2019 INVITED INTERNATIONAL SPEAKERS

Dr Somponnat Sampattavanich, Mahidol University, Thailand

Dr.Sampattavanich is an instructor at the Department of Pharmacology, and a co-director of the Siriraj Systems Pharmacology Center, Mahidol University, Thailand.  Before returning to Thailand in 2014, he received his PhD in Medical Engineering form the Harvard-MIT HST program, and did his postdoctoral training in the Department of Systems Biology under supervision of Prof. Peter Sorger, Harvard Medical School.  In addition to leading the Siriraj phenomic screening facility, Dr.Sampattavanich oversees the Siriraj Initiative on cancer avatars for precision oncology and drug repurposing.  


His current research program implements the quantitative systems pharmacology concept to better understand sources of drug response heterogeneity in different cancer types. In addition to identifying potential treatment options for Thai patient-specific cancer types such as cholangiocarcinoma, his lab has developed live biobanks of patient-derived organoids from Thai patients with breast, colorectal, and ovarian cancer. His lab also actively investigates the dynamics of key hub proteins such as FoxO3, FoxM1, NRF2 at single cells, to revisit how these transcription factors involve in various disease contexts. Apart of academic work, Dr.Sampattavanich works closely with cancer patient advocate groups to promote the public awareness of cancer and to educate the public about novel cancer treatment and recent diagnostic technologies.

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Dr Tania Fowke, Mimetas, The Netherlands

Dr Tania Fowke is a Scientist in the Model Development R&D team at MIMETAS, a biotechnology company headquartered in Leiden, the Netherlands. She received her PhD in Biomedical Science (specialising in neuroscience) from the University of Auckland in 2018. During her PhD, she investigated the role of the extracellular matrix in the morphological development of cortical neurons in vitro, and characterised extracellular matrix alterations in a model of perinatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. After completing her PhD, she became interested in 3D in vitro models and their applications to current challenges in neurological disease research and treatment. In early 2019, Tania relocated to Leiden to join MIMETAS. Her current work focuses on developing 3D human in vitroblood-brain-barrier (BBB) and CNS models to investigate CNS physiology and pathophysiology, and to aid in drug discovery and development. She is involved in three European grant consortia addressing the urgent need for more predictive models and more effective therapeutics for neurological diseases. These projects primarily focus on BBB drug delivery, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. 

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Dr Justin Boyd, Pfizer, USA

Dr Justin Boyd completed his  PhD at the  University of Tennessee Health Science Centre and the Department of Developmental Neurobiology at St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (Ron McKay) at the NINDS/NIH in Bethesda MD developing stem cell applications for high-throughput, high-content platform drug discovery. In 2007, Dr Boyd joined Evotec AG developing high-content screens using primary stem cells and stem cell lines to identify new drugs for regenerative medicine. In 2008. Dr Boyd moved to the Laboratory of Drug Discovery in Neurodegeneration at the Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge MA working to develop cell based and high-content analysis for neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease and ALS, and in 2014 became an independent laboratory head. In 2015, Dr Boyd was the senior manager for Functional Biology at the Beryllium Discovery Corp, and was team leader of the Functional Biology Core. In 2017, he moved to Pfizer Inc (Cambridge MA) and he is the current lead of the High Content Technology Centre, which supports team project effort to develop and validate robust high-content and phenotypic assays for compound screening across multiple research areas including metabolic diseases, inflammation and immunology, rare diseases and neuroscience.

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Ms Vicki Racicot, Horizon Discovery, USA

Vicki Racicot joined Horizon Discovery as a Senior Field Scientist in January 2018, providing field based research consultation across a broad spectrum of technologies and approaches including CRISPR screening, cell line engineering, and cell panel screening. She brings more than twenty years of combined experience in life sciences.  Prior to joining Horizon, Vicki held a field scientist role for 6+ years with Molecular Devices, supporting high content imaging, bioproduction, and microarray scanning techniques. She also has 10 years of experience as a laboratory scientist in early phase oncology drug discovery with AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, as well as nearly four years combined experience in plant gene discovery (Monsanto) and product development for drug discovery (NEN Life Science Products, now PerkinElmer). Vicki holds a M.S. degree in plant cell biology from Purdue University and a B.A. degree in Biology/Biotechnology from Assumption College.  She currently resides in the San Francisco Bay area.

