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ANNUAL CONFERENCE  ::  All Participants  ::  2018 Speakers/Chairs & Vice Chairs Bios

2018 Speakers/Chairs & Vice Chairs Bios

Plenary Speaker

Monday, June 18th, 2018

Dr. Nancy Freitag, University of Chicago, Illinois, USA

Dr. Freitag is a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, the Associate Director of the Medical Scientist Training Program, and the Assistant Dean of M.D./Ph.D. Education at theUniversity of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. Her continuously NIH-funded research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms by which pathogenic bacteria interact with mammalian hosts to cause disease as well as the host immune responses that limit infection. Her lab uses a combination of genetic, biochemical, structural, and cell biological techniques as well as animal models to understand the molecular physiology of bacteria inside and outside of the infected host. Dr. Freitag serves as an Editor for the journals Infection and Immunity and mBio and is a standing member of the ‘Host Interactions with Bacterial Pathogens’ NIH study section. She has mentored scientists at many stages of career development and has received multiple teaching awards. She is a member of the American Academy of Microbiology and has served as an ASM Distinguished Lecturer.


Invited Keynote Speakers, Chairs and Vice Chairs

Session 1 - Viruses: From Environments to Clinics
Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

Keynote Speaker:
Dr. Peter Palese
, Mount Sinai, New York, USA

Dr. Peter Palese is a Professor of Microbiology and the Chair of the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. His research is in the area of RNA-containing viruses with a special emphasis on influenza viruses. Specifically, he established the first genetic maps for influenza A, B, and C viruses, identified the function of several viral genes, and defined the mechanism of neuraminidase inhibitors (which are now FDA-approved antivirals). He was also a pioneer in the field of reverse genetics for negative strand RNA viruses, which allows the introduction of site-specific mutations into the genomes of these viruses.



Session 2 - Genomics and Bioinformatics
Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

Keynote Speaker
Dr. Robert Beiko, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS
Evolutionary and Temporal Views of Microbial Diversity

Dr. Robert Beiko is professor of bioinformatics in the Faculty of Computer Science at Dalhousie University. His research is focused on the development and application of tools to assess microbial biodiversity and evolution, with a focus on microbial diversity and the microbiome. His research group has developed algorithms to infer major pathways of lateral gene transfer among microorganisms, implicating functions such as virulence factors and antimicrobial resistance genes. He has also developed several software tools for microbiome analysis, including STAMP for interactive statistical analysis, PICRUSt for metagenome function prediction, and Ananke, which can infer microbial associations from time-series data. He is currently co-leading a pilot study to assess variation in the microbiome in relation to age, frailty, diet and medication, in mouse models and most recently in an assisted-care facility. With Dr. Andrew McArthur from McMaster and Fiona Brinkman from Simon Fraser University, he also leads a recently funded Genome Canada project in antimicrobial gene detection from metagenomic samples. Dr. Beiko has also contributed to the bioinformatics community in Canada, serving on the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology National Strategy Committee, and organizing the first Canadian Bioinformatics Workshop in Metagenomic Data Analysis.



Session 3 - Bacterial Stress Response
Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

Keynote Speaker
Dr. Philip Rather, Emory University, Atlanta, USA
A high-frequency phenotypic switch regulating virulence in Acinetobacter baumannii

Dr. Philip Rather is currently a Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Emory University School of Medicine. He received his PhD from Emory University in 1989 and then moved to the Schering-Plough Research Institute for a postdoctoral fellowship, where he studied regulation of aminoglycoside resistance genes. Dr. Rather's current research program addresses the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and virulence in the nosocomial pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii. One research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of intrinsic beta-lactam resistance. A second area is focused on understanding a high-frequency phenotypic switch that controls virulence.



Session 5 - Microbiome
Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

Keynote Speaker
Dr. Cara Haney, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
Manipulation and evasion of plant immunity by beneficial microbes

Dr. Cara Haney is an assistant professor in the departments of Microbiology and Immunology and Michael Smith Labs at the University of British Columbia.
Dr. Haney's research focuses on the molecular and genetic mechanisms that
regulate interactions between beneficial plant-associated microbes (the
"microbiome") and plant growth and disease resistance. She received her B.Sc
in Plant Science from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular
Biology from Stanford. She worked at Harvard as a postdoc developing a
model system to study plant-microbiome interactions prior to joining the UBC
faculty in 2016. Dr. Haney is a Canada Research Chair in plant-microbiome



Session 9 - Host-Microbe Interactions
Tuesday, June 19th, 2018


Dr. Mauricio Terebiznik, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, ON

Dr Mauricio R. Terebiznik is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Biological Sciences and Cell and System Biology at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. He received his PhD from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. During his postdoctoral training at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, he studied the invasion of host cells by Salmonella typhimurium and Helicobacter pylori. His laboratory at the University of Toronto, Scarborough focuses on understanding of the interplay of mammalian cells with intracellular pathogens and non-canonical models of phagocytosis.



