Zooming in on COVID-19 Biographies

Portrait of Galit Alter

Alter, Galit

Systems Serology to Define Correlates of Immunity to SARS-CoV-2
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 9 a.m.

Dr. Galit Alter is a Professor of Medicine at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard and the Co-Director of the Harvard University Center for AIDS Research. Her research is focused on the development of systems biology tools to define the correlates of immunity against infectious diseases that ravage the globe. She has developed a unique suite of functional antibody profiling assays, deemed Systems Serology, that can be used to define humoral immune responses to a number of infectious diseases. Dr. Alter's work, which points to unexpected mechanisms of protection against HIV, malaria, SARS-CoV-2, and tuberculosis, has led to the development of novel diagnostics to monitor chronic infections/diseases. It now promises to accelerate the development of novel classes of therapeutics able to deploy the activity of the innate immune system in a specific and controlled manner.

Affiliation(s): Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard


Portrait of Alan Bernstein

Bernstein, Alan

The COVID-19 Pandemic: What have We Learned for Next Time
Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 11 a.m.

Dr. Alan Bernstein has been President & CEO of CIFAR since 2012. He is responsible for developing and leading the institute’s overall strategic direction. He is one of Canada’s leading scientists and was an early champion of women in science and young scientists. After receiving his PhD from the University of Toronto and following postdoctoral work at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, Dr. Bernstein joined the Ontario Cancer Institute. In 1985, he joined the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, was named its Associate Director in 1988 and served as Director of Research from 1994 to 2000. In 2000, he became the founding President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canada’s federal agency for the support of health research. In that capacity, he led the transformation of health research in Canada. In 2010, Dr. Bernstein became Executive Director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise in New York, an international alliance of researchers and funders charged with accelerating the search for an HIV vaccine. Author of over 225 scientific publications, Dr. Bernstein made landmark contributions to the study of stem cells, blood cell formation (hematopoiesis), and cancer. He chairs, or is a member of, advisory and review boards in Canada, the US, UK, Italy, and Australia. He is co-chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Stand Up 2 Cancer Canada, and he is a member of the Sabin-Aspen Vaccine Science and Policy Group and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In May 2020, Dr. Bernstein was appointed to Canada’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, and in February 2021, he was appointed Chair of the Variants of Concern, Scientific Advisory Council. Dr. Bernstein’s contributions to science and science policy have been recognized with numerous awards and honorary degrees, including Officer of the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, the McLaughlin Medal from the Royal Society of Canada, the Award of Excellence from the Genetics Society of Canada, the Gairdner Foundation Wightman Award, induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, and the 2017 Henry Friesen International Prize in Health Research.

Affiliation(s): President, CIFAR; Senior Fellow, Massey College, Munk School For Global Affairs


Portrait of Anna Blakney

Blakney, Anna

Development of a Self-amplifying RNA Vaccine Against COVID-19
Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 11 a.m.

Dr. Anna Blakney is an Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the Michael Smith Laboratories and School of Biomedical Engineering. She completed her BS in Chemical & Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado, a PhD at the University of Washington in Bioengineering, and postdoctoral training in immunology at Imperial College London. Dr. Blakney’s work at Imperial College London culminated in the first in-human trial of a self-amplifying RNA vaccine against COVID-19, which completed a combined Phase I/II clinical trial in January 2021. Her laboratory at UBC seeks to understand the immune mechanisms of RNA and biomaterials to engineer next generation vaccines and therapeutics. She is also passionate about vaccine literacy and public engagement, and she runs a TikTok account that now has >200,000 followers and >17M views.

Affiliation(s): University of British Columbia, Michael Smith Laboratories, School of Biomedical Engineering


Portrait of Isaac Bogoch

Bogoch, Isaac

Public Panel Discussion: COVID Science: Cutting Through the Noise
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 6 p.m.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Medicine and an Infectious Diseases specialist and General Internist at the Toronto General Hospital with a focus on tropical diseases, HIV, and general infectious diseases. He completed medical school and Internal Medicine residency training at the University of Toronto, and then specialized in Infectious Diseases at Harvard University. He holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health and has completed fellowships in both Tropical Infectious Diseases and HIV care. Dr. Bogoch works at the intersection of clinical medicine, epidemiology, public health, and policy. He divides his clinical and research time between Toronto and several countries in Africa and Asia. Dr. Bogoch collaborates with a team that models the spread of emerging infectious diseases and studies innovative and simple diagnostic solutions to improve the quality of medical care in low-resource settings.

