Speakers

Michael Kurilla, MD, PhD

Director of the Office of Biodefense Research Resources
and Translational Research - DMID at the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Dr. Kurilla is the Director of the Office of Biodefense, Research Resources, and Translational Research as well as Associate Director for Biodefense Product Development for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). His primary role is to provide overall institute coordination for product development of medical countermeasures against bioterror threats and other emerging infectious diseases. He received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. He earned his MD-PhD from Duke University. He took his postgraduate medical training in Pathology at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA and a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Elliott Kieff at Harvard Medical School as a Life Sciences Research Foundation Fellow followed by a Markey Scholar Award.

At the University of Virginia, he was an Assistant Professor of Pathology as well as Co-Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Diagnostics and Associate Director for Clinical Microbiology. He moved to the private sector working in anti-infective drug development at Dupont Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Wyeth. He subsequently joined the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) as a Medical Officer. In 2005, he was named to his current positions within NIAID.

 “Infectious Disease & Public Health: Reactive, Proactive, Hyperactive, and Somewhat Unattractive”

Nicole Archambeau, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of History,
Colorado State University

Dr. Archambeau is social historian of health and healing in Medieval Europe. Her publications in The Journal for the Social History of Medicine and The Bulletin of the History of Medicine explore the sufferers’ point of view of plague and medieval categories of healing practitioners. Her present book project focuses on narratives of healing in a 14th-century community that survived multiple waves of plague and mercenary invasion. She received her PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is a member of the American Association for the History of Medicine. Before coming to CSU, she taught for two years at Caltech as an ACLS New Faculty Fellow and spent six months at Princeton University’s Shelby Cullom Davis Center.

“Modern Disease, Medieval Cures: MRSA, Plague, and the History of Yersinia Pestis”

In 2015, journalists trumpeted the “cure for MRSA” found in Bald’s Leechbook – an Anglo-Saxon medical recipe collection. But the Leechbook’s historical context – the language, uses, and tacit knowledge – disappeared in laboratory studies that focused on ingredients and mixing techniques. In this talk, I explore the benefits of incorporating historical research when scientists use historical sources to study infectious disease. How did the medieval medicus understand the plagues he faced and the bodies he treated? How and where did sufferers search for the best care? Historical research shows that medieval texts have more to offer than garlic and onions in a copper pot.

Bradley Ringeisen a program manager in BTO at DARPA took his official photo at DARPA headquarters on December 28, 2016 in Arlington, VA.
(DoD Photo By: Sun L. Vega)

Brad Ringeisen, PhD

Deputy Director, Biological Technologies Office (BTO)
DARPA

Dr. Brad Ringeisen joined DARPA as the Deputy Director of BTO in December 2016. Before coming to DARPA, Dr. Ringeisen was the Head of the Bioenergy and Biofabrication Section at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) where he oversaw diverse research programs including the development and application of laser-assisted printing approaches to biology, development of organs-on-a-chip, microbial energy harvesting and extracellular electron transfer as well as microbial discovery and microbiome characterization. His personal research focused on using a variety of novel laser-based processing tools to deposit patterns and 3D structures of biological materials including living cells, fixed tissue, solid-phase environmental samples, and biopolymers. He was also the Chief Technology Officer for the DoD’s Advanced Technology Biofabrication Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

From 2012 to 2014, Dr. Ringeisen was detailed at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Joint Science and Technology Office as a science and technology manager, where he oversaw the development of field-forward diagnostic technology with wireless connectivity to the cloud.

Dr. Ringeisen is a pioneer in the field of live cell printing, having demonstrated the first living bacteria and mammalian cell printing experiment using modified laser-induced forward transfer (LIFT) technology in the early 2000s. He is a named inventor on thirteen patents, eight involving modifications to LIFT for biological applications. He has published over 65 peer-reviewed manuscripts and has edited a book on cell and organ printing. Throughout his career he has worked across the Department of Defense (DoD) research enterprise having performed research for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), DARPA and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in addition to his internal programs at NRL.

Dr. Ringeisen received a Doctor of Philosophy in physical chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Wake Forest University. Dr. Ringeisen was named the DoD Lab Scientist of the Quarter in December 2015 for his achievements in applying bioprinting to the fields of tissue engineering and microbial ecology.

“DARPA Biological Technologies Office: Outpacing Infectious Disease”

DARPA is investing in technologies aimed at outpacing the spread of infectious disease through accurate forecasting and diagnosis coupled with novel strategies aimed at short and long-term protection from infectious threats.  In particular, efforts are underway to discover biomarkers that predict the spread of disease prior to a major outbreak by measuring key host molecular signatures that drive transmission and contagiousness, and to develop a field-portable device for rapid diagnosis of relevant pathogens to inform treatment in far-forward areas.  Novel vaccine strategies include the development of technology to gene-encode protective antibodies and vaccine antigens for rapid response to disease threats focusing on short- and long-term prophylaxis.  To address antibiotic resistance, studies are underway to examine the efficacy of living predatory bacteria. Additionally, DARPA is developing platforms that mimic human physiological systems to test the safety and efficacy of drugs and vaccines, as well as tools and methods to rapidly determine a drug or vaccine’s molecular mechanism. Finally, with the goal of preventing the next pandemic, DARPA is investing in technology to create a functionally integrated platform capable of discovering, testing, and delivering medical countermeasures for a pandemic threat in less than 60 days.

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COL Michael Kozar, PhD

Director, Military Infectious Diseases Research Program

Colonel Michael P. Kozar graduated with a B.S. in chemistry/biology from Lock Haven University and was commissioned a second lieutenant through Army R.O.T.C. in 1988. Following completion of an internship in Medical Technology at the Reading Hospital & Medical center, Pennsylvania, he entered active duty in 1990. Colonel Kozar is a graduate of the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) Officer Basic and Advanced Course, the Combined Arms & Services Staff School, and the Command & General Staff Officers Course.

Colonel Kozar holds a Ph.D in Biomedical Science with an emphasis in microbiology from the University of South Carolina, School of Medicine, Columbia, SC.  Since 2012 he has served as the Research Area Director for Infectious Diseases, Chair of the Joint Program Committee-2 Military Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, MD and is responsible for the infectious disease research portfolio for the pre-clinical and clinical development of vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, vector control and vector assays of military importance.  Colonel Kozar served as the Consultant in Microbiology to the US Army Surgeon General from 2012 to 2015 and is currently an Assistant Corp Chief of the Medical Service Corp in Medical Allied Sciences.

