Please note that we are still in the process of collecting information from our invited speakers. This page will be updated on an ongoing basis.

 Ida Biunno, Isenet Biobanking, Italy 

Dr. Ida Biunno holds a Bachelor Degree in biology and psychology from Temple Pennsylvania, (PA, USA, 1980). She holds a Doctoral Degree in molecular biology from the University of Milan, Italy (1982). She joined the CNR in Milano in 1988 to work on the Human Genome Project under the coordination of Prof. Renato Dulbecco (Nobel Laureate) and visiting scientist at Salk Institute (San Diego USA) in 1989-1990. Presently she is a senior associate researcher at CNR. From 2010 to 2017 she coordinated the stem cell research unit of the Multimedica Hospital and Foundation. Ida is also a member of the steering committee for the European Huntington Disease Network (EHDN) (since 2005). Previously Ida worked as a research associate at the National Cancer Institute of Milan (1982-1988), she was the scientific director in Biorep in Milan (2005-2010). Since 2008 she is an adjunct associate professor of biology at the biotechnology center of Temple University in Philadelphia (PA, USA). She has been the principal investigator in EU (NeuroStemCells, NeuroSteemCellRepair and NeuroScreen, SilkFusion) financed projects and national projects (FIRB, PRIN and Regione Lombardia) all dealing with stem cells derivation and biobanking. She has published over 115 peer reviewed scientific papers and supervised over 25 university medical thesis. She is a lecturer in biomedicine at the University of Milano – Bicocca and for Regione Lombardia Advanced Medical Education School.

She was appointed in July 2018 as Chief Scientific Officer of ISENET BIOBANKING located in Milano-Italy.

Abla A. Creasey, California Institute For Regenerative Medicine, United States

Abla A. Creasey is the vice president of therapeutics and strategic infrastructure at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. As a previous associate director of therapeutics and most recently, as senior director of strategic clinical and regulatory infrastructure, Abla has been instrumental in building up CIRM’s clinical portfolio and in working closely with our grantees who attained three of the first 11 RMAT-expedited pathway designations from the FDA. She has worked with the Accelerating Center to launch novel accelerating resources for product development, regulatory strategy and pharmaco-economics. In her current role, Abla will ensure that the therapeutics team will continue to meet their big six strategic goals with integration of critical resources from the Clinical Advisory Panel program, Alpha Clinics and the Accelerating Center. Abla has broad and extensive experience in science, technology, and pharmaceutical product development. Prior to joining CIRM in 2016, she was at Johnson & Johnson for 12 years. While at Johnson and Johnson, Abla was a senior scientific director in pharmaceutical development & manufacturing sciences at Janssen and prior to that, she was an executive director, heading drug delivery, pharmacology, analytical characterization, clinical & quality at Advanced Technologies & Regenerative Medicine (ATRM), another J&J company. Prior to ATRM, Abla was vice president of biological sciences at ALZA Corporation, where she headed discovery efforts in formulation, preclinical and oral drug delivery. Before joining ALZA in 2004, Abla held senior-level positions in R&D, clinical development, and regulatory affairs within the biotechnology industry including Chiron Corporation and Cetus Corporation.

Rajiv Dhir, University of Pittsburgh, United States 

Rajiv Dhir is a practicing GU pathologist and currently serves as the vice-chair of pathology; and the chief of pathology at Shadyside Hospital, one of the flagship hospitals of UPMC. Dr. Dhir has been the medical director of the Pitt Biospecimen Core (PBC) of the Univ. of Pittsburgh since 1997. He oversees the tissue and biological specimen collection at the 4 flagship hospitals of the University of Pittsburgh Health Systems. His research focus is on biospecimen preservation and impact of variables. He is deeply interested in informatics tools for the biobank. Dr. Dhir is actively associated in digital pathology, image analysis and pathology informatics related initiatives at UPMC. In his capacity at the medical director of PBC, he serves as the lead person facilitating vetting and adoption of new techniques and technology. As a clinician, he serves as the physician liaison for various new AI tools and their adoption into clinical and research workflow.

