SPEAKERS

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KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Prof Adelina Rogowska-Wrzesinska

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN DENMARK | DENMARK

 

Adelina Rogowska-Wrzesinska is an Associate Professor in Functional Proteomics at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She has Master of Science degree in Molecular Biology from University of Wroclaw, Poland and PhD degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from University of Southern Denmark. Her academic work focuses on developing novel mass spectrometry-based methods for identification and quantification of oxidised proteins involved in redox imbalance, ageing and age-related diseases e.g. atherosclerotic plaque formation, diabetes and metabolic disease, age related muscle atrophy. Her main contributions are: 1) development of quantitative approaches for identification of novel types of protein carbonylations in human plasma; 2) establishment of TMT-SNO/SOH approach for in-depth analysis of nitrosylation and sulfenylation of proteins during cellular oxidative imbalance; 3) development of methods for analysis of chlorinated extracellular matrix proteins; 4) identification of oxidised proteins in senescent fibroblasts and myoblasts. In her recent work Adelina Rogowska-Wrzesinska uses 3D cell culture to create human liver and pancreas like tissue spheroids to study glucose and lipids toxicity.

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KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Dr Bojana Žegura

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BIOLOGY | SLOVENIA

 

Bojana Žegura is a Scientific Counselor and a Head of the Department of Genetic Toxicology and Cancer Biology (GEN) at the National Institute of Biology, Slovenia. She is a biologist and has a PhD in Biomedicine obtained at Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. She is assistant professor of Toxicology at the Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana and is an internationally recognized lead expert in toxicology. Her main research field is genetic toxicology, focusing on the studies of the mechanisms of genotoxic activities of natural and anthropogenic pollutants including nano-materials as well as anti-genotoxic substances. Recently with her research group, she developed a novel approach for genotoxicity testing combining classical methodologies and targeted gene expression analyses using advanced in vitro human hepatic 3D-cell systems grown under static and dynamic conditions. She published more than 90 peer-reviewed papers in international scientific journals, seven book chapters and participated as an invited speaker at a number of scientific conferences. She has supervised six PhD students, hosted more than 15 PhD students and postdocs from abroad, and mentored postgraduate and undergraduate students. Together with her research team, Bojana established a laboratory that holds the accreditation for performing mutagenicity studies in compliance with the OECD Principles of Good Laboratory Practice (GLP).

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KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Dr Magdalena Kasendra

CENTER FOR STEM CELL & ORGANOID MEDICINE (CuSTOM) | USA

 

Magdalena Kasendra is the Director of Research and Development of CuSTOM Accelerator. She leads a multifaceted effort to translate breakthrough discoveries in stem cell biology and organ development into innovative organoid-based solutions to address unmet medical needs. Prior to joining CuSTOM’s leadership team, she managed the multidisciplinary team responsible for developing, translating and commercializing Organs-on-Chips technology at Emulate Inc., a spin-off from Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. This research has led to major advances in bio-engineering of intestinal tissue by combining microchip manufacturing methods and organoid technology, and demonstrated the utility of this platform in drug development, disease modeling and precision medicine. Dr. Kasendra’s career spans industry, academia and the start-up world. She performed her PhD project at Novartis Vaccines and Development, which was followed by several post-doctoral research fellowship at the Harvard Medical School and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. She has authored numerous publications and patents.

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PLENARY SPEAKER
Prof Sias Hamman

NORTH-WEST UNIVERSITY | SOUTH AFRICA

 

Sias Hamman (BPharm, MSc, PhD) is a full Professor in Pharmaceutics at the School of Pharmacy of the North-West University, South Africa.  His research focuses on functional excipients such as drug absorption enhancers from natural origin to optimise drug delivery as well as herb-drug pharmacokinetic interactions investigated by means of in vitro models.  He has supervised/co-supervised 15 Doctoral and 50 Master's students, published 94 articles in peer-reviewed international journals and is the author of 1 complete book and co-author of 3 chapters in different scientific books.  He holds a C2 rating from the National Research Foundation, South Africa, which means that he is recognised as an established researcher whom may also enjoy some international recognition for the quality and impact of his recent research outputs.  He has presented at several national and international conferences and has been invited to present a key note address at an international conference in 2019 in Italy.  He has won the best publication award, while several post-graduate students under his supervision have won the “Young Scientist” competition from the Academy of the Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa at several occasions.