Following commissioning Colonel Kozar was assigned to the Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center, Fort Gordon, GA as a clinical laboratory officer from 1990-1994.  During Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, he served as Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Blood Donor Center and in 1992, he deployed as the OIC of the 86th Evacuation Hospital laboratory in support of Operation Restore Hope, Mogadishu, Somalia. In 1995, he was assigned to Ireland Army Community Hospital, Fort Knox, KY as the Laboratory Manager. In 1997 he was selected to pursue a PhD through the Army’s Long Term Health Education & Training Program at the University of South Carolina, School of Medicine in Columbia, SC and was awarded a doctorate in 2001. His next assignment was to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in the Division of Experimental Therapeutics as chief of the Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics laboratory. In 2004, he was assigned to the Army Medical Department Center & School as the chief of the Microbiology Branch, responsible for training over 800 soldiers/year in clinical bacteriology, parasitology, and mycology as part of their training as medical laboratory technicians. In 2006 he returned to the WRAIR as the Associate Director for Drug Development in the Division of Experimental Therapeutics where he was responsible for the pre-clinical development of drugs to prevent and treat malaria and leishmaniasis.

Colonel Kozar’s awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Expert Field Medical Badge. Colonel Kozar has published more than 40 scientific articles, reviews and book chapters. He is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit and holds the Surgeon General’s “9A” proficiency designator denoting the highest level of professional recognition in the AMEDD.

“The US Military Infectious Diseases Research Program – Research Gaps and Opportunities”

Abt Profile Photo Gavin Macgregor-Skinner

Gavin Macgregor-Skinner, BVSc, MSc, MPH, MRCVS

Global Health Security Advisor & Principal Associate, Abt Associates

Gavin Macgregor-Skinner is Abt Associates’ senior global health security advisor. In this role he works with colleagues at Abt to address such questions as: How does a government strengthen and sustain its core public health capacities, as demanded by the International Health Regulations? What counts as a global health security concern? In the context of governance of global health, how to distil and translate lessons learned from other programs?

Gavin has more than 20 years of technical experience in infectious disease surveillance and response. He has worked on these issues with U.S. and international governments, United Nations agencies, and the private sector in the U.S., Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Latin America. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine and has appeared on CNN, BBC, Canada CTV, Australia ABC, C-SPAN, and other news outlets to share his expertise in global health threats.

Prior to joining Abt, Gavin served as director of global disaster response for the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Fellowship in Disaster Medicine at Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital. He was the team leader to Nigeria and Liberia for Ebola outbreak response activities while serving as global projects manager for Elizabeth R. Griffin Research Foundation, and he worked in Afghanistan and Iraq with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency Cooperative Biological Engagement Program as a consultant to CRDF Global and Landell Mills.

After serving in the Australian and British militaries, he was selected by the U.K. Department for International Development for the Associate Professional Officer Scheme. He learned epidemiology as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Office at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and was a Global Health Fellow at USAID.

Gavin holds a Master’s of Public Health with a focus on epidemiology from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Master’s of Science in Wild Animal Health, Emerging Infections, and Zoonotic Diseases from the Royal Veterinary College in London. He has a Bachelor’s of Veterinary Science with a focus on Veterinary Medicine and Surgery from The University of Queensland in Australia and is a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

“Decision Support Systems: Translating Research to Public Health Action”

Research and innovation are essential for improving people’s health and saving lives. Vaccines prevent devastating infections and illnesses. Drugs help manage and treat diseases. And diagnostic tools, medical devices, and other health-related interventions enable providers to anticipate, prevent, diagnose, and manage illnesses. With health systems and policymakers increasingly focused on how to optimize the health of populations, the research community faces a growing need to deliver useful data and action-oriented evidence. From the start of projects, we must consider the path through development and delivery of a solution. We must anticipate how to test a tool or technology, how to introduce it, and who will use and pay for it.

We can make dramatic progress in public health and development if research institutions, governments, foundations, nongovernment organizations, and private industry join together to generate new discoveries and new technologies. We must foster bold innovation and identify and pursue potentially transformative ideas, despite a high risk of failure. Much has been written about the importance of ensuring that research evidence informs decisions. What can we do to understand and improve the ways in which researchers get their work into policy pathways? I will present frameworks, tools, and case-studies that promote cross-discipline collaboration among researchers, funders, and policy makers. That will help ensure development of sustainable solutions that will have impact at the greatest possible scale.

Session 1 – Manufacturing and Delivering on Products to Address Public Health Concerns

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Brad Borlee, PhD

Assistant Professor of Bacteriology & Boettcher Investigator,
Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology
Colorado State University

Dr. Borlee is an Assistant Professor of Bacteriology and Boettcher Investigator in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology within the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. He was previously a Senior Fellow in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Washington, School of Medicine (Seattle, WA), and earned his Ph.D. conducting microbiology research at the University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI). Highlights of his research career include the pioneering construction of metagenomic libraries to study antibiotic resistance and identification of novel biomolecules from unculturable bacteria. In addition, Dr. Borlee has patented quorum-sensing inhibitors for the development of anti-virulence drug leads. Dr. Borlee’s discovery of a biofilm-induced bacterial adhesin that binds exopolysaccharides and reinforces biofilm structural integrity has been further developed by him into a c-di-GMP biosensor to identify and evaluate antibiofilm therapeutics.

Dr. Borlee maintains three laboratories in the Infectious Disease Research Center at CSU that are focused on the study of biofilm-associated infections. These laboratories include a confocal imaging laboratory and an IVIS spectrum for in vivo imaging, a BSL2 laboratory for standard microbiological research on bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, and a BSL3 laboratory to conduct research on emerging infectious diseases and to counter potential biothreats as related to Burkholderia pseudomallei, Burkholderia mallei, Francisella tularensis, and Mycobacterium bovis. With collaborators at CSU, Dr. Borlee’s research group has developed multiple models to study biofilm-associated infections in animal models of disease to evaluate therapeutic efficacy. The focus of Dr. Borlee’s research program is on the development of novel therapeutic strategies that target essential gene function, drug efflux, and bacterial signaling systems that control virulence and drug tolerance associated with bacterial biofilm formation. Biofilm formation is one such behavioral response that allows bacteria to survive stressful conditions in the environment and persist during chronic infections in humans. The Borlee laboratory utilizes a combination of approaches to study environmental sensing and regulation of bacterial behaviors in the context of host-pathogen interactions.

“Feral Macrophage and Models for Investigating Biofilm Organization and Disruption”

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Claudia Molins, PhD

Microbiologist, Microbiology and Pathogenesis Activity,
Bacterial Diseases Branch of the Division of Vector Borne Diseases (DVBD),
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Dr. Molins is a Microbiologist and Principle Investigator in the Microbiology and Pathogenesis Activity within the Bacterial Diseases Branch of the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She received a Bachlors of Science degree from Iowa State University in 2002, and a Ph.D from Colorado State University in 2007.  She was awarded an American Society of Microbiology (ASM)-CDC Post-Doctoral fellowship that was performed in the Diagnostic and Reference Activity of the Bacterial Diseases Branch of DVBD, CDC.

