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TASK Foundation, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa Andreas Diacon is a Professor of Physiology and Principal Specialist in Pulmonology at the University of Stellenbosch and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa.
He received his MD from the University of Zürich, Switzerland, in 1987, specialized in Internal Medicine and Pulmonology, and earned a PhD from Stellenbosch University in 2007.
Andreas Diacon developed an early interest in tuberculosis during training in a former TB sanatorium in Davos in the Swiss Alps, also named the “magic mountain”. After migrating to South Africa he started his own anti-tuberculosis drug research. He is the founder and CEO of TASK, an organisation specialising in clinical studies with novel TB treatments, vaccines and diagnostics. Many novel compounds have since been tested at TASK research sites. His main research interests now lie in the techniques and clinical methods for the evaluation of novel anti-tuberculosis agents. He is engaged in various research collaborations within South Africa and with the USA and Europe.
Recently Andreas Diacon was named as one of Bill Gates’s Heroes in the Field through his contributions and continuing search for better treatment solutions for tuberculosis.
Dr. Clifton E. Barry III received his Ph.D. in organic and bio-organic chemistry in 1989 from Cornell University, studying the biosynthesis of complex natural products. Following postdoctoral research in the chemistry department at Johns Hopkins University (1989 to 1992), Dr. Barry joined the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ (NIAID’s) Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana. In 1998, he was tenured as chief of the Tuberculosis Research Section (TRS) in the Laboratory of Clinical Infectious Diseases of NIAID.
The TRS is a multidisciplinary group of research scientists comprised of biologists, chemists and clinicians who share a common focus on TB. TRS projects focus on understanding the scientific issues that facilitate the development of drugs that will make a genuine difference in the outcome for TB patients globally. TRS scientists are highly interactive worldwide in this endeavor and as a result of our outstanding collaborations TRS is the most highly cited TB research group in the world according to Thomson Reuters. Dr Barry has authored over 250 publications in the scientific literature. Working with scientists at PathoGenesis in Seattle, TRS played a key role in the preclinical development program that led to PA-824 (Pretomanid, currently in Phase 2/3 clinical trials). TRS scientists also conducted the entire preclinical program leading to SQ109 (currently in Phase 3 clinical trials in Russia). TRS scientists conceived and conducted the Phase 2 clinical trial showing the utility of using linezolid for the treatment of patients suffering from extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis.
In addition to TRS laboratories in Bethesda TRS works closely with Chinese colleagues at the Henan Provincial Chest Hospital in Zhengzhou, China; and with colleagues at Stellenbosch University (SUN) and the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa. Dr. Barry holds honorary appointments at both UCT and SUN and has a growing laboratory in the Institute for Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine.
David A. Fidock is a Professor of Microbiology & Immunology and of Medical Sciences (in Medicine) at the Columbia University Medical Center. He received his B.Sc. (Maths) with Honors from Adelaide University in 1986 and his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the Pasteur Institute in Paris in 1994. Following postdoctoral research at UC Irvine with Dr. Anthony James and the NIH with Dr. Thomas Wellems, he started his group at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York in 2000. He moved to Columbia University in 2007. His research program focuses primarily on the genetic and molecular basis of antimalarial drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum and research into antimalarials in development. He has authored 200 articles on malaria. In 2014 he received the ASTMH Bailey K. Ashford Medal. In 2016 he was named the Advance Global Australian of the Year in Life Sciences and a Fellows of the ASTMH. His work is supported by the NIH, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Medicines with Malaria Venture. He also works closely with Kelly Chibale and colleagues at H3D and is currently training two former U Cape Town graduate students as postdoctoral scientists in his group.
