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Keynote speakers

Tuesday 3 September 2024

  • Keynote lectures:

Prof. Dr. Kinjal Majumder

Kinjal Majumder completed his undergraduate studies at Drury University majoring in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics. His PhD dissertation was focused on the epigenetic regulation of T Cell receptor gene assembly at Washington University in Saint Louis in the laboratory of Dr. Eugene Oltz. Dr. Majumder performed his post-doctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. David Pintel at the University of Missouri-Columbia focused on the mechanisms of parvovirus interactions with the host genome and cellular DNA damage response pathways. He established his independent research program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute for Molecular Virology in 2020. The Majumder lab focusses on dissecting the mechanisms of parvovirus-host nucleome interactions and determining how they improve gene therapies and oncolytic virotherapies.

Prof. Dr. Matthew Weitzman

Matthew Weitzman grew up in Britain, graduating with a degree in Genetics from Leeds University and a PhD in Molecular Virology from Oxford Brookes. He was a Fogarty Fellow at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and was also a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. He started his independent lab as a faculty member of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California and University of California, San Diego. In 2011 he moved to his current position where he is Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and runs a lab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He holds a number of leadership positions including Associate Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) for Research Communities in the CHOP Research Institute, Co-Director of the CHOP Division of Protective Immunity, and Co-Program Leader for the Tumor Biology Program of the Abramson Cancer Center. He holds the Arthur Vincent Meigs Endowed Chair in Pediatrics. He has served on numerous grant review panels and journal editorial boards. He is also highly committed to training and mentoring the next generation of scientists. At CHOP/Penn he has initiated multiple grant preparation groups under the umbrella of the Grant Proposal Success (GPS) program. He has received CHOP awards for mentoring faculty (2016) and research trainees (2017) and the Penn Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award (2020). He has maintained active NIH funding for over 20 years and made significant contributions at the interface of virus-host interactions and genome integrity. His lab employs techniques in biochemistry, genetics and cell biology to harness human DNA viruses as model systems to investigate fundamental cellular processes. He has studied cellular responses and nuclear reorganization during infection with adenovirus and herpesviruses, and seeks to understand how they provide helper function for AAV.

  • Memorial lectures in memory of Nicolas Muzyczka and Kenneth I. Berns:

Prof. Dr. Barrie J. Carter

Barrie Carter gained a PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He then conducted research on AAV at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland from 1970 to 1992. This was followed by 27 years in the biotechnology industry, primarily at Targeted Genetics Corporation from 1992 to 2008 and BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Inc from 2013 to 2018. His long-term research interests are in biology of viruses and clinical development of gene therapy. At NIH he studied AAV biology and genome structure and expression, and developed the earliest AAV vectors including the first filed and issued patent on an AAV vector. In the biotechnology industry he led the clinical development of AAV vectors and at Targeted Genetics initiated in 1994 the first clinical trials of an AAV vector. At BioMarin he established and led the gene therapy program which resulted in the recent approval of an AAV gene therapy, Roctavian, for hemophilia A. Dr. Carter is a Past-President of the American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy. He has served on the Advisory Committee to the Director, NIH, and on many other advisory and review committees for NIH, FDA, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, The New Zealand Medical Research Council and the School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle.

Prof. Dr. R. Michael Linden

After receiving his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Zürich, Switzerland, Dr. Linden trained in Molecular Virology at Cornell University Medical College, N.Y. After his postdoctoral training he joined the faculty at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, where he continued to study the biology and gene therapy potential of adeno-associated virus (AAV). In 2007, he moved continents to set up a new research group at King’s College London as the chair in Molecular Virology. His contributions to the field include the biochemical and structural determination of the AAV Rep proteins, which orchestrate all aspects of the AAV life cycle, and the proposal of a mechanism of site-specific integration. During these studies Prof. Linden’s laboratory has demonstrated the potential of using embryonic stem cells for gaining insights into complex viral mechanisms. Throughout his career, Prof. Linden has engaged in the field of AAV-mediated gene therapy including a role as the Director of the UCL Gene Therapy Consortium where he was responsible for clinical grade vector production and the support for further developments in UK based gene therapy efforts. In this context Prof. Linden was actively engaged in translational projects aimed at the development of novel therapies using AAV-based vectors. In December 2014 Prof. Linden joined Pfizer Inc as the Vice President of Gene Therapy, to establish and lead the Genetic Medicine Institute in London. He has held this position until August 2017. In November 2018 Dr. Linden took up the role of Chief Scientific Officer at Touchlight Genetics Ltd. in London, UK. He currently serves as the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of Touchlight. In October 2019 Dr. Linden founded Handl Therapeutics in Leuven, Belgium, where he is heading the Research and Development operations on gene therapy projects targeting neurodegenerative diseases. In November 2020, Handl Therapeutics was acquired by UCB and Dr. Linden is now the Head of the UCB Gene Therapy Research Platform and in this role continues to help drive programs to the clinic and, in addition, help UCB establish a strategy to enable a sustainable gene therapy platform.