Iman Farahat, Egyptian National Cancer Institute, Egypt

Principal Investigator – Egyptian NCI Biobank (Centers of Scientific Excellence Grant- Science and Technology Development Fund, Ministry of Scientific Research). Member of the pathology committee for early diagnosis of breast cancer – The National Initiative for Egyptian Women Health (2019-Present). Director of the pathology lab, Baheya Breast Cancer Centre, Egypt (2015-2018). Consultant pathologist at the Children’s Cancer Hospital – 57357, Cairo (2007 to 2015). Research Scholar at the immunohistochemistry and molecular pathology lab, University of Southern California (USC), (April-July 2007).

Completed MD/PhD at the NCI Cairo University 2003.

Nicolas Forraz, CTIBiotech, France

Dr. Nico Forraz completed his PhD in 2003 at Kingston University & St George’s Hospital Medical School, University of London, UK on multi-tissue differentiation potential of umbilical cord blood stem cell populations with applications to haematology, oncology, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine with Professor Colin McGuckin. After a career in oncology and regenerative medicine in academia (visiting scholar at Rice University, NASA, University of Texas Medical Branch, Newcastle University) he co-founded in 2009, with Prof. McGuckin, CTIBiotech – a biotechnology company based in Lyon, France producing predictive models of human tissues and cells for biomedical, pharmaceutical and dermatocosmetic applications.

Benjamin Glicksberg, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, United States 

Benjamin is an assistant professor of genetics and genomic sciences in the Hasso Plattner Institute for Digital Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He uses machine learning on bio- and clinical informatics frameworks to help better personalize medicine. This work often involves integrating multi-omic data ranging from genomics to wearable sensors to clinical information, particularly involving electronic health records. He completed a PhD in neuroscience from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 2017 and then joined the University of California, San Francisco as a post-doctoral researcher until 2019.

Dayong Gao, University of Washington, United States 

Dayong Gao is Origincell Endowed Professor and Director of the Center for Cryo-Biomedical Engineering and Artificial Organs at University of Washington, Seattle, USA. He is well-known as a world authority and leader in cryopreservation technology, cryobiology, and biobanking science. His outstanding achievements and innovations were reflected in over 500 original research papers published in prestigious journals and books. Dr. Gao was elected as President and Fellow of the International Society for Cryobiology, member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, and Fellow of American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. He was honored with numerous national and international awards.

Kyle Van Houtan, Monterey Bay Aquarium, United States 

Kyle S. Van Houtan is the chief scientist of the Monterey Bay Aquarium where he oversees the aquarium’s research, including programs devoted to global change, biodiversity conservation, pollution, and ethics. In 2012, he received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Obama for his pioneering research on how climate regulates sea turtle populations. Dr. Van Houtan earned his BA from the University of Virginia, an MSc from Stanford University, and a PhD from Duke University. His work has been featured on NPR, PBS, The New York Times, Nature, Science, National Geographic, Wired, Scientific American, and more.

Paula Kim, TRAC-Translating Research Across Communities, United States 

Founder and CEO of Translating Research Across Communities (TRAC) and senior research fellow, center for health and risk communication at George Mason University. Her work focuses on making connections that improve outcomes for patients with life-threatening conditions and she has served on the NCI biospecimen coordinating committee and ISBER science policy committee. Prior to 1998, Paula was a busy working mom, raising her family and running her construction business. She knew very little about cancer or biospecimens, but that changed when her dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died 75 days later.

