Conference Committee

Gary Perdew
Conference Chair
Endowed Professor of Molecular Toxicology at The Pennsylvania State University, Director of the Center for Molecular Toxicology and Carcinogenesis. He has worked over the past 30 years on the biochemistry of the Ah receptor (AHR) pathway, mechanisms of AHR-mediated gene regulation, identification of endogenous, dietary, and bacterial AHR ligands and the biology of the AHR in normal and cancerous epithelium.
Andrew Patterson
Conference Co-chair & Speaker
Tombros Endowed Chair and Professor of Molecular Toxicology at The Pennsylvania State University, Scientific Director of Metabolomics. His laboratory studies the host-microbiome interaction and its perturbation by persistent environmental AHR ligands.
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Amy Aslamkhan
Amy G. Aslamkhan has been at Merck for more than 15 years (since Oct 2004) in the Investigative Laboratory Sciences group in the Safety Assessment and Laboratory Animal Resources department. In that group, Amy has conducted research on various pre-clinical investigative toxicology issues, developed in vitro and in vivo model systems, been involved in biomarker evaluation and qualification efforts, and established an investigative microscopy facility. Amy also led efforts to develop transcriptional nuclear receptor algorithms in liver from exploratory rat screening studies and developed the strategy for derisking activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor in discovery and development programs.
Before working at Merck, Amy did her Postdoc at a Cellular Renal Pharmacology lab at the National institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, NC. Amy did her Ph.D. in Physiology at the University of Hawaii in 2000.
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Xavier Coumoul
Committee Member
Professor Xavier Coumoul is the head of team METATOX (INSERM UMR-S 1124) and of the toxicology master of the University of Paris, France.
His team carries on research on complex mixtures of pollutants and focuses on a large panel of pathologies including endocrine cancers (and the potential metabolic effect of endocrine-disrupting chemicals), the interplay between persistent organic pollutants, liver and adipose tissue during the development of metabolic diseases (and the role of metabolic-disrupting agents) and the influence of various xenobiotics on the incidence of neurodegenerative diseases. At the request of INSERM and as part of a national INSERM expert group, he carries out a review of the literature on the mechanisms of action of pesticides on the occurrence of metabolic pathologies (including type 2 diabetes, inflammatory diseases, neuropathologies).
X. Coumoul coordinated several national projects and is currently involved in several European projects. Several of these projects focus on the involvement of the AhR in the occurrence of aggressive cancers, chronic liver diseases and neurodegenerative diseases. To this aim, his team uses AhR-knockout models and a variety of AhR ligands (which might differently activate the receptor) which are utilized to treat or expose innovative in vitro models and rodents.
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Michael Denison
Committee Member and Speaker
Ph.D., fellow ATS, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of California. His research efforts have focused on the biochemical, molecular and toxicological mechanisms of action of the Ah receptor (AhR) and AhR signaling pathways, including identification and characterization of structurally diverse AhR ligands and ligand diversity in AhR signaling, analysis of the AhR structure-function, species-specific differences in the AhR and regulation of AhR-dependent gene expression.
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Andreas Diefenbach
Andreas Diefenbach is Professor and Chair of Microbiology at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH). He is also a Senior Group Leader at the German Rheumatism Research Center, a Leibniz Institute. His lab studies transcriptional and epigenetic control of cell fate decisions in the innate immune system. Current research interests include how the immune system coordinates adaptation of multicellular organisms to constantly changing environments (microbiota, nutrients).
Andreas studied Medicine at the University of Erlangen and graduated in Microbiology and Immunology (1998). He obtained postdoctoral training at the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of California Berkeley (1999-2002). Prior to joining Charité, he was an Assistant Professor at the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, New York University (2003-2006), a Full Professor at the University of Freiburg (2006-2013) and Professor and Chair of Medical Microbiology and the coordinator of the Research Centre of Immunology at the Johannes-Gutenberg-University Mainz (2013-2016).
As a Physician Scientist, Andreas has been supported by grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the European Research Council, and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). He is the coordinator of the DFG Priority Program 1937 (“Innate Lymphoid Cells”). He was awarded with the Main Scientific Prize of the German Society of Hygiene and Microbiology and was a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences USA & Alexander-von-Humboldt-Stiftung. Since 2017, he is recognized as one of the Highly Cited Researchers (Clarivate Analytics) in the field of Immunology.
