Plenary Speaker

William R. Jacobs Jr.

William (Bill) R. Jacobs, Jr.


Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY, USA

Talk Title: Exacting Edward Jenner’s Revenge: Serendipity and Vaccine Discovery


As a Math Major at Edinboro State College, a small state college near Erie, Pennsylvania, Bill took a bacterial genetics course and was enamored with its power to prove causality of gene functionality. He went to the University of Alabama in Birmingham and chose to do his Ph.D with Josie Clark-Curtiss and Roy Curtiss III. Bill successfully made the first genomic libraries of Mycobacterium leprae, an organism that could only be grown in nude mouse footpads and the nine-banded armadillo. For his postdoctoral work, Bill moved to the Bronx to work with Barry Bloom to develop BCG as a vaccine vector. No one had yet been successful in transferring foreign DNA into any mycobacteria. Bill succeeded by making a chimeric shuttle vector composed of a mycobacteriophage and E. coli lambda cosmid, which he named a shuttle phasmid. Shuttle phasmids allowed for Bill’s plan to develop a complete set of genetic tools including the first plasmid transformation vectors, transposon delivery vectors, specialized transduction systems to make precise null bar-coded deletion mutants forevery gene of mycobacterium tuberculosis. Using gene transfer, Bill’s team of amazing scientists discovered the previously unknown targets of TB drugs, the primary mechanism of attenuation of BCG, and the signal transduction pathway that regulates acid-fast staining. He continues to study the phenomenon of persistence and ways the immune system can control M. tuberculosis. His lab started working on Herpes viruses 10 years ago and discovered a mutant that can protect mammals by eliciting ADCC antibodies. Bill’s lab is exploring using this Herpes vector to make new TB vaccines. Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2013, Bill is most proud of training over 70 young scientists with whom he has published over 350 papers and who now are actively pursuing research worldwide. He plans to discuss his lab’s current successes on 3rd generation luciferase phages. Strategies to sterilize MTB infections and efforts to dissect mammalian killing mechanisms using a novel conditionally immune sterilizable auxotroph.

Invited Speakers

Amy Barczak

Amy Barczak


The Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, MA, USA

Talk Title: Toward Mechanisms of TB-associated Lung Fibrosis

Dr. Barczak is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a clinical Infectious Diseases specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her research laboratory at the Ragon Institute studies Mycobacterium tuberculosis pathogenesis in macrophages, including mechanisms and consequences of phagosomal membrane damage, and pathogenesis in lung tissue, including the pathologic matrix remodeling that contributes to post-TB lung disease.

Andrew Simonson

Andrew Simonson


University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Talk Title: CD8+ Lymphocytes are Required for Containment of Secondary Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection

Andrew Simonson earned his PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Penn State University, developing lytic anti-mycobacterials to selectively target Mtb and synergize with conventional antibiotics. He then joined the TB Research Group at the University of Pittsburgh under JoAnne Flynn. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and Center for Vaccine Research, his work focuses on studying the roles of different lymphocyte subsets in various models of protection in tuberculosis, including vaccination and concomitant immunity.

Anil K Ojha

Anil K. Ojha


Wadsworth Center/School of Public Health, University at Albany, NY, USA

Talk Title: Visualizing Non-replicating Persisters of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Lung Lesions

Dr. Anil K. Ojha is a Research Scientist at Wadsworth Center and Associate Professor at University of Albany, Albany New York. Dr. Ojha received his Ph.D. from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi India, and post-doctoral training from University of Pittsburgh. The overarching goal of Dr. Ojha’s research is to determine molecular basis of antibiotic persistence in mycobacteria, including one of the deadliest bacterial pathogens, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), which kills over a million people every year. Utilizing biofilms as an in vitro growth model for mycobacterial persistence, his research is investigating the mechanistic relationship between ribosome hibernation, zinc homeostasis and antibiotic persistence.

Anna D. Tischler

Anna D. Tischler


University of Minnesota, MN, USA

Talk Title: Metabolic Pathways Essential for Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection Revealed by Tn-seq


Daniela Maria Cirillo

Daniela Maria Cirillo


San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Italy

Talk Title: Drug Resistance to New Antitubercular Drugs: Should We Plan Ahead?