Session 7 - Antimicrobial Resistance
Wednesday, June 20th, 2018


Dr. Cheryl Waldner, University of Saskatchewan, Regina, SK

Dr. Cheryl Waldner is a professor of epidemiology from the University of Saskatchewan. She is particularly interested in antimicrobial use and resistance as well as the prevention and control of infectious diseases. She is actively involved in projects related to water quality and farm-to-fork management of food safety and enteric illnesses. Her current research is focussed on the use of system science tools, including system dynamics and agent-based models, to understand the impact of rapid diagnostics and infection prevention measures on the transmission of AMR in the food chain. Dr. Waldner has more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and is co-chair of the research and innovation task force group contributing to the Pan-Canadian Action Plan for Antimicrobial Resistance. 



Session 8 - Unusual Microbes and Extreme Environments
Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Keynote Speaker
Dr. Jennifer Biddle, University of Delaware, Delaware, USA
Unusual microbes in relatively normal environments: bringing the
extremophiles home 

Dr. Jennifer Biddle is an associate professor at the University of Delaware. Her research focuses on microbial ecology in sedimentary environments, with excursions to interesting places such as Pavilion Lake in British Columbia. Her lab approaches questions with whatever tools are needed, from genomics to isotope geochemistry. She is a fan of non-model microbial systems, including anaerobic archaea and large sulfur oxidizing bacteria. 

Dr. Jake McKinlay, Indiana University, Indiana, USA

Dr. Jake McKinlay is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Indiana University, Bloomington. His lab studies the physiology and metabolism of phototrophic purple nonsulfur bacteria, fermentative bacteria, and cooperative metabolic interactions between them. His lab also explores the ecology and evolution of these bacteria in synthetic communities and their potential application for biofuel production.


Session 9 - Host-Microbe Interactions
Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Keynote Speaker
Dr. Heidi Goodrich-Blair, University of Tennessee, Tennessee, USA
To Give or to Take: Bacterial Regulation of Conflicting Symbiotic Behaviors with Invertebrates

Dr. Heidi Goodrich-Blair is the David and Sandra White Professor and Head of Microbiology at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where she moved after 19 years as a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Goodrich-Blair’s research is to understand the molecular basis of bacterial symbiosis, both mutualistic and pathogenic, with animal hosts. She aims to understand general principles of how bacteria sense adapt to host environments, what molecules determine specificity for particular hosts and tissues, and the mechanisms by which mutualistic relationships are maintained over evolutionary time. To investigate these questions she studies a bacterium that has a beneficial partnership with nematodes and a pathogenic influence on insects. Her work has led to the first demonstration of genes necessary and sufficient to confer host-range expansion in an animal-bacterium association and has laid the groundwork for new theories on how bacterial performance as a symbiont is tied to its transmission to new generations.



Session 11 - Fungal Genomics and Diseases
Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Keynote Speaker
Dr. Katherine Borkovich, University of California, California, USA
Lessons from high-throughput functional genomics analyses in Neurospora crassa

Dr. Katherine Borkovich received her B.S. in Biochemistry with Highest Honors from the University of California, Davis. She obtained her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at UCLA in the laboratory of Richard Weiss, studying arginine metabolism in the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa. Dr. Borkovich then performed postdoctoral research, first in the laboratory of Susan Lindquist at the University of Chicago studying the functions of large heat shock proteins in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and later in the group of Melvin Simon at the California Institute of Technology investigating involvement of transmembrane receptors in regulating protein phosphorylation during chemotaxis in Escherichia coli. She was appointed to her first faculty position at the University of Texas-Houston Medical School in 1991 and received tenure in 1999. Dr. Borkovich moved her laboratory to the University of California, Riverside in 2001, where she is now Full Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology. Her current research interests include functional genomics of filamentous fungi, heterotrimeric G protein signaling in N. crassa, and the role of microRNAs during infection of crop plants by the filamentous fungus Fusarium oxysporum. Dr. Borkovich is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Microbiology. 



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