David G. Russell, Ph.D., is the William Kaplan Professor of Infection Biology in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Cornell University. He received his Ph.D. from Imperial College, UK. He has held positions at the Max-Planck-Institüt in Tübingen, NYU Medical School, Washington University School of Medicine and Cornell University. He has spent his entire career looking at host/pathogen interplay and has authored over 230 publications on the subject, including papers in Science and Nature. He has active collaborations with UCT, Cape Town, and AHRI, Durban, South Africa and with the MLW Clinical Research Program, Blantyre, Malawi. He was made an Honorary Professor of Immunology at the Malawi College of Medicine in 2015. His work is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, USA, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr Dennis Smith gained his Ph.D from the University of Manchester. He was employed by Fisons Pharma and then Pfizer, where he retired as a vice-president. During this period he directly helped in the Discovery and Development of eight marketed NCEs. For the last nine years he has taken on a number of roles. Academic appointments include Honorary Professor at the University of Capetown, where he is closely involved with H3D, the leading academic drug discovery unit in Africa. He is a member or chair of a number of Expert Panels working within organisations such as Medicines for Malaria Venture and Cancer Research UK as well as serving on Scientific Advisory Boards for a number of Research Institutions. His research interests and publications span all aspects of Drug Discovery and Development particularly where drug metabolism knowledge can impact on the design of more efficacious and safer drugs. He has co-authored over 190 publications. Books that he has co-authored and edited include “Pharmacokinetics and Metabolism in Drug Design”, “Metabolism, Pharmacokinetics and Toxicity of Functional Groups, “Reactive Drug Metabolites”, “Attrition in the Pharmaceutical Industry” and “Metabolite Safety in Drug Development”. Science recently placed him as the 6th most influential biomedical scientist in the world in 2017. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/10/who-s-most-influential-biomedical-scientist-computer-program-guided-artificial.
He was elected as the first Fellow of the Drug Metabolism Discussion Group in 2015.
Dirk Schnappinger joined the faculty of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology of Weill Cornell Medical College in 2001. He received his Ph.D. from the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany, in 1998 for his work on the repressor protein that controls the expression of tetracycline resistance in Gram negative bacteria. After his graduate work Dr. Schnappinger began to study the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis, first at UC Berkeley, in the lab of Dr. Lee Riley, and then at Stanford under the guidance of Dr. Gary Schoolnik, where he helped to adapt microarray-based RNA profiling to the analysis of bacterial pathogens. His current research focuses on the biology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Flavio da Silva Emery
Pharmacist graduated from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (1998), I obtained the title of Doctor of Chemistry of Natural Products in 2005 by the same institution in the Nucleus of Natural Products Research (NPPN). I am currently an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Ribeirão Preto at the University of São Paulo, developing research projects in the areas of medicinal chemistry and synthesis of heterocycles, exploring diverse targets for the discovery of new bioactive compounds in cancer, infectious diseases and CNS diseases, while expanding the chemical space towards innovation. I am the President of the Brazilian Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences (2019-2020), as well as an active member of the IUPAC Drug Discovery and Development Subcommittee. I also act as coordinator of the Post-Graduate Program in Pharmaceutical Sciences of Ribeirão Preto. Recently, I have visited several Institutions as visiting Professor/Researcher, as the Rice University (US) and the University of East Anglia (UK).
Heather Jaspan completed her MD and Ph.D. at Tulane University, and thereafter did Pediatrics and Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Washington. She is an Associate Professor of Pediatric Infectious Disease and Global Health at the University of Washington, as well as a member of the Seattle Children’s Research institute. At University of Cape Town, she is an Associate Member of the Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine and an Honorary Research Associate in the Division of Immunology. She has a clinical study site in Khayelitsha, and laboratories in South Africa and Seattle, performing studies related to HIV prevention and pediatric immunology.
Dr. Collins is and Assistant Professor and the Rita and William P. Clements Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research in the Department of Pharmacology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Prior to joining the UT Southwestern faculty in 2014 he was a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor Phillip Newmark (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) at the University of Illinois and received his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis working with Professor Kerry Kornfeld. His work focuses on the basic biology of schistosomes, a group of parasites that infect of 200 million people around the globe. He is an Associate Editor for PLoS Pathogens and an organizer of the annual Molecular and Cellular Biology of Helminths Meeting.