Prior to her current position, Dr. Molins also served as a Principle Investigator in the Diagnostic and Reference Activity of DVBD, CDC from 2011 to 2015.  Dr. Molins has studied multiple bacterial pathogens including Borrelia burgdorferi, Francisella tularensis and Yersinia pestis.  These efforts have largely been directed at the development and testing of diagnostic tools, but have also included the development of animal models of tularemia and the elucidation of bacterial products and genomic regions associated with strain diversity and pathogenicity.

Dr. Molins’s current research is primarily directed at the novel application of metabolomics and metabolic biosignatures as a next generation approach for diagnosing Lyme disease and other tick-borne disease.  This work also involves developing biosignatures that can be applied to the prognosis of treatment efficacy or disease outcome.  Her work in this area received a Nakano Citation award from CDC in 2016, and was nominated for the CO-LABS 2015 Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research.

“Mass spectrometry and small molecule biomarkers as a novel diagnostic for tick-borne pathogens” 

Over 300,000 cases of Lyme disease (LD) are estimated to occur every year in the United States with over 3.4 million laboratory diagnostic tests performed for this infection annually.  Current laboratory diagnostic testing for LD are antibody-based and have limitations that include a sensitivity that is dependent upon the stage of infection, the utilization of immunoblotting that requires advanced training for proper execution and interpretation, and the inability to distinguish between current and past infections.  As an alternative to antibody-based diagnosis, modern multi-analyte detection platforms including metabolomics hold promise to improve infectious disease diagnostics, and to study disease progression and cure.  Our studies have applied metabolomics to identify biosignatures and biomarkers that can be used to inform novel diagnostic tools for LD and other tick-borne diseases occurring in overlapping regions.  Specifically, we have developed stage-specific biosignatures for Lyme disease (early localized LD, early disseminated LD, and late LD) as well as a biosignature that can accurately distinguish between LD and STARI, two conditions that can be clinically indistinguishable and occur in overlapping geographic regions.  The metabolites comprising these biosignatures will serve to inform which metabolic processes are perturbed by the different stages of disease, as well as allow novel diagnostic and prognostic tool development.  The current focus of this research is to move metabolic biosignatures from a research/evaluation stage into a platform that can readily applied in a clinical diagnostic laboratory.  Such an effort requires the ability to integrate robust sample processing techniques with the inclusion of normalization controls, and the seamless coalescence of multiple metabolite measurements with an algorithm for accurate diagnostic classification of patient samples.

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Heidi Nelson-Keherly, PhD

Executive Director, Preclinical Research,
CSSi LifeSciences

Heidi is a 15-year veteran of working with small and mid-size biotech’s to develop their drug programs through to IND submission. She has managed drug development programs spanning preclinical lead optimization, pharmacokinetic and safety studies, bioanalysis, process scale up and development, as well as CMC. During her career, she has been involved with over 300 drug development programs. In addition, Heidi was responsible for several multi-therapeutic clinical research sites that participated in over 80 Phase II-IV clinical trials. Heidi holds a PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin.

“Development of Vaccines for Infectious Diseases” 
Discussion of the regulatory pathway, including required studies, needed to develop an infectious disease vaccine for both humans (FDA) and animals (USDA).

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Jeannine Petersen, PhD

Microbiologist, Bacterial Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory,
Division of Vector Borne Diseases (DVBD), Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Dr. Petersen is a Research Microbiologist in the Bacterial Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. She received an undergraduate degree in microbiology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She earned her PhD from the University of Utah, followed by a Life Sciences Research Foundation postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2001, she joined CDC, with her primary role to provide oversight and coordination of reference diagnostic testing for bacterial diseases transmitted by arthropod vectors, including biothreat agents and emerging infectious pathogens. Her research interests focus on improving molecular diagnosis and characterization of bacterial vector-borne bacterial pathogens in order to modernize detection and disease surveillance.

Metagenomics as a High-Throughput Tool for Unbiased Detection of Tick-Borne Agents in Clinical Specimens” 

Millions of Americans are exposed to ticks each year and may seek medical care as a result. Bacterial agents are responsible for the vast majority of tick transmitted infections reported in the United States. Anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, Borrelia miyamotoi disease, relapsing fever, spotted fever rickettsioses and tularemia can be serious or life-threatening infections. Symptoms are diverse and can be nonspecific, making clinical recognition and appropriate treatment challenging. As available diagnostic tests rely almost exclusively on indirect serologic methods that detect the hosts’ response to infection with known pathogens, the ability to identify new and emerging tick-borne infections is limited. To enhance discovery of and surveillance for tick-borne pathogens, a high throughput 16S rDNA targeted metagenomics and bioinformatics approach is being evaluated using clinical samples from patients suspected of tick-borne illness. Total DNA is extracted from clinical specimens (blood, cerebral spinal fluid or synovial fluid), the V1-V2 region of the 16S rRNA gene amplified and multiplexing indices added by PCR, and the final libraries pooled and subjected to paired-end sequencing using the Illumina MiSeq. The resulting reads are analyzed for quality, paired-end overlap, and assigned taxonomic designations using a custom bioinformatics pipeline. Those samples identified positive for tick-borne bacterial agents are independently corroborated by species-specific PCR and/or sequencing. Our results indicate targeted 16S rDNA targeted metagenomics is a powerful unbiased approach for discovery of novel tick-borne bacterial pathogens in clinical specimens.

Scott Walker Environmental Portrait
2015

Scott Walker, PhD

Principal Scientist, Infectious Disease and Vaccine Division,
Merck & Co., Inc.

Scott earned a B.S. in Microbiology from The University of Maine and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from The University of Connecticut Health Center.  His graduate work focused on understanding the basic architecture of a eukaryotic nuclear origin of DNA replication.  Following postdoctoral work on activated transcription in eukaryotes at The University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Scott joined Schering-Plough in the antibacterial and antifungal drug discovery group where he now continues in the Infectious Disease and Vaccine division of Merck & Co., Inc.  Throughout a 20 year pharmaceutical career as a basic scientist, his work has concentrated on antibacterial and antifungal target identification/validation and lead compound discovery, prioritization, and optimization.

“Large-scale Antibacterial Screening and Systematic Hit Triage Reveal Novel Targets and Novel Inhibitors of Established Targets”

Jeff Wilsuz, Professor, Microbiology, Imunology and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, February 24, 2011

Jeffrey Wilusz, PhD

Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology,
Director, Microbiology-Immunology Master of Science (Professional) Program,
Colorado State University

Jeff Wilusz is a professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology at Colorado State University.  When not rooting for the Philadelphia Phillies, his research focuses on a mechanistic understanding of the interaction between transcripts of RNA viruses and the cellular RNA decay machinery and how this interface can be exploited for antiviral drug development.  He is an elected Fellow of the AAAS and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the WIREs-RNA journal.  He received his undergraduate degree in animal science from Rutgers University and earned a PhD in molecular virology at Duke University.  He was an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University in the laboratory of Dr. Tom Shenk.  Prior to arriving at CSU, he was a Professor at New Jersey Medical School in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics where he also served as MD/PhD Program Director.

