Symposium 1 - Creating Global Impact through Big Ideas and Biobanking: Finding Common Ground in Diversity


Keynote Speaker

Ignacio Wistuba, MD

Ignacio I. Wistuba, MD, is professor and chair of the Department of Translational Molecular Pathology at the University of Texas (UT) MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is the director of the MD Anderson Institutional Tissue Bank, director of the ECOG-ACRIN Central Biorepository and Pathology Facility, and director of the UT Lung SPORE Tissue Bank. Dr Wistuba earned his medical degree from Austral University of Chile, Valdivia, and thereafter completed postdoctoral training at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. His major research interest is the elucidation of the molecular abnormalities involved in the pathogenesis and progression of lung cancer, and the development of predictive biomarker for targeted and immune therapies of solid tumors. He is principal investigator (PI) and co-PI on several molecular pathology and biomarker projects supported by multi-investigators and multi-institutional grants. He has co-authored over 480 peer-reviewed papers.


James Ayala, MS

Mr. Ayala holds a MS degree in Conservation Biology and has over 20 years of experience working with wildlife. Mr. Ayala’s research interests include applying behavioral research, positive reinforcement conditioning and environmental enrichment to improve the veterinary care, breeding and welfare of captive endangered species. He has worked in China at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding as a research manager for six years with some of China’s rarest endemic species.


Sarah Laskey, PhD

Dr. Sarah Laskey joined 23andMe in 2016. She works as a Research Scientist on a small team focused on developing the next generation of 23andMe’s consumer health platform. This team works to keep 23andMe at the forefront of science and technology, driving the development of interventional studies and predictive models for human health that utilize genetics, lifestyle, and environment. Dr. Laskey earned her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.


Michael Lang, BCL/LLB

Michael is a researcher at the Centre of Genomics and Policy in McGill
University's Faculty of Medicine. He works primarily on ethical and legal issues associated
with digital health, with particular focus on the use of smartphone applications in clinical and
research settings. He has written on professional and civil liability, research consent, and
the regulation of medical assistance in dying in Canada.

Symposium 2A - Advocacy in Biobanking


James O’Leary, MBA

In his role as Chief Innovation Officer, James O’Leary works to foster innovation at Genetic Alliance and within its network of patients, hospitals, companies, universities, and government agencies. Since 2005, James has helped individuals and families use their stories and data to transform healthcare and research. In addition, he has worked with disease-specific organizations and community groups to lead research, advance national policy-setting, and institute legislation that protects the public from discrimination. James earned an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in Biology from the University of Delaware.


Vickie Buenger, PhD

Vickie Buenger serves as clinical professor at the Mays Business School and the Professional Program for Biotechnology at Texas A&M University and as the president of the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer (CAC2).

Vickie’s daughter, Erin, fought neuroblastoma for seven years. Since her death, Vickie has devoted time and energy to launching CAC2 on behalf of the many dedicated organizations striving to make a difference for children with cancer. She combines her academic background with her interest in the science and policy of childhood cancer and has spoken before gatherings of scientists, clinicians, regulators, industry representatives, and advocates in the United States and Europe.


Ngiare Brown, Bmed, MPHTM, FRACGP

Prof Ngiare Brown is a senior Aboriginal medical practitioner with qualifications in medicine, public health and primary care, and has studied bioethics, medical law and human rights.
Ngiare is a clinician and researcher, and a chief investigator on multiple national and international grants, including genomic projects addressing Indigenous health priorities, research processes, and the establishment of a biorepository for Indigenous biological samples at SAHMRI (Adelaide, Australia). Prof Brown is also a founding member of the Pacific Region Indigenous Doctors’ Congress (PRIDoC), a member of the International Indigenous Genomics Alliance, and on the Board of the National Centre for Indigenous Genomics.


 Mary Hagedorn, PhD

Dr. Mary Hagedorn received her Ph.D. in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and is a Senior Research Scientist at the Smithsonian Institution. In 2000, she received the prestigious George E. Burch Fellowship in Theoretic Medicine and Affiliated Theoretic Sciences, in 2005 she was nominated for the Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation and was a 2012 finalist for the Rolex Award for Enterprise. Dr. Hagedorn has created the first genome repository for endangered coral species in the Caribbean, Hawaii and The Great Barrier Reef and has distributed this germplasm to frozen banks around the world.