Daniela Maria Cirillo MD, PhD, Clinical Microbiologist, Head of the Emerging Bacterial Pathogen Research unit and Deputy Director of the Division of Immunology, Transplant, and Infectious Diseases at IRCCS San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan. Head of TB Supranational reference laboratory. She is also the head of WHO Collaborating Centre- ITA98 and Head of ESCMID Collaborating Centre in the fields of emerging pathogens ; Co-Chair of New Diagnostic Working Group of the Stop TB partnership ; Member of EUCAST Mycobacteria Committee ; President European Society of Mycobacteriology (2018-2023); Professor Master Global Health, University of Milan ; WHO Global TB Program Advisor Dr. Cirillo’s research focus is on mechanisms detection of drug resistance in MDROs of nosocomial origin and mycobacteria, ECOFFs definition for new antibiotics and application of NGS based technology in clinical microbiology. Areas of expertise: clinical mycobacteriology, next generation sequencing based diagnostic tools, research on new diagnostics for TB Infection and disease, in vivo and in vitro models to study TB/NTMs pathogenesis. Author of 369 publications, indexed in PubMed. Author of 6 scientific book chapters. Total citation 14006 H index (scopus) 61 In 2017, Daniela M. Cirillo was honored with the G. Middlebrooks Award.

Denise Kirschner

Denise Kirschner


University of Michigan, MI, USA

Talk Title: Optimizing Drug Regimens for Tuberculosis Treatment

Dr. Kirschner is a professor in the dept of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan. She received her Bachelors, Masters and PhD in theoretical biology from Tulane University. She did graduate work also at Los Alamos National Labs and a postdoctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University joint with the departments of Mathematics and Infectious Diseases. For the past 25 years, her research focus has been on building multi-scale models to describe the host immune response to M. tuberculosis at multiple spatial and time scales and in multiple physiological sites including lung, lymph nodes and blood. To date she have worked and collaborated with experimentalists generating data on TB with mouse, non-human primate and human studies. her focus is on how to improve treatment regimens and strategies for TB. Dr. Kirschner currently serves (and has for the past 20 years) as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Theoretical Biology.

G. Marcela Rodriguez

G. Marcela Rodriguez


Rutgers University, NJ, USA

Talk Title: Deciphering the Response of M. tuberculosis to Changes in Iron Availability to Identify Novel Drug Targets

G. Marcela Rodriguez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at Rutgers Health and senior investigator at the Public Health Research Institute, Rutgers University. She received her PhD and MS from the New York University and a BSc from The Javeriana University in Bogota, Colombia. Her research centers in the metal biology and the response of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to nutritional immunity. Her lab’s mission is to enhance fundamental knowledge about M. tuberculosis biology to identify potential targets for drug and vaccine development.

Hardy Kornfeld

Hardy Kornfeld


UMass Chan Medical School, MA, USA

Talk Title: TB-Diabetes Interaction Update

Hardy Kornfeld a Professor of Medicine with tenure at UMass Chan Medical School. He received his MD from Boston University School of Medicine and BA from Bennington College. His basic and clinical research is focused on TB immunometabolism, the effects of diabetes and low BMI on immunity to TB, post-TB lung disease, and adjunctive therapies to enhance the host response to antimicrobial TB treatment and TB vaccines.

Igor Kramnik

Igor Kramnik


Boston University School of Medicine, MA, USA

Talk Title: Decoding Tuberculosis's Lung Predilection

Igor Kramnik, is an Investigator at the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) at Boston University and an Associate Professor at the Pulmonary Center in the Department of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. After obtaining his MD/PhD degrees in Moscow, he trained in mouse genetics, immunology and tuberculosis research at McGill University in Montreal and Albert Einstein School of Medicine in The Bronx. His research has focused on the pathogenesis of pulmonary tuberculosis and mechanisms of compromised lung immunity, and the development of novel host-directed therapies targeting lung damage inflicted by virulent Mtb in susceptible hosts.

Joel S. Freundlich

Joel S. Freundlich


Rutgers University, NJ, USA

Talk Title: A Preclinical TB Candidate Targeting KasA

Joel S. Freundlich, Ph.D., is a Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience and of Medicine at Rutgers University–New Jersey Medical School. Prior to his return to academic research, he spent eight years in the pharmaceutical industry as a medicinal chemist. His undergraduate and master’s degree training were in chemical engineering at Cornell University as a McMullen Dean’s Scholar. He received his doctorate in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the tutelage of 2005 Nobel Prize awardee in Chemistry, Richard Schrock. His laboratory at Rutgers University focuses on leveraging computational, chemical, and biological tools in the study of infectious diseases.