Jennifer Keiser heads the Helminth Drug Development Unit at Swiss TPH, which maintains a large and unique set of helminth-rodent models. She is a Professor of Neglected Tropical Diseases at the Faculty of Science of the University of Basel. Research objectives of her team include in vitro and in vivo evaluation of biological activities of chemical compounds, assay development, preclinical studies such as pharmacokinetics and metabolism, and clinical trials in helminthiasis-endemic countries, particularly in Côte d’Ivoire, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Russia and Tanzania. Keiser holds a 5-year ERC Consolidator grant and leads a new 5-year multi-partner EU grant to develop new drugs against neglected helminth infections.
Dr. Jeremy Burrows is VP, Head of Drug Discovery at Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV). He heads up the Discovery team at MMV and works with Pharmaceutical companies, Universities and other institutions to delivery new candidate drugs for antimalarial therapy, anti-relapse, prophylaxis and transmission blocking.
Jeremy obtained a MA in chemistry and a D.Phil. in synthetic organic chemistry at Oxford University (1989-1996). In 1997 he joined ZENECA/ AstraZeneca as a medicinal chemist working in Infection, Cardiovascular and Inflammation research in the UK. In 2005 he was seconded to Sweden in CNS/Pain where he led a section focused on Alzheimer’s disease. In 2008, he joined MMV and in 2010 became Head of the Discovery team, overseeing a growing portfolio of enabling technology, screening, Hit-to-lead and Lead Optimisation projects.
He, his teams and partners have been involved with the delivery of numerous candidate drugs for multiple disease areas, over 20 of which have been for malaria and he has published over 110 papers, book chapters and patent applications.
He sits on the advisory and review committees for several external drug discovery collaborations within the neglected disease area. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
Professor Karl Hoffmann
Professor of Parasitology
Leader, Parasitology and Epidemiology Research group
Director, Barrett Center for Helminth Control
IBERS, Aberystwyth University
Professor Hoffmann holds the Aberystwyth University Chair of Parasitology at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS), having relocated in 2007 from the Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge.
Since joining IBERS, Professor Hoffmann has instigated the formation of the Parasitology and Epidemiology (PE) Research Group and has recently directed the development of a new interdisciplinary research center in helminth control (the Barrett Center for Helminth Control, BCHC). He is an editor for Parasitology International, has served on the Welsh Government Life Sciences National Research Network’s Management and Executive Boards and is current member of the Wellcome Trust Basic Science Interview Committee.
Professor Hoffmann directs a laboratory team working on strategies to control helminths (blood and liver flukes) of biomedical, veterinary and zoonotic importance. Here, using functional genomics as well as classical molecular and biochemical techniques, his team attempts to provide new insights into developmental biology, epigenetics, bilateral symmetry, immune-evasion, sexual reproduction and organogenesis. His laboratory has been awarded research funding from BBSRC, the European Union, the Welsh Government, the Wellcome Trust, the Nuffield Foundation, Innovate UK, Pfizer Animal Health (Zoetis), MSD Animal Health and the Sandler Center for Parasitological Research. As part of current translational activities using the Roboworm high-throughput drug discovery platform, Professor Hoffmann welcomes the opportunity to engage with other investigators in the search for new anthelmintics effective against both blood (Schistosoma sp) and liver (Fasciola hepatica) flukes.
Leann Tilley is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Bio21 Institute. Leann was awarded the Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship from the Australian Research Council, to measure and model malaria parasites. She is Past-President of the Australian Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. As part of the Laureate program, Leann’s laboratory is developing and implementing new imaging modalities, including Super-Resolution Optical Microscopy, Electron Tomography and cryoEM, with a view to aiding the development of new therapeutics.
Leann believes that answering the major medical and biotechnology questions of the 21st century will require convergence of the life and physical sciences, with particular reliance on advanced imaging techniques and biocomputational approaches. She argues that the development of drugs for diseases that affect patients who can’t afford expensive treatments, such as antimalarial drugs, requires radical new approaches involving Academic/ Private/ Public partnerships. She would like to be part of the exciting developments in these areas.
Leann believes that answering important questions requires teams of passionate gender and culturally diverse people who provide different ideas, perspectives and backgrounds – building a collective intelligence.