Affiliation(s): Toronto General Hospital and Department of Medicine, University of Toronto


A Portrait of Timothy Caulfield

Caulfield, Timothy

Public Panel Discussion: COVID Science: Cutting through the Noise
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 6 p.m.

Dr. Timothy Caulfield is a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, a Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health, and Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta. His interdisciplinary research on topics like stem cells, genetics, research ethics, the public representations of science and public health policy has allowed him to publish over 350 academic articles. He has won numerous academic, science communication, and writing awards and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. Dr. Caulfield contributes frequently to the popular press and is the author of two national bestsellers: The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness (Penguin 2012) and Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash (Penguin 2015). His most recent book is Relax, Dammit!: A User’s Guide to the Age of Anxiety (Penguin Random House, 2020). He is also the host and co-producer of the award-winning documentary TV show, A User’s Guide to Cheating Death, which has been shown in over 60 countries, including streaming on Netflix in North America.

Affiliation(s): Faculty of Law, School of Public Health, University of Alberta


Portrait of Mark Denison

Denison, Mark

Coronavirus Replicase Functions and Targets for Broad-spectrum Antivirals
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 10 a.m.

Dr. Mark R. Denison, MD, is the Edward Claiborne Stahlman Professor of Pediatrics, Professor of Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology, and Director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. For over 30 years, the Denison Lab has investigated coronavirus (CoV) replication, pathogenesis and evolution, including SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and the current SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Investigators in the Denison Lab have identified multiple critical and unique viral enzymes as novel targets for antivirals and virus attenuation, including the proteases, RNA polymerase, and the novel CoV proofreading exonuclease. Since 2013, the Denison lab has focused on antiviral development and directed preclinical testing for anti-CoV antivirals, including Remdesivir and EIDD-2801 (Molnupiravir). Ongoing studies are targeting new potential antivirals to be used in combinations to prevent hospitalization and improve outcomes. Dr. Denison is a member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) and a fellow of American Pediatric Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Microbiology, and the Association of American Physicians.

Affiliation(s): Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN


Portrait of David Evans

Evans, David

Moderator for Session 3: Antivirals
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 11 a.m.

Dr. David Evans is a virologist with diverse interests in poxvirus biology as well as a former research administrator. His work is supported by a network of collaborations and commercial contracts, and his academic studies have been funded by MRC/CIHR since 1990. Dr. Evans is considered a leader in the study of poxviruses with special expertise in virus recombination, antiviral drugs, and replication. Dr. Evans has also demonstrated a longstanding commitment to research translation. His recombineering technology is licensed as InFusion® kits. More recently, his research has focussed on developing oncolytic viruses for treating cancer as well as methods for assembling synthetic poxviruses. His laboratory has also been supporting development of COVID-19 vaccines and assisting public and private partners with studies relating to CoV-2 detection, neutralization, and inactivation. He has applied for, or holds, international patents relating to these and other technologies. Dr. Evans’ activities have also helped develop the University of Alberta’s focus on virus research. In 2006, he was awarded $24.9 million to build and equip new research facilities supporting immunology and infectious disease research in Edmonton and Calgary. This included a large academic BSL3 laboratory which has since provided invaluable support for COVID-19 research. In 2010, the University of Alberta was gifted with $25 million to support virus research, and these and other projects were consolidated to create the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology. Dr. Evans has also accumulated many years of service on grant panels and reviews, and he also consults privately. He was a longstanding member of the WHO smallpox advisory committee. Most recently, he conducted site visits for the FAO/OIE and served on the Canadian advisory committee on human pathogens and toxins.

Affiliation(s): Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, University of Alberta


Portrait of Darryl Falzarano

Falzarano, Darryl

Development of COVAC-1: A S1 Subunit SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine that Prevents Upper Respiratory Tract Shedding in Multiple Animal Models
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 9:55 a.m.