Kyle Rohde

Kyle Rohde


University of Central Florida, FL, USA

Talk Title: Nature-inspired Strategies to Overcome Mycobacterial Drug Resistance and Tolerance

Dr. Kyle Rohde is an Associate Professor in the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine. His Ph.D. dissertation work at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences focused on TonB-dependent mechanisms used by Neisseria meningitidis for iron acquisition from host hemoproteins. His focus shifted to Mycobacterium tuberculosis as a postdoc in Dr. David Russell’s lab at Cornell University, where he applied transcriptomic and genetic approaches to elucidate gene regulatory networks involved in M. tuberculosis intracellular survival within macrophages. Since joining UCF in 2012, Dr. Rohde’s research portfolio has broadened to encompass gene regulation in Mtb and M. abscessus, antibacterial drug discovery and target validation in TB and NTM species, mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance, and development of deoxyribozyme-based point-of-care diagnostic assays.

Larry S. Schlesinger

Larry S. Schlesinger


Texas Biomedical Research Institute, TX, USA

Talk Title: Combination of MCL-1 and BCL-2 Inhibitors is a Promising Approach for a Host-directed Therapy for Tuberculosis

Larry Schlesinger is Professor, President and CEO of Texas Biomedical Research Institute. He received his MD from Rutgers Medical School and, following his clinical training, received post-doctoral training at UCLA. His lab focuses on the pathogenesis of tuberculosis and other airborne infections due to intracellular pathogens that subvert lung immune mechanisms as well as co-morbidities that enhance infection. His discoveries have led to greater insight into the unique attributes that soluble and cellular components of the human innate immune system bring to the microbe-host interface, translating them into host-directed therapy platforms.

Marcela Henao-Tamayo

Marcela Henao-Tamayo


Colorado State University, CO, USA

Talk Title: Mucosal Exposure to NTM Elicits B-cell-mediated Protection Against Pulmonary Tuberculosis


Dr. Henao-Tamayo is a trained physician, immunologist and mycobacteriologist with over 20 years of experience using and developing animal models of Mycobacterial infection. She graduated as a physician from la Universidad de Antioquia, where she also finished her Masters in Ciencias Basicas Biomedicas. After that she move to Fort Collins Colorado and finished her PhD in Immunology. She is currently a Professor at Colorado State University, Co-Director of the Mycobacteria Research Laboratories. Her expertise is in assessing the protective immune responses to mycobacterial infections conferred by candidate vaccines, as well as the environmental and host factors that influence this protection.

Martin Rottenberg

Martin Rottenberg


Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

Talk Title: Immune Mechanisms and Oxidative Stress Underlying The Interaction of Tuberculosis and Diabetes


Martin Rottenberg is a Professor in Infection and Immunity at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology, Karolinska Institutet. He obtained his PhD in Immunity to parasitic infections at the National Institute of Parasitology, Buenos Aires, Argentina and was a PostDoc at Armauer Hansen Research Institute, Ethiopia, studying the immune responses to leprosy, and then at the Dept Immunology , Karolinska Institutet. During more than 40 years he have studied the immune protection and immune pathogenesis to different human infectious diseases, including trypanosomiasis, chlamydiosis, listeriosis and tuberculosis, mainly in experimental models but also, in recent years, in patients. He have supervised 12 PhD students that have defended their thesis, 22 Post docs and 33 Master students and have authored more than 130 publications.

Mary Jackson

Mary Jackson


Colorado State University, CO, USA

Talk Title: Molecular Signals Controlling the Biosynthesis and Biological Activities of (lipo)polysaccharides In Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Dr. Mary Jackson currently is a Professor of Bacteriology in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology at Colorado State University. Dr. Jackson’s research focuses on the elucidation of critical pathways leading to the biosynthesis and export of (glyco)lipids, fatty acids and polysaccharides in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and other mycobacterial pathogens of clinical interest (M. ulcerans, M. leprae and nontuberculous mycobacteria) with the goal to inform novel therapeutic strategies. Dr. Jackson has published over 200 peer-reviewed scientific articles and serves on numerous grant review panels for the National Institutes of Health and other Federal, private, and non-profit funding agencies globally.

Matthew M. Champion

Matthew M. Champion


University of Notre Dame, IN, USA

Talk Title: Rose Colored Glasses; What Are We Missing in the Mycobacterial Dark Proteome?

