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 About the speakers

The speakers of the Keynote and Plenary sessions at ESCAIDE 2016 is coming soon.


ESCAIDE 2015 Keynote address: The global public health threat of antimicrobial resistance 


Keynote speaker: Prof. Jan Kluytmans

ESCAIDE 2015 opens with a keynote address on the global public health threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), its zoonotic dimension and implications for policy makers. The address will be given by Prof. Jan Kluytmans - a prominent scientist known for his ground-breaking research and the influential role it has had in shaping health protection in the area of AMR and infection control.

The lecture will set the issue of AMR in a broad ecological perspective. It will focus on the impact that agricultural use of antimicrobials has on multidrug resistant zoonotic pathogens, dissemination to human populations and adverse health effects. The lecture will also address how new evidence has informed agricultural and public health policies in response to the threat and how effective these countermeasures have been in Europe and globally.

The ESCAIDE keynote address offers to the audience of experts in infectious disease epidemiology and control leading examples of how top science successfully translates into health policy. The topic of antimicrobial resistance has been in the spotlight of ESCAIDE for many years and the Conference participants in 2014 revealed a widespread concern for the issue. 

Biography of Professor Jan Kluytmans 

Conflict of Interest Declaration 


Plenary B: Social Media: a toy or a useful tool?


Plenary Speaker: Dr. John Brownstein 

Dr. John Brownstein is the Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children's Hospital, USA. He is a global leader in Healthcare Information Technology and, in particular, the emerging fields of informatics and big data analytics. He runs a 50-person multi-disciplinary team focused on digital innovations that span clinicians and consumers. His group is supported by a multi-million dollar budget including grants from NIH, USAID, DoD, IARPA, CDC, Google, Skoll and Gates Foundation. His work has pioneered ‘digital epidemiology’- utilizing diverse digital data sources to understand population health. His work is published in over a 150 peer-reviewed papers, all focused on new methods and applications in digital health. This work was recognized by the White House with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

He also leads the development of several novel patient facing public health systems, including HealthMap, Vaccine Finder and MedWatcher. The systems are considered premier global public health tools in use by millions of patients each year and endorsed by numerous public health agencies including CDC, WHO, DHS, DOD, HHS, and EU, and has been recognized by the National Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. In addition to research achievements, this translational impact comes from playing an advisory role to numerous agencies on real-time public health surveillance including HHS, DHS, CDC, IOM, WHO and the White House.

Conflict of Interest Declaration


Plenary Speaker: Prof. Ingemar J. Cox   

Prof. Ingemar J. Cox is currently a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at University College London (UCL). He is also a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Copenhagen. He is Head of the Future Media Group at UCL. Between 2003 and 2008, he was Director of UCL's Adastral Park Campus. His current research interests involve data analytics of online social media, Twitter and query logs, for healthcare purposes.He has been a recipient of a Royal Society Wolfson Fellowship (2002-2007). 

He received his B.Sc. from University College London and Ph.D. from Oxford University. He was a member of the Technical Staff at AT&T Bell Labs at Murray Hill from 1984 until 1989 where his research interests were focused on mobile robots. In 1989 he joined NEC Research Institute in Princeton, NJ as a senior research scientist in the computer science division. At NEC, his research shifted to problems in computer vision and he was responsible for creating the computer vision group at NECI. He has worked on problems to do with stereo and motion correspondence and multimedia issues of image database retrieval and watermarking.  In 1999, he was awarded the IEEE Signal Processing Society Best Paper Award (Image and Multidimensional Signal Processing Area) for a paper he co-authored on watermarking.  From 1997-1999, he served as Chief Technical Officer of Signafy, Inc, a subsidiary of NEC responsible for the commercialization of watermarking.  Between 1996 and 1999, he led the design of NEC's watermarking proposal for DVD video disks and later colloborated with IBM in developing the technology behind the joint "Galaxy" proposal supported by Hitachi, IBM, NEC, Pioneer and Sony.  In 1999, he returned to NEC Research Institute as a Research Fellow. He is a Fellow of the ACM, IEEE, the IET (formerly IEE), and the British Computer Society. He is a member of the UK Computing Research Committee. He was founding co-editor in chief of the IEE Proc. on Information Security and is an associate editor of the IEEE Trans. on Information Forensics and Security.  He is co-author of a book entitled "Digital Watermarking" and its second edition "Digital Watermarking and Steganography",  and the co-editor of two books, `Autonomous Robots Vehicles' and `Partitioning Data Sets: With Applications to Psychology, Computer Vision and Target Tracking'. 

