Derek Mann (Newcastle, UK)

Derek Mann is a molecular biologist who carried out his PhD studies at University College London on NGF signalling before postdoctoral work on HIV signalling at the UK Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. He began his independent research career at the University of Southampton in 1994 where he established a laboratory focusing on the transcriptional control of liver fibrosis with a particular interest in the role of NF-kB and AP-1 factors as regulators of myofibroblast phenotype and function. In 2006 he was recruited to Newcastle University to establish a new multi-organ focussed laboratory working on mechanisms of inflammation and fibrosis; the Newcastle Fibrosis Research Group (NFRG) is now an internationally renowned laboratory that has identified numerous drug-targetable signalling pathways such as Renin-Angiotensin, Serotonin/AP-1, MAPK/NF-kB and ER-stress/IL-1alpha pathways that combine to control myofibroblast function and fibrogenesis. His work on epigenetic control of fibrosis has identified new blood-based DNA methylation signatures as liquid biomarkers for stratification of fibrosis progression in patients with chronic liver diseases and has also led to the provocative discovery that susceptibility to fibrosis may be influenced by heritable transgenerational epigenetic mechanisms involving adaptions of the sperm epigenome that are transmitted to future generations. More recently Mann has developed new interests in understanding the mechanistic links between age-associated chronic inflammation with cellular senescence, organismal ageing and primary liver cancer, with a strong focus on the regulatory functions of the p50 subunit of NF-kB.

Manolis Pasparakis (Cologne, Germany)

Manolis Pasparakis received his bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees in biology from the University of Athens, Greece. After postdoctoral training in the Institute for Genetics of the University of Cologne he started his independent research as a group leader at the Mouse Biology Programme of EMBL in Monterotondo, Italy. He became a faculty member at the Institute for Genetics of the University of Cologne in 2005, where he works since then. His research aims to understand the mechanisms regulating inflammation and the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases and cancer. Topics of particular interest in the Pasparakis’ lab include TNF receptor signaling and biology, the IKK/NF-B pathway and its function in tissue homeostasis and disease, as well as RIP kinases and their role in cell death and inflammation.

Jen Morton (Glasgow, UK)

Jen Morton, PhD is a joint leader of the pancreatic cancer research team at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute. She gained a B.Sc. in Medical Biochemistry from the University of Glasgow and a PhD in Molecular Oncology in the Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Glasgow Veterinary School. She went on to carry out postdoctoral research, focusing on genetically engineered models of pancreatic cancer, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In 2007 she joined the CRUK Beatson Institute to continue her research into pancreatic cancer, and since 2014 she has also managed the CRUK Glasgow Cancer Centre preclinical trials unit which supports preclinical trials activity across the centre. From 2017 she will be co-lead on the Pancreatic Cancer UK Future Leaders Academy based at the Beatson Institute.

Her research focuses mainly on: 1) investigating the importance of mutations found in human pancreatic tumours using mouse models, 2) profiling different genetic subsets of pancreatic cancer to better understand the disease and identify specific targets for therapy, and 3) performing preclinical trials of targeted therapies in clinically and genetically relevant pancreatic cancer mouse models. She is a member of the Glasgow Pancreatic Cancer Research Group, which brings together basic and translational scientists, oncologists, pathologists and surgeons in an effort to take pancreatic cancer research from bench to bedside and improve treatment options for patients. In 2017 this team will start work on PRECISION-Panc, a £13million project supported by Cancer Research UK aimed at transforming how we treat pancreatic cancer, by ensuring that discoveries from the lab can rapidly reach the patients.

Andrew Cox (Australia)

Dr Andrew Cox earned his BSc and MSc degrees from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. In 2009, Dr Cox received his PhD from the University of Otago, New Zealand. He then undertook postdoctoral training with Prof. Wolfram Goessling at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Dr Cox was promoted to Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School in 2013. In 2016, Dr Cox became a team leader in the Organogenesis and Cancer Progam at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne. His laboratory uses zebrafish as a model system to elucidate pathways involved in liver regeneration and cancer. A central theme of his work is to understand how the Hippo pathway reprograms metabolism to fuel cancer cell growth.

Phil Darcy (Australia)

Phil is currently a NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Group Leader at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. His work has focused on developing novel T cell based immunotherapy approaches for cancer in preclinical mouse models and translating this into patients. Specifically, he has shown that adoptive transfer of gene-engineered mouse and human T cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) could effectively target and eradicate cancer in mice. A Phase I clinical trial leading from this work was recently completed at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in patients with acute myeloid leukaemia which represented a first in Australia using this approach. More recently his studies have involved combining gene-engineered T cells with other immune based therapies including checkpoint inhibitors which is showing tremendous promise. Phil has received project support from numerous national and international funding bodies to support his work and has published his work in premier cancer journals.

