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Featured Invited Speakers

Megan Sykes

Megan Sykes

Megan Sykes
Director, Columbia Center for Translational Immunology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, United States

Honorary Member Lecture

Dr. Sykes joined Columbia University in April, 2010 after spending 19 years at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, where she was the Harold and Ellen Danser Professor of Surgery and Professor of Medicine (Immunology) and Associate Director of the Transplantation Biology Research Center. 

Dr. Sykes’ research career, during which she has published 380 papers and book chapters, has been in the areas of hematopoietic cell transplantation, achievement of graft-versus-leukemia effects without GVHD, organ allograft tolerance induction and xenotransplantation. Dr. Sykes has developed novel strategies for achieving graft-versus-tumor effects without graft-versus-host disease following hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT).  She developed an approach that has been evaluated in clinical trials of non-myeloablative haploidentical HCT whose safety and efficacy allowed trials of HCT for the induction of organ allograft tolerance, with the first intentional achievements of this outcome.  Dr. Sykes has dissected the tolerance mechanisms and pioneered minimal conditioning approaches for using HCT to achieve allograft and xenograft tolerance. Her work on xenogeneic thymic transplantation for tolerance induction has led, for the first time, to long-term kidney xenograft survival in non-human primates.

Dr. Sykes is Past President of the International Xenotransplantation Association and was Vice President of The Transplantation Society.  She has received numerous honors and awards, and is a member of the Institute of Medicine.

Invited Speakers

Guerard Byrne

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Guerard Byrne
Institute of Cardiovascular Science, University College London, London, United Kingdom

Does HLA Sensitization Matter for Xenotransplantation?

Guerard Byrne received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from the University of Delaware. He earned a Doctorate in Biology from Princeton University in 1986 and was a National Institute of Health Postdoctoral fellow for his Postdoctoral training at Yale University. In the laboratory of Dr. Frank Ruddle, Dr. Byrne developed his training in mammalian genetic engineering which led to the early development of binary multiplex gene regulation a principle which underlies many of the techniques commonly used to control gene expression in transgenic animals.

Dr. Byrne was formerly a Senior Scientist and then Director of Research and Development at Nextran Inc. He has 20 years of industry and academic experience focused mainly in developing animals for cardiac xenotransplantation and understanding the immunobiology of xenograft rejection. At Nextran he was instrumental in developing non-antigenic Gal polymers to regulate anti-Gal antibody, producing the first transgenic pig line used in a FDA approved clinical trial of ex vivo liver perfusion and in creating GTKO pigs. He joined Mayo Clinic in 2003 as a Senior Associate Consultant in the Department of Surgery to continue a long-standing collaboration developing clinical cardiac xenotransplantation with Dr. Christopher McGregor, Director of the Mayo Clinic William J. von Liebig Transplant Center. In 2009, Dr. Byrne was appointed Principal Research Associate, Institute of Cardiovascular Science at the University College London and continues collaboration with Dr. Christopher McGregor developing a new generation of bioprosthetic heart valves. He maintains his academic appointment at the Mayo Clinic as Associate Professor of Surgery.

Dr. Byrne is a currently a co-investigator on a National Institute of Health (NIH) Immunobiology of Xenotransplantation grant and is additionally funded by the Mayo Clinic Xenotransplantation Program. He is supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in the United Kingdom and is co-investigator in Development of a Gal-free Calcification resistant Porcine Pericardial Heart Valve funded by a Medical Research Council Development Pathway Funding Scheme. He holds patents in xenotransplantation, gene regulation and development of bioprosthetic heart valves.

David K.C. Cooper

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David K.C. Cooper
Professor of Surgery; Co-Director, Xenotransplantation Program, Department of Surgery, Division of Transplantation, University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Medicine, Birmingham, AL, United States

Is sensitization to pig antigens detrimental to subsequent allotransplantation

David Cooper studied medicine in the UK at Guy’s Hospital Medical School (now part of King’s College London), and trained in general and cardiothoracic surgery in Cambridge and London. Between 1972 and 1980, he was a Fellow and Director of Studies in Medical Sciences at Magdalene College, Cambridge. In 1980 he took up an appointment in cardiac surgery at the University of Cape Town where, under Professor Christiaan Barnard, he had responsibility for patients undergoing heart transplantation. In 1987, he relocated to the Oklahoma Transplantation Institute in the USA where he continued to work in both the clinical and research fields. After 17 years as a surgeon-scientist, he decided to concentrate on research, initially at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston, and subsequently at the University of Pittsburgh, and now at UAB (since 2016). His major interest is in developing cross-species transplantation with the aim of using pigs as sources of organs, cells, and corneas for transplantation in humans. Professor Cooper has published 850 medical and scientific papers and chapters, has authored or edited 11 books, has given more than 300 invited presentations worldwide, and received numerous awards for his work.

