|W. Allan Walker, M.D. – Chair
Conrad Taff Professor of Nutrition
Professor of Pediatrics
Director, Division of Nutrition
Harvard Medical School
Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center
Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, MA)
Allan Walker is the Conrad Taff Professor of Nutrition and Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. After completing medical school at Washington University of St. Louis, he trained in Pediatrics and Immunology with Dr. Robert Good at the University of Minnesota before coming to Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard Medical School) to train in Gastroenterology and Nutrition with Dr. Kurt Isselbacher. Dr. Walker joined the faculty of Pediatrics in 1971 and became Professor in 1982. He established the first Pediatric Gastroenterology Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1973 and became Director of a Combined Program in Pediatric Gastroenterology at Boston Children’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in 1982. He currently is Director of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School and an Investigator in the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. His research interests include the association between initial bacterial colonization and development of intestinal host defense and the role of breastfeeding and protective nutrients in the ontogeny of intestinal immune homeostasis. He has received numerous honors in recognition of his research including the Shwachman Award from NASPGHAN and the Hugh Butt Award from the AGA for mucosal immunologic research and a R-37 (MERIT) Award from the National Institutes of Health for outstanding investigation in breast milk immunology. Recently, Dr. Walker’s laboratory has defined the cellular mechanism of probiotic protection in necrotizing enterocolitis.
Samuel Klein M.D. is the William H. Danforth Professor of Medicine, Director of the Center for Human Nutrition, Director of the Center for Applied Research Sciences, Chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Sciences, and Medical Director of the Weight Management Program at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Klein received an MD degree from Temple University Medical School in 1979 and an MS Degree in Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984. He completed residency training in Internal Medicine and a Clinical Nutrition fellowship at University Hospital in Boston, a National Institutes of Health Nutrition and Metabolism Research fellowship at Harvard Medical School, and a Gastroenterology fellowship at The Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Nutrition.
Dr. Klein is past-president of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity and the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, and inaugural chair of the Integrative Physiology of Obesity and Diabetes NIH study section. He was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 1996 and to the American Association of Physicians in 2008. Dr. Klein has had consistent R01 funding from the NIH since 1990, and has published more than 350 papers in nutrition, metabolism, and obesity. He has received numerous awards for his research, including the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Miles and Shirley Fiterman Foundation Award in Nutrition and the AGA Masters Award for Outstanding Achievement in Basic or Clinical Research in Digestive Sciences, the Daniel P. Schuster Distinguished Investigator Award in Clinical and Translational Science from Washington University School of Medicine, The Academy of Science-St. Louis Award for Outstanding Achievement in Science, and The Obesity Society TOPS Research Achievement Award.
Dr. Klein’s research activities are focused on understanding the mechanisms responsible for metabolic dysfunction associated with obesity and the therapeutic effects of weight loss.
|Emeran A. Mayer, MD
Professor, Department of Medicine, Physiology and Psychiatry
David Geffen School of Medicine
Execuitive Director, Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress
Co-Director, CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center
University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
Dr. Emeran Mayer is a Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Physiology and Psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Executive Director of the Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress, and Co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center at UCLA.
Dr. Mayer has a career long interest in clinical and neurobiological aspects of how the digestive system and the nervous system interact in health and disease, and his work has been continuously supported by several NIH grants. He has published over 300 peer reviewed articles (average H index 76), including 90 chapters and reviews, co-edited four books, and organized several interdisciplinary symposia in the area of visceral pain and mind body interactions. He has made seminal contributions to the characterization of physiologic alterations in patients with various chronic pain disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as well as on pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment approaches to this conditions. He is principal investigator on several grants from the National Institutes of Health including a NIDDK/ORWH funded center grant on sex-related differences in brain gut interactions, a NIDDK funded consortium grant (Multidisciplinary Approaches to Pelvic Pain, MAPP) in which he also heads a multisite neuroimaging core, and on a NIDDK funded RO1 grant on the role of the immune system and the gut microbiome on brain signatures. His research efforts during the past few years have focused on several new areas of brain gut interactions, in particular on the role of the gut microbiota and their metabolites in influencing brain structure and function, and associated behavior, and on the role of food addiction in obesity.
|Kjersti Aagaard, MD, PhD
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX)
Dr. Aagaard is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Maternal-Fetal Medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrician Gynecologists. She specializes in the field of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and has specialty clinical interests in preterm birth, stillbirth, maternal obesity and cardiac disorders, ultrasound diagnosis and testing for fetal anomalies and genetic disorders, and management of pregnancies complicated by infections.