Dr. Darryl Falzarano is a Research Scientist with the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan. His lab is focused on developing animal models and vaccines for coronaviruses. They previously developed an alpaca model to assess multiple vaccine candidates against MERS-CoV that are targeted for use in dromedary camels. Currently, Dr. Falzarano's lab is focused on developing and improving animal models for SARS-CoV-2, including hamsters, ferrets and nonhuman primates, to assess vaccines, antivirals and immunotherapeutics. They have developed a S1 subunit-based vaccine formulated with one of two different adjuvants. COVAC-1 is currently expected to be in clinical trials by summer 2021, and COVAC-2 is currently in phase I clinical trials. VIDO develops vaccines for both humans and agricultural animals and is home to the International Vaccine Centre – the largest containment level 3 facility in Canada.

Affiliation(s): Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) and Department of Veterinary Microbiology, University of Saskatchewan


Portrait of Andrés Finzi

Finzi, Andrés

SARS-CoV-2: Beyond Viral Neutralization
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 11 a.m.

Dr. Andrés Finzi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiologie, Infectiologie et Immunologie at Université de Montréal, and he is the holder of a Canada Research Chair on retroviral entry at the CHUM Research Centre (CRCHUM). He is a leader in HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein conformational changes, accessory proteins and Fc-mediated effector functions. Dr. Finzi recently used his expertise to study humoral responses against the SARS-CoV-2 S glycoprotein. His work has important implications for the development of new therapeutic strategies to fight HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2. The excellence of Dr. Finzi’s research program has been recognized by several distinctions and awards. Since November 2020, he has been a Member of The College of the Royal Society of Canada.

Affiliation(s): Département de Microbiologie, Infectiologie et Immunologie, Faculté de Médecine, Université de Montréal


Portrait of Matthias Gotte

Götte, Matthias

Targeting the Replication Transcription Complex of Emerging Viruses with Broad Spectrum Antivirals
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 11 a.m.
and
Moderator for Session 2: Vaccines
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 9 a.m.

Dr. Matthias Götte is a Professor and Chair of the Medical Microbiology & Immunology Department at the University of Alberta. In 1997, he obtained his PhD degree at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany, and later joined the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at McGill University in Montreal. Dr. Götte is an expert in biochemical studies of viral polymerases, viral replication, its inhibition and mechanisms associated with drug resistance. He focused initially on HIV-1 reverse transcriptase and later branched out to HCV RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) and HCMV DNA polymerase. Results from his laboratory have contributed to the development of novel classes of viral polymerase inhibitors. Since his move to the University of Alberta in 2014, Dr. Götte has been working on RdRp complexes of WHO-priority pathogens, including Ebola, Influenza, Lassa, Nipah and coronaviruses. His team elucidated the mechanism of action of remdesivir that is now used in several countries to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Dr. Götte has published approximately 140 peer-reviewed papers in the field of virology and antivirals. His research program is funded through national grants, provincial grants, and contracts from industry.

Affiliation(s): Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology, University of Alberta


Portrait of Tom Hobman

Hobman, Tom

Host Cell Targets for Antiviral Therapy
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 11 a.m.
and
Moderator for Session 1: Viral Pathogenesis
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 10 a.m.

Dr. Tom Hobman is a Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Alberta. His research focuses on RNA virus host interactions at the cellular level and the regulation of gene-expression by RNA interference. Currently, the Hobman laboratory is engaged in the study of coronaviruses, flaviviruses, alphaviruses and HIV. His laboratory was among the first to show that RNA virus capsid proteins regulate key aspects of the innate immune system such as apoptosis and protein translation. More recently, they have shown that many viruses target peroxisomes during infection, likely as a means to disrupt the innate immune response. In addition, his research group was the first to characterize mammalian Argonaute proteins, which are the key effectors of RNA interference, a gene expression regulatory pathway that controls >60% of all human genes and has important roles in antiviral defense.

Dr. Hobman holds a number of editorships at research journals including PLoS Pathogens and Virology. He has authored more than 100 research articles, reviews and book chapters in key textbooks such as Fields Virology. He has also filed a number of patent applications focused on host cell target-based antiviral therapies.

Affiliation(s): Departments of Cell Biology and Medical Microbiology & Immunology, Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, Women and Children’s Research Institute


Portrait of Michael Houghton

Houghton, Michael

Development of Vaccines Against the HCV & COVID-19 Pandemics within the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute
Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 1 p.m.