Mohamed B. Ezzalarab

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Mohamed B. Ezzalarab
Research Associate Professor, Surgery, Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Regulatory T Cells: From Allo to Xeno

Dr. Ezzelarab is a Research Assistant Professor at the Thomas E. Starzl Institute (STI), University of Pittsburgh Medical center (UPMC). After completing his surgical training in Alexandria, EGYPT, Dr. Ezzelarab began his post-doctoral training under the mentorship of Dr. David Cooper at STI in 2003, where he had the opportunity to establish a leading role in non-human primate (NHP) studies, related to both xeno- and allo-transplantation. His studies focused on the unidentified incompatibilities between pigs and NHP. These studies underscored the role of the recipient innate and inflammatory responses, rather than the xenograft alone.

In 2009, he joined Dr. Angus Thomson’s laboratory to study cell-based therapeutic strategies for tolerance induction in transplant recipients. Currently, a major focus of his research is to optimize tolerogenic cell-based approaches using regulatory dendritic cells and T cells. During that time he was awarded the Patrick Research Fellowship in Transplantation and the Competitive Medical Research Funding Award by UPMC to study the immunoregulatory influence of mesenchymal stem cells obtained from genetically modified pigs on human T cell responses. He became a member of the International Xenotransplantation Association (IXA) in 2007 and The Transplantation Society in 2008. In 2014, he became a member of IXA Vanguard Committee.

Bernhard J. Hering

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Bernhard J. Hering
Professor of Surgery and Medicine, Surgery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, United States

Islet Xenotx

Tolerogenic Exposure to Antigen: From Allo and Xeno

Dr. Hering is Professor of Surgery and Medicine, the Executive Director of the Schulze Diabetes Institute, and the Director of Islet Transplantation at the University of Minnesota, where he also holds the Eunice L. Dwan Chair in Diabetes Research and the McKnight Presidential Chair in Transplantation Science.

Dr. Hering is internationally recognized as a leader in human islet transplantation and as pioneer in porcine islet xenotransplantation. His team’s demonstration of prolonged diabetes reversal in monkeys after porcine islet xenotransplantation has reinvigorated interest in the field. Dr. Hering chaired ‘The International Xenotransplantation Association Consensus Statement on Conditions for Undertaking Clinical Trials of Porcine Islet Products in Type 1 Diabetes’. He co-founded Spring Point Project, an organization established to generate designated pathogen-free, ‘medical-grade’ porcine donors for planned clinical translation of islet xenotransplantation.

Collaborating with Drs. Xunrong Luo and Steve Miller at Northwestern University, his laboratory is funded by NIH and JDRF to develop protocols for the induction of donor-specific immunological tolerance to islet allografts and porcine islet xenografts in the stringent, preclinical transplant model in streptozotocin-diabetic nonhuman primates.

Dr. Hering is a Past President of the International Xenotransplantation Association, the Cell Transplant Society, and the International Pancreas and Islet Transplant Association.

Muhammad M. Mohiuddin

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Muhammad M. Mohiuddin
Chief of Transplantation, Cardiothoracic Surgery Research Program, NHLBI /NIH, Bethesda, MD, United States

Heart Xenotransplantation

Dr. Muhammad Mohiuddin is currently a chief of transplantation section of Cardiothoracic Surgery Research Program at National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of National Institute of Health. Before joining NIH in 2005 he held faculty positions at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Rush University, Chicago. Dr. Mohiuddin is involved in the field of xenotransplantation since 1992 and has been instrumental in starting the xenotransplantation research programs at the above institutions.

Dr Mohiuddin’s primary interest is in understanding the role of B lymphocytes in Transplantation, especially xenograft rejection. His other interests include transplantation tolerance and immune modulation. He has made several contributions to the fields of transplantation and xenotransplantation with over 120 publications and over 100 abstracts as well as numerous presentations.

Dr Mohiuddin is an elected councilor of International Xenotransplantation Association / TTS. He is a member of prestigious societies; The Transplantation Society and American Society of Transplant Physicians. He reviews manuscripts for journals; Transplantation, Transplant Immunology, xenotransplantation, Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, etc. He has received several NIH and non-NIH grants during his academic career.

Klearchos K. Papas

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Klearchos K. Papas
Professor, Director Institute for Cellular Transplantation, Surgery, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, United States

Update on Cellular Encapsulation

Dr. Papas has devoted his research career to the application of engineering principles and the development of enabling technologies in the fields of cell therapy and tissue engineering with a focus on the treatment of diabetes. He has studied and utilized the properties of insulin-secreting tissue (especially as they relate to oxygen demand and supply) and their relationship to viability and function in the context cell therapies for diabetes with the objective of improving cost-effectiveness, availability, practicality, and clinical outcomes of this approach.