Dr. Aagaard’s research interests include both basic science investigations and translation into clinical research. She is internationally recognized for her work on maternal obesity and nutrition, genomics, the “microbiome” and prevention of preterm birth. Dr. Aagaard also actively conducts clinical research related to both cause and management of common perinatal fetal conditions (preterm birth, stillbirth and fetal growth abnormalities), alongside research in the implications of parallel maternal conditions and behavior (obesity, smoking, and nutrition).
In addition to the Aagaard labs research on epigenetics, they are leading the way in unraveling secrets about our “microbiome.” Of the 100 trillion cells in our body, 90 trillion are microbial. This includes viruses, bacteria, parasites, and other microbes and are collectively referred to as our “microbiome.” Each of these has their own genomic codes, which regulate not only their metabolism but ours. For example, without bacteria we could not make Vitamin K, or convert most of our B vitamins to useable forms. We have recently demonstrated that the pregnancy microbiome is distinct, and in fact with 98% certainty we can actually tell if someone is pregnant simply by sequencing their vaginal microbiome. With respect to pregnancy, the Aagaard lab is funded to understand the microbiome and pregnancy complications leading to later in life diseases.
Throughout her career and training she has raised three children on her own and remained an active member in the community. She is a recipient of the Houston Women’s Magazine “Maximum Mom” Award which is awarded “to a woman who has been an extraordinary mother to her children and mentor to others in providing strong moral character and serving as a role model.”
|Tracy Bale, MD
Professor of Neuroscience
School of Veterinary Medicine
Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
Tracy L. Bale is Professor of Neuroscience in the School of Veterinary Medicine and in the Department of Psychiatry of the Perelman School of Medicine. Her research focuses on understanding the role of stress dysregulation in neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric diseases, and the sex differences that underlie disease vulnerability using mice as the model organism. She is a co-director of the Penn Center for the Study of Sex and Gender in Behavioral Health, which is funded by a NIMH and ORWH SCOR P50 grant. She serves on many internal and external advisory committees, panels, and boards and is currently a Reviewing Editor at the Journal of Neuroscience and serves as Chair of the NNRS CSR study section. She has been the recipient of several awards for her research in this area including the career development award for early career achievement and promise by the Society for Neuroscience, the Richard E. Weitzman Memorial award as exceptionally promising young investigator award by the Endocrine Society, and Medtronic Award from the Society for Women’s Health Research for outstanding research that has led to the improvement of women’s health.
|Patrice D. Cani, PhD
Professor, Research Associate FRS-FNRS
Louvain Drug Research Institute (LDRI), Metabolism and Nutrition
Walloon Excellence in Life sciences and BIOtechnology (WELBIO)
Universite catholique de Louvain (UCL) (Brussels, Belgium)
Professor Patrice D. Cani is researcher from the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research and group leader in the Metabolism and Nutrition lab at the Louvain Drug Research Institute from the UCL, Brussels, Belgium. He is vice-president of the Louvain Drug Research Institute at UCL, Brussels, Belgium.
He is WELBIO investigator (Walloon Excellence in Life Sciences and BIOtechnology), recipient of an European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant 2013 (ENIGMO) and recipient of the InBev-Baillet Latour grant for Medical Research 2015.
Prof. Cani is co-director of the European Associated Laboratory: “NeuroMicrobiota” (INSERM, Toulouse, France/UCL, Brussels, Belgium). Patrice D. Cani is dietitian (1998), he earned a M.Sc. in Nutrition (2000) and a second M.Sc. in Health Sciences, he earned is PhD in Biomedical Sciences (2005).
His main research interests are the investigation of interactions between the gut microbiota, the host and specific biological systems such as the endocannabinoid system and the innate immune system in the context of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiometabolic disorders and metabolic inflammation.