Symposium 2B - Data Today and Tomorrow: How Biobanks can Prepare for Translational Medicine

 EJ  Kulbokas

E.J. leads Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Translational Medicine biospecimen tracking and execution team. Under his leadership, BMS is adopting transformational technology to enhance the integration of specimen metadata and clinical data to support enhanced translational research through both specimen and in silico analysis. E.J.’s scientific training began with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, with an Emphasis in Biotechnology, from Assumption College. He extended his contributions through engagement at the Tufts University Medical Center and later the Whitehead/Broad Institute. At the Broad Institute, E.J. worked in Kerstin Lindblad-Toh’s lab and contributed to the generation and publication of the Human, Chimpanzee, Mouse and Dog genomes, foundational work that is still relevant today in understanding translational opportunities. E.J.’s 13 year industry career started with translational RNA sequencing benchwork in support of Immunology and Virology drug development prior to taking a broad scientific operations role to enhance biomarker analytics and specimen research.


Hans van Leeuwen, PhD

I work as Program Manager in Bayer Crop Science’s Computational Life Science department, leading a global and cross-divisional program that delivers data management, analysis and visualization solutions for the integrated breeding and research teams working on improved traits and varieties in agricultural and vegetable crops. Working with various stakeholders in the company, external solution providers, organizations and universities is key to benefit from each other’s expertise and data. Providing smart tools to enable data-driven decision making will allow us to deliver solutions for the challenges in our society with regards to securing the food supply today and in the future.

Peter Tearle

Pete brings Global Specimen Solutions (GSS) more than 30 years of business solution engineering expertise across all major application facets – vendor, employee and customer. Pete has provided strategic analysis and leadership from implementation through service assurance delivering fully integrated business solutions in healthcare and manufacturing sectors. Before joining GSS, Pete spent two years at Medfusion as VP of IT, developing and delivering an IT strategy to meet the organization’s desire to be a molecular center of excellence. Prior to Medfusion, Pete worked for approximately 10 years in various technical and managerial roles at Quintiles, from enterprise architect to business line product manager. Before Quintiles, Pete’s career included an entrepreneurial stint and roles at GE Healthcare and MDS. Pete holds a BSc in software engineering from the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and he completed the Executive Program from Queen’s University School of Business in Kingston, Ontario.

Brigitte Sallee, MD

Brigitte Sallee is a post-doctoral translational research fellow at Columbia University in the Department of Dermatology. She graduated from The University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in 2016. She is now the hair research fellow in the lab of Angela Christiano where her major project involves characterizing the biomarkers and microbiome of alopecia populations, specifically Lichen Planopilaris and Alopecia Areata. She has major interests in immuno-dermatologic studies, precision medicine and small molecule drug development.

Symposium 3A - Big Innovations in Biospecimen Science: Unlocking a New World of Biobanking Capabilities Through Advances in Biopreservation Sciences and Biospecimen Pre-Analytics


Tony Dickherber, PhD

Tony Dickherber is a Program Director in the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives, and Director of the NCI Innovative Molecular Analysis Technologies (IMAT) program. Tony joined the NCI in 2009 to assist with the design and development of the Cancer Human Biobank (caHUB) with the Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research. Prior to joining the NCI, Tony’s research focused on developing novel biosensor platforms for early detection of cancer and arrayable ion-trapping structures for quantum-bit computing at Georgia Tech. In addition to his duties directing the IMAT program team and grant portfolio, Tony also assists with general strategic planning for initiatives involving emerging cancer technologies and in development of strategic partnerships.