Prior to joining the University of Arizona in 2011, Dr. Papas served on the faculty at the University of Minnesota (2003-2011), where he held leadership positions as associate director of the Islet Transplant Program, director of Islet Processing Research and Development and director of the Islet Quality Assurance Core in the Schulze Diabetes Institute. Prior to that he held joint research positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Chemical Engineering, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Center for Islet Transplantation at Harvard Medical School and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Yale University (1999-2003).

Richard N. Pierson III

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Richard N. Pierson III
Professor of Surgery, Cardiac Surgery, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, United States

Lung Xenotransplantation

Dr. Pierson received his medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. His postgraduate clinical training included general surgery at the University of Michigan, cardiac and thoracic surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital and a clinical and research fellowship in cardiothoracic transplantation at Papworth Hospital at Cambridge University. After eight years at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, he joined the University of Maryland Heart Center in 2002.

His clinical interests include heart and lung transplantation and heart assist device therapy. He is an established investigator in the area of immunobiology of transplantation, and has special experience in xenotransplantation. His laboratory is funded by the NIH and other sources, and he has had numerous grants and awards from other funding agencies, including Veterans Affairs Research Program, ALA, AHA, ASTS and DOD ONR.

Dr. Pierson is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the Association of VA Surgeons. He has been selected annually as one of the Best Doctors in America since 2001 and by America's Top Doctors since 2002. He is a member of the American Association of Thoracic Surgeons, American Society of Transplant Surgeons and American Society for Transplantation, International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and Society of University Surgeons, among others. H

David H. Sachs

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David H. Sachs
Professor of Surgery, Columbia Centre for Translational Immunology (CCTI), Columbia University of Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

Mixed Chimerism: From Allo to Xeno

After training in general surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Dr. Sachs spent 20 years at the NIH, where he developed a major program in transplantation research, as Chief of the Immunology Branch, NCI. In 1991, he returned to the MGH as Director of the Transplantation Biology Research Center (TBRC) and the Paul Russell Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School. Since July, 2015, he is Professor of Surgery in the Columbia Center for Translational Immunology (CCTI), at Columbia University.

Dr. Sachs has published over 700 scientific articles. His research achievements include: 1) discovery of Ia (Class II) antigens in 1973; 2) development of monoclonal antibodies to MHC antigens; 3) development of a unique large animal model for transplantation using miniature swine; 4) use of mixed hematopoietic chimerism to induce transplantation tolerance in mouse, swine and primate models and most recently, in patients; and 5) pioneering studies of pig-to-primate xenotransplantation. Dr. Sachs has been the editor of several journals in his field and was the Founding Editor of Xenotransplantation. He has served as Vice President and as Councilor of both the Transplantation Society and the IXA. He was elected to the IOM (now the National Academy of Medicine) in 1996. He is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the AST Distinguished Achievement Award, the Martin Prize for Excellence in Clinical Research, the Starzl Prize in Surgery and Immunology and the Medawar Prize.

Angelika Schnieke

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Angelika Schnieke
Germany

Gene Stacking and Editing

Angelika Schnieke studied bio-engineering in Hamburg and later obtained her Ph.D from the University of Edinburgh. She worked with Prof. Rudolf Jaenisch from 1978 to 1987 first at the Heinrich-Pette Institute, Hamburg and subsequently at the Whitehead Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Here she was involved in early development work on retroviral vectors, the production of transgenic animal models and gene knockouts. She subsequently joined Colorado State University where her research extended to the production of transgenic livestock species.

Between 1992 and 2003 she worked with the biotechnology company PPL Therapeutics in Edinburgh as Head of Molecular Biology, later becoming Assistant Director of Research. Research work at PPL focused on the production of pharmaceutical proteins in the milk of transgenic large animals, xenotransplantation, stem cell differentiation and the development of novel technologies for the production of transgenic livestock.

Some notable scientific achievements include: development of somatic cell nuclear transfer (Dolly the sheep) and the production of the first gene-targeted livestock animal.

Prof. Schnieke joined the Technical University of Munich in 2003 to take up the Chair of Livestock Biotechnology. She was Dean of the School of Life Sciences from 2013 to 2016.