Dr. Michael Houghton, BSc (University of East Anglia, UK), PhD (King’s College, University of London, UK), is the Director of the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute in the University of Alberta and is the Li Ka Shing Professor within the Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. He took up a Canada Excellence in Research Chair (CERC) in Virology at the University of Alberta in 2010. Working with Lorne Tyrrell, MD PhD OC (founder of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology), and a large network of collaborating leaders, Dr. Houghton is involved in developing vaccines against HCV & Group A Streptococcus as well as therapeutics for Cytomegalovirus, Alzheimer’s, Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, & cancer oncolytics & immunotherapies. Previously he worked as a Vice-President Research in Novartis and Chiron Corporation in California where he and colleagues discovered HCV in 1989 for which he was a co-recipient of the Nobel prize in Medicine in 2020. He is committed to researching diseases with unmet medical need in order to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

Affiliation(s): Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute, University of Alberta


Portrait of Kevin Kane

Kane, Kevin

Mucosal Adjuvant for Respiratory Virus(es)
Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 9 a.m.

Dr. Kevin Kane obtained his PhD from UCLA, and his post-doc was at the Medical Biology Institute in La Jolla California. His research interests are in cytotoxic cells of the immune system, natural killer cells and CD8+ T cells. A current focus is the development and stimulation of T resident memory cells in the lung as a defence against respiratory viruses.

Affiliation(s): Medical Microbiology & Immunology, Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, University of Alberta


Portrait of John Klassen

Klassen, John

Sialic Acid-dependent Binding and Viral Entry of SARS-CoV-2
Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 9 a.m.

Dr. John S. Klassen received a BSc (Honours) in chemistry from Queen’s University in 1991. He pursued his doctoral research in the area of gas-phase ion chemistry at the University of Alberta and received his PhD in 1996. He spent the following year as a NSERC postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at Berkeley, where he trained in the use of Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry to elucidate the structures of biomolecules and their non-covalent complexes. In 1998, he returned to the University of Alberta as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry. Dr. Klassen was promoted to Associate Professor in 2004 and to Professor in 2008. In 2004 he became a Principal Investigator in the Alberta Glycomics Centre and, in 2015, was appointed Scientific Director of the Centre. He currently serves as Director of the Alberta Glycan Screening Facility and is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry and the International Journal of Mass Spectrometry. His research focuses on the development and application of mass spectrometry methods to characterize protein–glycan interactions implicated in human health and disease. Dr. Klassen has co-authored over 140 journal articles and book chapters. His contributions to the fields of mass spectrometry and bioanalytical chemistry have been recognized with an American Society for Mass Spectrometry Research Award (2000), the Canadian Society for Mass Spectrometry Award (2004), a Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award (2004) and the Ron Hites Award (2015) from the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry. In 2011, he received the F.P. Lossing Award for distinguished contributions to mass spectrometry in Canada and was a co-recipient of NSERC’s prestigious Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering.

Affiliation(s): Department of Chemistry, University of Alberta


Portrait of Joanne Lemieux

Lemieux, M. Joanne

Towards Development of an Oral Protease Inhibitor to Treat SARS-CoV-2 Infection
Wednesday, June 23 at 11 a.m.

Dr. Joanne Lemieux obtained her BSc in Biochemistry and MSc in Biochemistry/Neuroscience at Dalhousie University (Canada). She completed her PhD at New York University (USA). She joined the University of Alberta in 2002 as a postdoctoral fellow with a research focus on structural studies of proteases. In 2007, Dr. Lemieux was hired as an Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta. She is currently a Full Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Alberta and leads a multidisciplinary research program focused on enzyme structure and function. She is also the Director of the Membrane Protein Disease Research group, a team of research labs focused on studying proteins in disease and health. Dr. Lemieux’s research interests focus on molecular studies of proteins using tools such as X-ray crystallography and enzymology. Her work includes research towards the development of antiviral therapeutics against coronavirus infections. Working with an Interdisciplinary team, her recent protease inhibitor research is currently investigating antivirals for use in clinical trials to treat COVID-19.

Affiliation(s): Department of Biochemistry, Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, University of Alberta


Portrait of Kathy Magor

Magor, Kathy

Moderator for Session 5: Pandemic Preparedness
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 11 a.m.