How RNA Viruses Escape the Wrath of the Cellular RNA Decay Machinery”

Session 2 – The New Frontiers of Infectious Disease Research

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Michael Busch, Md, PhD

Senior Vice-President, Research and Scientific Affairs, Blood Systems, Inc.
Director, Blood Systems Research Institute
Professor of Laboratory Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Michael Busch earned his MD and PhD degrees at the University of Southern California followed by residency training in Pathology, Laboratory Medicine and Transfusion Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He is currently Director of Blood Systems Research Institute (BSRI) and Senior Vice President for Research and Scientific Affairs at Blood Systems, a national network of blood centers and donor testing laboratories. Dr. Busch’s major research interests include:

1) The epidemiology, pathogenesis and laboratory evaluation of transfusion-associated viral infections, including HIV-1/2; HTLV-I/II, HBV, and HCV, as well as blood safety implications of new and emerging transfusion-transmissible infectious diseases (e.g., Zika virus, West Nile Virus, Dengue Viruses, chikungunya virus, T. cruzi, babesia, etc.);
2)  Development and implementation of new or improved laboratory assays and blood donor screening protocols, clinical evaluation and management, and possible prevention by pathogen inactivation of blood-borne infections, with particular focus on new techniques for mass screening of blood donations using nucleic acid amplification technology (NAT) to reduce the infectious window period and detect new and emerging infectious diseases;
3) Mechanisms and prevention of immunological consequences of transfusion  including transfusion-induced immune modulation, viral reactivation, mirochimerism and graft-vs-host disease, transfusion-related acute lung injury and alloimmunization; and
4) Mechanisms of HIV persistence and development, validation and application of novel assays to quantify HIV reservoirs in HIV-suppressed subjects in the context of cure research interventions.

Dr. Busch has published ~450 peer-reviewed original scientific articles and over 150 review articles, editorials and book chapters.

“Addressing the Challenges of Emerging Arbovirus Infectious Agents for Transfusion Safety”

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Joe Dudley, PhD

Principal Analyst, Leidos, Inc.

Joe Dudley is a CSU alumnus (BS Zoology 1976), who earned his M.S. in Wildlife Ecology at the University of Florida and PhD. in Biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  Joe was a University of Tennessee- Knoxville HAZWRAP Fellow with Headquarters US Air Force in the Pentagon from 1992-1993, and a AAAS Diplomacy Fellow with the USAID-Asia Near East Bureau from 1999-2001.  His field research experience includes field work on three continents – North America, South America, Africa – in biomes ranging from arctic tundra and boreal forest to tropical rainforests of West Africa and the upper Amazonian region of South America, to montane forest and semi-arid savanna landscapes of Southern Africa.

Joe’s research focus has evolved over the course of his career from the systematics and paleoecology of mammoths/elephants to ungulate foraging ecology/plant herbivore interactions, to his current focus on the ecology and epidemiology of emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases of global health security concern including anthrax, avian influenza, tularemia, and West Nile Virus.  He maintains an academic affiliation as a non-resident Research Scientist with the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“Keystone Challenges for Infectious Disease Research in the 21st Century: Pathogen/Host Ecology and Epidemiology”

Brian Foy, Associate Professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, September 29, 2015

Brian Foy, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology,
Colorado State University

I work with vectors and vector-borne pathogens and try to span my research across both basic and applied biology. I like to think this reflects my diverse interests and training: my undergrad training at Notre Dame was in medical entomology, anthropology and ecology and my graduate school training at Tulane was in molecular and cellular biology, immunology and tropical medicine research. My current interests lie in defining concepts that govern blood meal acquisition and digestion by vectors, and parasite and arbovirus transmission from vertebrates to vectors and vice versa. I’m very keen on using this knowledge, combined with the epidemiological concepts that define vector-borne diseases, to practically control their transmission.

“CSU’s AIDL: Combining lab and field studies to understand and control vector-borne diseases in Colorado and globally”

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Brian Kidd, PhD

Assistant Professor of Genetics and Genomic Sciences &
Director of the Center for Systems Medicine, Institute for Next Generation Healthcare,
Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai

Dr. Brian Kidd is an Assistant Professor of Genetics and Genomic Sciences as well as the Director of the Center for Systems Medicine at the Institute for Next Generation Healthcare at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Kidd’s current research is focused on developing technologies and computational tools to identify biomarkers and molecular signatures of cancer, allergy, autoimmunity, and other immune-mediated conditions. As a pioneer in the field of “systems immunology,” his mission is to develop predictive models of the immune system that can help solve critical issues for the health of individuals and populations. He received a BS in Bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego, an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, and a PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Washington.

“The Discovery of Translational Tools for Infectious Diseases via Systems Immunology”

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Anne Lenaerts, PhD

Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology,
Colorado State University

Anne Lenaerts, PhD, is a Full Professor of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology at Colorado State University. She received her BSc in Biology, MS in Physiology-Biochemistry, and PhD in Molecular Biology at the State University of Ghent, Belgium. Her PhD in the laboratory of Prof. W. Fiers focused on genomic expression cloning and transfection in the field of cancer research. She then moved to a postdoctoral position for 2 years in South Africa, and initiated her research on tuberculosis in 1996 at the University of Pretoria. She joined the laboratory of Dr. Cynamon at SUNY, in Syracuse, NY for another 2 year postdoctoral position where she was introduced to the TB drug discovery field.

In 2001, she joined the Mycobacterial Research Laboratories (MRL) at Colorado State University to lead the NIH Drug testing Contract. Distinct from directing the NIH Contract, she has been involved on numerous TB drug discovery projects with other academic and commercial investigators. She is further independently funded by programs from the NIH, the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She has developed novel in vitro assays and animal models to facilitate and accelerate preclinical evaluation of TB drugs and regimens, including a novel mouse model developing caseous necrotic granulomas after TB infection. Her research focuses on the characterization and localization of persisting bacterial populations within the lung in animal models.  Her programs have assisted in the preclinical evaluation of pretomanid, moxifloxacin, bedaquiline, nitro-imidazoles and oxazolidenones to advance into clinical trials. Since 2015, she is involved in the large TB Drug Accelerator (TBDA) program from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in collaboration with 18 institutions and companies in the effort to shorten the length of tuberculosis treatment, using innovative approaches, tools and new chemical entities.

“New Tools in Preclinical Drug Development for Tuberculosis”

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Candace Mathiason, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology,
Colorado State University

Candace Mathiason is an Assistant Professor and member of the Prion Research Center in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology.  She received a PhD in Prion Pathobiology at Colorado State University and has been actively involved in chronic wasting disease research for 15 years.  Prior to her work in prion biology her research efforts were devoted to the study of feline retroviral diseases.