Stephan Speier

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Stephan Speier
Professor for Pancreatic Islet Physiology, Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden, Helmholtz Zentrum Munich, Dresden, Germany

In Vivo Imaging and Functional Evaluation of Islet Xenotransplantation

Stephan Speier studied from 1995 to 2000 human biology at the Philipps-University in Marburg, Germany, with major in Physiology. Subsequently, he conducted his PhD-thesis at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany, in which he developed a novel technique to study pancreatic islets of Langerhans in the in situ environment of intact organ tissue. For this work he was presented with the award for an outstanding PhD Thesis by the German Diabetes Society. From 2005 to 2009 Stephan Speier worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. Further pursuing his interest in the complex physiology of islets of Langerhans he established an exciting technical approach which allowed for the first time to assess islet cell biology longitudinally in vivo by noninvasive imaging at subcellular resolution, through transplantation of islets into the anterior chamber of the eye. This innovative approach has since led to numerous outstanding discoveries and publications in the field of islet research by his and other research labs worldwide. In 2009 Stephan Speier was granted the prestigious Emmy Noether Fellowship by the German Research Foundation to establish his own research group at the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden, Germany. Since 2016 he holds the Professorship for the Physiology of Pancreatic Islet Cells at the Medical Faculty of the TU Dresden, Germany, and heads the Islet Cell Physiology research group of the Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden of the Helmholtz Zentrum Munich at the Technical University Dresden.

In his research, Stephan Speier studies the cells of the islet of Langerhans and their role in diabetes pathogenesis and therapy. To that aim, his research group focusses on the protection and restoration of cell function and the development of new therapeutic approaches for diabetes by increasing and replacing islet cell mass. His particular interest centers on the investigation of human islets and the potential use of xenogeneic and stem cell derived islets for transplantation therapy of diabetes.

Alfred J. Tector

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Alfred J. Tector
Professor of Surgery, Director of Xenotransplantation, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, United States

Does Triple KO Eliminate all Xenoreactive Antibodies?

Kidney Xenotransplantation

Dr. Tector is a liver transplant surgeon with clinical expertise in multi-visceral and small bowel transplantation. He is a funded surgeon-scientist with a nationally recognized research program in xenotransplantation. Dr. Tector is the director of the UAB Xenotransplant program.

Dr. Tector received his undergraduate degree from Indiana University in 1987. He earned his doctorate at Saint Louis University in 1992 and completed his general surgery training at McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 1999. Dr. Tector completed his fellowship in Abdominal Transplant at the University of Miami in 2001. Dr. Tector earned his doctorate from McGill University in 2003.

Prior to joining UAB, Dr. Tector was chief medical officer at the Indiana University Health Transplant Institute, chairman of the board of trustees at Indiana University, and medical director of organ transplantation. Dr. Tector was very involved in teaching the Research Organ Transplant, Transplant Immunology Lab at Indiana, which is a lab technique instruction course. He has worked with Riley transplant rotation Education of Pediatric GI Fellows in their Clinical Education and Conference, the Transplant Fellowship Program and adult Hepatology Fellows. He has also been an instructor of The Organ Trail: New Pathways in Transplantation at IUSM Mimi Medical School; Continuing Medical Education Course at the 7th Annual Gastroenterology/Hepatology Update: Gastroenterology in Practice.

Ralf Reinhard Tönjes

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Ralf Reinhard Tönjes
Head of Section, Division of Medical Biotechnology, Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines, Langen, Germany

Disease Inventory

Ralf Reinhard Tönjes (RRT; German) is life scientist at Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI), Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines, Division of Medical Biotechnology, Langen, Germany.

He received his M.S. degree in biology and germanistics (1983) and his PhD degree in biology (1986) from Philipps University, Marburg, Germany. His thesis involved molecular analyses of histone genes and proteins for chromatin studies. As scientist he worked at Fraunhofer-Institute, Hannover, Germany, and at Rockefeller University, New York, United States (1986-1991). His research interests included the liver specific regulation of genes in mutant as well as genetically modified mice.

RRT is section head and research scientist at PEI since 1991. He is in charge of evaluations of medicinal products including human tissue preparations and xenogeneic cell therapeutics. He founded the German working group for xenotransplantation (DAX) together with Dr. Joachim Denner in 1998. He teaches as an adjunct professor for biochemistry at Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany. RRT’s area of research is the safety of xenotransplantation with focus on porcine microbes and zoonotic agents as well as endogenous retroviruses and retroelements.

Parsia Vagefi

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Parsia Vagefi
Associate Surgical Director, Liver Transplantation, Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States

Liver Xenotransplantation

Parsia Vagefi, MD is the Associate Surgical Director of Liver Transplantation and the Surgical Director of Living Donor Liver Transplantation at Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition Dr. Vagefi is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Vagefi graduated with a B.A. in Biology from Johns Hopkins University, followed by medical school at Yale. During medical school, Dr. Vagefi was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Fellow at the Transplantation Biology Research Center with Dr. David H. Sachs. Dr. Vagefi completed his general surgery residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by an abdominal transplant surgery fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco where he received the ASTS Novartis Fellowship in Transplantation Award. Dr. Vagefi’s clinical expertise is in adult and pediatric liver transplantation (including split-liver and living donor liver transplantation) and complex hepatobiliary surgery. Dr. Vagefi is a Senior Investigator at the Center for Transplantation Sciences, with a research focus on a pre-clinical model of pig-to-baboon liver xenotransplantation

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