Wednesday 4 September 2024

  • Keynote lectures:

Prof. Dr. Johan Neyts

Virology, Antiviral Drug & Vaccine Research, Rega Institute for Medical Research, Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Transplantation, Faculty of Medicine, University of Leuven, Belgium

Johan Neyts is full professor of Virology at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium where he teaches virology at the medical school and at the school of dentistry. His laboratory has a long-standing expertise in the development of antivirals strategies and drugs against emerging and neglected viral infections such as dengue and other flaviviruses, Chikungunya and other alphaviruses, enteroviruses, noroviruses, HDV, HEV, rabies and coronaviruses. An ultrapotent pan-serotype dengue inhibitor developed in his laboratory and at the Centre for Drug Design & Development ( is currently in phase II clinical studies at Janssen Pharmaceutica (J&J) and efficacy has recently been shown in dengue infected humans. A second focus is on the development of the PLLAV (Plasmid Launched Live Attenuated Virus) vaccine technology, which is based on the yellow fever virus vaccine as a vector. It allows to rapidly engineer highly thermostable vaccines against multiple viral pathogens. Johan is a past-president of the International Society for Antiviral Research. He is the co-founder of KU Leuven spin-off companies AstriVax and Okapi Sciences. He is responsible for the Belgian VirusBank platform an investment of the Belgian Federal Government in epidemic/pandemic preparedness. He published >660 papers, received multiple national and international awards, has given ~350 invited lectures and a large number of interviews to lay-press.
Twitter : @neyts_johan
ORCID 0000-0002-0033-7514 - Researcher ID : U-8267-2017

Prof. Dr. Emma Thomson

Emma Thomson is professor of infectious diseases at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research and clinical professor of emerging viruses at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). She obtained her PhD on viral immunology at Imperial College London and the University of Oxford. During her career, she has worked on a number of emerging viral infections including AAV2, mpox, SARS-CoV-2, hepatitis C and E, Ebola virus, emerging rhabdoviruses and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV). Her laboratory uses next generation sequencing (NGS) methods to detect new and emerging viruses in the UK and in Uganda in partnership with researchers at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI). The lab has also engaged in improving diagnostic capacity so that undiagnosed new or emerging infections may be detected at source more rapidly in the future, allowing for early control interventions. We aim to investigate drivers of virus evolution using B and T cell functional assays including neutralization, ELISpot and flow cytometry. She is chair of the British HIV Association Hepatitis Sub-committee and works as an external consultant for the World Health Organisation. As part of the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium, she is investigating the use of NGS serology (PhipSeq) to identify cross reactive antibody responses to coronavirus infection.

Prof. Dr. Maria Söderlund-Venermo

Maria Söderlund-Venermo obtained her MSc at the University of Helsinki, Department of General Microbiology, and her PhD at the Department of Virology, Helsinki, Finland. She was a visiting scientist at the University College London, London, UK, and did her postdoctoral training at the Departments of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology and Veterinary Pathobiology, University of Missouri-Columbia, MO, USA in 1996-98. She is adjunct professor of virology and university lecturer, Department of Virology, Faculty of Medicine, Helsinki University, Finland. She is the current president of the World Society for Virology (WSV), member of the ICTV Parvoviridae Study Group, and head of the WHO Pandemic Preparedness Parvovirus Working Group. Her research interests include both clinical and molecular virology, with the main focus on human parvoviruses (B19V, bocaviruses, bufa- and cutavirus), but also other emerging human DNA viruses.

Dr. Luk Vandenberghe

Dr. Vandenberghe is the Grousbeck Family Professor in Gene Therapy at Harvard within the Mass General Brigham hospital system. His research pursues broadening opportunities for gene transfer in medicine. He seeks to address questions of mechanism, solve for technological limitations, and pursues translational programs into the clinic. Previously, Dr. Vandenberghe's team elucidated entry mechanisms for AAV, discovered and developed novel AAV technologies (e.g. AAV9 and Anc-AAVs), and contributed to translation for gene therapies for e.g. wetAMD (retinal disorders), OTOF (hearing disorders), MPS1 (liver), SMA (neuromuscular), and infectious disease (COVID). Dr. Vandenberghe is further co-founder of GenSight Biologics, Akouos (now Eli Lilly), Albamunity/ciendias bio, and Affinia Therapeutics. He started Odylia Therapeutics as a non-profit that works on the plight of gene therapy development for ultra-rare disorders. Dr. Vandenberghe currently also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Addgene, a global organization with scientific reagent sharing as its mission.