Stephen Lin, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, United States 

Stephen Lin is a senior science officer at California’s stem cell agency, CIRM. He oversees creation of its iPSC Repository and is program lead on the agency’s Genomics Initiative. Stephen is also CIRM’s officer on the Translating Center, a preclinical research organization for cell therapy candidates, and has organized conferences on cell manufacturing. He manages several discovery and translational stage stem cell awards plus CIRM’s SPARK internship training program. Prior to CIRM he was a scientist at Thermo Fisher Scientific and StemCellsInc, developing liver cell therapies. Stephen received his Ph.D. from Washington University and did his postdoctoral research at Harvard.

Christopher Loffredo, Georgetown University Medical Center, United States 

Dr. Loffredo is a molecular epidemiologist specializing in the roles of genetic and environmental risk factors in human cancers and birth defects. He has numerous peer-reviewed spanning studies of environmental and genetic factors, familial aggregation, geographic information systems, and gene-environment interactions. He has led NIH-funded observational and community intervention studies, with emphasis on hepatitis C infection, tobacco smoking, environmental exposures, and their biological markers. He is strongly committed to global health and has current grant funding from the Department of Energy that supports the development of a Russian biorepository to support cancer research in a cohort of occupationally exposed plutonium workers.

Lauren C. Leiman, Blood Profiling Atlas in Cancer (BloodPAC), United States

Lauren 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 for the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force during the Obama Administration.

Jerry Lee, University of Southern California, United States 

Dr. Lee is an associate professor of clinical medicine and chemical engineering & material sciences at USC and also serves as the chief scientific and innovation officer for the Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC. Prior to joining USC, he served for more than a decade at the National Cancer Institute where he deployed programs to accelerate the creation of publicly available multi-dimensional datasets to empower the entire cancer research continuum. His research involves elucidating the interplay between biophysical and biochemical drivers of age-related diseases. Dr. Lee earned his PhD in chemical and bimolecular engineering from JHU.

Anderson Mayfield, NOAA, United States

Anderson has been studying coral reef ecosystems for nearly 20 years. After extended stints in Hawaii (graduate school under the supervision of the late, world renowned coral reef researcher Dr. Ruth Gates) and Taiwan (a series of post-doctoral research fellowships), he has since transitioned to working for NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (Miami, FL), the United States government research institute that oversees the study and management/protection of the nation’s coral reefs. Anderson is primarily interested in the physiology of reef corals, particularly how they respond at the organismal, cellular, and molecular levels to changes in their environments.

Kathi Ridley Merriweather, Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center, United States 

Kathi is the communication and minority outreach coordinator for the Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis, IN. Her research interests are prevention in breast cancer contexts, persuasive health message design, communication-focused minority outreach for recruitment in clinical trials and medical research, disparities in cancer research, and culturally oriented communication barriers and motivators. In her full-time position at the Komen Tissue Bank, the only known normal breast tissue bank in the world, she focuses on the education and recruitment of racial minorities into the clinical trial space.

Michael Neumann, Interdisciplinary Bank of Biomaterials and Data Würzburg (ibdw), Germany

Michael is a computer scientist working in a clinical environment of a university hospital for more than 30 years. His doctoral thesis was about a novel approach to introduce computer controlled dynamic radiotherapy techniques into clinical routine. Since 2004, he worked in a clinical laboratory setting on smart IT-technologies supporting laboratory workflows. Starting 2010, he was one of the founding members of the clinical biobank ibdw at the University Hospital Würzburg. Today, he is heading the department of laboratory and research-IT at the Service Center Medical Informatics of the University Hospital, still responsible for laboratory and biobank related IT.

Dean Ornish, Preventive Medicine Research Institute, United States 

Dean Ornish is the founder and president of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute, clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and the author of six books, all national bestsellers. He has received numerous honors, including the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from the University of Texas, Austin, and the National Public Health Hero Award from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Ornish was recognized as a “TIME 100 Innovator” by Life magazine as “one of the 50 most influential members of his generation”.