The focus of Dr. Mathiason’s laboratory is to assimilate an understanding of the biological mechanisms associated with the covert transmission of infectious agents— this to provide a better understanding of intra- and inter-host disease transmission dynamics and pathogenesis.  Current investigations in her laboratory include: (i) CWD mother to offspring transmission, (ii) the role of hematogenous prions in disease pathogenesis centered on the early spread and conversion competency of blood-borne prions within newly infected hosts, (iii) viral-microbiome interactions and immune response modulation at the maternal-fetal interface linked with the presence and transfer of infectious agents across the placental barrier, and (iv) potential new world reservoir hosts for zika virus.

“Protein Misfolding Disorders… and Beyond”

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Rushika Perera, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology,
Colorado State University

Dr. ​Rushika Perera is an Assistant Professor of RNA Virology the Boettcher Investigator in the Arthropod-borne and Infectious disease Laboratory (AIDL) in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology at Colorado State University (CSU), Fort Collins, Colorado, USA. She received her bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry and Biology at Goshen College, Goshen Indiana and her doctorate in Structural Biology at Purdue University studying assembly mechanisms of alphaviruses. At the University of California, Irvine, as a post-doctoral scientist she continued her work on RNA viruses focusing on poliovirus and rhinovirus replication mechanisms and virus-host interactions. In pursuit of her passion to understand how viruses interact with their hosts, she then returned to Purdue as a Research Scientist to develop systems biology approaches to study flaviviruses such as dengue and West Nile.

The research in her laboratory at CSU focuses on interrogating cellular metabolic networks that play critical roles in human pathogens infections. Utilizing human biofluids such as serum, saliva and urine obtained from a wide network of international collaborations in Nicaragua, Jamaica, Mexico and Sri Lanka, she is using metabolomics to establish a target product profile that will expose early metabolic patterns associated with dengue, Zika and chikungunya disease outbreak including progression to severe disease such as dengue hemorrhagic fever and shock syndrome. Through this work she hopes to assemble a comprehensive systems level overview of the human cellular metabolome in the context of infectious disease to improve current approaches being applied for pathogen and disease outbreak preparedness and rapid response.

A second direction of her laboratory aims to reduce or block human pathogen transmission by their mosquito and tick vectors. By interrogating host metabolic networks that are required for the amplification and transmission of the pathogen within the vector she hopes to identify ‘choke points’ that can be exploited to develop ‘transmission blocking vaccines.’ Her work here primarily focuses on the arboviruses dengue, Zika, West Nile and Chikungunya virus.

“The MINDER Initiative: Emerging Role of Metabolism in Infectious Disease Research”

Colorado State University Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology assistant Professor Brendan Podell

Brendan Podell, DVM, PhD, DACVP

Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology, Pathology & Immunology,
Director, Experimental Pathology Facility, Colorado State University

Dr. Podell is a veterinary anatomic pathologist, Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology at Colorado State University, and faculty member of the Mycobacteria Research Laboratories.

Dr. Podell’s research laboratory focuses on understanding the interactions between systemic and cellular metabolism and their impact on immune function during infection. Dr. Podell has developed novel animal models to better understand the basic pathogenesis and immune mechanisms of the growing epidemic comorbidity of type 2 diabetes and tuberculosis. Dr. Podell works closely with investigators in the MRL and outside institutions to better understand metabolic factors that control the spectrum of human tuberculosis through parallel application of preclinical and clinical research. Current research aims to better understand how cellular metabolism contributes to tuberculosis disease progression, with the ultimate goal of identifying novel broad-acting approaches to host-directed therapy.

Dr. Podell also directs the Experimental Pathology Facility as head of anatomic pathology services. The EPF is a shared resource core laboratory at CSU whose mission is to provide expertise in anatomic and clinical pathology and advanced pathology technical approaches for researchers studying animal models of human and veterinary diseases, both within CSU and at outside institutions.

“The Pathologic Intersection of Metabolism and Infectious Disease”

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Richard Slayden, PhD

Professor, Department of Microbiology, Pathology & Immunology,
Director, Center for Environmental Medicine, Colorado State University

Dr. Richard Slayden has expertise in all stages of academic drug development ranging from basic bacterial physiology, target discovery and validation to development of drug delivery formulations and efficacy testing in animal models. He has been involved in M. tuberculosis research since 1993 and F. tularensis, B. pseudomallei and Y. pestis research since 2005. Uniquely, his work includes a wide variety of integrative research strategies that affords for a complete investigation of drug efficacious mode of action and bacterial metabolism and response in vivo.

Specifically, his research team has experience identifying clinically relevant drug targets, assessing protein function via gene dosage [knockout & knockdown mutants, dominant negative and merodiploid strains], determining mode of action, and advanced lead compound formulation development.  In addition to the development of antibacterial small molecular inhibitors, Dr. Slayden also works on potentiating agents via immune modulation, which have proven to compliment drug activity to achieve durable cure. Importantly, these strategies were developed to manipulate essential molecular targets and to exploit them for the development of novel broad-spectrum therapies with potency against priority pathogens and medically important difficult to treat bacterial pathogens.

“Next generation treatment strategies for bacterial infections”

Session 3 – Biomedical Engineering in the BioPharma Industry

Amy Charkowski, Department Head, Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, Colorado State University, April 20, 2017

Amy Charkowski, PhD

Department head & Professor, Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, Colorado State University

Amy Charkowski joined the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management at Colorado State University in 2016 as a professor and department head. Her research focuses understanding molecular plant-microbe interactions and on managing potato diseases on conventional and organic farms. Her current research work is focused on bacterial soft rot and blackleg pathogens of potato and on potato virus management. From 2001-2015, Charkowski served as a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During this time, she was also the administrative director of the Wisconsin Seed Potato Certification Program and Lelah Starks Elite Foundation Seed Potato Farm, a program that supplies over 5% of the seed stock and certifies 7.5% of seed potatoes for the US potato industry.

Prior to working at UW-Madison, Charkowski was a research scientist in food safety with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, where she studied adherence of bacterial human pathogens to fresh fruits and vegetables. Her research efforts have been recognized with the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Grower of the Year Award, the American Phytopathological Society Syngenta Award, the Friday Chair for Vegetable Production Research at UW-Madison, and she was recently named an American Phytopathological Society Fellow.

“Infectious disease in plants – the role of plant public health in producing a healthy seed supply”

Like animals, plants are susceptible to infectious diseases. However, unlike management of infectious diseases that impact humans, valuable agricultural animals or pets, researchers and farmers rarely are concerned with curing individuals. Rather, the focus in disease prevention in an ecosystem or agricultural system. A disease triangle or Venn diagram is used by plant pathologists to describe how plant-pathogen-environment interactions result in disease. These diagrams are also used to guide research priorities and management decisions. One of the most critical inputs in agriculture is the seed or other propagules that farmers plant, so maintaining a healthy seed supply is critical.