Matthew Champion received his bachelor's degree in Microbiology at The University of Iowa where he studied heat-shock responses in pathogenic Leishmania. On a lark, he went to graduate school at Texas A&M University under the supervision of Dr. James Hu and David Russell where he developed some of the earliest proteomics experiments in microorganisms, and obtained his Ph.D. in Biochemistry. He then worked as a Scientist for 7 years in the Proteomics division of Applied Biosystems, and in 2009 moved to Notre Dame a Research Assistant, then Associate Professor in the Mass Spectrometry facility. In 2019 he transitioned to Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry. His laboratory is primarily interested in developing and exploiting novel bioanalytical methods to probe mycobacterial pathogenesis, including the composition and function of the significant 'dark proteome' in M. tuberculosis and related species.

Nitin Baliga

Nitin Baliga


Institute for Systems Biology, WA, USA

Talk Title: Systems Biology Approaches to Accelerate TB Drug Discovery


Prof. Nitin Baliga is the Director of Institute for Systems Biology, where his team deciphers molecular networks within pathogens, cancer cells, and microbial communities to enable solutions for global health, precision medicine, and environmental health. He has published >140 peer-reviewed articles with >30,000 citations, serves as editor for several scientific journals, and is on the board of Climate Solutions. Dr. Baliga's work has been profiled in The Scientist, Wired Magazine, ArsTechnica, Xconomy, and many popular science magazines, and his award-winning education and outreach efforts have impacted millions of students across all 50 states in the US and across >100 countries.

Olivier Neyrolles

Olivier Neyrolles


CNRS-Université de Toulouse
France

Talk Title: Neuroimmune Revelation: Unveiling Lung Innervation in TB Granulomas and Beyond

Olivier Neyrolles trained as a microbiologist and agricultural engineer. His research focuses on host-pathogen relationships in tuberculosis. He is a researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and heads the IPBS-Toulouse, a joint research unit of the CNRS and the University of Toulouse-III-Paul-Sabatier.

Ophelie Rutschmann

Ophelie Rutschmann


Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland

Talk Title: Non-canonical Inflammasome Activation in Macrophages Infected with M. tuberculosis

She obtained both her Masters and Bachelor's degree in Life Sciences at EPFL and she is currently doing her PhD in Prof. McKinney's laboratory, where she is focusing on studying the interactions between Mycobacterium tuberculosis and macrophages at the single-cell level.

Petros C. Karakousis

Petros C. Karakousis


Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, MD, USA

Talk Title: Targeting Heme Oxygenase-1 as a Novel Host-Directed Therapy for TB


Dr. Petros Karakousis is a Professor of Medicine and International Health at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health. He currently directs the Johns Hopkins Tuberculosis Research Advancement Center (TRAC). Dr. Karakousis’s primary research interests are the molecular basis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis persistence and host-directed therapies for TB. Major research activities include studying the adaptation of M. tuberculosis to stress conditions believed to be important in the infected human host, as well as the phenomenon of phenotypic tolerance to antibiotics. In particular, the regulatory cascade involved in the mycobacterial stringent response is under active investigation. Dr. Karakousis has co-edited a book entitled Advances in Host-Directed Therapies Against Tuberculosis. In order to rapidly deploy novel therapies in the clinical setting, his laboratory has focused on studying the potential repurposing of various agents with immunomodulatory properties for TB. In particular, his lab has investigated the mechanism of action of statins (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) and metformin and studied their adjunctive activities against TB in preclinical models. He also has pursued a novel paradigm of boosting cellular immunity to Mtb “persistence antigens”, i.e., proteins that are expressed by persistent organisms displaying tolerance to conventional anti-TB drugs, using therapeutic DNA and mRNA vaccines expressing these antigens.

Robert O. Watson

Robert O. Watson


Texas A&M University, TX, USA

Talk Title: Mitochondria Shape Innate Immune Responses and Susceptibility to Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection

Robert O. Watson trained as postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Jeff Cox’s lab at University of California, San Francisco. There he made fundamental discoveries related to the role of autophagy and cytosolic DNA sensing in Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection of macrophages. In 2015, he joined the faculty in the department of Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology Texas A&M University, School of Medicine. His research program takes a multidisciplinary approach to illuminate the macrophage-Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) host-pathogen interface. In the past several years, his lab has become increasingly interested in how mitochondrial homeostasis impacts host innate immune responses to bacterial pathogens like M. tuberculosis (with a particular focus on cytosolic nucleic acid sensing and cell death).