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Allison Ehrlich
Allison Ehrlich is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Toxicology at the University of California-Davis. She received her B.S. in Toxicology at Northeastern University in 2007, and her Ph.D. at Yale University in 2014. Her graduate research focused on CD4 T cell modulation and the role of Tregs in controlling leishmaniasis. Dr. Ehrlich performed her postdoctoral research with Dr. Nancy Kerkvliet at Oregon State University, where she was able to combine her research interests in toxicology, microbiology, and CD4 T cell differentiation. Dr. Ehrlich’s research focuses on the mechanisms by which AhR activation leads to divergent CD4 T cell fates, and how interactions between AhR ligands and the microbiome influences the autoimmune response and susceptibility to type 1 diabetes.
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Cornelis Elferink
Dr. Elferink is Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and the Director of the Sealy Center for Environmental Health and Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston TX, and a co-Director of the Gulf Coast Center for Precision Environmental Health. He has over 30 years of experience working on the Aryl hydrocarbon Receptor (AhR) starting as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University and subsequently as an independent
investigator at Wayne State University in Detroit MI, before joining the University of Texas Medical Branch. Previous research in Dr. Elferink’s laboratory focused on the role of the AhR in cell cycle control and apoptosis, with an emphasis on liver homeostasis. More recently Dr.
Elferink’s studies have concentrated on 1) the AhR’s role in transcriptional processes involving the Kruppel-like Factor 6, a novel AhR partner, 2) epigenetic processes affecting canonical and
non-canonical AhR-regulated gene expression, and 3) the systemic impact of hepatic AhR signaling on extrahepatic tissues. The long-term objectives of the research are to garner a comprehensive mechanistic understanding of AhR biology in the liver using contemporary
molecular, cellular, and genome-wide methodologies in model systems.
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Guillermo Elizondo Azuela
Dr. Guillermo Elizondo Azuela pursued his undergraduate education at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in biology. Latter he received his Master’s degree in Pharmacology at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute (Cinvestav-IPN) followed by his PhD in Physiological Sciences from UNAM. He was a staff fellow in the Laboratory of Metabolism at the National Cancer Institute of the NIH prior to joining to Cinvestav-IPN in 1999. He was an associate professor at the Toxicology Department and currently he is a full professor and the head of the Cell Biology Department of Cinvestav-IPN.

Guillermo Elizondo’s laboratory has conducted research to understand the molecular mechanism by which chemical and biological agents alter the expression of CYP450s as well as to identify polymorphisms in different human populations and determining whether these genetic variations affect the individual drug metabolism. More recently, his studies are focused on characterizing the role of AhR in several cell processes other than detoxification. Currently, he is interested in studying the role of the AhR as a modulator of the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) and the consequences on cell homeostasis.
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Charlotte Esser
Committee Member and Speaker
Charlotte Esser studied biology at the universities of Cologne and Tübingen in Germany and Duke University (USA). She graduated with a Ph.D. in immunology and started her post-doctoral work with a project on the adverse effects of dioxin on thymus development and T cell functions. Research stages led her to Harvard Medical School and the Basel Institute of Immunology. She is now professor at the University of Düsseldorf, Germany, and group leader at the Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Düsseldorf. Her research work focusses on the role of the AHR in the skin and the gut as barrier organs and with respect to their immune functions. With this research, Prof. Esser aims to find new strategies for the development of preventive and therapeutic measures. She has published extensively on these topics, both original papers and seminal reviews, which championed the idea of cell-specificity of dioxin toxicity and later AHR-activity as a pivotal and beneficial physiological signaling pathway. Charlotte Esser is a member of several national societies, and serves on the board of the German Society of Toxicology.
