Speakers – More To Be Announced Soon!



Libusha Kelly
Associate Professor
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Our basic research program develops new experimental and computational technologies to biologically organize and describe the dynamics of the tremendous genetic diversity in microbial communities. Microbes and viruses are first responders to alterations in the environment. Microbial responses to environmental changes include transcriptional, proliferative, and genomic changes little is known about how viruses respond to environmental perturbations in the context of interactions with their hosts. Furthermore, microbes and viruses exist in tight-knit networks that compete for, produce, and share resources. Microbial community structure/function relationships are poorly understood, which inhibits our ability to support or prevent particular functions. We develop new computational methods to 1) quantify genomic differences and interactions in microbial and viral populations and 2) characterize novel viruses. We recently reported in Nature a novel family of tailless viruses that are major unrecognized killers of marine viruses with the Polz lab at MIT (Kauffman, et al. 2017). These mysterious viruses are also found in the human microbiome, and we are in the process of characterizing their effects on microbial communities in the human body. If we understand how communities are organized and how they change over time under particular conditions, such as inflammation, we can better target microbes and genes to alter that condition.

Our translational research program provides patients and their doctors with actionable information about their microbiomes to improve health and treatment plans. For example, we recently discovered that microbiomes of different individuals have different capacities to activate irinotecan, an anti-cancer drug (Guthrie, et al, 2017). We linked this differential metabolism to specific microbial carbohydrate active enzymes. In mouse models, gut metabolism of irinotecan leads to adverse events, including severe diarrhea. We hypothesize that the life- threatening diarrhea that afflicts up to a quarter of metastatic colorectal cancer patients who take this drug might also be caused by microbial turnover, and are working with oncologists at Einstein/Montefiore to recruit and track patients receiving regimens that include irinotecan. Our goal is to provide patients with early warnings that they are likely high irinotecan metabolizers, thereby enabling prophylactic diarrheal treatment and closer monitoring by their treatment team. A tantalizing possibility here is to use a dietary carbon source to saturate the drug- interacting carbohydrate active enzymes before patients are given the drug, thereby reducing the number of patients who suspend treatment due to severe adverse events.

Jackie Papkoff
Chief Scientific Officer
Assembly Biosciences

Dr. Papkoff has worked in both pharma and biotech for over 20 years and has broad scientific strategy, executive leadership and business experience. She has deep expertise in cell biology and molecular mechanisms of disease, which she has applied to therapeutic and biomarker preclinical discovery & development in oncology, inflammation and autoimmunity. Prior to joining Assembly Biosciences, Dr. Papkoff was Senior Vice President Research at Evelo Biosciences, where she led the preclinical scientific team to discover, validate and nominate microbial therapeutics for clinical development in oncology indications. Prior to Evelo, Dr. Papkoff was a founding member of the J&J California Innovation Center, where she served as Vice President of Immunology Scientific Innovation for the Janssen Immunology Therapeutic Area focused on inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Previously, she was CSO of CFD Therapeutics, a cancer-immunology focused antibody therapeutics company she co-founded, and held R&D leadership positions at diaDexus and Aventis pharma. Dr. Papkoff has a BA in Biology from University of California Santa Cruz, a PhD in Biology from University of California San Diego & the Salk Institute, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford and University of California San Francisco.

Sara Ferrando Martinez
Research Scientist

David Donabedian
Axial Therapeutics

Dr. Donabedian is an accomplished business development and strategy executive with extensive leadership experience. Dr. Donabedian has a track record of building companies, most recently as a Venture Partner at Longwood Fund. Prior to joining Longwood, Dr. Donabedian has held various leadership roles at biopharmaceutical companies including AbbVie and GSK. At AbbVie, Dr. Donabedian served as Vice President & Global Head of Ventures and Early Stage Collaborations where he led a global team that completed significant transactions across multiple therapeutic areas and stages of development. Prior to AbbVie, Dr. Donabedian served as Vice President Global New Deal Strategy and Development at GlaxoSmithKline, and Senior Manager at Accenture’s Strategic Services Consulting Group. He holds a BA in Chemistry from St. Anselm College, a Ph.D. in Polymer Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and an MBA from the University of North Carolina. He currently serves on the Board of Alcyone Life Sciences, a privately held CNS company which he co-founded.