Matthias Ernst (Australia)

Mark Febbraio (Australia)

Paul Hertzog (Australia)

Fabienne Mackay (Australia)

Professor Fabienne Mackay obtained her PhD from Louis Pasteur University in Strasbourg, France. She is Head of the Inaugural School of Biomedical Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia. Her laboratory dissected the functions of BAFF and its receptors in health and disease, findings described in very highly cited articles. A BAFF inhibitor was approved by the FDA on March 9th 2011: a first new treatment for lupus in over 50 years. Professor Mackay’s group is focusing on inhibitors for the BAFF receptor TACI to treat Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) without compromising key immune function and, therefore, an approach that has a better safety profile. Her research and teaching directly influence clinical practice and she continues to make internationally significant contributions to the field of autoimmunity and oncology, with a strong record of knowledge in translation and community engagement. She received the Thomson Reuters Australia citation and innovation award and a trophy from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris for outstanding contribution in education and research as an expatriate. She is an elected member of the Council of the International Cytokine & Interferon Society. Also, is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

Ashley Mansell (Australia)

A/Prof Ashley Mansell is a senior scientist and head of the Pattern Recognition Receptors and Inflammation in the Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases, Hudson Institute of Medical Research. Dr Mansell completed his PhD with Professor Luke O’Neill at Trinity College, Dublin. Returning to Australia, he was recruited to the Monash Institute of Medical Research to form a Toll-like receptor (TLR) research laboratory where he has continued his research of PRR signal transduction and its role in inflammatory diseases. His studies have concentrated on understanding how TLRs, and other Pattern recognition receptors, recognise and respond to pathogen challenge. His recent studies have investigated the role of the inflammasome in pathogenic Influenza A virus infections and how targeting the inflammasome may be a therapeutic option to reduce the 'cytokine storm' associated with pathogenic IAV infections.

Shaun McColl (Australia)

Professor Shaun McColl conducted his Undergraduate and Doctoral studies at the University of Adelaide from 1977-1987. He was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Laval University in Quebec in Canada from 1987-1989, and received an academic appointment as an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Laval University from 1989-1993. During this period of time he developed a research interest in the molecular control of cell movement. He then returned to Australia as a Research Fellow at the John Curtin School of Medical Research at ANU from 1993-1995 and took up a Faculty appointment at the University of Adelaide in 1995. He presently holds a Personal Chair in Immunology in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology in the School Biological Sciences, has served as Deputy Head of the School of Molecular & Biomedical Science and Deputy Executive Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, and is currently Head of Chemokine Biology, and Deputy Head of the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology. Professor McColl has made a number of important contributions in the area of the molecular control of cell migration and its pathophysiology. These include seminal observations relating to chemotactic factor receptor signal transduction, particularly cytokine- and chemokine-induced phosphorylation cascades and gene expression, the development of chemokine receptor antagonists that regulate cell migration and the identification of chemokine receptors that are involved in pathologies such as autoimmune diseases and metastatic cancer. He has published over 150 original research articles, reviews and book chapters on the molecular basis of the inflammatory response, including the role of adhesion molecules, bioactive lipids and chemokines in inflammation in the context of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and, on the role of chemokines in metastatic cancers. He has over 8,000 citations and his H-index is 55.

Sandra Nicholson (Australia)

Dr Sandra Nicholson currently heads a laboratory in the Inflammation division at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia. After a PhD at the Ludwig Institute for Tumour Biology in Melbourne, she undertook postdoctoral training in the Cancer & Haematology division at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute; this sparked her interest in understanding how SOCS box proteins negatively regulate cytokine and growth factor signalling. Recruited to the Inflammation Division in 2011, her laboratory investigates the signalling events that underlie the immune response to infection and cancer. Her interest extends to the 3-dimensional structure of the protein complexes involved and how these relationships change during an inflammatory response. She is an acknowledged leader in the SOCS field, and continually makes a significant and highly-cited contribution to our mechanistic understanding of SOCS function. Most recently, she has been investigating how SOCS proteins regulate IL-15 responses in Natural killer (NK) cells and how this information can be exploited for the development of new NK-targeted immunotherapies.

Meredith O’Keeffe (Australia)

Belinda Parker (Australia)

After obtaining her PhD (Biochemistry) in 2002, Dr Parker began postdoctoral training in the Breast Cancer Program, Department of Oncology at Johns Hopkins University, USA in the field of breast cancer biology and invasion. In 2003, she was awarded a US Army Department of Defense BCRP Postdoctoral Fellowship to join the Metastasis Research laboratory at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and initiate studies into cell specific mechanisms of metastasis using immunocompetent models. This work initiated new projects in the laboratory that saw Dr Parker attract competitive grant funding (including a NHMRC Career Development Fellowship) and a promotion to Team Leader in 2012. In early 2013, Belinda moved to the new La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science at La Trobe University where she co-leads the Cancer Theme and is Head of the Cancer Microenvironment and Immunology Laboratory and an ARC Future Fellow. Dr Parker’s research focuses on dissecting the interactions between tumour cells and surrounding “normal cells” that promote cancer invasion and metastasis. She has a particular interest in bone metastasis, including the interaction of tumour cells with immune suppressor and effector cells to create an immune suppressed environment. Her work is currently funded by the NHMRC, CCV, VCA and the Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia/Movember (Program Grant).