Dr. Hegemann oversees the global health operations of Novartis, from drug discovery through development to implementation. This includes our flagship programmes in malaria, leprosy, sickle cell disease and Chagas disease as well as the continuous development of the Established Medicines portfolio with specific emphasis on the medical needs in underserved populations. The Novartis Foundation and Novartis Social Business are part of his organization. He serves on several corporate governance boards, including the Development Committee of Novartis.
He joined Novartis in the Consumer Health Division in 2005 as Global Head of Clinical Research and Biostatistics. Later, he was appointed Global R&D Head Dermatology and Established Products, and Head of R&D Europe. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Clinical Development, Medical Affairs and Drug Safety at Nycomed based in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Dr. Hegemann studied at the University of Bonn (DE) and the University of Utrecht (NL). He holds a medical doctorate and a PhD in Molecular Pharmacology. He trained as a dermatologist with special interest in inflammatory and infectious skin diseases, including leprosy and cutaneous leishmaniosis, and conducted academic clinical research at the University of Cologne (DE), at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA (US) and at the University of Vienna (AT). At the University Hospitals of Vienna, Dr. Hegemann built and headed a unit that specialized in first-in-man and proof-of-concept studies with novel dermatological therapies. Subsequently, he occupied local, regional, and global roles of increasing responsibility in drug development with Takeda, Rhône-Poulenc Rorer, and Nycomed, spanning preclinical and clinical research, drug safety and regulatory affairs.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene and serves on the executive board of the Swiss Alliance against Neglected Tropical Diseases and the Novartis Foundation.
DST/NRF South African Research Chair (SARChI) in Sustainable Malaria Control
Prof Lyn-Marie Birkholtz is full professor in Biochemistry at the University of Pretoria and director of a Tier 1 DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Sustainable Malaria Control. She leads the Parasite Cluster within the UP Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control. Prof Birkholtz is an elected member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and serves on the council for the South African Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She received her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Pretoria, followed by postdoctoral fellowships in Germany and the USA. UP recognised her as Exceptional Young Researcher in 2010 and 2013, as Exceptional Academic Achiever in 2019. She received the Vice Chancellor’s Exceptional Supervisor Award in 2017 and the NSTF Science Communication Award in 2018.
Lyn-Marie’s research harness expertise in malaria control in South Africa to enable sustained malaria control particularly in the African context. Her research area contributes to the interplay between malaria control and elimination by focussing on both the pathogenic and transmission forms of the parasite to ensure sustainability in malaria control and elimination, by broadening our understanding of essential biological processes of malaria parasites as a catalyst to antimalarial drug discovery.
Dr.Manica Balasegaram trained as a medical doctor at the University of Nottingham, UK from where he started his career in internal and emergency medicine.From 2001, he worked as a doctor and researcher in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia and gained important experience in emergency medicine during humanitarian interventions, including with Doctors Without Borders (MSF). At the end of 2007, he joined the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative(DNDi) as Head of the Leishmaniasis Clinical Program, a position he held for four years before returning to MSF as Executive Director of their Access to Essential Medicines Campaign in Geneva. In June 2016, he was appointed Director of GARDP and its Executive Director in July 2018. Dr. Balasegaram is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and the Scientific Advisory Board of FIND, two Geneva-based organizations. He has also been a lecturer since 2013 at the University of Geneva for a Diploma and Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) program in clinical research and development.An expert in global health and infectious diseases, Dr. Balasegaram is also recognized for his international work on health policies and access to medicines. He also has experience in clinical trials and drug development as a lead investigator and in project management.
Marc Mendelson is Professor of Infectious Diseases and Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital, University of Cape Town. He is Chair of the South African Ministerial Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and co-founder of the South African Antibiotic Stewardship Programme. His work focuses on national and international policy development on AMR. Marc is the current President of the International Society for Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Mary Jackson currently is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology at Colorado State University. She earned a Bioengineering degree and a MSc. Degree from the National School of Agronomy, Rennes, France in 1994, and a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry, and Cellular and Molecular Biology from the Pasteur Institute, Paris, France, in 1998.
Her 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 with the goal to inform novel therapeutic strategies.
Dr. Jackson has published over 140 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.
