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Professor Melissa Little is the Theme Director of Cell Biology at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia. She is internationally recognised for her work on the molecular and cellular basis of kidney development and disease. This fundamental research has underpinned her pioneering studies into potential regenerative therapies for kidney disease. As a result, her team have developed approaches for directing the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells to human kidney tissue. Using this approach, she is able to directly model kidney disease using patient-derived stem cells. Her group are applying this approach to better understand and treat kidney disease, as well as developing approaches for tissue engineering for the generation of transplantable kidney tissue.
Professor Little is an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow at MCRI and Professor, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne. Melissa is President Elect of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, former Program Leader of Stem Cells Australia and immediate past President of Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research.
A Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, Professor Little’s work has been recognised by many awards, including the GlaxoSmithKline Award for Research Excellence (2005), AAS Gottschalk Medal in Medical Sciences (2004), Eisenhower Fellowship (2006), ANZSCDB Presidents Medal (2015), Boerhaave Professorship, Leiden University (2015), UNSW Eureka Prize (2016) and the NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship Biomedical (2018), Honorary Doctorate, Leiden University (2019), the prestigious Alfred Newton Richards Award (2019), and the Julian Wells Medal (2020).
Prof. Jacob Sten Petersen
DMSc, Corporate Vice President Global Drug Discovery, Novo Nordisk A/S
Head of the Stem Cell R&D Transformational Research Unit (Corporate Vice President), responsible for the entire R&D value chain, from research, manufacturing for clinical de-velopment (CMC), non-clinical, clinical development, regulatory and business develop-ment, project management and operations.
2002-2018: Therapeutic area head for diabetes (type 1 and 2) and stem cells in Global Research at Novo Nordisk. Previous areas of responsibility in global research includes obesity and NASH. Previous positions include.
2001-2002: Executive Chief Scientific Officer Inoxell Inc. Denmark, focusing on finding novel drug tar-gets.
1998-2001: Head of Islet Discovery Research, Novo Nordisk Denmark: Working with type 2 and type 1 diabetes.
1995-1998: Senior scientist/project manager at ZymoGenetics inc. Seattle USA: Work-ing on type 1 diabetes intervention/prevention and immunology.
1989-1995: Ph.D student and later Staff scientist Hagedorn Research Institute, Gentofte Denmark: Research focus on islet biology and type 1 diabetes.
From 2010 professor in biomedicine at the medical faculty in Copenhagen University. In 2006 awarded the doctor of medical science (DMSc) degree from the medical faculty Copenhagen University Den-mark. Member of the board of directors of JDRF Denmark (vice-chairman).
Besides numerous presentations at international diabetes conferences, published approx. 60 papers in peered reviewed journals mainly on topics of diabetes prediction, prevention and intervention but also on beta cell biology, physiology and immunology.
Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience, University of Copenhagen (Denmark) and Wallenberg Center for Molecular Medicine (WCMM), Lund University (Sweden)
Agnete Kirkeby is an Associate Professor and group leader at the Department of Neuroscience at University of Copenhagen (Denmark) and at the Wallenberg Center for Molecular Medicine at Lund University (Sweden). Agnete and her group has over the years built up a unique expertise in using human pluripotent stem cells for production of subtype-specific human neurons, and has developed protocols for accurate patterning of neural cells towards different regional fates (Kirkeby et al., Cell Reports 2012). This work has led to the development of a promising stem cell treatment for Parkinson’s Disease (PD), which is moving towards clinical trial in collaboration with Prof. Malin Parmar at Lund University, Prof. Roger Barker at Cambridge University and Novo Nordisk A/S (Kirkeby et al., Cell Stem Cell 2017, Nolbrant et al., Nature Protocols 2017, Kirkeby et al., Prog. Brain Research 2017).
The Kirkeby group further studies early brain development using human stem cell and advanced microfluidic culturing techniques to model the developing neural tube of humans, and produce various different types of neurons (i.e. hypothalamic neurons, interneurons, basal forebrain cholinergic neurons) for use in regenerative therapy and disease modelling.
Chief Operating Officer, Heartseed Inc., Japan
Kikuo started his career at Bain & Company, a global leading strategic consulting firm and he worked for various clients in Healthcare, FMCG, Automobiles, Construction, Financial Services, Private Equities, etc and demonstrated strong analytical and managerial skills. His last project delivered substantial top-line and bottom-line growth and his team received the Best Project Award.
He joined AbbVie (ex-Abbott) in 2010 and held various managerial positions including Business Unit Manager, Immunology and Group Manager, Market Access. He has robust and broad experiences in Business Development, Forecasting, Market Research, Pipeline Marketing, Market Access and Pricing, Health Economics and Outcome Research, Commercial Operations and Clinical Planning. He received President Awards in 2017 and 2018.