Lauren Leiman, MBA
Lauren C. Leiman is currently the Executive Director of the Blood Profiling Atlas in Cancer (BloodPAC), a consortium focused on creating an open database for liquid biopsies to accelerate the development of safe and effective blood profiling diagnostic technologies for patient benefit. Prior to running BloodPAC, she was the Senior Director of External Partnerships at White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force during the Obama Administration.Previously, Lauren was a Senior Advisor for the Melanoma Research Alliance and Director of Philanthropy at Elysium Management LLC in New York City. From 2008-2010, Lauren worked for the Millennium Promise Alliance, where she led the major gifts fundraising effort and spent significant time in sub-Saharan Africa. Lauren was also the head of marketing and investor relations at Steel Partners, LP, an activist hedge fund investing globally.Lauren received her undergraduate degree in communications from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School. She also holds an MBA in international business from the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and a master’s degree in public relations and corporate communications from NYU.

 Youhe Gao, MD, PhD

Youhe Gao Professor Beijing Normal University. He received his MD from Peking Union Medical College, his Ph.D from University of Connecticut and postdoctoral training from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School. He was the professor of Department of Pathophysiology, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences/ Peking Union Medical College from 2001-2014. His research interests include biomarker discovery in urine, urine biobanking, protein interaction methods and related bioinformatics.


 Robert Ben, PhD

Professor Ben obtained his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Laurentian University in 1990 and his PhD in synthetic organic chemistry from the University of Ottawa in 1994. After a brief postdoc he worked at the National Research Council of Canada. In 1998, he started his independent research career as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton. During the summer of 2003, he joined the Chemistry Department at the University of Ottawa with a Canada Research Chair in Medicinal Chemistry. Professor Ben’s research interests are interdisciplinary in nature (organic synthesis, bioorganic chemistry, carbohydrates, peptides, cell biology) with the main focus being the rational design and synthesis of new cryoprotectants that function by inhibiting ice recrystallization during cryopreservation or vitrification.


Mary Hagedorn, PhD

Dr. Mary Hagedorn received her Ph.D. in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and is a Senior Research Scientist at the Smithsonian Institution. In 2000, she received the prestigious George E. Burch Fellowship in Theoretic Medicine and Affiliated Theoretic Sciences, in 2005 she was nominated for the Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation and was a 2012 finalist for the Rolex Award for Enterprise. Dr. Hagedorn has created the first genome repository for endangered coral species in the Caribbean, Hawaii and The Great Barrier Reef and has distributed this germplasm to frozen banks around the world.

Symposium 3B - Sustainability in Motion: Biobanking Takes Strategic Dialogue and Innovation

Laura Lampa, BSc

Laura received a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Fermentation from the University of California, Davis. Following graduation she worked for Monsanto in Davis, CA assisting in the management of their seed lab and then in the medical field assisting with embryo culture and cryopreservation for Kaiser Permanente’s Sacramento based infertility clinic. Laura currently holds the position as Bayer Biologics Strain Collection Manager where she is responsible for the management, traceability, and long term sustainability of over 140,000 genetically diverse microorganisms used for the research and development of crop protection products.


 Hiroyuki Kobayashi, PhD

Hiroyuki Kobayashi Ph.D. is the Director of the Integrated Biology, Axcelead Drug Discovery Partners, Inc. He is in charge of platform technology groups such as Bio-informatics, genome editing & animal models, and Omics to provide scientific knowledge and research support for pharmaceutical industry, biotech company, and academia.
He completed his PhD.in pharmaceutical science in 1999 at the Hokkaido University, Japan and then performed post-doctoral research at Yale University for 2 years. Prior to joining Axcelead, he had worked in Pharmaceutical Research Division at Takeda Pharmaceutical Company for 16 years.


Jajah Fachiroh, PhD

Jajah Fachiroh, PhD is academic staff at Dept. Histology and Cell Biology Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) Yogyakarta-Indonesia. Her current interest is research in molecular cancer epidemiology. She currently leads biobank team at the faculty. Their activities are including developing system for biobank for research in the institute, to connect with affiliated academic hospitals, and population-based cohort, as well as managing Indonesian research biobank network.