Neil Osheroff received his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Northwestern University and was a Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Fellow at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He currently is Professor of Biochemistry and Medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and holds the John G. Coniglio Chair in Biochemistry. Neil’s laboratory focuses on the functions, mechanism, and drug interactions of enzymes known as topoisomerases. His research program has made seminal contributions to all aspects of the field. Beyond the critical roles of topoisomerases in a variety of DNA processes, the human enzymes are the targets for several important anticancer drugs (including etoposide and doxorubicin). Furthermore, the bacterial enzymes (gyrase and topoisomerase IV) are the targets for fluoroquinolones (including ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin), which are the most widely used antibacterials worldwide. Neil’s antibacterial work recently has expanded to include novel bacterial topoisomerase inhibitors (NBTIs) and spiropyrimidinetriones. Neil has received awards for mentoring, teaching, curricular design, educational leadership and service, and affirmative action, and he is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has published more than 250 papers and has presented more than 300 scientific and educational talks in 32 different countries.
Paul is currently Head of the Drug Discovery Unit, University of Dundee and Director of the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research.
Paul is a medicinal chemist with extensive drug discovery expertise developed over 35 years of delivering multiple candidate drugs. His role in Dundee is to develop translational research by bringing together his and other’s experience of drug discovery in the Pharma/Biotech sector with academic life sciences research to identify and de-risk novel targets for drug discovery, and develop new treatments for diverse diseases including tuberculosis and cancer. As Head of the DDU since its inception (2006), Paul has led and made major contributions to developing a high quality, fully integrated, multi-disciplinary drug discovery team of around 100 scientists, which takes an entrepreneurial and risk taking approach. The Wellcome Centre brings together expertise from parasitology to drug development to improve our approaches to deliver drugs for diseases of LMICs.
Previously Paul worked within the BioPharma industry (23 years), gaining experience across diverse therapeutic areas, e.g. oncology, pre-term labour; antiviral agents; TB; playing a significant part in seven compounds entering pre-clinical or clinical development.
Paul obtained his BSc and PhD in Chemistry from the University of Birmingham, UK.
Peter joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) in 2013 after a 28-year career in the Pharma industry. Trained as a medicinal chemist, he has worked across a broad range of therapy areas delivering drug candidates to the clinic. Immediately prior to joining the BMGF he led the AstraZeneca Neglected Diseases Research Unit in Bangalore. Within the BMGF he manages a portfolio of grants focused primarily on tuberculosis and drug Discovery for Neglected Diseases. He is the co-leader of the TB Drug Accelerator consortium.Show more
Philip J. Rosenthal is a Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and Associate Chief for Academic Affairs and Research in the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital. At UCSF he is a member of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Global Health Sciences Program. He has directed an NIH/Fogarty International Center training program entitled “Training in Malaria Research in Uganda” since 2000. Dr. Rosenthal has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene since January, 2014, and he is on the editorial boards of four other medical journals. He has served on numerous review groups and advisory bodies for the NIH, WHO, Medicines for Malaria Venture, the Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network, and other organizations. Dr. Rosenthal’s research, funded principally by the NIH, focuses on the treatment of malaria, including studies of antimalarial treatment and chemopreventive efficacy, translational studies of drug resistance, evaluation of antimalarial pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, characterization of mechanisms of action of novel antimalarial agents, and antimalarial drug discovery. Primary research sites are in Uganda and at UCSF, and collaborations are in place with groups in a number of other countries.
Stacie has 25 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry (Ligand, Agouron, Warner Lambert, Pfizer, Celgene) and a proven record of small molecule drug discovery. She is responsible for the nomination of 15 development candidates. During her tenure at Agouron, as a member of the discovery team, Stacie discovered rucaparib (Rubraca®), which is a first-in-class PARP-selective inhibitor for treatment of ovarian, fallopian tube and primary peritoneal cancers with BRCA mutations. The drug was licensed from Pfizer to Clovis Oncology and received accelerated FDA approval in December 2016, with breakthrough, priority review and orphan drug designations. Stacie’s broad expertise includes success with fragment, structural, phenotypic and property based drug discovery approaches, leadership of global project teams and diverse therapeutic area experience, including oncology, inflammation/fibrosis, HIV, HCV, sexual health, ophthalmology, malaria, leishmaniasis, AAT and Chagas disease. Her leadership roles include recruiting/growth, restructuring, career development, mentoring, education, establishing departmental and CRO budgets, and workforce planning. Senior roles also include site management, business development due diligence, project advisory roles on cross-company joint research teams, and leadership of multi-partnered, international research teams.