Conflict of Interest declaration

enary C: Ensuring that evidence leads to public health protection - special session on occasion of the 20th EPIET anniversary


Plenary Speaker: Dr. Johanna Takkinen

Dr. Johanna Takkinen is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (1989) with a special degree in food- and environmental hygiene from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in the University of Helsinki (2005). While doing practice mainly with large animals, she has worked in different food-, water- and environmental laboratories for several years since 1983, first as a laboratory technician and later as a Head of food laboratory in Porvoo, Finland, with a responsibility of all laboratory services and accreditation of several microbiological and chemical methods for food, water and indoor air samples.
In 1999, Dr. Takkinen joined the European Intervention Epidemiology Training programme (EPIET) in the Robert Koch Institut in Germany, and moved to work at the National Public Health Instute (KTL at the time, THL nowadays) in Finland in 2002. She was recognised de facto Diplomate for Food Science in the European College of Veterinary Public Health in 2005 and in the same year, she finished her Master of Public Health studies for the Nordic School of Public Health in Gothenburg, Sweden. In October 2005, Dr. Takkinen started to work as a Senior Expert in the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and since 2006, she has been leading the coordination of ECDC Food- and Waterborne Diseases and Zoonoses (FWD) programme.
As a Head of ECDC FWD programme covering 22 bacterial, viral, parasitic and prion diseases, Dr. Takkinen has a deep interest to understand and explore the epidemiology of these diseases in a holistic way so that important gaps in the prevention and control can be identified and appropriately addressed. The FWD programme has three main pillars for activities: 1) Strengthen and develop surveillance for FWD, including molecular-based surveillance, so that it supports monitoring of trends and detection of emergence of new pathogenic strains in humans in European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA); 2) strengthen the detection of and response to multi-state foodborne outbreaks through indicator- and event-based surveillance/monitoring and promoting the collaboration between food safety and public health authorities; and 3) strengthen the public health microbiology capacity and capability particularly in the field of molecular typing.

Plenary Speaker: Dr. Jane Richardson 

Dr. Jane Richardson has a degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Edinburgh (1994) and a PhD in Microbiology from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (2000). She spent three years training as an Analyst/Programmer, developing patient management systems for the Welsh Radiology Service

In 2003 she joined the UK Health Protection Agency in the North West of England. In her role as Epidemiology and surveillance analyst she worked on both infectious diseases and chemical exposure events, developing expertise in the use of routine health data to support exposure assessments for contaminated land incidents and airborne releases.
In 2007 she joined the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Italy. Combining her scientific training with experience gained in an IT environment, she has worked as a senior database manager on a number of multinational monitoring surveillance programmes.
She is participating in three joint initiatives with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), namely molecular typing, geographical distribution of arthropod vectors and multinational outbreak of hepatitis A.

Plenary Speaker: Dr. Gaia Scavia

Dr. Gaia Scavia (DVM) is a veterinary epidemiologist working at the National Italian Public Health Institute (ISS), Department of Veterinary Public Health and Food Safety. She has been involved since 2003 in epidemiology and surveillance of FWD in both human and food / veterinary fields, including outbreak detection and investigation and implementation of integrated alert systems.

In 2013 and 2014 she has been involved in the National Task Force for the investigation of the large community-wide outbreak of Hepatits A linked to frozen berries. Her specific task was the assessment of the risk for public health posed by frozen berries with particular focus on food tracing-back, in order to support the adoption of specific outbreak control measures. This task was also carried out in collaboration with ECDC and EFSA which coordinated the investigation of the Hepatitis A outbreak at the European Union level.  

Conflict of Interest Declaration




Plenary D: Emerging challenges to vaccine programmes: antigen escape and non-specific immune effects

Plenary Speaker: Prof. Nicole Guiso

Prof. Nicole Guiso joined the Institut Pasteur in 1972 as a voluntary trainee, having obtained a Master’s Degree in biochemistry. She obtained her first PhD in 1976 and the second one in 1980. She left the Institut Pasteur, between 1986-1987, to take up the position of Visiting Lecturer at the National Jewish Hospital in Denver, Colorado, USA, to study Archaebacteria. She joined back the Institute in 1988 and was appointed Laboratory Head in 1991 followed by positions of director of two National Reference Centres, Pertussis and Diphtheria. She took up the position of Head of the department of “Ecosystems and Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases” department in 2002.