Stacy Kahn
MD, Attending Physician
Boston Children’s Hospital

Dr. Stacy Kahn completed her undergraduate degree in history at Washington University in St. Louis, and her post-baccalaureate premedical training at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She attended New York University School of Medicine and then went on to complete her pediatric residency and pediatric gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Chicago. While at the University of Chicago, she also completed an ethics fellowship at the Maclean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. Clinically, Dr. Kahn’s interests have focused on the care of children with IBD, in particular she is interested in the care and management of teens and young adults with Crohn’s and colitis. While on the faculty at the University of Chicago, she founded and was the Director for the Transitional IBD Clinic. Dr. Kahn's other primary clinical focus is recurrent and refractory Clostridium difficile infection. She is a national expert and leader in the field of fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) and performed the first colonoscopic FMT in a child. Dr. Kahn's research interests include FMT for Clostridium difficile, FMT for inflammatory bowel disease, transition of care and self-management in IBD and research ethics. She is the director of the FMT research program at Boston Children’s Hospital and has led the development of the first national pediatric FMT registry.

Jessica Allegretti
MD, Director Clinical Trials
Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Dr. Jessica Allegretti graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca New York, and The Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida. She was trained in internal medicine at Massachusetts’s General Hospital and completed her gastroenterology fellowship training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She later went on to receive a Master of Public Health degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. Currently she is an attending gastroenterologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Crohn’s and Colitis Center, where she also serves as the center’s Director of Clinical Trials. In addition to her clinical responsibilities and caring for patients with IBD, Dr. Allegretti is the director of the fecal microbiota transplant program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is currently leading several clinical trials investigating the use of fecal transplantation in several chronic diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, primary sclerosis cholangitis and obesity. Additionally, Dr. Allegretti’s research focuses on investigating the mechanisms of recurrent clostridium difficile infections.

Gerard Honig
Associate Director, Research Innovation
Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation

Aaron Del Duca
VP Microbiome Platform

Sonia Timberlake
VP Research
Finch Therapeutics

Dr. Sonia Timberlake is the VP of Research at Finch Therapeutics, a microbiome therapeutics company. Sonia is an expert at designing NGS-based algorithms for applications in microbial genomics, immunogenomics, and evolution. Prior to joining Finch, she built and managed AbVitro's computational algorithms and infrastructure, supporting high throughput single-cell immune phenotyping and repertoire sequencing technology. This technology platform was acquired by Juno Therapeutics, where Sonia led a multidisciplinary team to harness native adaptive immune responses for developing engineered cell therapies in oncology. Sonia graduated from Caltech with a B.Sc in Molecular Biology and received her Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from MIT.

Cynthia Sears
MD, Professor of Medicine
John Hopkins Medicine

An expert in foodborne and intestinal infections, Cynthia Sears is a professor of medicine and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as well as a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is the microbiome program leader of the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins and is director of the Johns Hopkins Germ-free Murine Facility. She is an infectious diseases expert who has focused on gut infections including diarrhea, foodborne illnesses Clostridium difficile (C. diff) and Helicobacter pylori during her career. In the laboratory and in clinical settings, she has studied the pathogenesis of enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis (ETBF) over the past 25 years. The current focus of the Sears laboratory is to determine how the microbiota and specific bacteria contribute to colon carcinogenesis. The Sears laboratory integrates studies in humans and mouse models, employing microbiology, bioinformatics and immunologic methods. Dr. Sears has worked abroad in Thailand, Brazil, Haiti, Bangladesh and Malaysia. Dr. Sears received her medical degree from Thomas Jefferson Medical College followed by training in internal medicine at The New York Hospital (Cornell Medical School) in New York City. She trained in infectious diseases at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute and the University of Virginia. Dr. Sears joined the faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1988.