Robert Wallis

Robert Wallis


The Aurum Institute, South Africa

Talk Title: Oxidative Stress and Lung Injury in Tuberculosis: Opportunities for Disease-modifying Therapies

Robert Wallis is Chief Science Officer at the Aurum Institute, where for the past decade he has led clinical trials of adjunctive host-directed TB therapies and new antimicrobial regimens. Prior to this, he has held academic and pharma industry positions, including most recently, leading the development of sutezolid for tuberculosis as Therapeutic Area Clinical Lead for Anti-infectives at Pfizer.

Samuel M. Behar

Samuel M. Behar


University of Massachusetts Medical School, MA, USA

Talk Title: CD4 T cell Dysfunction During Chronic Infection

Dr. Behar is Professor of Microbiology and Physiological Systems at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, where he studies immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Dr. Behar and the members of his lab have made important contributions to our understanding of immunity to tuberculosis including T cell priming, acquisition of effector function, and memory responses. By understanding mechanisms of host resistance to tuberculosis, including how T cell responses are coordinated and integrated in vivo, and how bacteria evade immunity, his ultimate goal is to inform vaccine design and testing.

Sarah Stanley

Sarah Stanley


University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA

Talk Title: Aldehydes as Novel Immune Effectors in Tuberculosis

Sarah Stanley is an Associate Professor with joint appointments in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology Division of Immunology and Pathogenesis and School of Public Health Division of Infectious Disease and Vaccinology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her lab studies immunity to M. tuberculosis with a particular emphasis on how the metabolism of host cells contributes to antimicrobial control. She is also a founder and scientific advisor for the Alliance for Global Health and Science, an organization dedicated to promoting science capacity building and research in East Africa.

Tony Y. Hu

Tony Y. Hu


Tulane University, LA, USA

Talk Title: Precision Diagnosis of Tuberculosis: Empowering Personalized Healthcare with Nano and Micro Technologies

Dr. Tony Hu is a Professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biomedical Engineering, and Microbiology at Tulane University. He is also the Weatherhead Presidential Chair in Biotechnology Innovation, founding Director of the Center for Intelligent Molecular Diagnostics at Tulane School of Medicine, and the fellows of National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). Dr. Hu’s research focuses on engineered multi-omics, nanomedicine, mechanism-driven biomarker discovery and assay development. His research differs from conventional biomarker discovery and detection research for clinical microbiology in that it employs the special properties of nanomaterials to improve assay performance and reproducibility. His inventions are intended to serve as a model for the analysis of similar characteristics of infectious and malignant diseases to facilitate the development of a full spectrum of diagnostic, prognostic and treatment evaluation assays, and re-define the diagnostic criteria to differentiate disease stages using molecular tests as a long-term goal. His work has resulted in publications of over 150 high-impact papers, and 25 pat­ent applications involving nanomedicine. Fourteen of those patents have been licensed by US-based or international companies. Dr. Hu’s lab has been consistently support­ed by the DOD, NIH, Gates Foundation, WHO and others. Dr. Hu is also the co-founders of two biotech startup companies, Intelligenome Inc. in Houston, TX and NanoPin Technologies in New Orleans, LA

Vinay Kumar Nandicoori

Vinay Kumar Nandicoori


Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology, India

Talk Title: Delineating the Survival Strategies of Mtb

Dr. Vinay Nandicoori is a Molecular and Cellular Biologist who has contributed to delineating the signalling networks in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). He did his Masters in Biotechnology at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and his Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He was a Postdoc at Texas A&M University for 3 years and the University of Virginia for three and half years before returning to India in 2004. In 2001 he moved to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India as the Director, where he established his lab. His research interest is to delineate the kinase-mediated signalling networks in Mtb. In addition, his lab is also interested in identifying novel drug-resistant mechanisms, deciphering transcription regulation and identifying novel targets for host-directed therapy.

Volker Briken

Volker Briken


University of Maryland, MD, USA

Talk Title: Interaction of Mycobacterium tuberculosis with the Host Cell Inflammasome

Volker Briken is a Professor at the University of Maryland in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. He received his PhD from the University of Paris for his work on the intracellular trafficking of Fc and B-cell receptors. His postdoctoral work in the lab of Steven Porcelli at Harvard Medical School was on the intracellular trafficking of the human CD1 lipid antigen presenting molecules. During his time as Instructor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York he learned how to genetically manipulate Mycobacterium tuberculosis from the lab of Dr. Bill Jacobs Jr, who pioneered these techniques. Since then, he has been fascinated by to potential of genetic screens to uncover the many ways that Mtb manipulates the infected host cells. His main areas of interest are the interaction of Mtb with host cell death signaling, the host cell inflammasome activation and type I interferon mediated signaling.

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