research Director of the Pediatric Autoimmune Encephalopathy Midwest Center of Excellence. Based on training in microbiology, immunology, and neonatology, Professor Sherman uses basic research, clinical research, and clinical trials to improve the health of premature infants.

Howard Young, Ph.D.*
Senior Investigator
Cancer & Inflammation Program
Center for Cancer Research
NCI at Frederick
Frederick, MD

Howard Young received his PhD from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Washington and did postdoctoral research under Drs. Edward Scolnick and Wade Parks at the National Cancer Institute.  He joined the National Cancer Institute in 1983 and became Deputy Chief of the NCI Laboratory of Experimental Immunology in 2006. His research has focused on the analysis of cytokine gene expression and signaling with a special emphasis on the molecular characterization of the transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulation of Interferon-g in NK cells.  Most recently, his laboratory has developed novel mouse models of lupus and aplastic anemia based on chronic expression of low levels of this important immunoregulatory molecule in the murine C57BL/6 genetic background and the Balb/c genetic background, respectively. He is also collaborating with a laboratory in Malaysia on the development of probiotic microorganisms as carriers for vaccine delivery systems.  

Dr. Young is a former President of the International Society for Interferon and Cytokine Research and is a co-recipient (with Dr. Sidney Pestka) of the first Distinguished Service Award from the ISICR, is a two time recipient of the National Cancer Institute Director’s Award for Mentoring and is a recipient of the National Public Service Award from the American Society for Public Administration and the National Academy of Public Administration.  He has also served as Chair of the Immunology Division of the American Society for Microbiology, Chair of the NIH Immunology Interest Group and Cytokine Interest Group and is a member of the American Academy of Microbiology.


*Committee Member