Dr. Kathy Magor is a Professor in Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta. She received her BSc Honours in Biochemistry and Biology (1986) and MSc in Biology (1989), both from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, and PhD in Immunogenetics (1995) from the Medical University of South Carolina. She did postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Hong Kong (1994-1995) and Stanford University (1995-1999). In 1999, she became an Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta, where she established her research program on immune responses to influenza virus in the natural host, the duck. The Magor lab explores both innate and adaptive immune genes and their involvement in perpetuation of low pathogenic influenza viruses in ducks, as well as immune protection against highly pathogenic strains. They showed that ducks, but not chickens, use the influenza detector RIG-I to initiate a robust innate immune response to highly pathogenic influenza. They investigated how RIG-I is regulated in ducks, which differs from human RIG-I, and contributed to a model for how RIG-I initiates innate immune signaling. Current students in her lab are exploring the ways influenza virus interferes with this pathway. Ultimately, Dr. Magor hopes to learn from the reservoir host ways to mitigate damage from influenza viruses.

Affiliation(s): Department of Biological Sciences, Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, University of Alberta


Portrait of Jason McLellan

McLellan, Jason

Synthetic Repertoires Derived from Convalescent COVID-19 Patients Enable Discovery of SARS-CoV-2 Neutralizing Antibodies and a Novel Quaternary Binding Modality
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 10 a.m.

Dr. Jason McLellan earned a BS in chemistry with an emphasis in biochemistry from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He obtained his PhD from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland in the laboratory of Dr. Daniel Leahy. He then carried out postdoctoral research at the National Institutes of Health's Vaccine Research Center in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Kwong and in collaboration with Dr. Barney Graham. In the Fall of 2013, Dr. McLellan joined the faculty at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in the Department of Biochemistry, and in January 2018, he moved his laboratory to the University of Texas at Austin and became a member of the Department of Molecular Biosciences. His lab is interested in elucidating the molecular mechanisms of host–pathogen interactions and leveraging the resulting information for the development of vaccines and immunotherapies.

Affiliation(s): Department of Molecular Biosciences, The University of Texas at Austin


Portrait of Vineet Menachery

Menachery, Vineet

Using Reverse Genetics to Probe SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Pathogenesis
Tuesday, June 23, 2021 at 10 a.m.

Dr. Vineet Menachery is an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch. He completed his undergraduate studies at Clemson University where he received a BS in Microbiology. He then received a PhD in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Immunology from Washington University in St. Louis. He went on to a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill prior to joining the faculty at University of Texas Medical Branch. Dr. Menachery’s research interests include coronaviruses and immunology including the study of SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2, and MERS-CoV. Utilizing severe coronavirus infections, the Menachery Lab seeks to define virus-host interactions that dictate disease outcomes. The outbreaks of both SARS and MERS-CoV underscore the need for continued surveillance of zoonotic viruses. While CoV sequences have been identified, minimal translational work has been undertaken. Dr. Menachery’s studies evaluate the likelihood of emergence, pathogenic potential, and efficacy of current therapeutic platforms against existing coronavirus strains. The overall goal is to derive mechanistic insight and develop novel avenues for antiviral treatment and vaccines.

Affiliation(s): Department of Microbiology and Immunology, World Reference Center of Emerging Viruses and Arboviruses, Institute for Human Infections & Immunity, University of Texas Medical Branch


Portrait of Matt Miller

Miller, Matt

Proactive Pandemic Prevention Strategies for Influenza Viruses and Coronaviruses
Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 11 a.m.

Dr. Matt Miller is an Associate Professor, Associate Chair, and Assistant Dean in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University. He is also a member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Diseases Research and the McMaster Immunology Research Centre. Dr. Miller also serves as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Society for Virology. Dr. Miller completed his PhD in Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Western Ontario, where he studied the molecular virology and pathogenesis of DNA viruses. He went on to complete a CIHR-funded postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Peter Palese at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, NY where his research focus shifted to understanding the determinants of broadly-protective immunity against influenza virus the design of “universal” influenza virus vaccines. Dr. Miller was recruited to McMaster University in 2014 as an Assistant Professor where his research has been focused on issues related to influenza virus pandemic preparedness – especially vaccinology. He has been awarded a CIHR New Investigator Award, the CIHR Bhagirath Singh Early Career Award in Infection and Immunity, and Early Researcher Award from the Government of Ontario. He serves as an Associate Editor for the journal mBio (ASM Press) and Cytokine (Elsevier). Since early 2020, Dr. Miller has been heavily engaged in COVID-19 research, including development of next-generation COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Dr. Miller serves as the SARS-CoV-2 CL3 supervisor for McMaster University and is a member of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) High Consequence Infectious Disease Working Group, which makes recommendations to inform the use of COVID-19 vaccines in Canada.