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Pedro Fernandez Salguero
Committee Member and Speaker
Pedro M. Fernández-Salguero got his master’s degree in science (M.S.) and a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Extremadura (UEx) in 1991. Then, he moved to the National Cancer Institute (NCI, NIH, USA) from Dec 1991 to Feb 1997 to complete his postdoctoral training under the supervision of Dr. Frank J. Gonzalez. During this period, he was actively involved in 3 research projects: Generation and characterization of murine knockout models for cancer-related nuclear receptors; Identification of mutations in the DPYD gene causing lethal toxicity to 5-FU-treated cancer patients; Analyses of CYP450-2A genes relevant to tobacco-related lung cancer. He is co-inventor of 3 patents on the diagnostic value of DPYD mutations that produced a licensed kit awarded by the regional (2010) and national (2011) Awards for Excellence in Technology Transfer by the FLC (USA). He returned to the UEx in 1997 as associate professor for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to be promoted to full professor in 2010. He teaches Regulation of Cell Signalling and Mammalian Transgenesis to master students. He is chief of the laboratory on Molecular Biology of Cancer funded by competitive projects of the Spanish and Regional Governments, the Spanish Cancer Research Network (RTICC), and the UEx. He has published over a hundred scientific papers in peer review journals that have received over 11000 citations. His laboratory is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms by which the Aryl hydrocarbon Receptor contributes to progression and metastasis in several cancer types; more recently, hepatocellular carcinoma. His lab also investigates the role of repetitive elements in the functioning of tumoral cells with emphasis in cell differentiation, pluripotency and reprogramming. Additional interests include the analysis of developmental processes that may help understand pathology. Methodologies include Genetics, Molecular and Cellular Biology techniques in cellular models, transgenic animals and human tumor biopsies. A major effort is dedicated to collaborating with the Molecular Pathology and Liver transplant Units of the University Medical Hospital. We believe that our research is relevant to human Health and to cancer diagnose and therapy.
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Irmgard Forster
Irmgard Förster is a Professor of Immunology and Environment at the Life-and-Medical Sciences (LIMES) Institute of the University of Bonn, Germany. After having received her Ph.D. from the University of Cologne, she moved as a postdoctoral fellow to the University of California at San Francisco, USA, studying T cell tolerance. Back in Germany she continued to work at the Institute for Genetics, University of Cologne, and started to investigate the function of myeloid cells using conditional gene targeting techniques. At this time, her group developed the LysM-Cre mouse strain, which is widely used for myeloid cell-specific gene targeting. In 1998, she was appointed as an Associate Professor of Mucosal Immunity at the Technical University of Munich and in 2005 moved to the Leibniz Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Düsseldorf, Germany, as head of Molecular Immunology. In 2012, she was recruited to the University of Bonn to participate in the Cluster of Excellence “ImmunoSensation”. Currently, she also acts as a member of the German Research Foundation (DFG) Review Board for Microbiology, Virology and Immunology. Irmgard Förster is interested in cell migration and immune regulation in barrier organs, focusing on dendritic cells and macrophages. One topic of her research is the functional characterization of the chemokines CCL17 and CCL22 in the context of allergic and inflammatory diseases, as well as neuro-immune functions. In addition, her group investigates the regulation of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) activity by the AhR repressor in response to environmental and metabolic stimuli.
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Marie-Dominique Galibert
Marie-Dominique GALIBERT is Professor at the Medical School of the University of Rennes. She is the Deputy Director of the Institute of Genetics and Development of Rennes, where she leads the Gene Expression and Oncogenesis research group. At the Hospital University of Rennes, she heads the Cancer Genetic Unit.
After studying Pharmacy at the University of Paris V, MD GALIBERT performed a PhD in Human Genetics - at the Institut Pasteur Paris, France. Her research focused on deciphering transcriptional regulation mechanisms. She persue a post-doctorate in the laboratory of Prof. Colin Goding, thanks to Marie Curie fellowship, where she deciphered the biological and pathological processes of melanocytes and melanomas. She focussed on the role of UV irradiation in the melanocytes. Appointed at the Faculty of Medicine of Rennes, she developed her own research group within the Institute of Genetics and Development of Rennes - CNRS UMR6290 ( .php) in line with the expertise acquired as a post-doc fellow.
She now focuses on understanding the genetic, epigenetic and molecular basis of cancer development, to identify new therapeutic targets and new markers. Recently, the group made important contribution to the field identifying an original mechanism of miRNA sponging promoting melanoma growth (Gilot, Migault et al., Nat. Cell. Biol. Nov 2017). They also identified AhR as an upstream regulator of resistance to BRAFi (Corre, Tardif et al., Nat Commun. Nov 2018).