Potato is the most important non-grain crop in the world and maintaining a healthy seed potato supply is particularly challenging. For this crop, farmers plant tubers rather than true botanical seed. When a potato plant becomes infected with a vascular pathogen, such as a virus or a systemic bacterial pathogen, the plant can restrict the pathogens from true botanical seed formed in fruit, but it cannot restrict the pathogen from the tubers. Therefore, without intervention, each generation of tubers has a greater disease incidence than the previous generation. Farmers rely on a science-based regulatory system and management recommendations to insure that the tuber supply remains healthy and to reduce spread of viral and bacterial potato pathogens across the agricultural landscape. Over time, this has resulted in a measurable reduction in disease in potato. However, maintaining a healthy seed supply becomes more complicated each year due to invasive pathogen and pest species. Examples of recent advances in genetics, genomics, and digital agriculture and how these advances have been translated to food production will be provided.  

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Abhaya Dandekar, PhD

Professor, Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis

Dr Abhaya M. Dandekar is a Professor in the Plant Sciences Department at the University of California, Davis. He obtained a M.S and Ph.D. from the Department of Microbiology at the M.S. University of Baroda, India in 1974 and 1979 respectively. In 1979 he was awarded a John E. Forgarty Visiting Fellowship to conduct post-doctoral research at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. After completing his post-doctoral studies at NIH in 1982 he joined the faculty in the Plant Growth Laboratory at the University of California, Davis (UCD) as an Assistant Research Geneticist. In 1984 he was hired as an Assistant Professor in the Dept of Pomology at UCD, obtaining tenure in 1990, Professorship in 1997 and became Distinguished Professor in 2016.

His teaching and research focus in an area at the interface of molecular biology, genetics, genomics and biotechnology. He has conducted pioneering work on the plant transformation using Agrobacterium tumefaciens and is the founding director of the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Plant Transformation Facility on the UC Davis campus that provides plant transformation services for almost 2 decades. Current research focuses on defining genetic adaptations in plants by expanding the understanding of the association between genes and phenotypic traits that impact quality and productivity using genomic, genetic and epigenetic approaches leading to the development and deployment of novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

“Reprogramming plant cells for the just-in-time production of human therapeutics”

Over the last two decades an ecosystem of technologies has been developed that enables the scalable manufacture of human therapeutic proteins in plant hosts. These technologies include, but not limited to plant molecular biology, synthetic biology, plant cell and tissue culture, Agrobacterium-mediated plant transformation, viral replicon based enhancement of protein synthesis and glycoengineering. Plant cells and tissues are reprogrammed via Agrobacterium-mediated gene delivery where expression occurs transiently via Agroinfiltration leading to the rapid accumulation of proteins. The just-in-time production time line from the target gene sequence to recovered protein product is three weeks for Agroinfiltration-based systems.

However, there are many challenges and the solutions our multidisciplinary group a UC Davis has developed will be presented based on our experience with the production and recovery of the following recombinant therapeutic proteins, alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT), monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), Anthrax decoy protein (CMG2-Fc) and human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE). We have developed an inducible viral replicon based system, CMViva, for the enhanced production and recovery of recombinant proteins. Our just-in-time Agroinfiltration based expression system uses whole plants or harvested plant tissues and has been successfully used to produce AAT, CMG2-Fc, mAbs and BChE. We have employed an efficient secretion system to localize the product to either the apoplast or the ER to enhance the recovery of glycosylated proteins. For humanizing the glycoforms on our different recombinant proteins, we are developing post-production, in vitro enzymatic processes.

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Tina Larson

Vice President of Technical Operations, Achaogen

Tina M. Larson is Vice President of Technical Operations at Achaogen, a biopharmaceutical company committed to the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel antibacterials to treat multi-drug resistant gram-negative infections.  Ms. Larson is accountable for Process Development, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Quality Assurance and In Vitro Diagnostic Devices.  Prior to Achaogen, she was at Genentech/Roche for 20 years where she was involved in every commercial biologic product launched by Genentech through roles of increasing responsibility in Automation Engineering, Manufacturing Science, Process Development, and Global Business Operations.  Ms. Larson was a member of both Genentech’s and Roche’s Technical Development leadership teams, leading functions in the U.S. and Europe.  She was recognized nationally in 2012 as a Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) Rising Star.  Ms. Larson received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Colorado State University.

“Making Drugs for Superbugs”

Achaogen is committed to the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative antibacterials to treat multi-drug resistant (MDR), gram-negative infections.  In February 2017 the World Health Organization (WHO) communicated priority needs for new antibiotics to combat the emerging global health threat posed by antibiotic resistance.  Achaogen has programs targeting all four of the WHO critical priority 1 pathogens: Carbapenem Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), 3rd generation cephalosporin resistant Enterobacteriaceae, Carbapenem Resistant Acinetobacter baumannii, and Carbapenem Resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  Antibacterial therapies are made using synthetic chemistry or fermentation, and sometimes both.  The ability to rapidly manufacture new drugs is routinely on critical path for bringing them to market, and the cost of manufacturing is highly relevant to commercial success of antibiotic treatments.  Achaogen is innovating manufacturing process designs to drive the timely and cost-effective development and commercialization of novel antibacterials.

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Heather Pidcoke, PhD

Principle Investigator & Director,
Global Clinical Affairs & Global Clinical Safety, Terumo BCT

Dr. Heather Pidcoke is Director, Global Clinical Affairs & Global Clinical Safety at Terumo BCT, and the Principle Investigator (PI) for four major product development efforts which together will receive approximately $200 M in government funding.  In keeping with her clinical and scientific training, her translational research interests include trauma medicine and transfusion support of bleeding patients, and pathogen reduction technologies.

Prior to coming to Terumo BCT, she served as the Deputy Task Area Manager and Research Physiologist in the Coagulation and Blood Research program (CBR) at the US Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR) in San Antonio, Texas and as Adjunct Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Texas, Health Science Center, San Antonio. The research conducted by the CBR program at USAISR regarding blood products for bleeding management and platelet storage has been used by the US Department of Defense in setting policy and determining future research agendas, has made important contributions to a major US Army development project of record, and has led to a product development effort that was chosen as a US Government Science & Technology Objective. The platelet storage project receives review by the highest levels of the US Army, is supervised by a 1-star general, and is briefed to the President of the United States.

Dr. Pidcoke received a US Army’s Commander’s Award for Civilian Service, in recognition of her contributions in advancing medical practices for military personnel, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in May of 2016, coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama. At Terumo BCT, Dr. Pidcoke continues to be involved in government research efforts as PI, providing translational research expertise to teams involved in device development.

