My field of research is to understand and manipulate human immunity to ultimately and tangibly improve Health. I have developed a comprehensive technology platform which pivots on high dimensionality approaches, including cytometry, 10X single cell next generation RNA sequencing and in vitro functional modelling. We have developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to distill mechanistically and clinically relevant knowledge from the interfaces among these high complexity datasets and the clinical data. By leveraging on this platform, validated predictive modelling is developed. This platform enables fundamental progress in several translationally relevant, first in class scientific contributions, which span across disease areas ranging from Autoimmunity to Cancer. It is important to emphasise the unifying conceptual framework to conceive mechanistic and therapeutic manipulations of the human immunome not as an intervention on discrete pathways which stand isolated and can be switched on and off, but rather as the sophisticated manipulation of a gradient of pathways and cell subsets which are inextricably interlaced, and can be modulated within a continuum of intensity, comparable to what a rheostat does to the intensity of lighting in a room. I look at the architecture of the Immune System and its therapeutic manipulation by evolving from fragmentation to a continuum gradient balanced on homeostasis and tilted by perturbations such as disease or even conventional therapy.
My contribution is to have conceived and evolved this concept to tangible applications. Each of the projects can bring a solution to unmet needs. Combined, the platform advances Science by looking holistically and with high dimensionality at mechanisms of immune imbalances, thus leading to the identification of novel immune therapeutic targets which we are developing for restoration of immune homeostasis. Some of the most advanced projects include: 1) Defining for the first time an AI-driven, high dimensional architecture of the healthy Immunome (EPIC), and assessing the effects of Disease as perturbations of this architecture; 2) Conceiving and developing Chimeric Antigen Receptor Treg (CARTreg) as an entirely novel approach to cellular immunotherapy of transplant rejection, graft versus host disease and systemic autoimmunity; 3) Conceiving and developing new composition of matter and next steps for the development to commercial fruition of a Phase IIb – ready, first in class immunotherapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis; 4) A theragnostic platform to predict the opportunity to withdraw patients with arthritis from biologics. My work has been published in most relevant Journals of high calibre (IF of 43 and 8000 citations), and generated a diverse portfolio of more than 100 patents. This work is the foundation of my entrepreneurial activities.
I am very active in education. Indeed, a most rewarding part of my professional life is to infect others with my passion for what I do, and to share my experiences, my successes and my failures. I am the co-founder and President of the Eureka Institute for Translational Medicine, an international organization focused on the advancement of Translational Medicine through research, education and policy shaping.
Berent Prakken is a professor of immunology and pediatrics at the Utrecht Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands. He is co-chair of the Center for Molecular and Cellular Intervention (www.cmci-utrecht.nl). Berent Prakken heads a translational research lab that focuses on regulation of inflammation and biomarker development in human inflammatory diseases. He and his group received various prestigious national and international awards and grants. The Prakken lab hosted a core facility for the Immune Tolerance Network of the NIH, and is an international expertise centre for the luminex technology. Prakken serves as an editor and associate editor of several journals including the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases and the European Journal of Immunology, and is a regular reviewer for most major journals in his field.
Berent Prakken was among others chair of the standing committee of pediatric rheumatology in EULAR, and member of the PRES council and EULAR executive committee. He is member of the steering committee of UCAN (international federation facilitating biological research in arthritis) and (thanks to a 1 million euro grant from the Dutch Arthritis foundation) set up the first international platform for biological studies in arthritis (UCAN-U, www.ucan-u.org). Prakken is member of various (inter)national scientific advisory boards and member of the Dutch National Health Council (Gezondheidsraad). He is coordinator of EUTRAIN, an EU FP7 Marie Curie Integrated Training Network for translational research in pediatric rheumatology. Berent Prakken’s personal commitment is to collaboration and training & education. Unconventional thinking and crossing traditional boundaries inspire him, just as his close friendship with Salvo Albani and the other board members of Eureka. As co-founder and board member he enjoys the journey on which Eureka is taking them.
Vicki L. Seyfert-Margolis founded My Own Med in January 2013, based on over two years of work on a database, web and mobile application platform technology for family based co-management of health.
Prior to this, Dr. Seyfert-Margolis was the Senior Advisor for Science Innovation and Policy in the Office of the Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Seyfert-Margolis began her tenure at FDA during the transition of the Obama administration. While at the FDA, she oversaw the development and execution of an agency wide strategic plan for regulatory science. Dr. Seyfert-Margolis worked with President Obama’s Start-Up America and the White House Jobs Council to help shape policies to promote growth within the biotechnology sector of the US economy. She served as the lead FDA representative on the President’s Council of Advisors of Science and Technology (PCAST) study “Propelling Innovation in Drug Discovery, Development and Evaluation”.
Dr. Seyfert-Margolis also oversaw the design and development of both scientific approaches and policies for issues surrounding food safety, including spearheading efforts to develop testing for dispersant and petro-hydrocarbons in seafood following the Deep Water Horizon, mercury in fish guidelines, arsenic in juices and rice, and radiation level detection in foods following the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan.