Nicole Guiso has authored more than 300 articles in international peer-reviewed journals, several book chapters; moreover she has been involved as principal investigator in more than 300 international colloquia and seminars and has been invited by many international organisations as an expert on pertussis.

Nicole Guiso was actively involved in research, directing studies of post-graduate students, post-doctoral investigators and trainees. She has been a member of the Scientific Council of the Institut Pasteur in Paris and of several Instituts Pasteur around the world. She was awarded the Nicloux Prize of the French Chemical Society in 1984, the Dr Darolles Prize of the Academy of Medicine in 1998, “Grade de Chevalier dans l’ordre National du Mérite” in 2001 and "Grade de Chevalier dans l'ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur" in 2006. 

Conflict of Interest Declaration


 Plenary Speaker: Prof. Annette Mankertz

Professor Annette Mankertz is a biochemist and received a diploma from Berlin Free University in 1987. She joined Prof. Walter Messer at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin and was awarded PhD for studies of bacterial viruses in 1990. Since then, she worked at the Robert Koch Institute.
First, she became interested in the molecular biology of porcine circoviruses and investigated the mechanisms of pathogenicity and the interaction of circoviruses with their hosts. Meanwhile, Annette Mankertz switched gears and nowadays works with viruses inducing the childhood diseases measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). As Head of the National Reference Centre MMR she cooperates closely with the ECDC and the WHO, and her lab serves as one of three WHO Regional Reference Labs in Europe. Besides her commitment to public health and laboratory diagnostic she is still highly interested in basic science, especially in molecular virology.
In 2011, Annette Mankertz has been appointed the Head of Unit “Viral infections” and Deputy Head of the “Department of Infectious Diseases” in RKI. In 2014, she became Professor at the Free University. She enjoys teaching and working in the area of interface between public health, diagnostic and basic science.


Plenary Speaker: Prof. Christine Stabell Benn

Christine BennProf. Christine Stabell Benn is a medical doctor (1996), PhD (2003) and Doctor of Medical Science (2011) from University of Copenhagen. She has worked at the Bandim Health Project in Guinea-Bissau (BHP) since 1993, starting as a medical student. She has spent post doctoral time at the Danish National Hospital, Department for Infectious Diseases and at Stanford University. In 2010 Prof. Benn received an ERC Starting Grant. In 2012, Prof. Benn was selected by the Danish National Research Foundation to establish and lead a Center of Excellence, the “Research Center for Vitamins and Vaccines” (CVIVA). Since 2013, she has held the position of Professor in Global Health at the University of Southern Denmark.

Prof. Benn’s research aims to document that vaccines and vitamins affect the immune system in a much more general way than previously thought. With regard to childhood vaccines, they are usually implemented without prior trials documenting their effect on overall health. It is assumed that if a vaccine prevents a target disease, then the effect on overall mortality is beneficial and proportional to the number of deaths caused by the disease. However, sometimes this turns out not to be the case. For instance, in low-income countries with high infectious disease mortality, Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) against tuberculosis and measles vaccines have stronger mortality-reducing effects than can be ascribed to prevention of tuberculosis and measles infections, i.e. they also protect against other infectious diseases. In other words they have beneficial heterologous or non-specific effects. Recent studies conducted in Denmark have shown that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine may have similar beneficial non-specific effects on morbidity in high-income countries.

These observations tend to be dismissed because they do not fit assumptions. However, we need to draw lessons also from the unexpected and even “unbelievable” observations. If vaccines have non-specific effects and modulate the immune system in more general ways, immunization programmes designed to take into account and optimise both specific and non-specific effects of vaccines hold the potential for greatly improving health.

Conflict of Interest Declaration

Plenary E: Public Health Event 2015: Ebola and MERS-CoV – recent advances and remaining challenges


Plenary Speaker: Dr Maria Van Kerkhove

 Dr Maria Van Kerkhove is the Head of the Outbreak Investigation Task Force at Institut Pasteur’s Center for Global Health. 

She is an experienced infectious disease epidemiologist with strong field experience in infectious disease outbreaks and epidemiologic investigations. Her main research interests include zoonotic, respiratory and emerging/re-emerging viruses such as avian influenza, MERS-CoV, Ebola and Marburg. 