Senior Vice President, Drug Discovery
Tanya Parish is the Senior Vice President of Drug Discovery at IDRI where she heads the TB Discovery Research group. Her work focuses on the discovery of new drugs that are effective at curing drug-sensitive and drug-resistant tuberculosis with the added goal of shortening the time it takes to cure disease. This encompasses a range of early stage drug discovery including drug target identification and validation, high throughput screening and medicinal chemistry. In addition, her group works to understand the pathogenic mechanisms and basic biology of the global pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis and using this information to inform drug discovery.
Tanya is a microbiologist by training, with a background in mycobacteriology. She received her PhD at the National Institute for Medical Research investigating gene regulation in mycobacteria followed by postdoctoral research at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine studying several facets of the biology of M. tuberculosis. Until recently, she held an academic post as Professor of Mycobacteriology at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, and she is currently an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington.
Tanya has edited several books on mycobacteria and published numerous papers on the basic biology and genetics of M. tuberculosis. She is Editor-in-Chief of Microbiology (UK), on the Editorial Board for PLOS One, PeerJ and Frontiers in Cell and Infection Microbiology.
Within the Global Health Institute at Merck, Thomas is responsible for drug discovery activities focusing primarily on Malaria and Schistosomiasis.
Before joining Merck, Thomas worked with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) in the discovery team on the early stages of the pipeline from compound screening to candidate selection. Also Thomas led the open source Malaria Box and Pathogen Box initiatives designed to catalyze drug discovery research in neglected diseases.
Thomas holds a PhD in organic chemistry from the Universities of Strasbourg (France) and Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany). In 2009, he was appointed as a Post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University (USA) where he contributed to the total synthesis of the mycolactones and the development towards the point-of-care diagnosis of Buruli ulcer, a neglected necrotizing skin disease. He authored and co-authored over 25-peer-reviewed articles and is a co-inventor on several patents.
Véronique Dartois received her PhD degree in molecular microbiology at the University of Louvain, Belgium. She then completed her post-doctoral training at the Scripps Research Institute (CA) and Pasteur Institute (Paris). She spent 15 years in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry, and was Executive Director, Pharmacology, at the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases, in Singapore. In this position, she led a team of Research Associates, Post-doc Fellows and Principal Scientists to support hit-to-lead, lead optimization and preclinical stages of drug discovery programs in Tuberculosis, Dengue fever and Malaria. In 2012, she transitioned to academia, at the Public Health Research Institute of Rutgers, to focus entirely on studying the pharmacological mechanisms contributing to the very long therapy duration required to cure tuberculosis and nontuberculous mycobacterial disease. These factors essentially fall under two categories: the presence of multiple bacterial subpopulations exhibiting differential (and reduced) susceptibility to most drugs, and the complexity of the lung pathology leading to sequestration of the pathogen in remote niches where drugs may fail to distribute efficiently. Recently, she has expanded her research interests to study the pharmacology of hard-to-cure infections by high-threat pathogens. She has published more than 100 articles in peer reviewed journals.
At CDI, she has established a fully integrated analytical platform for the quantification of drugs, lipids and other small molecules in various biological matrices. In the biosafety level 3 facility, her team has access to a large animal biosafety level-3 facility and a state-of-the-art MALDI mass spectrometry imaging suite, enabling the visualization of therapeutic agents and endogenous metabolites in tissues/organs infected with tuberculosis, non-tuberculous mycobacteria and other high-threat pathogens. Her research has paved the way to guiding the selection of new drug regimens that combine agents with complementary distribution and activity at the sites of infection, a significant departure from current – and mostly empirical – approaches.