At the Hospital University of Rennes, she is in charge of the Cancer Molecular Genetics Unit, where they have implemented comprehensive genomic screening together with a Molecular Board, to propose personalized medicine to cancer patient.
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Mark Hahn
Mark Hahn is a Senior Scientist and past Chair (2011-2016) of the Biology Department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Woods Hole, MA, USA. He also is a Project Leader in the Boston University Superfund Research Program and the Woods Hole Center for Oceans and Human Health. Hahn received his Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology (1988) from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He conducted postdoctoral research at WHOI before being appointed to the scientific staff in 1992. Dr. Hahn’s research foci include: molecular mechanisms and evolution of transcription factors (e.g. AHR, NRF2) involved in the response to chemicals, mechanisms of adaptation and evolved resistance to chemicals in fish following long-term chemical exposure, mechanisms of developmental toxicity of harmful algal bloom toxins, and the impact of microplastics in the environment. Dr. Hahn is author or co-author of more than 170 papers in peer-reviewed journals and books.
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Bo Huang
Professor of Immunology
• Vice Director of Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, CAMS/PUMC
• Vice-Chairman of Department of Immunology. CAMS
Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences Professor Bo Huang is the Vice-Chairman of Department of Immunology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS). He received his PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology. He finished his postdoctoral training in the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, University of Calgary in Canada, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in United States. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Immunology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS).
Professor Bo's major interests are Tumor immunology; Microparticles in tumor and immunology; Metabolism in tumor and immunology; Mechanical signaling in tumor and immunology.
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Chia-I Ko
Ph.D, Research Scientist in the Department of Environmental Health at the University of Cincinnati. She is in the process of being promoted to adjunct Assistant Professor in the DEH department. Dr. Ko has received her doctor degree in Molecular Biology and Physiology at Lorrain University in Nancy, France. She joined Dr. Puga’s team at University of Cincinnati in 2010 and worked on AHR-dioxin interaction during cardiomyocyte differentiation using mouse embryonic stem cells as model. Currently, her main focus is developmental function of the AHR during preimplantation embryogenesis, specifically investigating consequences of disrupting AHR signaling during this period on pluripotency.
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Paige Lawrence
Committee Member and Speaker
B. Paige Lawrence, PhD, Wright Family Research Professor and Chair of Environmental Medicine and Professor of Microbiology & Immunology; Director, Rochester Environmental Health Science Center. Her research focuses on delineating mechanisms by which environmental signals during different life stages regulate the development of the immune system, and their impact on susceptibility to infectious, allergic, or autoimmune disease. Other research centers on determining how critical periods of development, such as in the womb and shortly after birth, program immune responses across the lifespan, such as via regulation of stem and progenitor cells and epigenetic regulatory mechanisms.
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Karin Loser
Karin received her diploma in biology and after a Ph.D. in molecular biology/biochemistry as well as postdoctoral training she joined the Department of Dermatology as a research associate and focused on the regulation of immune responses. Once having established her own group, Karin studied the pathomechanisms underlying systemic autoimmune diseases in mouse models as well as in patients. Additionally, she investigated the cellular and molecular mechanisms driving regulatory T cell expansion or controlling anti-microbial immunity. Since 2012 Karin is heading the center for Experimental Dermatology and Immunobiology of the Skin. Besides immune regulation, she concentrates on investigating the interaction of the immune system and the nervous system. Moreover, she investigates the impact of environmental factors on the development and perpetuation of autoimmune, sterile inflammatory and infectious diseases as well as on the progression of skin tumors.
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Karen McGovern
Karen McGovern is VP of Discovery Biology at Ikena Oncology and leads the biology on multiple programs including our AHR antagonist program. Karen led the early validation and mechanism of action studies for our AHR inhibitor KYN-175 that is now moving towards clinical development. Prior to joining Ikena Oncology in 2016, Karen was senior director of biology and pharmacology at Infinity Pharmaceuticals where she led many multiple early discovery projects including the PI3K Gamma and Hedgehog programs, from preclinical through early regulatory and clinical development. Karen helped establish the immuno-oncology approaches, in collaboration with academic leaders in the field, that led to key mechanistic understanding and strategies for clinical development for the PI3K gamma program. Prior to that, Karen was a scientist at Millennium Pharmaceutics in both systems biology and anti-infectives groups, including leading projects in the Pfizer-Millennium partnership. Karen received her B.S. from Boston College and earned her Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular genetics from Harvard Medical School.