Lester Russell, NHS , United Kingdom

Lester Russell is a digital health executive with experience garnered from senior roles in global IT companies. He draws on his work in clinical, commercial and health service settings to focus on strategy leadership, cross-group orchestration, ecosystem leadership, solution incubation and sales support. He is able to engage with clinicians and stakeholders across the health & life sciences eco-system and provide clinical input to business development activities.

Lester practices as a GP in the south of England. He holds an MBA and is a fellow of the Faculty of Clinical Informatics in the UK.

Manuel Rivas, Stanford University, United States 

Manuel is an assistant [rofessor in the department of biomedical data science at Stanford University in Stanford, California. Manuel has a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a PhD in human genetics from the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine at Oxford University where he was a Clarendon Scholar. Rivas lab aims to uncover the mechanisms of disease and improve health and well-being globally. By combining methods development and
biological and biomedical datasets, we develop statistical models and computational tools for the analysis of population-scale studies.

Himladevi Soodyall, Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), South Africa 

Professor Soodyall is the executive officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). Prior to joining ASSAf she was employed as a principal medical scientist in the division of human genetics at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) and University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). Her research focuses on using molecular genetic tools to reconstruct the evolutionary history and affinities of sub-Saharan African populations.

Yoshinori Satomi, shionogi & co. ltd, Japan 

Dr. Satomi was working on transnational research for drug discovery and development at Takeda pharmaceutical company for more than 10 years, mostly focusing on biomarker discovery using omics technologies and bioinformatics. From 2017, he has served as an associate director of Digital Intelligence Department of Shionogi Co. & Ltd., trying to develop a new modality of medical products by utilizing medical history and personal health records in addition to genomic information.

Quinn Wells, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, United States 

Quinn Wells is the founding director of the Vanderbilt System for EHR-based research in cardiovascular health (V-SERCH). His research program is directed toward precision cardiovascular medicine with an emphasis on the genomics and pharmacogenomics of cardiovascular disease. A major interest is leveraging the power of the electronic health record for genomic and pharmacogenomics studies. He has also led initiatives to extend the Vanderbilt DNA biobank, BioVU, to support plasma-based biomarker discovery and iPSC-CM functional models. His nationally recognized research is supported by multiple grants from the NIH and AHA.

Heiko Zimmermann, Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Germany 

Heiko Zimmerman is the head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering in Sulzbach (Germany). Since 2008 he holds a chair for biotechnology at the Saarland University. He is a coordinator of the IMI project “EBiSC2” (European Bank for induced pluripotent Stem Cells, He coordinated the EU-projects HYPERLAB and DropTech in FP7 and was WP leader in several other EU-projects. He is author of more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters. His research expertise covers cryobiology, cryotechnology, cell technologies and biopolymers. Heiko Zimmermann is the inventor of more than 50 patent families in the field of biobanking technology.

Umesh Bhanot, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, USA

Dr. Bhanot is a Pathologist-Scientist and Scientific Head of the Research Histology Division of the Precision Pathology Biobanking Center (PPBC), Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), New York. He completed his medical degree (MBBS) and MD Pathology from India. He worked as an Assistant Professor of pathology for few years. In 2003, he joined the international PhD (Dr rer med) program at the University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany. During his doctoral research in Ulm, Dr Bhanot successfully applied techniques like Laser Capture Microdissection (LCM), RNA extraction from micro-dissected tissue components for transcriptional profiling and real time PCR. He successfully defended his dissertation on “Molecular mechanism of parenchymal injury and the role of duct obstruction and ductal hypertension in the pathogenesis of chronic pancreatitis”. Dr. Bhanot joined the Pathology Core Lab, MSKCC, as a Senior Research Scientist/ Experimental Pathologist in 2008. He is an expert in applying technologies like, LCM, Tissue Micro-Arrays (TMAs) for molecular research. His research interests include pancreatic, lung, kidney cancer and other solid tumors. He also engages in tissue based clinical trial engagement through PPBC. He is a member of the US and Canadian Academy Pathology (USCAP).