Prior to the FDA, she served as Chief Scientific Officer at the Immune Tolerance Network (ITN), a non-profit consortium of researchers seeking new treatments for diseases of the immune system. At ITN, Dr. Seyfert-Margolis oversaw the development of over 20 leading edge assay development and centralized laboratory facilities, bringing them to GLP and CLIA compliance. She designed and implemented biomarker discovery studies for over 25 Phase II clinical trials across a broad array of immunologically mediated diseases including autoimmune disorders, allergy, and solid organ transplantation.
Dr. Seyfert-Margolis was also an Adjunct Associate Professor with the Department of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco. Prior to this, she served as Director of the Office of Innovative Scientific Research Technologies at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, where she worked to integrate emerging technologies into existing immunology and infectious disease programs.
Dr. Seyfert-Margolis completed her PhD in immunology at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine, and her post-doctoral fellowship work at Harvard University and the National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Gregorio is the Vice-Dean for Innovation and Development at the University of Arizona. She also built and currently directs the Sarver Molecular Cardiovascular Research Program (MCRP) at the University of Arizona. Researchers in the MCRP are focused on discovering and disseminating knowledge about the underlying biological and molecular mechanisms of heart development, heart function, heart disease and other malfunctions of the cardiovascular system. Their efforts emphasize translational research. She is also the head of a medical school academic department whose primary missions are to decipher the primary cause of human disease and to train the next generation of Translational Scientists. Dr. Gregorio herself runs an active and well- funded research program with a focus broadly summarized as understanding the cellular mechanisms involved in the assembly, regulation and maintenance of contractile proteins in cardiac and skeletal muscle in health and disease. Dr. Gregorio is an active member of several editorial and philanthropic boards, and is a frequent grant reviewer at the National Institutes of Health. She received her Doctorate from Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY with a major in Molecular Immunology, and did her postdoctoral fellowship at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA.
Sergio Quezada is a Professor of Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy at University College London Cancer Institute and Chief Scientific officer of Achilles Therapeutics. He earned his undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the P. Universidad Católica de Chile and a Ph.D. from Dartmouth Medical School in the US. In 2004, he joined the laboratory of the Nobel Laureate Prof James Allison at MSKCC, where he unveiled mechanisms underpinning the anti-tumour activity of anti CTLA-4 antibodies.
Following his postdoctoral training, he joined UCL Cancer Institute in the United Kingdom as head of the Immune Regulation and Tumour Immunotherapy group and supported by a Cancer Research UK Career Development Fellowship.His work focuses in cancer immunology, tumour microenvironment, regulatory T cells and immune checkpoint blockade. His team’s research unveiled the critical role of Fc receptors and the tumour microenvironment in the mechanism of action of anti CTLA-4 antibodies, and he is an inventor of several key patents supporting the clinical development of antibodies targeting immune checkpoints including VISTA, ICOS and CD25. In the last few years, Prof Quezada and his team co-led the development of a first in class Treg-depleting anti-human CD25 antibody with TUSK Therapeutics. This antibody was acquired by Roche in 2018 and is currently in clinical evaluation against solid cancers.
Prof Quezada’s research also focuses in the characterization and interrogation of immune reactivity and function within the microenvironment of different human cancers including melanoma, lung and kidney cancers which is helping identify mechanisms of response and resistance to immunotherapy. His work in this area led to creation of a spin off company, Achilles therapeutics, a clinical stage company delivering personalised T cell therapies against cancer. In April 2020 Prof Quezada stepped in as Chief Scientific Officer of Achilles to lead the current and future scientific direction of Achilles.
Prof Quezada was a recipient of Dartmouth’s John W. Strohbern Medal for excellence in biomedical research, the Cancer Research Institute new investigator award, a CRUK Career Development Fellowship and a CRUK Senior Cancer Research Fellowship.
Maria Grazia Roncarolo, MD, is a Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at Stanford School of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Stem Cell Transplantation and Regenerative Medicine, Co-Director of the Bass Center for Childhood Blood Disease and Co-Director of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.
Her efforts focus on the translation of scientific discoveries in genetic diseases and regenerative medicine into novel patient therapies, including treatments based on stem cells and gene therapy. Dr. Roncarolo, a pediatric immunologist by training, spent her early career in Lyon, France, where she focused on severe inherited metabolic and immune diseases, including severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), better known as “bubble boy disease”.
Dr. Roncarolo was a key member of the first team to carry out stem cell transplants given before birth to treat these genetic diseases. Dr. Roncarolo then worked at the DNAX Research Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology in Palo Alto, where she contributed to the discovery of novel cytokines, studying their role in the induction of tolerance and promotion of stem cell growth and differentiation. As director of the Telethon Institute for Cell and Gene Therapy at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Dr. Roncarolo successfully led the first stem cell-based gene therapy trail for SCID patients lacking adenosine deaminase (ADA), a severe life-threatening disorder. The trial, combining gene corrected blood stem cells with low-dose chemotherapy, is now considered the gold standard for gene therapy in inherited immune diseases. She was also the principal investigator in a successful gene therapy trial for Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome.