“Mirasol* Pathogen Reduction Technology (PRT) System for Platelets, Plasma, and Whole Blood” 

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Kenneth Reardon, PhD

Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Colorado State University
Chief Technology Officer, OptiEnz Sensors

Ken Reardon is the Jud and Pat Harper Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Colorado State University, and holds several joint appointments, including in the School of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Reardon joined the faculty at Colorado State University in 1988 after completing his PhD degree at the California Institute of Technology and a year of postdoctoral research at the Universität Hannover as an Alexander Von Humboldt Fellow.  Dr. Reardon’s current research involves biosensors, the analysis and engineering of bacteria and algae for the production of biofuels and other chemicals, and environmental biotechnology.  His projects have led to more than 150 publications, six patents, and three pending patent applications.  He founded OptiEnz Sensors to commercialize biosensor technology that had been developed in his group, and is the Chief Technology Officer of OptiEnz.

Sensors for Continuous Monitoring of Disposable Bioreactors”

Continuous monitoring of biotechnological processes is important for control and optimization of quality and productivity.  Typically, samples must be removed from the cultivation and analyzed in a laboratory to determine the concentrations of substrates and products.  These time-delayed data cannot be used for real-time process control.  The Process Analytical Technology initiative of the FDA supports the use of on-line measurement techniques for process development, production, and quality.  However, the range of available sensors is limited to temperature, pH, and other parameters that do not directly reveal the progress of the cultivation. Single-use bioreactors are increasingly used in biotechnological applications, including vaccine production, and using sensors in these systems has different challenges than in traditional stainless-steel bioreactors.  An overview of sensors will be presented, including both in-situ disposable sensors that contact the biological medium as well as external sensors that contact the medium either optically (ex situ) or via a sterile (and disposable) sample removal system (on line).  A specific example will then be presented: a new optical enzymatic sensor system for the continuous, direct, quantitative measurement of sugars and other organic molecules in aqueous media.

Session 4 – Advancing Infectious Disease Research

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Amy Aspelund

Head of Research & Development, Vivaldi Biosciences Inc.

Amy Aspelund is Head of R&D at Vivaldi Biosciences Inc., with responsibility for the company’s virology, molecular biology, and cell biology laboratory operations in Fort Collins, CO. Ms. Aspelund’s work is focused on the development and manufacture of Vivaldi’s clinical-stage genetically attenuated live influenza vaccines. Ms. Aspelund leads Vivaldi’s programs in vaccine strain development using proprietary reverse genetics and plasmid rescue techniques under GMP-like conditions, influenza gene cloning and sequencing, and development and qualification of assays used in vaccine strain development, production, and clinical development of Vivaldi’s influenza vaccine candidates.

She also has contributed important advances in process development for Vero cell production of the company’s vaccine candidates, developing a robust, high-yield production process. Ms. Aspelund also managed Vivaldi’s successful CRADA with the NIAID for development of a live attenuated influenza vaccine against influenza H7N9, a strain with pandemic potential. Ms. Aspelund joined Vivaldi in 2014. Previously, she held research positions at MedImmune, the University of California, San Francisco, Colorado State University, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, and Heska Corporation. She earned a BS degree in Biochemistry with Honors from Colorado State University.

“Development of a Genetically Attenuated Influenza Vaccine for Greater Efficacy and Broad Cross Protection”

Vivaldi Biosciences Inc. is addressing the compelling need for more effective influenza vaccines with new-generation live attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIVs) based on the biology of influenza nonstructural protein 1 (NS1). Conventional influenza vaccines (“flu shots”) have reduced effectiveness when the vaccine strains are not well matched to circulating influenza strains, as is often the case. Vivaldi’s deltaFLU LAIVs are a new vaccine approach showing potential for superior protection, including cross-protection against unmatched or genetically drifted influenza strains.

Administered as a nasal spray, deltaFLU LAIVs stimulate the body’s production of interferon, achieving a natural adjuvant effect that stimulates the immune system’s T cells and antibody-producing B cells. deltaFLU LAIVs have been evaluated successfully in three Phase 1 and one Phase 1/2 clinical trials, demonstrating a potent immune response including cross-neutralizing serum and mucosal antibodies, and safety advantages including absence of vaccine virus shedding. deltaFLU LAIVs are produced in Vero cells, an advanced manufacturing platform that provides significant advantages in terms of speed, scale-up, capacity, reliability, and cost versus industry-standard egg substrate manufacturing. Vivaldi Biosciences Inc. is headquartered in Fort Collins, CO. Its European affiliate, Vivaldi Biosciences AG, is based in Vienna, Austria.

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Joseph Kittle Jr., PhD

CSO & Co-founder, MTL Labs LLC
CEO, ProclaRx

Joseph Kittle Jr., Ph.D. has over 20 years of experience in the world of biotechnology.Dr Kittle is currently  CSO and Co-founder of MTl labs llc ( a biotechnology product development company), and CEO of ProclaRx, the anti-biofilm company.

Dr. Kittle has expertise in the development of products and services in the areas of: Genome Engineering; Gene Synthesis; Realtime DNA Analysis; Genomics; as well as Protein Expression and Purification. He has held key positions at CODA Genomics (VP of Research and Technology), and at Lark Technologies (Director of New Products), where he displayed a keen understanding of product development along with a deep knowledge knowledge of chemistry, biochemistry, and synthetic biology. Dr. Kittle received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Ohio University, then went on to Harvard, where he earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry. After completing his post doc work at Ohio State University in biochemistry in 1991, he worked as a scientist at Battelle for 3 years.

“Targeting Extracellular DNA Binding Proteins to Defeat Bacterial Biofilms”

Effective treatment of persistent bacterial infections has become increasingly difficult in an era when new antibiotic resistant bacterial strains have emerged and are rapidly disseminated globally.  Persistent infections caused by these adaptive antibiotic resistance bacteria has created a national and worldwide clinical and public health threat. Recurrent bacterial infections are responsible for 1.7 million hospitalizations nationally, and result in a reported 75,000 US deaths annually and more than $25B in associated US health care costs.

New approaches are needed that avoid reliance on the standard process of indiscriminately killing bacteria with ever more complex and expensive antibiotics, a process which encourages bacterial adaption and increasing antibiotic resistance.  Equally alarming is the lack of pipeline antibiotics which might be used in critical instances or outbreaks.  Pharma companies find that the cost of development and restricted use by doctors combine to severely limit development of next generation antibiotic solutions.

A new approach is needed.

Key to understanding persistent antibiotic resistant bacterial infections is the recognition that pathogenic bacteria such as Pseudomonas and S. aureus (including methicillin resistant S. aureus, MRSA) protect themselves from the adaptive immune system by forming a structure known as a bacterial biofilm.  This biofilm acts as protective layer of extra cellular polymeric substances (EPS) and chief among these is extracellular DNA. When encased in a biofilm, bacteria are up to 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics.

Our company, ProclaRx, is in the process of refining and commercializing a technology that disrupts biofilms, allowing persistent infection bacteria to be attacked by the host immune system and low dose antibiotics.  How do we do this?  The ProclaRx technology removes specific bacterial proteins that stabilize the biofilm DNA matrix.  By blocking the action of classically known, highly conserved DNA binding proteins, IHF and Hu, biofilms are disrupted both in vitro and in animal models.