Tanja Dowe, MSc

Tanja is the CEO of Debiopharm Innovation Fund located in Lausanne, Switzerland. Debiopharm Innovation Fund is the strategic investment arm of Debiopharm Group, focusing on smart data, pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. With 150M under management the fund invests in innovative companies with technologies and business models that change the future patient care. Before joining Debiopharm, Tanja was the Managing Partner of Innomedica Ltd, a Nordic strategy and transaction consulting company. During her consulting career she worked with over 80 life science companies in strategy and business development. Tanja has an MSc in microbiology & biochemistry from the Aalto University, Finland.

Symposium 4A - Small Steps in Quality Management Lead to BIG Results


Tomoaki Hagiwara, PhD

Tomoaki Hagiwara has been a professor of Department of Food Science and Technology at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology (TUMSAT) since 2015. He obtained PhD in agriculture in 1997 from the University of Tokyo. He joined Department of Food Science and Technology at Tokyo University of Fisheries (former TUMSAT) in 1997 as an assistant professor. His research interests are in the area of food engineering, particularly food refrigeration and cleaning of food manufacturing equipment.


 Uwe Oelmüller, PhD

At QIAGEN, Dr. Oelmueller heads the MDx Technology Center for Sample Technologies. At the QIAGEN / BD joint venture company PreAnalytiX he is QIAGEN’s management committee co-chair. Dr. Oelmueller was the coordinator of the EU FP7 Collaborative Grant Project SPIDIA (2008 – 2013) and is the current coordinator of the EU Horizon 2020 Coordination and Support Action SPDIA4P (2017 – 2020). He is convener of the ISO/TC 212 WG 4 and deputy convener of the CEN/TC 140 WG 3. In 2017 he received the “DIN Honorary Needle” Award for his international engagement in standards developments for quality management in medical laboratories.

Daniel Simeon-Dubach, MD, MHA

Daniel Simeon-Dubach, MD, MHA is the owner of medservice, a biobanking consulting & service company located in Walchwil, Switzerland.
He has been in biobanking for more than 10 years. His focus is in biobank sustainability, standards in biobanking, and collaboration between academia and biomedical industry. He has co-organized and co-chaired several symposia on sustainability at ISBER annual meetings in the past. He is chairman of ISBER Standards Advisory Committee. He serves in the ISBER Best Practices Task Force. He is section editor for biobanking management of “BIO” and in the editorial board of “Synergy”.


 Koh Furuta, MD, PhD

Post Graduate Training
Residency in Surgery

Medical Activities
Japanese Society of Laboratory Medicine(JSLM)
International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER)
Society for Cryobiology
Expert of ISOTC212
Liaison of ISBER to ISO/TC276

Research Experiences
Research in Pathology
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, U.S.A. (I have learned the importance of biobanking at this experiences.)
Research in Surgery
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, U.S.A.
Research in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine
Research in Cryobiology at Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota.


Joseph Roberts, MSc

As Business Advisor for Alberta’s Tomorrow Project – a prospective cohort of 55,000 Albertans – Joseph manages finances, reporting, contracts, and cost recovery, and consults on business and biobanking affairs. Together with his previous role at the Alberta Cancer Research Biobank, he has more than 7 years of prospective cohort and disease biobanking experience in the public healthcare sector. Joseph received his Bachelor of Science (honours) in Cellular, Molecular, and Microbial Biology from the University of Calgary and a Master of Science in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of British Columbia.

Symposium 4B - Collaboration: Getting Set-up in the Land of BIG Opportunity!

Adrie Van Bokhoven, PhD. 

Adrie van Bokhoven, Ph.D, received degree at the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands in 2004. Since 1999 has been at the University of Colorado where he is currently an associate professor in the Department of Pathology and functions as the Operations Director of the University of Colorado Biorepository Core Facility. His research over the last 15 years has been at the interface of laboratory and clinic in the area of biorepository development, clinical trials support, and translational research. Dr. van Bokhoven leads the University of Colorado Biorepository efforts in support of the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN)

 Youxiang Wang, PhD

Dr. Wang is CEO of Atila BioSystems, invented novel NIPT detection method using digital PCR and simplest multiplex high risk HPV detection with isothermal chemistry. Before Atila BioSystems, he was a business director at Turner Biosystems in charge of international sales. Prior to Turner BioSystems, he was CEO of Fullmoon BioSystems focusing on microarray technology. Prior to Fullmoon BioSystems, he was a senior assay development scientist at Aclara Biosciences. Before Aclara Biosciences, he was a genotyping scientist at GE. He was trained at UC Berkeley as postdoctoral research fellow and received his doctoral degree from Wichita State University in chemistry.