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Dr Scott Berry, University of Zürich, Switzerland

Scott is a Human Frontier Science Program Postdoctoral Fellow in the group of Lucas Pelkmans at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. He has a background in Theoretical Physics and Molecular Biology, and a long-standing interest in transcriptional gene regulation. He is currently studying how mammalian gene expression is coordinated with cell size and shape. During his PhD, Scott was based at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, U.K. where he worked with Caroline Dean and Martin Howard, combining theoretical and experimental approaches to study the chromatin-based epigenetic switch underlying the memory of winter in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Dr Dan Beacham, ThermoFisher Scientific Biosciences Division, USA

As a Senior Staff Scientist at ThermoFisher Scientific, Dr Beacham develops cell-based imaging, high throughput screening and biochemical tools for drug discovery and basic sciences research. He holds an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Willamette University and a Ph.D. in neurobiology from Oregon Health and Sciences University. He came to Eugene, Oregon in 2006 following post-doctoral research at University College London and the University of Washington in Seattle, where he studied molecular mechanisms of ion channel and GPCR control of neural excitability. Currently, Dr Beacham's work involves neural and cardiac excitability in stem cell models, as well as antibody-drug conjugate biology and metabolic states in disease.

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Dr Staci Sorensen, Allen Institute for Brain Science, USA

Staci Sorensen joined the Allen Institute as a postdoc in 2008 to explore the relationship between anatomically- and genetically-defined cell types in mouse neocortex. Currently, as a Scientist II in the Mouse Cell Types group, she is investigating the range of morphologically-defined cell types in the primary visual cortex and the lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus. This is part of a larger effort to understand the functional components that make up the visual thalamocortical circuit. Before coming to the Allen Institute, she earned her doctoral degree in Neurobiology and Behavior working with Ed Rubel at the University of Washington. The focus of her research was to understand the role of neuronal input in the dynamic regulation of dendritic structure in the chick auditory system. She earned her B.S. in psychology at the University of Washington, and worked with Jaime Olavarria and Theresa Jones to study the effects of visual experience on the development of callosal structure in the rat visual cortex.

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2019 PLENARY SPEAKER

Professor Vicky Avery, Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery, Brisbane

Professor Vicky Avery is Head, Discovery Biology, Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery and Head, Griffith University Drug Discovery Programme, CRC for Cancer Therapeutics (CTx). She is an internationally renowned leader in high throughput screening and early stage drug discovery. She obtained her PhD in 1995 (Flinders University), and was awarded an Australian NHMRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, undertaken at the University of Adelaide. Professor Avery gained significant industry experience working for Active Biotech AB, Sweden (1998-2004) and AstraZeneca (2004-2007). Discovery Biology (Avery lab), established in 2007, undertakes both basic and applied research in drug discovery, primarily in the areas of cancers and neglected diseases (Malaria, Chagas, African sleeping sickness and Leishmania).  Her team develops innovative technological approaches for high throughput screening, Hit-to-Lead and lead optimization, with a focus on imaging and have successfully designed and implemented assays for the not for profit organizations Medicines for Malaria (MMV); Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Drugs for Neglected diseases initiative (DNDi), and Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) fund. She was part of a team awarded MMV Project of the Year (2007) for innovative use of technology to identify new anti-malarials, and again in 2013 for her contribution to the clinical candidate, MMV390048. Her lab is recognized as a MMV global screening centre of excellence. Contributions from Prof. Avery’s team to the pre-clinical development of drug candidates within CTx have been directly translated into commercial and potential health outcomes. Including a successful licensing deal with Pfizer in October 2018 (AUD$650 million) which followed a AUD$730 million deal CTx signed with MSD in 2016. In 2009, her team received the Griffith University Pro-Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award for a Research Group. Professor Avery was awarded the 2016 Pro Vice Chancellor's Research Excellence Award - Senior Career Researcher; the Vice Chancellor’s Remarkable Research Achievement Award for an Individual Senior Researcher and the McCullough Robertson LSQ Industry Award for 2018, which recognises significant contributions to the performance and success of the Queensland Life Sciences Industry and impact across the sector. Professor Avery was named a member of the Australian Research Council College of Experts in 2019.

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