He is author and co-author of more than 160 scientific research publications and is member of several international associations. He is member of the Alumni College from the Royal Belgian Academy of Sciences and founding member of the Belgian Nutrition Society.
|Karine Clément, MD, PhD
Professor of Nutrition
ICAN: Institute of Cardiometabolism and Nutrition/INSERM/Universté Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris, France)
Prof Karine Clément is MD, PhD, full professor of Nutrition, Division of Cardiometabolism, Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital and at Pierre et Marie Curie university – Paris6 (UPMC). Her medical and scientific background is in Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition. In early 2000, she performed a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University, CA, USA where she acquired competencies in gene profiling approaches applied to complex diseases. Since 2011, she is director of the Center of Excellence ICAN Institute de CardiometAbolism and Nutrition, dedicated to innovative Care, Research and training in the field of Cardiology and metabolic diseases. This institute aims at developing individualized medicine in the field of cardiometabolic diseases (http://www.ican-institute.org). Inside ICAN, INSERM/UPMC KC’s team (NutriOmics: Nutrition and obesity Systemic approaches) is involved in understanding the complex pathophysiology of obesity and related cardiometabolic complications combining different “omic” approaches. Her work led to the identification of monogenic forms of obesity (Leptin receptor and MC4R mutations) and to genetic risk factors in common obesity. Developing broader systemic and tissue cross-talk approaches, her group showed notably the importance of inflammatory and remodeling genes in human adipose tissue and links with immune cell modifications and fibrosis. Deeper insight into mechanisms is now undertaken. The team is exploring the link between environmental changes (such as food intake), systemic changes and functional modifications in the adipose tissue in link with organs at its vicinity or at distant sites (liver, intestine, heart). The gut microbiota is of evidence a key actor of this link.
Recently, pioneering results were obtained by metagenomic approaches showing that loss in gut microbiome diversity in human obesity associates with increased cardiometabolic risks. Gut bacterial diversity can be modulated by dietary changes and the challenge is now to identify commensal bacteria and gut-derived molecules associated with improved cardiometabolic health. KC is author of more than 250 publications in the field of obesity and cardio-metabolic health and received several prizes.
She is a member of several national and international scientific committees in obesity and metabolism and contributed to several European Networks in genetics and functional genomics (FP5-Nugenob, FP6-Diogenes, FP6-Hepadip, FP6-ADAPT, FP7-FLIP). She is a member of H2020 consortium ePOs and coordinates the FP7 METACARDIS (http://www.metacardis.net).
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– Vaisse C, Clement K, et al. Melanocortin-4 receptor mutations are a frequent and heterogeneous cause of morbid obesity (2000). J Clin Invest. 106:253-62.
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– Cotillard A, et al.. Clément K, Ehrlich SD. Dietary intervention impact on gut microbial gene richness (2013).Nature. 2013 Aug 29;500(7464):585-8.
|Ted Dinan, PhD
Professor and Department Head, Psychiatry
University of College Cork (Cork, Ireland)
Ted Dinan is Professor of Psychiatry and a Principal Investigator in the APC Microbiome Institute at University College Cork. He was previously Chair of Clinical Neurosciences and Professor of Psychological Medicine at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. Prior to that, he was a Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin. He has worked in research laboratories on both sides of the Atlantic and has a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Psychiatrists and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. His main research interest is in the role of the gut microbiota in stress related disorders. He has also worked extensively on the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. In 1995 was awarded the Melvin Ramsey Prize for research into the biology of stress. His current research is funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the Health Research Board and European Union FP7. He has published over 400 papers and numerous books on pharmacology and neurobiology. He is on the Editorial Boards of several journals.
|Eran Elinav, MD, PhD.
Senior Scientist, Immunology Department
Incumbent of the Rina Gudinski Career Development Chair
Weizmann Institute of Science (Rehovot, Israel)
Dr. Eran Elinav joined the Weizmann Institute of Science in 2012 as a senior scientist leading a research group in the Department of Immunology. His lab focuses on the interactions between the innate immune system, the intestinal microbiota and their efforts on health and disease, with the goal of personalizing medicine and nutrition.
Dr. Elinav completed his medical doctor’s (MD) degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Hadassah Medical Center in 1999 summa cum laude, followed by a clinical internship, residency in internal medicine at Hadassah (2000-2004), and a clinical and research position at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Gastroenterology institute (2005-2009). He received a PhD in immunology from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 2009, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University School of Medicine (2009-2012). Dr. Elinav has published more than 80 publications. His honors include multiple awards for academic excellence during his medical, PhD studies, postdoc and independent research, including the Fulbright (2009) and cancer research foundation (2010-2012) scholarships, the 2011 Claire and Emmanuel G. Rosenblatt award from the American Physicians for Medicine in Israel Foundation, the Alon Foundation award (2012), and the Rappaport prize for biomedical research (2015
|Andrew Gewirtz, Ph.D.