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Taha Merghoub
Keynote Speaker

Merghoub directs the Ludwig Collaborative Laboratory and the Swim Across America Laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering. He also lead the biorepository for the Melanoma Service at MSK.

Merghoub's research focuses on investigating the means for developing immune-based therapies to treat cancer. In addition, he studies the pathogenesis and treatment of melanoma and is directed in part at developing tools to study melanoma and immune responses in multiple cancers. His projects are heavily collaborative in nature, within the Wolchok lab and across different disciplines at MSK. 

Merghoub's projects:

Overcoming resistance to checkpoint blockade therapy by modulating the immune system.

Using the immune modulatory properties of modalities that target and kill tumor cells directly.

Defining biomarkers and genetic determinants of response to immune therapy.

Developing a tissue repository for the immunotherapy and melanoma groups.

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Joshua Mezrich
Dr. Joshua Mezrich is an Associate Professor of Surgery in the Division of Transplantation at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. He obtained his undergraduate degree with a major in Russian Languages and Literature at Princeton University in 1993, and graduated from Cornell University Medical College in 1997. He then completed a general surgery residency at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics in 2005. During residency, Dr. Mezrich spent 3 years at the Transplantation Biology Research Center at the Massachusetts General Hospital under the guidance of Drs. David Sachs and Joren Madsen, where he became interested in transplant tolerance and xenotransplantation. He completed a fellowship in transplant surgery at The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in 2007, and has been on staff there since that time. His clinical interests include kidney and pancreas transplantation, laparoscopic donor nephrectomy, and liver transplantation.
In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Mezrich has an active laboratory investigating the role of environmental exposures on the immune system, and how these exposures might play a role in disease. He does this in mouse models of autoimmunity and transplant rejection. He holds an RO1 grant from the NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health, and a Merit Award from the Veterans Administration. He also has a special interest in creative writing featuring his patients and their stories, and has written multiple articles in The Atlantic. His first book, “When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon” was released on January 15, 2019, published by Harper Collins.
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Francisco Quintana
Francisco J. Quintana, PhD is a Professor of Neurology at the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and an Associate Member at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.
Dr. Quintana, a graduate of the University of Buenos Aires (1999, Argentina), obtained his PhD in immunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science (2004, Israel). He received postdoctoral training at the Weizmann Institute of Science and at Harvard Medical School. In 2009, Dr. Quintana joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Quintana’s research investigates signaling pathways that control the immune response and neurodegeneration, with the ultimate goal of identifying novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers for immune-mediated disorders. Dr. Quintana has published over 150 peer reviewed articles and book chapters. Dr. Quintana's work identified an important role for the transcription factor AHR in the control of inflammation driven by adaptive and innate immune cells. His work has also identified important mechanisms that control neurodegeneration driven by CNS resident cells. In addition, Dr. Quintana’s research has resulted in multiple patents which have been the foundation of three companies: ImmunArray Ltd, Alma Bio Therapeutics and AnTolRx Inc.
Dr. Quintana is the recipient of the Lady Anne Chain Prize for Academic Excellence and Scientific Achievements, the Junior Investigator Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Pathway to Independence Award of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Award for Outstanding Research Achievement form Nature Biotechnology, the Tecan Award for Innovation, the Harry Weaver Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Mentor Award from Harvard Medical School, the Milestones in Multiple Sclerosis Research Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the AAI-BD Biosciences Investigator Award.