He joined Heartseed in 2019 as Chief Operating Officer and he led Business Development, Corporate Planning, and Series B Financing. He is also deeply involved in all the R&D activities and organizational development in the company.
2003 - 2005: The Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of Tokyo
1999 -2003: Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of Tokyo
Dr. Robert Zweigerdt
Ph.D., Hannover Medical School (MHH), Germany
Dr. Robert Zweigerdt is a developmental biologist and received training in stem cell research and bioprocessing in academic institutions (including Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Institute of Medical Biology in Singapore) and in biotechnology companies (Cardion in Erkrath/ Germany, Stem Cell International in Singapore). Since 2009, his research group is embedded into the “Research Center for Translational Regenerative Medicine“ (REBIRTH) at Hannover Medical School. Roberts‘ group is applying human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) in two distinct but related areas:
Firstly, we are developing stirred tank bioreactor (STBR)-based processes for the efficient production of hPSCs progenies (including cardiomyocytes, macrophage, endothelial cells, and endodermal- lineages) in clinical scale and grade. In numerous academic and industrial collaboration, this work ultimately aims at establishing novel cell therapies e.g. for regenerating failing hearts or fighting infections of the lung.
Secondly, we are investigating basic mechanisms controlling the mesendoderm differentiation of hPSC. This research has recently led into the development of “heart-forming organoids” (HFOs), a complex in vitro model recapitulating key aspect of the interrelated heart, foregut and vasculature development in early embryogenesis.
Besides numerous other interdisciplinary research networks, Robert was partner in the large IMI/EU project StemBANCC (successfully deriving 1.500 patient/ disease-specific hiPSC lines), he coordinated the EU-H2020 project TECHNOBEAT (promoting iPSC-based heart repair) and he was hosting the Marie Skłodowska-Curie project POSEIDON (developing a next-generation automated bioreactor platform).
Prof. Dr. Nico Lachmann
Hannover Medical School (MHH), Hannover, Germany
Prof. Nico Lachmann studied Biomedicine at Hannover Medical School and Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA. He received his PhD from Hannover Medical School, in 2012 and performed his PostDoctoral career at Hannover Medical School, the Max-Plank Institute for Biomedicine Münster (Germany) and Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center. In 2015, Prof. Lachmann became a group leader at the “REBIRTH Research center for translational and regenerative medicine” and in 2020 Associate Professor in the German Excellent Cluster RESIST at Hannover Medical School. He received numerous awards including the prestigious Eva-Luise and Horst Köhler Research Award as well as an ERC Starting grant.
The group of Prof. Lachmann combines basic knowledge in hematology with translational approaches using immune cells to develop new cell-based therapies. His lab investigates the use of pluripotent stem cells to establish novel blood cell farming technologies to gain a deeper understanding in the onset of congenital diseases and to harness the potential of macrophages for future immunotherapies.
Assistant Professor, Department for Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology, Karolinska Institutet
Assistant Professor Fredrik Lanner obtained his PhD at the Karolinska Institutet, developing in vitro models of vascular development. During his postdoctoral studies in Janet Rossant’s laboratory at the Hospital for Sick Children he studied the role of FGF signaling in early mouse development and embryonic stem cells. In 2013 Dr. Lanner was recruited back to Karolinska Institutet to start his independent lab focusing on early human development and pluripotent stem cell-based reparative medicine. The laboratory has made particular advances in the production of retinal pigment epithelial cells for treatment of age-related macular degeneration.
Klearchos K. Papas
PhD – University of Arizona, Professor - Surgery, Director of the Institute for Cellular Transplantation, Professor - Department of Medical Imaging
Klearchos Papas, PhD, has devoted his research career to the application of engineering principles and the development of enabling technologies in the fields of cell therapy and tissue engineering with a focus on the treatment of diabetes. He has studied and utilized the properties of insulin-secreting tissue and their relationship to viability and function in the context cell therapies for diabetes with the objective of improving cost-effectiveness, availability, and clinical outcomes of this approach. Prior to joining the University of Arizona in 2011, Dr. Papas served on the faculty at the University of Minnesota (2003-2011), where he held leadership positions as associate director of the Islet Transplant Program, director of Islet Processing Research and Development and director of the Islet Quality Assurance Core in the Schulze Diabetes Institute. Prior to that he held joint research positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Chemical Engineering, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Center for Islet Transplantation at Harvard Medical School and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Yale University (1999-2003). Affiliations: Dr. Papas serves on the council if the Cell Transplant and Regenerative Medicine Society (Formerly Cell Transplantation Society). He also serves on the editorial Board of the journals: Cell Transplantation, Cell Medicine, Xenotransplantation and Cell R4.