Alison Lawton
Kaleido Biosciences

Alison Lawton has served as Kaleido’s Chief Executive Officer, President and as a member of the Board of Directors since August 2018, after initially joining the company as President and Chief Operating Officer in December 2017. Ms. Lawton has more than 30 years of experience in a range of executive and operating roles in the biopharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining Kaleido, she was COO at Aura Biosciences, and previously held the same role at X4 Pharmaceuticals and OvaScience. Ms. Lawton spent more than 20 years at Genzyme Corporation and subsequently at Sanofi following its acquisition of Genzyme. She served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Sanofi Biosurgery, a $750 million business that included surgical, orthopedics, and cell therapy and regenerative medicine franchises. Earlier, as SVP of Global Market Access for Genzyme, Ms. Lawton led global functional organizations, including regulatory affairs and quality systems, public policy, health outcomes and strategic pricing, product safety and risk management. Additionally, Ms. Lawton worked for seven years in the U.K. at Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis. She previously served two terms as the industry representative on the Food & Drug Administration’s Cell & Gene Therapy Advisory Committee and as Chairman of the Board of the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society (RAPS). She is currently an independent Director of ProQR Therapeutics and Verastem, Inc., and was previously a director on the boards of Cubist Pharmaceuticals, CoLucid Pharmaceuticals, and Magenta Therapeutics. Ms. Lawton earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacology from King’s College London.

Sahil Khanna
MD, Associate Professor of Medicine & Consultant
Mayo Clinic

The research program of Sahil Khanna, M.B.B.S., focuses on the epidemiology, risk factors and treatment of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). As the most common infection in hospitals, CDI is an urgent public health threat with high mortality and recurrence rates. With an epidemic of this infection seen in the community, there is an emergent need to study the epidemiology and novel risk factors. Dr. Khanna leads Mayo Clinic's clinical and research program involving fecal microbiota transplantation for CDI, performs clinical trials for treatment of CDI, and studies the role of the gut microbiome in the management and outcomes of CDI.

Geoffrey Hannigan
Associate Principal Scientist
Merck Exploratory Science Center

Nathan Crook
Assistant Professor – Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
NC State

Dr. Crook received his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin in 2014 under the guidance of Hal Alper, where he focused on developing novel genetic engineering techniques for Saccharomyces cerevisiae.  He then undertook postdoctoral studies at Washington University in Saint Louis in the laboratory of Gautam Dantas, where he studied the evolutionary trajectories of probiotic bacteria in the mammalian gut.  The Crook Lab develops new high-throughput experimental and computational genetic engineering techniques. In doing so, his lab hopes to uncover novel biological phenomena and accelerate applied research and development in the broad areas of metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, and microbial ecology.

Wes Whitaker
Chief Scientific Officer
Novome Biotechnologies

Majdi Osman
MD, Clinical Program Director

Majdi is the Clinical Program Director at OpenBiome. He is an Internal Medicine physician who trained at University College London. He previously worked at the World Health Organization and completed his Master's in Public Health at the Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health on a Frank Knox Fellowship.  He was trained in tropical medicine and infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and has taught and practiced medicine throughout Africa.  He co-founded YBank, a non-profit dedicated to adolescent health. His research focuses on infectious diseases, quality improvement and clinical safety.  He is excited to be part of OpenBiome in its mission to deliver safe access to FMT

Theresa LaVallee
VP Translational Medicine & Regulatory Affairs
Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy