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Steve Safe
Stephen Safe received his B. Sc and MSc in Chemistry from Queen’s University (Canada) and a D. Phil from Oxford University (England) in Bioorganic Chemistry. After postdoctoral training at Oxford and Harvard University he was a Research Officer at the National Research Council of Canada and then a faculty member at the University of Guelph (Canada). He is currently a Professor in the Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology at Texas A&M University. His research is focused on the development of mechanism-based anticancer drugs that target specificity proteins, the orphan nuclear receptor 4A1 (NR4A1), NR4A2 and the Ah receptor. Research in the Safe laboratory is also focused the role of the Ah receptor and its ligands in microbiome-gut interactions and the development of a new class of drugs for treating endometriosis. He has received awards from Texas A&M University and the Society of Toxicology (Burroughs Wellcome Toxicology Scholar, Distinguished Toxicology Scholar Award, and Merit Award). He was awarded honorary doctorate of science degrees from the University of Guelph and Queen’s University in Canada. He has more than 790 refereed publications and an h-index of 124.
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Chris Schiering
I completed my MSci in Immunology at the University of Glasgow in 2008. I then took up a PhD studentship in Fiona Powrie’s lab at the University of Oxford. During my time in Fiona’s lab, I investigated cytokine networks that contribute to chronic intestinal inflammation with a particular focus on Treg cells and Th17 cells. I moved to London in 2013 to conduct my postdoctoral studies in the lab of Gitta Stockinger at the Francis Crick Institute. While in Gitta’s lab, I became fascinated by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), a ligand activated transcription factor capable of recognizing dietary components and microbiota metabolites. We are now continuing to study this versatile receptor in the context of immunity and metabolic disease in my newly established research group at the London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS) at Imperial College London.
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David Sherr
Committee Member and Speaker
Since 1993, David Sherr’s laboratory has conducted research on how common environmental pollutants, such as dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and PCBs, adversely affect the growth and behavior of several different types of normal and malignant cells. In previous work, the Sherr laboratory studied how environmental chemicals affect the development of the immune system. In specific, his laboratory demonstrated that aromatic hydrocarbons (generated by the combustion of any carbon source) compromise the function of bone marrow cells required for the development of antibody-forming cells.
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Thomas R. Sutter
Dr. Sutter is a Professor of Biology and Chemistry, and holder of the W. Harry Feinstone Chair of Excellence in Molecular Biology at the University of Memphis, Memphis, TN. He is also the director of the Feinstone Center for Genomic Research. He completed his Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Cincinnati Medical College, and postdoctoral training at the Chemical Industries Institute of Toxicology in North Carolina.
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Ellen van den Bogaard
Ellen van den Bogaard, Ph.D., is the head of the Laboratory for Experimental Dermatology at the Department of Dermatology of the Radboud university medical center (Nijmegen, The Netherlands) and affiliated to the Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (RIMLS) as a principal investigator. The Radboudumc is one of the largest academic medical centres in the Netherlands and functions as the medical faculty of the Radboud University. RIMLS is a leading multidisciplinary research institute within the domain of molecular mechanisms of disease and particularly in the fields of cell biology, molecular medicine, and translational research.
Dr. van den Bogaard is trained in biomedical sciences and completed her Ph.D. with the highest distinction in 2014. Her main expertise is in the development and application of advanced cell culture models and organotypic skin models to study the biology of human skin and pathophysiology and therapeutics of (inflammatory) skin diseases. Her discovery on the molecular mechanism of coal tar therapy, one of the oldest dermatological therapies, brought her to the field of AHR signalling and she worked at the laboratory of Prof. Gary Perdew as a research fellow to further investigate the role of the AHR signalling in epidermal homeostasis. Current research involves the in-depth molecular characterization of AHR signalling and transcription regulation in keratinocytes, the regulation of host-microbe interactions in the skin and the screening of AHR ligands for their potential as skin therapeutics.
For her research, she received multiple prestigious (personal) grants and fellowships and she is acknowledged for her work on developing alternatives for experimental animals by public organizations. Her lab is part of two large European consortia (IMI) aimed at the discovery of biomarkers for atopic dermatitis and psoriasis and validation in pre-clinical screening models. Dr van den Bogaard is an active member of the Dutch Society for Experimental Dermatology (NVED), European Society for Dermatological Research (ESDR) and Epidermal Barrier Research Network (E2BRN).