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PLENARY SPEAKER
Prof Carola Niesler

UNIVERSITY OF KWAZULU-NATAL | SOUTH AFRICA

 

Carola Niesler is an Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Academic Leader of Biotechnology in the School of Life Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Since completing her PhD at the University of Cambridge, UK she has worked broadly in the field of stem cells, cellular communication, regeneration and disease. She is also the Chief Scientific Officer of Next Biosciences, a biotech company working in the sphere of stem cells, biologics and genetic testing, where she oversees scientific operations. She has a particular interest the role of disease environments (such as diabetes) in modifying the ability of stem and somatic cells to communicate effectively during bouts of regeneration. To this end her laboratory has specifically developed a range of in vitro cell-based models including a triple co-culture systems and in vitro 3D tissue engineered model of skeletal muscle tissue. More recently, as one of the five PI’s of the Afrocentric Precision Approach to Control Health Epidemics (APACHE) UKZN Research Flagship, she has been central to the establishment of the UKZN Zebrafish Research Platform and is currently establishing a model of diabetes in these fish. She has graduated more than 50 postgraduate students and published 35 internationally peer-reviewed articles.

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PLENARY SPEAKER
Dr Janine Scholefield

CSIR | SOUTH AFRICA

 

After a PhD in Human Genetics at UCT, Dr Janine took up a Nuffield Medical Fellowship at Oxford. She returned to SA to pursue research in developing models of disease-in-a-dish using stem cells and genome engineering, especially within the unique context of the diverse sub-Saharan African genetic background. She is currently the Research Group Leader of the Bioengineering and Integrated Genomics research group at the CSIR and holds a senior honorary lectureship position in the Department of Human Biology at UCT. In addition, she is an associated editor for the journal Gene Therapy.

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PLENARY SPEAKER
Prof Ben Loos

UNIVERSITY OF STELLENBOSCH | SOUTH AFRICA

 

Ben leads the Neuro Research Group. Since 2012 he has sought to gain a better understanding of the role of autophagy activity, autophagic flux, in the onset of cell death associated with neuro degenerative diseases and gliomas. His research focus centres around Alzheimer’s disease and neuronal aging, malignant brain tumors, as well as neuronal injury and trauma. To study the dynamics of the onset of cell death he uses various microscopy techniques that allow single cell and tissue analysis with high localization precision and quantitative power. These include molecular/fluorescence imaging techniques, such asstructured illumination microscopy, quantitative single-molecule imaging approaches such asstochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM) as well as photo-activation- and FRET. A novel control analysis and biophysics approach made it possible to assess the localization and extent of control (as opposed to regulation) of autophagy activity, as well as the quantitative assessment of complex and dynamic intracellular networks formed by tubulin and mitochondria. This approach led to the development of a new methodology to quantify autophagic flux in a more standardized fashion. Recently, correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM), lightsheet microscopy and CLARITY have been implemented, to allow for enhanced translation using pre-clinical spheroid models and rodent brain tissue. His research is anchored in strong collaborative activities with electrical/electronic engineering, which has led to four patents associated with an autophagy sensing device, as well as virtual reality guided 3-dimensional precision analysis and mitochondrial dynamics software tools.

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PLENARY SPEAKER
Prof Stefan Przyborski

DURHAM UNIVERSITY | UK

 

Professor Stefan Przyborski is the founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Reinnervate, a biotechnology company founded in 2002 as a spinout from Durham University UK. The Company is developing new and innovative ways to manage the growth and function of cultured cells. Its enabling technologies have multiple applications and will be particularly relevant to the control of cell differentiation and function in vitro. Professor Przyborski also holds an academic position as Professor in Cell Technology at Durham University. He has over 20 years experience in cell biology with specific interests in cell culture technology, neuroscience and stem cell research. In recent years he has developed a multi-disciplinary approach through collaborative projects with physical scientists to develop novel ways of solving biological problems. He has formed alliances with pharmaceutical and biotech companies, has published over 80 scientific papers and has filed several patents.