Marc Pellegrini (Australia)

Marc Pellegrini is an infectious diseases physician and Head of the Infection and Immunity Division at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. His research is focused on understanding host-pathogen interactions. The aim of his work is to manipulate host cell signalling pathways to preferentially promote clearance of infected cells and thereby eradicate chronic infections. He has been awarded several prizes including the Centenary, Burnet, Fenner, BUPA, Viertel and two Eureka Prizes for his therapeutic discoveries.

John Silke (Australia)

John completed a law degree in King's College, London, before seeing the error of his ways and obtaining a second degree in Biochemistry at Churchill College, Cambridge (1992). He completed a PhD in Zürich, Switzerland, with Prof. Walter Schaffner, looking at the role of DNA methylation in the regulation of transcription (1997). A Swiss fellowship allowed John to do a post-doc with Prof. David Vaux in the WEHI, Australia (1997-2005), where he focused on cell death mechanisms and in particular the role of Inhibitor of APoptosis proteins (IAPs) in regulating cell death. After a five year stint running a lab in La Trobe University, Australia, he returned to the WEHI (2011) where his lab focuses on the programmed cell death pathways; apoptosis and necroptosis, and their intersection with cancer and inflammation.

Erica Sloan (Australia)

Dr Erica Sloan is a cancer biologist at Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and a Senior Lecturer at Monash University Faculty of Pharmacy. Her team investigate the bi-directional relationship between stress and cancer. Using mouse models of cancer, her research found that blocking stress signalling during key stages of cancer treatment – including surgery and chemotherapy – stops cancer spreading and prevents the devastating side-effects of cancer treatment. Importantly, her group has defined already-existing drugs that may be repurposed to improve cancer survival. Her lab has identified the cellular and molecular mechanisms for the adverse effects of stress on cancer outcomes, and is now working with clinicians to translate these findings to benefit patients. Dr Sloan holds adjunct positions at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, and at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Katryn Stacey (Australia)

Kate Stacey’s research interest is pathogen receptors of the innate immune system, especially those mediating responses to foreign DNA. She pioneered work on macrophage activation by bacterial (“CpG”) DNA, recognised via TLR9, and more recently focussed on inflammasome activation by AIM2 recognition of DNA in the cytosol. Her group has shown that the inflammasome is a novel platform for activation of caspase-8. She also investigates innate immune responses in autoimmunity and viral infection, and has recently demonstrated the importance of TLR4 recognition of dengue virus NS1 protein as an important factor in disease pathology.

Joe Trapani (Australia)

Joe Trapani is Executive Director Cancer Research, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Melbourne, where he leads the Cancer Immunology Program. Joe’s research interests include the immunopathology of viral and auto-immune diseases, apoptosis induction by cytotoxic lymphocytes and cancer immunotherapy. He has authored > 280 research papers, reviews and book chapters on these topics, which have been cited >$15,000 times. Joe Trapani is a member of the Executive (Board) and Chair of the Medical and Scientific Committee of the Cancer Council Victoria and of many peer-review bodies in academia and industry.

Professor Trapani recently received a $12.5 million award from the Wellcome Trust (UK), to lead a consortium of Australian, New Zealand and Chinese research teams, to develop a new class of immune-suppressive drugs that protect transplanted bone marrow stem cells against rejection mediated by NK cells.

Joe Trapani received his medical degree in 1977 and his PhD in 1985, from The University of Melbourne. He completed physician training (FRACP) in Rheumatology (1985) and received his PhD in the immunogenetics of HLA-associated disease, particularly B27-related arthropathy. Joe first became interested in how the immune system defends against viruses and cancer while working as a post-doctoral fellow at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute, New York. Here, Professor Trapani discovered a number of the genes and proteins used by killer lymphocytes to eliminate virus-infected cells. He found that one protein (perforin) forms pores in the target cell and provides access for other proteins (granzymes) to enter and trigger cell death by causing apoptosis .With his colleagues, Professor Trapani has also devised ways of harnessing the power of these killer lymphocytes and adapted their use to adoptive immunotherapy for various cancers. Joe’s team has further identified a rare group of children with inherited defects of perforin function and shown that they frequently develop leukaemia.

Colby Zaph (Australia)

Colby Zaph is Professor and Head of the Mucosal Immunity and Inflammation Laboratory in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Monash University. Colby received his BSc Honours degree in Biochemistry from the University of Saskatchewan in 1995 and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA, USA in 2004 working with Phil Scott on CD4 T cell memory development during Leishmania infection. His postdoctoral work was carried out with David Artis where he studied the immune response against the parasitic whipworm Trichuris. He relocated to Melbourne in 2015 after establishing a research program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. His research continues to focus on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that control immunity and inflammation at mucosal sites.

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