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Heike Weighardt
Heike Weighardt is a group leader at the Life and Medical Sciences Institute (LIMES), Dept. Immunology and Environment (University of Bonn, Germany) and the IUF Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine, Düsseldorf, Germany. She studied biology at the universities of Würzburg and Munich, Germany and did her Ph.D. studying the influence of cell adhesion molecules on the pathology of experimental autoimmune encephalitis at the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology, Munich, Germany. As a postdoctoral researcher at the Technical University in Munich, she developed an interest in studying the role of innate defense mechanisms and TLR-dependent immunity in sepsis and the development of genetic modified mouse models. In 2009, she started to work at the IUF Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine, Düsseldorf, Germany and moved to the LIMES Institute, Bonn, Germany in 2012. Her research interests are the contribution of innate immunity to environmental induced skin inflammation and skin allergies. Further, she analyzes the function of the Arylhydrocarbon receptor (AhR) repressor in skin and mucosal tissues and is interested in analyzing the interplay of AhR/AhRR signaling and the innate immune system at barrier organs.
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Wen Xie
Wen Xie is the Joseph Koslow Endowed Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy.
Dr. Xie obtained his medical degree from Peking University Health Science Center and Ph.D. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California before joining the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in 2002. Dr. Xie has held the Joseph Koslow Endowed Professorship since 2012. He was named the Chairman of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2017.
Dr. Xie’s primary research interest is to understand the roles of xenobiotic receptors in mediating the environmental effects on human disease and morbidity. Xenobiotic receptors, such as the pregnane X receptor (PXR) and aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), are transcriptional factors that bind to and activated by xenobiotic factors, which come from outside the body, such as environmental chemicals and drugs. The same receptors can also bind to factors that exist naturally inside the body or endobiotics. The gene regulatory network controlled by xenobiotic receptors can dictate the body’s ability to breakdown environmental chemicals and drugs, and regulate normal body functions and disease pathogenesis. Dr. Xie’s research is conducted using a combination of cell cultures and genetically engineered mice that include transgenic, knockout and humanized mice. Since 2002, Dr. Xie’s research has been supported by twenty NIH R01 grants in which he is the Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator, as well as an NIH R35 grant. Dr. Xie has authored more than 200 journal articles and book chapters and delivered over 200 invited lectures at conferences and universities. Dr. Xie has edited and published two books. Dr. Xie is a regular reviewer for the NIH grant panels and over 90 scientific journals. Dr. Xie guest-edited for five journals and currently serves on the editorial boards of eight journals.
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Tim Zacharewski
Timothy Richard Zacharewski is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and the Institute for Integrative Toxicology at Michigan State University. He obtained his undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Guelph in Canada, a Ph.D. in Toxicology from Texas A&M University in the laboratory of S. Safe, and was awarded a Medical Research Council of Canada Post Doctoral Fellowship to study with Professor Pierre Chambon in Strasbourg, France. In 1992, Dr. Zacharewski accepted an Assistant Professor position in the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology at the University of Western Ontario. In 1997, he relocated to Michigan State University where uses complementary approaches to investigate the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) dose-and time-dependent progression of steatosis to steatohepatitis with fibrosis elicited by environmental pollutants, drugs, chemicals and natural products in in vitro and in vivo models.
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Teresa Zelante
Associate Professor in General Pathology. She received the PhD in 2009 in Experimental Medicine, at the University of Perugia, Italy. Her PhD was based on the study of the immunology of opportunistic diseases, as fungal infections. In particular, in understanding the role of the Th17 cell response — particularly the response triggered by fungi — in early and late phases of infection. At the Singapore Immunology Network, Singapore, she had her postdoc where she investigated the role of IL-2 and the calcineurin/NFAT pathway in innate immune cells in the lung, which are normally exposed to Aspergillus fumigatus spores. Lastly, directly under the Program Research ‘Programma Giovani Ricercatori Rita Levi Montalcini’ in 2014, entitled: “Molecular mining of the Aspergillus secondary metabolome”, she have found that Aspergillus in the lung may activate a pathogenic response AhR-mediated. Thanks to the Italian Ministry of Research and Education in Italy, in 2015, she got the position of Researcher type B in Pathology. Therefore, in her research programs, she had the chance to develop research expertise in both Microbiology and Immunology. She became Associate Professor in General Pathology at the University of Perugia in 2019. In the last years, she combined the expertise and focused on mouth/lung/gut microbiome studies to discover the characteristics at the interface between the host immune system and the microbiota/mycobiota.