Affiliation(s): Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, McMaster Immunology Research Centre, Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University


Portrait of Katie Mitran

Mitran, Katie

Co-moderator for Opening Keynote Lecture
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 9 a.m.

Katie Mitran is a PhD candidate in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. She works in Dr. Stephanie Yanow’s lab on vaccine development for malaria in pregnancy. Her research focuses on investigating immunological cross-reactivity between antigens from different malaria species to identify conserved epitopes that can be targeted by vaccines.

Affiliation(s): School of Public Health, University of Alberta


Portrait of Srinivas Murthy

Murthy, Srinivas

Pandemic Preparedness Research: What Worked This Time, and What We Need to Improve
Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 11 a.m.

Dr. Srinivas Murthy is Clinical Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He is the Health Research Foundation and Innovative Medicines Canada Chair in Pandemic Preparedness Research. Dr. Murthy's academic expertise is in emerging infections, clinical trial design, and pandemic preparedness. He receives research funding from a variety of funders and is an active consultant with the World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Affiliation(s): Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia


Portrait of Ryan Noyce

Noyce, Ryan

Co-moderator for Opening Keynote Lecture
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 9 a.m.

Dr. Ryan Noyce is a research associate in the laboratory of Dr. David Evans in the Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Alberta. He received his doctorate from McMaster University studying how cells respond to virus infections. Dr. Noyce went on to complete his postdoctoral training at Dalhousie University where he identified cellular receptors that are used by measles viruses. His current research interests are focused on using synthetic biology approaches to develop novel poxvirus-vectored therapeutics for the treatment of infectious diseases and cancers.

Affiliation(s): Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology, University of Alberta


Portrait of Hanne Ostergaard

Ostergaard, Hanne

Moderator for Session 4: Host Pathogen Interactions/Immune Responses
Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 9 a.m.

Dr. Hanne Ostergaard is a professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology. She completed both her BSc in cellular and molecular biology and PhD in immunology at the University of California, Los Angeles. She completed postdoctoral studies at The Salk Institute, where she worked on the tyrosine phosphatase CD45 and identified one of its substrates as the tyrosine kinase Lck. Dr. Ostergaard joined the University of Alberta in 1991 as an assistant professor and was director of the Immunology Network and associate dean of research of graduate programs for the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. She has served on numerous peer review committees, nationally and internationally, and was a member of the advisory committee on research for the Canadian Cancer Society. Dr. Ostergaard was the president of the Canadian Society for Immunology, an associate editor of the Journal of Immunology and served on the editorial board for the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Her research centres on cytotoxic T lymphocytes of the immune system and how they recognize and kill cancer cells. She is focused on mechanistic studies that examine the cell biology of how these cytotoxic cells migrate and function and how different populations of CD8 T cells suppress tumor growth.

Affiliation(s): Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology, Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, University of Alberta


Portrait of Lisa Purcell

Purcell, Lisa

Membrane Lectins Enhance SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Influence the Activity of Different Classes of Antibodies
Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 9 a.m.

Dr. Lisa Purcell has served as the Vice President of Microbiology and Virology and head of Vir’s Saint Louis site since December 2020. Her career has been dedicated to the development of therapies within the immunology and infectious disease areas, including those for SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19. Dr. Purcell is currently coordinating discovery efforts for Vir’s SARS-CoV-2 programs, including VIR-7831. From July 2008 to December 2020, she worked in both the clinical and nonclinical areas at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals focusing on the development of drugs for infectious disease, allergy and inflammation. Dr. Purcell received her B.Sc. with Honors in Biology and M.Sc. in Ecotoxicology from the University of Prince Edward Island, her PhD in Parasitology from McGill University and completed her postdoctoral training at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Affiliation(s): Vir Biotechnology (https://www.vir.bio/)


Portrait of Angela Rasmussen

Rasmussen, Angela

Looking Within: Host Responses to SARS-CoV-2
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 10 a.m.

Dr. Angela Rasmussen is a virologist and Research Scientist III at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), a vaccine research institute at the University of Saskatchewan. She is also affiliated with the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security. Dr. Rasmussen is a member of the Verena Consortium, a multi-disciplinary, international effort to predict and study emerging viral pathogens. She studies the role of the host response in emerging virus pathogenesis, with a particular interest in viruses that are or have the potential to be major threats to global health, such as influenza, dengue, Ebola, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2.