University Center Professor
Center for Inflammation, Immunity, & Infection
Institute for Biomedical Sciences
Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA)
Dr. Gewirtz earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1996 from Boston University School of Medicine. He did postdoctoral studies at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/HMS and Emory University, where he later served on faculty from 2000-2011 as Assistant and Associate Professor. In 2011, he relocated his lab to Georgia State University’s Institute for Biomedical Sciences’ Center for Inflammation, Immunity and Infection, where he holds the title of University Center Professor. His research focuses on host-microbe interactions in the intestine, particularly in the context of chronic intestinal inflammation, which he has shown can drive metabolic disease. Dr. Gewirtz has published over 100 articles in this area and serves on numerous review panels.
|Elaine Hsiao, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology
Department of Medicine
University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
Dr. Elaine Y. Hsiao is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology & Physiology at UCLA, where she leads a laboratory studying fundamental interactions between the microbiome, brain and behavior, and their applications to neurological disorders. Her studies on the relationships between the microbiota, immune system and nervous system led her to discover that the microbiota can regulate behavioral, metabolic and gastrointestinal abnormalities relevant to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Her work in this area, and on neuroimmune interactions in autism, has led to several honors, including the National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award, distinction as Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Science and Healthcare, National Geographic’s Emerging Explorer Award and fellowships from the National Institute of Mental Health and Autism Speaks. Inspired by this interplay between the microbiota and nervous system, the Hsiao laboratory is mining the human microbiota for microbial modulators of host neuroactive molecules, investigating the impact of microbiota-immune system interactions on neurodevelopment and examining the microbiome as an interface between gene-environment interactions in neurological diseases.
|C. Ronald Kahn, MD
Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Chief Academic Officer
Joslin Diabetes Center (Boston, MA)
C. Ronald Kahn is a world recognized expert in diabetes and obesity research, as well as the preeminent investigator of insulin signal transduction and mechanisms of altered signaling in diabetes and metabolic disease. Dr. Kahn is currently a Chief Academic Officer and Head of the Section on Integrative Physiology and Metabolism at Joslin Diabetes Center and the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Kahn served as Research Director of the Joslin Diabetes Center from 1981 to 2000, and President of Joslin from 2001 to 2007. Dr. Kahn has received more than 70 awards and honors, including election to the National Academy of Science and Institute of Medicine, Rolf Luft Award, Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine, Manpei Suzuki and Hamm International Awards, and the highest honors of the American Diabetes Association, EASD, Endocrine Society and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. He has authored more than 600 original publications and 200 reviews and chapters. Dr. Kahn also served as chair of the Congressionally-established Diabetes Research Working Group and as President of the American Society of Clinical Investigation.
Dr. Kahn holds undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Louisville and did his training at Barnes Hospital/Washington University and the NIH. He has received honorary Doctorates from the University of Paris, University of Louisville, University of Geneva, University of Copenhagen, Louisiana State University, and Washington University in St. Louis, and is an honorary Professor and Director of the Diabetes Center at Peking University School of Medicine.
|Rob Knight, PhD
Departments of Pediatrics and Computer Science & Engineering
University of California, San Diego (La Jolla, CA)
Rob Knight is Professor of Pediatrics and Computer Science & Engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and author of “Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes”. He received a B.Sc. in Biochemistry in 1996 from the University of Otago in his native New Zealand, a PhD in 2001 from Princeton University in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and performed postdoctoral work at the University of Colorado, Boulder before becoming a faculty member in the interdisciplinary BioFrontiers Institute there in 2004. He moved to UC San Diego in 2015 to direct the new Microbiome Initiative. His work focuses on using readout technologies such as next-generation sequencing to improve our understanding of the structure, function and dynamics of the human microbiome, contributing to the main data analysis in the NIH-funded Human Microbiome Project. He is co-founder of the Earth Microbiome Project and the American Gut Project. Current research interests include relating the human mcirobiome to diseases ranging from obesity to mental illness, spatial and temporal mapping of microbial communities on different scales ranging from our bodies to our planet, and developing new data visualization methods that assist in resolving the challenge of microbial “Big Data”.