Theresa LaVallee, Ph.D., is the Vice President of Translational Medicine and Regulatory Affairs at the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. She has more than 25 years of research and industry experience, with broad knowledge of drug discovery and development. Previously, Dr. LaVallee served as Senior Vice President of Regulatory and Precision Medicine at Celldex Therapeutics and Senior Vice President of Translational Medicine and Product Development at Kolltan Pharmaceuticals. Prior to those roles, she was Senior Director Translational Medicine at MedImmune and EntreMed. In these positions, she advanced drugs in oncology, immunology and inflammation from discovery through late stage development. Dr. LaVallee has a depth of expertise in translational medicine to enable science-driven development decisions and to implement effective use of biomarker assays in clinical studies. She is author or co-author of more than 50 publications and abstracts with a focus on translational medicine approaches in clinical development. She received her doctoral degree in microbiology and molecular genetics from the University of California, Los Angeles and her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. LaVallee completed her postdoctoral research at the American Red Cross Holland Laboratory.

Colleen Cutcliffe
Co-founder & CEO
Pendulum Therapeutics

Colleen Cutcliffe is the CEO and Co-Founder of Pendulum. She has over 15 years of experience leading and managing biology teams in academia, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Prior to starting Pendulum, Colleen was the Senior Manager of Biology at Pacific Biosciences and a Scientist at Elan Pharmaceuticals. Colleen received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Johns Hopkins University and her B.A. in Biochemistry from Wellesley College.

Barbara McGovern
MD, VP Medical Affairs
Seres Therapeutics

Barbara McGovern is VP of Medical Affairs at Seres. Dr. McGovern has over 25 years of experience in infectious diseases. Prior to joining Seres, she served as Medical Director in the Medical Affairs Division at AbbVie and helped to launch Viekera Pak for treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. At AbbVie, Dr. McGovern was recipient of the “2015 President’s Award” in recognition of successful execution of 7 major publications in the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet and JAMA. She also authored more than 50 journal articles, editorials, and textbook chapters on HIV and HCV and was an Associate Editor of Clinical Infectious Diseases. Dr. McGovern has also served as a member of the Antiviral Advisory Committee for FDA and as a panel guideline member for the Department of Health and Human Services. She earned her undergraduate degree from Queens College, CUNY, her M.D. at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed her internship, residency and infectious disease fellowship at Tufts Medical Center.

Matthew Henn
Seres Therapeutics

Matthew Henn is the Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Seres. He has more than 16 years of combined research experience in microbial ecology, genomics, and bioinformatics that spans both environmental and infectious disease applications. Dr. Henn's research has focused on the development, implementation, and application of genomic technologies in the area of microbial populations and their metabolic functions. Prior to joining Seres, he was the Director of Viral Genomics and Assistant Director of the Genome Sequencing Center for Infectious Diseases at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He has authored over 60 peer-reviewed publications in microbiology and bioinformatics, and has led multiple large-scale international genomic projects. He has served as a consultant for the WHO’s Grand Challenges in Genomics for Public Health in Developing Countries, as a scientific advisor for the National Institutes of Health’s Viral Pathogen Bioinformatics Resource Center, and as an ad-hoc reviewer and editor of many peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Henn earned his Ph.D. in ecosystem sciences from the University of California at Berkeley, where he was a NASA Earth Systems Sciences Fellow, and trained as a NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in microbiology at Duke University.

Bruce Roberts
Chief Scientific Officer
Vedanta Biosciences

Dr. Roberts has 30 years of experience in biotechnology and pharmaceutical drug discovery and development. He most recently served as Head of Neuro-Immunology and Immune-Mediated Disease Research at Sanofi Genzyme where he directed pre-clinical efforts resulting in the introduction of therapeutic antibodies, gene therapies, cell therapies and small molecules into multiple clinical trials for the treatment of cancer, multiple sclerosis and autoimmunity. He also directed research efforts in support of several approved products including lemtrada, aubagio, thymoglobulin, Mozobil, alemtuzumab, leukine, chlofarabine and fludarabine and contributed to the generation of ecallantide. Dr. Roberts has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed publications and contributed to several issued patents and patent applications. He received his PhD. in Biochemistry from the University of Ottawa, Canada.