We will present results describing the effectiveness of this non- biocidal approach to attacking biofilm–related disease, and demonstrate that our monoclonal antibodies are on the path to a clinically useful treatment of persistent infections.

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Michelle Krasnec, PhD

Associate/Scientist, Abt Associates

Dr. Michelle Krasnec is an entomologist and toxicologist with Abt Associates who has extensive experience coordinating multi-institutional field and laboratory testing on behalf of government clients. She has managed, designed, developed, and conducted field and laboratory studies that integrate chemistry, behavior, sensory biology, and toxicology in several species of arthropods and aquatic biota. Her research has focused on using analytical chemistry techniques to answer questions about ecology and behavior. Dr. Krasnec has also helped develop integrated pest management programs with a strong emphasis on behavioral ecology and examined the behavioral effects of pesticide resistance on different subpopulations of insects.

“A geospatial visualization tool to assess Zika virus transmission risk under alternative scenarios.”

Krasnec, Michelle; Takeshita, Ryan; Jones, Russ; and Josh Lipton
Abt Associates, Inc. Boulder, CO

Zika virus (ZIKV) has recently been recognized as a significant threat to global public health. Although ZIKV is present in large parts of the Western Hemisphere, little is known about factors affecting the transmission of ZIKV. Infected travelers have contributed to the spread of ZIKV in countries where susceptible mosquitoes have become infected and propagated local transmission cycles, demonstrating the importance of understanding patterns of human movement in the global spread ZIKV. We used a combination of data from laboratory infectivity studies with mosquitoes, environmental data related to mosquito source populations, migratory patterns of potential intermediate avian vectors, and human travel patterns to conduct a geospatial examination to assess the threat of further ZIKV outbreaks in the Western Hemisphere. We present the geospatial risk of ZIKV spread using several illustrative transmission scenarios. Our results indicate that the probability of ZIKV outbreaks largely depends on several factors affecting transmission, including the mosquito species and strains that are competent vectors. By integrating information on arbovirus- and host-specific biological constraints and behaviors with avian and human movements, we can estimate the risk for locally acquired arboviruses in a given area. These predictive maps can be refined as more data become available concerning the factors affecting the transmission of ZIKV and other arboviruses. We describe geospatial tools that can help decision makers assess baseline risk for local Zika virus transmission and assist them with making efficient and timely decisions regarding vector control activities. These tools can also help decision makers target the most threatening Zika-competent mosquito subpopulations for a given area.

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Lyndsey Linke, PhD, ME

CEO and Founder, SiVEC Biotechnologies

Dr. Lyndsey Linke is the CEO and company founder with over 10 years of scientific experience related to the R&D of novel therapeutics, antivirals, and diagnostic tests. Dr. Linke is first named inventor on the patent pending technology, SiVEC-AIV™. She has a PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology and a Masters of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering from Colorado State University.

“A Rapid-Response Antiviral for Poultry: Aerosolized Ammunition against Avian Influeza Outbreaks”

SiVEC Biotechnologies is committed to developing global solutions for rapid disease protection. SiVEC’s R&D efforts are centered on developing a platform technology for the delivery of nucleic acids into specific cells and tissues. This delivery platform has implications for broad range of disease applications and provides a breakthrough in the field of nucleic acid therapeutics for human and animal medicine. The company is currently focused on developing a patent-pending antiviral technology, SiVEC-AIV™, to be rapidly applied on-farm as a sprayed aerosol to treat and prevent all types of avian flu viruses in poultry. Overall, SiVEC-AIV™ is a revolutionary product that represents protection against global economic losses in the poultry industry.

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Josh Lipton, PhD

Vice President for Research, Abt Associates

Dr. Joshua Lipton is an environmental toxicologist whose research interests include (1) connecting physiological mechanisms of toxicity with effects at the organism, population, and community/habitat level, and (2) relationships between environmental variables and responses of organisms to chemical and non-chemical stress. Dr. Lipton’s research includes laboratory and field studies related to chemical bioavailability; effects of chemicals on ion-regulatory, immune, endocrine, and hematological systems; chemical and multi-stressor effects on function (e.g., reproductive, respiratory, cardiac, homeostasis); and behavioral toxicology. Dr. Lipton is the author or co-author of numerous peer-reviewed articles and scientific presentations, and has lectured widely in the United States and overseas. He has served on editorial boards and as a peer reviewer for scientific journals and served as a Research (Full) Professor at the Colorado School of Mines. He holds a PhD in Natural Resources from Cornell University.

“A geospatial visualization tool to assess Zika virus transmission risk under alternative scenarios.”

Krasnec, Michelle; Takeshita, Ryan; Jones, Russ; and Josh Lipton
Abt Associates, Inc. Boulder, CO

Zika virus (ZIKV) has recently been recognized as a significant threat to global public health. Although ZIKV is present in large parts of the Western Hemisphere, little is known about factors affecting the transmission of ZIKV. Infected travelers have contributed to the spread of ZIKV in countries where susceptible mosquitoes have become infected and propagated local transmission cycles, demonstrating the importance of understanding patterns of human movement in the global spread ZIKV. We used a combination of data from laboratory infectivity studies with mosquitoes, environmental data related to mosquito source populations, migratory patterns of potential intermediate avian vectors, and human travel patterns to conduct a geospatial examination to assess the threat of further ZIKV outbreaks in the Western Hemisphere. We present the geospatial risk of ZIKV spread using several illustrative transmission scenarios. Our results indicate that the probability of ZIKV outbreaks largely depends on several factors affecting transmission, including the mosquito species and strains that are competent vectors. By integrating information on arbovirus- and host-specific biological constraints and behaviors with avian and human movements, we can estimate the risk for locally acquired arboviruses in a given area. These predictive maps can be refined as more data become available concerning the factors affecting the transmission of ZIKV and other arboviruses. We describe geospatial tools that can help decision makers assess baseline risk for local Zika virus transmission and assist them with making efficient and timely decisions regarding vector control activities. These tools can also help decision makers target the most threatening Zika-competent mosquito subpopulations for a given area.

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Mark Lupa, PhD

Managing Partner, High Country Venture

Mark holds a B.S. from Northwestern University, an M. Phil. from the University of Sussex (England) in Biomedical Engineering and a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Lund, Sweden. He conducted neuroscience research for fifteen years at institutions worldwide, including at the University of Colorado and UCSF, before bringing together the founding team of Tabernash Brewing, a craft brewery in Colorado.  He is currently founder and Managing Director of High Country Venture, a venture capital firm in Boulder, Colorado, and has served as founding member of the Board of Directors of Taligen Therapeutics, Mosaic Bioscience, Sinopsys Surgical, Surefire Medical, and Endoshape.

“From Science to Business: Challenges and Opportunities for Biotech”