|Joseph Neu, MD
Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology
University of Florida (Gainseville, FL)
Dr. Josef Neu, MD, did his medical school training at the University of Wisconsin, was a pediatric resident at Johns Hopkins and a postdoctoral neonatology fellow at Stanford University. He came to the University of Florida as an associate professor in 1984 to continue his research in developmental gastroenterology and neonatal biochemical nutrition. In 1987 he pursued additional research training at the University of Bern (Switzerland) on basic mechanisms affecting intracellular processing of lactase in the intestinal epithelium. He is internationally recognized for his research in developmental gastroenterology and nutrition and has most recently focused his research efforts on the intestinal microbiome and mucosal immunology. He has been NIH RO-1 funded to study the developing microbiome in babies at risk for developing necrotizing enterocolitis. This involves a multicenter evaluation of intestinal microbiota using novel non-culture based technologies. He is also evaluating the effects of the fetal microbiome as it relates to prematurity.
Dr Neu maintains an active interest in residency and fellowship training. He has served as director of the neonatology fellowship training program at UF since 1986 and on the Council for the Organization of Neonatal Training Program Directors (ONTPD). He has recently completed 2 years as National chairman of the ONTPD. He is on the editorial board of 7 journals, has served on numerous NIH study sections and is also active in international education; as a member of International Postgraduate Organization for Knowledge Transfer Research and Teaching Excellent Students (IPOKRaTES), he has organized seminars in neonatal gastroenterology and nutrition in Turkey, Italy, Poland, Georgia, Latvia, Slovenia, Israel, China, Portugal, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, and Brazil. He is currently Chairman of the Board of the IPOKRaTES Foundation.
Dr. Neu has been involved in the mentorship of over 20 postdoctoral M.D. neonatology fellows, a pediatric gastroenterology fellow, approximately 15 visiting international scholars, 2 Ph.D. postdoctoral fellows, over 20 undergraduate independent study students (the majority of whom have gone on to medical, veterinary or graduate school in the sciences). He has also mentored 15 high school students in his laboratory.
|Filip Scheperjans, MD, PhD
Helsinki University Hospital (Helsinki, Finland)
Filip Scheperjans, MD, PhD, (born 1981) studied medicine at the University of Düsseldorf (Germany) and gained international experience as a visiting student in London, New York and Helsinki. His doctoral thesis under Prof. Karl Zilles (C & O Vogt Institute for Brain Research, University of Düsseldorf and Institute of Medicine, Research Center Jülich, Germany) was concerned with the cytoarchitectonical and neurochemical anatomy of the human parietal lobe. He received the award for the best thesis of the medical faculty of the University of Düsseldorf in 2008. Now living in Finland he works as attending neurologist and clinical researcher at the Department of Neurology of Helsinki University Hospital. He has been involved in several international multicenter trials related to acute stroke treatment. His main research interests are movement disorders and acute neurology including stroke, status epilepticus and neuroimaging. Currently, his main focus in on the role of microbiota in Parkinson’s disease and his group was the first to demonstrate microbiome community structure alterations in Parkinson’s disease. For his groundbreaking work in this field he was awarded the Uschi Tschabitscher Prize for Young Neurologists by the European Academy of Neurology in 2014.
|Kirsten Tillisch, MD
University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
Dr. Kirsten Tillisch is Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the Mind-body Research program in the Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress at UCLA, and is the Chief of Integrative Medicine at the Greater Los Angeles VA. Her work focuses on increasing our understanding of brain-body interactions, with particular interest in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic pain. She utilizes functional and structural neuroimaging to identify disease relevant central abnormalities in pain syndromes, also utilizing pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions to identify treatment effects. She has demonstrated microbiome-gut-brain interactions in humans, showing the effects of probiotic administration on brain function in healthy women, and continues to evaluate the role of the microbiota in health and disease.
|Vincent J. Quagliarello, MD
Professor of Medicine
Clinical Chief, Infectious Disease
Yale University School of Medicine (New Haven, CT)
Dr. Quagliarello was born in Brooklyn and attended Johns Hopkins University and Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis) before serving as a resident and Chief Resident in Internal Medicine at Yale. After completing Infectious Diseases fellowship at University of Virginia, he returned to Yale on faculty where he has been ever since. He is currently Professor of Medicine and Clinical Chief of Infectious Diseases. Dr. Quagliarello is a nationally recognized and award winning physician-educator and he’s been an NIH funded investigator studying infections in older adults.