Affiliation(s): VIDO, University of Saskatchewan, Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security


Portrait of Derrick Rossi

Rossi, Derrick

Stem Cell Science and the Genesis of New Therapeutic Strategies for Patients
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 9 a.m.

Dr. Derrick Rossi is a serial biotech entrepreneur and stem cell scientist. His efforts in the development of cutting-edge technologies and novel therapeutic strategies are at the forefront of regenerative medicine and biotechnology. Time magazine named Dr. Rossi as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world (Time 100) in 2011. Dr. Rossi earned his BSc and MSc from University of Toronto, and his PhD from the University of Helsinki. Until his retirement from academia, he was an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard University and an investigator at Boston Children’s Hospital where he led an academic team working on stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. Discoveries made in Dr. Rossi’s lab led to the formation of several leading biotechnology companies. His development of modified-mRNA reprogramming was named by Time magazine as one of the top ten medical breakthroughs of 2010. That same year, Dr. Rossi leveraged that technology to found Moderna, a company focused on developing modified-mRNA therapeutics and whose COVID-19 vaccine is being deployed around the world. In 2015, Dr. Rossi co-founded Intellia Therapeutics, a clinical-stage company focused on developing CRISPR/Cas9-based therapeutics. In 2016, he co-founded Magenta Therapeutics, which is focused on transforming transplantation medicine. In 2017, he co-founded Stelexis Therapeutics, an oncology company targeting the stem cell origin of cancer. Also in 2017 he helped launch Convelo Therapeutics, which is developing remyelination therapeutics for patients suffering from demyelination diseases such as multiple sclerosis. He currently serves as the CEO of Convelo.

Affiliation(s): Co-founder Moderna, Associate Professor (retired) Harvard Medical School, CEO Convelo Therapeutics


Portrait of Lynora Saxinger

Saxinger, Lynora

Public Panel Discussion: COVID Science: Cutting Through the Noise
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 6 p.m.

Dr. Lynora Saxinger, CTropMed, MD, FRCPC, is an Infectious Diseases specialist at the University of Alberta, whose clinical practice includes HIV, Hepatitis C, and Travel and Tropical Medicine. Since the start of the pandemic, she has been co-lead of the Alberta COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Group and has been a content expert commentator and advisor to major media outlets, with public social media commentary as well (as @AntibioticDoc on Twitter). She has an academic interest in science communication and knowledge translation for public education around COVID-19. Dr. Saxinger’s pre-pandemic role was Co-Chair of the Alberta Health Services Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee. She is involved in national stewardship initiatives to promote best practices in antibiotic use, evaluation of surveillance of Antimicrobial Utilization and Antimicrobial Resistance through a OneHealth lens, and derivation of stewardship best practices.

Affiliation(s): Departments of Medicine (division of Infectious Diseases) and Medical Microbiology & Immunology, University of Alberta


Portrait of Theresa Tam

Tam, Theresa

Public Panel Discussion: COVID Science: Cutting through the Noise
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 6 p.m.

Dr. Theresa Tam was named Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) on June 26, 2017. She is a physician with expertise in immunization, infectious disease, emergency preparedness and global health security. As the federal government’s lead health professional, Dr. Tam provides advice to the Minister of Health, supports and provides advice to the President of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and works in collaboration with the PHAC President in the leadership and management of the Agency. The Public Health Agency of Canada Act empowers the CPHO to communicate with other levels of government, voluntary organizations, the private sector and Canadians on public health issues. Each year, the CPHO is required to submit a report to the Minister of Health on the state of public health in Canada.

Affiliation(s): Chief Public Health Officer of Canada


Portrait of Graham Tipples

Tipples, Graham

Lab Diagnostics and Surveillance for COVID in Alberta
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 9 a.m.

Dr. Graham Tipples is the Medical-Scientific Director of the Provincial Laboratory for Public Health in Alberta (ProvLab) (Alberta Precision Laboratories – Public Health). ProvLab has been at the forefront of the laboratory response to COVID-19 including diagnostics, surveillance and applied research. ProvLab has been leading and collaborating on numerous applied research activities for COVID-19, including rapid development and evaluation of diagnostics, serosurveys, antibody immune response to wild-type infections and post-immunization, and public health genomics including testing for variants.