Dr Van Kerkhove is also currently a technical consultant for WHO as a member of the MERS-CoV task force.  She has worked with WHO to routinely analyze available data from countries and conduct risk assessments, and regularly participates in Missions to affected member states.

Dr Van Kerkhove was previously employed by Imperial College London in the MRC Center for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling where she worked closely with WHO on influenza, yellow fever, meningitis, MERS-CoV and Ebola Virus Disease. 

 Conflict of Interest Declaration




Plenary Speaker: Dr. Pierre Formenty 

Dr. Pierre Formenty is a Doctor in Veterinary Medicine with a Master in Public Health. He has been working in global public health with the World Health Organization (WHO) since January 1996.

With the Ebola crisis in West Africa, Dr Formenty has been assign to the HQ Ebola Response department, where he is leading the Technical Strategy, Support & Standards Team.

In addition, within the Department of Pandemic and Epidemic Diseases he is leading the Emerging and Epidemic Zoonotic Diseases team (CED/EZD). The EZD team is responsible for global prevention, preparedness and response to emerging and zoonotic diseases epidemics of international public health concern. Dr Formenty and his team are covering a large number of emerging and epidemic zoonotic infections: viral emerging pathogens (Ebola, Marburg, Rift valley fever, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, Lassa and Arenaviruses, Monkeypox, SARS, Hantavirus, Nipah and Hendra,…) and bacterial zoonotic diseases of epidemic importance (Leptospirosis, plague, rickettsiosis, tularemia, melioidosis..). In addition, their research interest include ecological studies on emerging zoonosis at the human-animal interface, viral haemorrhagic fevers, vector borne forecasting models and climate change.

Dr Pierre Formenty is a field epidemiologist specialized in public health and in medical virology with special focus on viral haemorrhagic fevers. He has more than twenty five years' experience in international public health, tropical medicine and animal health.

Since 1996, Dr. Pierre Formenty has participated with WHO in field control activities of more than 40 major outbreaks of international importance. During these missions he supported outbreak response activities for the following diseases: Chikungunya, Cholera, Dengue, Ebola, Marburg, Monkeypox, Nipah, Plague, Rift Valley Fever, SARS-CoV and Yellow Fever.
He has more than 100 scientific papers published in peer review journals including 84 referenced in PubMed. He is author and co-author of numerous reports and studies in virology, public health and animal health.

Conflict of Interest Declaration

 Plenary Speaker: Prof. Stephan Günther 

Prof. Stephan Günther is a specialist in Medical Microbiology, Virology, and Infection Epidemiology at the Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg, Germany. He has a medical degree from the Humboldt-University Berlin (Charité) and holds a professor position at the University of Hamburg.

His research is dedicated to hemorrhagic fever viruses in Africa, in particular the investigation of virus replication using molecular and structural biological approaches and studying pathogenesis in small animal models. Major focus of clinical virology is molecular epidemiology, diagnostics, and therapy of hemorrhagic fever viruses in Africa.

He is coordinating several European project consortia, including:
- European Mobile Laboratory project funded by European Commission, Development and Cooperation Office, DEVCO „Establishment of Mobile Laboratories up to Risk Group 4 in combination with CBRN Capacity Building in sub-Saharan Africa“ (EMLab) 2012-2015
- Horizon 2020 project “Ebola Virus Disease – Correlates of protection, determinants of outcome, and clinical management” (EVIDENT) 2014-2016

Conflict of Interest Declaration


Plenary Speaker: Dr. Gunnstein Norheim 

Gunnstein Norheim, MSc Pharm, PhD, is a staff scientist at the Division for Infectious Control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. He has a PhD from University of Oslo on meningococcal vaccines development and bacterial meningitis in Africa, and served as a consultant for WHO in Burkina Faso. He has worked as a post doc at the Oxford Vaccine Group, University of Oxford, on pre-clinical and clinical development of serogroup B and X meningococcal vaccines.

Current research areas include meningococcal vaccine development for the African meningitis belt, molecular epidemiology of tuberculosis and clinical evaluation of Ebola vaccines. During the last year he has worked on the coordination, planning and implementation of the phase III clinical trial with a novel vaccine against Ebola in Guinea, and is a member of the Study Steering Group for this trial.

 Conflict of interest Declaration

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