During her research on inherited immune diseases, Dr. Roncarolo also discovered a new class of T cells, called T regulatory type 1 cells. These cells play a key role in maintaining immune-system homeostasis by preventing autoimmune and inflammatory diseases and helping the immune system tolerate transplanted cells and organs. She recently discovered specific biomarkers for these T regulatory type 1 cells, which will be used to purify the cells for clinical use and for tracking in patients. She was the first to complete a successful clinical trial using T regulatory type 1 cells to prevent severe graft-versus-host disease in leukemia patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.
Dr. Roncarolo has brought many basic-science discoveries from the bench to patients in the field. She holds eight patents, with six more pending, for methods used in novel cell and gene therapies. She has published more than 280 scientific papers along with 22 book chapters, and her publications have been cited over 20,000 times. She is a Member of the Academia Europaea of Sciences and of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Norman Rosenblum is Professor of Paediatrics, Physiology, and Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto, and a Paediatric Nephrologist and Senior Scientist in the Research Institute, the Hospital for Sick Children. He is the recipient of a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Developmental Nephrology. In 2018, Dr. Rosenblum assumed the role of Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes (INMD). CIHR is Canada’s federal health research granting agency. INMD is one of 13 Institutes dedicated to development of Canada’s health research strategy in specific subject areas.
Dr. Rosenblum is a MD graduate of Dalhousie University. He completed a Pediatric residency and a fellowship in Pediatric Nephrology at the Children’s Hospital, Boston followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Bjorn Olsen in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Rosenblum was recruited in 1993 as a clinician scientist to the Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto. Since then, the focus of his research has been to elucidate molecular mechanisms that control normal and malformed kidney development in genetic mouse models with a focus on signaling by bone morphogenetic, WNT and Hedgehog proteins. His lab has generated several models of human kidney-urinary tract malformation. He has published over 110 peer-reviewed original manuscripts and book chapters.
Dr. Rosenblum has been deeply engaged in developing and managing career development programs for clinician scientists. He founded and led the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program from 2001-2012 and served as Associate Dean, Physician Scientist Training in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, from 2008-2017. Dr. Rosenblum is immediate Past-President of the Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation and a current member of the Council of the American Pediatric Society. He is a founding member of the EUREKA Institute for Translational Medicine and served on the Board of Directors and the Faculty of the Certificate Course (2008-2017).
Dr. Rosenblum is the recipient of the 2004 Aventis Pasteur Research Award, the American Pediatric Society inaugural 2006 Norman J. Siegel New Member Outstanding Science Award, the Society for Pediatric Research 2010 Maureen Andrew Award in Mentoring, and the Kidney Foundation of Canada 2011 Medal for Research Excellence.
After graduating from University of Singapore’s Medical School in 1975, Prof Soo moved to Australia where he was a Resident and Registrar at the Prince of Wales-Prince Henry Hospitals in New South Wales.
Following that, he obtained his Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1982.
Choosing to specialise in Head and Neck Surgery and Surgical Oncology, Prof Soo spent further time in that field at the Royal Marsden Hospital at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Department of Surgery.
In 1988, Prof Soo returned to Singapore working at the Singapore General Hospital’s Department of Surgery where he became the Head and Senior Consultant Surgeon between 1993 and 2004. He obtained his Doctor of Medicine from National University of Singapore in 1995.
Prof Soo was the Director of the National Cancer Centre Singapore, he provides strategic leadership to over 900 staff engaged in clinical care and research. In addition, Prof Soo holds the positions of Senior Vice Dean of Clinical, Academic and Faculty Affairs, Duke-NUS Medical School and Deputy Group CEO of Research and Education, Singapore Health Services. He is also a Professor of Surgery at the National University of Singapore.
Currently he leads a multidisciplinary group that has been awarded a $10 million grant from National Research Foundation on proton research.
He has trained international surgeons and has been Visiting Professor in some of the leading Academic Medical Centres.
For his devotion to training and education, he was bestowed the Outstanding Teachers’ Award and Best Teacher (Undergraduate) Award in 1996 and 2001 respectively. In 2003, Prof Soo was awarded the National Day Award, Public Administration Medal (Gold) for his contribution to the country. In 2008, he was awarded the National Outstanding Clinician Mentor Award, an inaugural National Medical Excellence Award conferred by the Ministry of Health. And in 2011, he was awarded the President’s Science and Technology Medal in recognition for his contributions to Singapore’s clinical service and healthcare landscape. He is currently the Benjamin Sheares Professor of Academic Medicine in Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School.
Prof Soo has wide ranging research interests in the conduct of clinical trials for new cancer treatments as well as in the field of bio-photonics and its role as a new imaging modality for the early detection of cancer.
He has interest in the training of doctors in the region in oncology. He has helped to set up a cancer centre in Malaysia and is attempting to help set up another in Bali, Indonesia.