Affiliation(s): Alberta Precision Laboratories – Public Health Laboratory (ProvLab); Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology, Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Alberta


Portrait of D. Lorne Tyrrell

Tyrrell, D. Lorne

Public Panel Discussion: COVID Science: Cutting through the Noise
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 6 p.m.
and
Moderator for Closing Keynote Address
Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 1 p.m.

Dr. D. Lorne Tyrrell is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Alberta. He is the Founding Director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology and the former Dean of Medicine and Dentistry. Dr. Tyrrell has been actively engaged in virology research for over 40 years with a focus on viral hepatitis. Research with Dr. Morris Robins, a chemist at the University of Alberta, led to the first oral antiviral therapy for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B which was marketed through GSK worldwide. With Drs Kneteman and Mercer, they co-developed the first non-primate animal model for hepatitis C virus. This resulted in a spin-off company-KMT Hepatech that held an exclusive contract with the NIH for over 15 years to test antivirals for HCV in the non-primate model. KMT Hepatech was purchased by Phoenix Bio (Japan) in 2017 and the company has maintained its presence in Edmonton. He has published over 245 peer-reviewed research articles and holds over 60 patents. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, his research has expanded into vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics for this virus. Dr. Tyrrell was the Chair of the Gairdner Foundation Board from 2008-2019 and a member of the Research Advisory Committee to the President of Canadian Institute for Health Research from 2004-2019. In June 2020, he was appointed a member of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force for the federal government. Dr. Tyrrell has won numerous recognitions and awards including an Officer of the Order of Canada, Alberta Order of Excellence, a member of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Killam Prize in Health Research and he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Affiliation(s): Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, University of Alberta and Member, National COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force 


Portrait of Maria Van Kerkhove

Van Kerkhove, Maria

The Global COVID-19 Situation
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 9 a.m.

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove is an infectious disease epidemiologist and the COVID-19 Technical Lead at World Health Organization (WHO). Dr. Van Kerkhove specializes in outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging pathogens. She completed her undergraduate degree at Cornell University, a MS Degree at Stanford University, and a PhD in infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Apart from being the Technical Lead for COVID-19, she is also the Head of the Emerging Diseases and Zoonoses Unit and the MERS-CoV Technical Lead in the World Health Organization’s Health Emergency Program. Dr. Van Kerkhove’s main research interests include zoonotic, respiratory and emerging/re-emerging viruses such as avian influenza, MERS-CoV, Ebola, Marburg, plague and Zika. She is particularly interested in investigating factors associated with transmission between animals and humans, the epidemiology of zoonotic pathogens, and ensuring research directly informs public health policies for action. Prior to WHO, Dr. Van Kerkhove was the Head of the Outbreak Investigation Task Force at Institut Pasteur’s Center for Global Health where she was responsible for establishing public health rapid response teams for infectious disease outbreaks. She was previously employed by Imperial College London in the MRC Center for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling where she worked closely with WHO on influenza, yellow fever, meningitis, MERS-CoV and Ebola Virus Disease.

Affiliation(s): Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organization


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Watts, Tania

Immunity to SARS-CoV-2: Not Your Average Respiratory Virus?
Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 9 a.m.

Dr. Tania Watts received her BSc (hon) and PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Alberta, where her thesis with Professor William Paranchych focused on the structure and assembly of bacterial pili. She did her post-doctoral training with Professor Harden McConnell in Chemistry at Stanford University, California, where she used MHC-containing planar bilayers and TIRF microscopy to study how T-cells recognize peptides. In 1986, Dr. Watts joined the Department of Immunology at the University of Toronto where her research focuses on T-cells and the role of TNFR superfamily members during acute and chronic virus infections and cancer. Her lab currently studies T-cell responses to influenza, LCMV, and more recently, SARS-CoV-2. Dr. Watts is a past-president of the Canadian Society for Immunology (CSI) and is currently Chair of the Publications committee of the American Association of Immunologists. She has won the Investigator, Hardi Cinader and John Reynolds awards of the CSI, and in 2019, she won the JJ Berry-Smith award for doctoral mentorship at the University of Toronto. Dr. Watts was a 2014 winner of the GSK fast track challenge for a drug discovery project on B-cell cancers, and from 2009-2019, she held the Sanofi Pasteur Chair in Human Immunology at the University of Toronto. Dr. Watts has 133 papers on PubMed. Her research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Cancer Society and by a private donation from the Speck Family.

Affiliation(s): University of Toronto