 Fransesco Florindi, MA

Francesco obtained a cum laude Master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from the University of Trieste-Gorizia with a thesis on EU enlargement. In 2011, he started working for regional representatives, NGOs, and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Brussels. He went on to join the European Cancer Patient Coalition as Public Affairs Coordinator and became Head of EU Affairs in 2016. His experience working in healthcare dates back to 2013, when he joined the ECCO and SIOPE Public Affairs team. Francesco has worked on a number of key European issues such as data protection, health technology assessment, access to quality healthcare, eHealth/mHealth and patient advocacy. These experiences made him understand how patients and healthcare professionals can fruitfully collaborate at European and international level in order to reach common goals.


Xun Xu, PhD

Dr. Xun Xu, Director of BGI Research, Executive Director of China National GeneBank (CNGB), is responsible for the research and development of molecular biology and information, including the development of sequencer and related technologies, single cell sequencing technology, and research on the transformation application of the sequencing technology in diseases and agriculture. Graduated with bachelor degree from Wuhan University and obtained doctor degree in Kunming Institute of Zoology of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Xu’s main research results include establishing the research and development team of the next generation sequencer to develop the high throughput sequencers and desktop sequencers which broke the situation of importing sequencers and accelerated the transformation to the clinical research.
Expected the published papers in the areas of heredopathia and cancer research, Dr. Xu developed detection kits based on the next generation sequencing for clinical application and committed to the research on precision medicine.

Special Topics - Spotlight on the ISBER Biospecimen Research Symposium: Quality Matters

Fay Betsou, PhD, HRD

Dr Betsou (PhD,HRD) is Chief Scientific Officer at IBBL, directing activities of the biorefinery and biospecimen research laboratory. She has 25 years of experience in molecular diagnostics, disease-oriented biobanking and biospecimen research, and 12 years of experience in ISO 9001 and ISO 17025 application to biobanks.
She holds 3 patents, authored of more than 90 peer-reviewed publications and teaches in several biobanking training courses across Europe.
She worked in the diagnostics industry developing molecular and immunological diagnostic tests, before becoming head laboratory manager at a biobank, bringing it to ISO certification for all biobanking quality control and methods validation activities.
She is the chair of the ISBER Biospecimen Science Working Group and of the Proficiency Testing Advisory Group and the Luxembourg national delegate in ISO REMCO and ISO TC276.


Geraldine Thomas, BSc, PhD

Gerry Thomas is Professor of Molecular Pathology at Imperial College London. She is a serial biobanker, having established the Chernobyl Tissue Bank and the Wales Cancer Bank, she is now Designated Individual for the Imperial College HTA Research Licence and leads one of the largest and most varied HTA regulated Tissue Banks in the UK. Her main research interests are the molecular pathology of thyroid cancer, health effects of low dose radiation exposure and how pre-analytical variables affect downstream molecular techniques. She was Clinical Director for the West London GMC until September 2016, and leads the Ethics, Law and Societal Issues Module for Imperials MSc in Genomic Medicine. She is committed to developing infrastructures for molecular pathology research, both for use by her own research group but also by others.


Marcos Castellanos, PhD 

Dr. Marcos Castellanos has been the Operations Manager of the Nottingham Arabidopsis Stock Centre (NASC) since 2008. He has an MSc in Plant Biotechnology for Emerging Economies from the University of Sussex and a PhD in Plant Biotechnology from the University of Nottingham. He is responsible for leading the NASC Team in preserving, curating and distributing diverse seed and other stocks of Arabidopsis thaliana and related species. NASC currently distributes over 120,000 tubes of seed annually to researchers and educators from 60 countrie and runs on a mixed economy of grants and cost-recovery.


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