Dr. Alitalo discovered vascular growth factors that regulate growth of lymphatic vessels (lymphangiogenesis), and characterized the involved receptors and signalling mechanisms. He isolated and characterized the arterial endothelial tyrosine kinase Bmx and endothelial receptor tyrosine kinase Tie1, which together with Tie2 forms the receptor complex for angiopoietins involved regulation of vascular permeability, inflammation, angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis. He also isolated and cloned the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor-3, purified and cloned its ligand, the first lymphangiogenic growth factor, VEGF-C. He was central in the characterization of VEGF-D, another VEGFR3 ligand, and VEGF-B, a growth factor for coronary and adipose vasculature. Studies in his laboratory have demonstrated VEGF-C induced tumor angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis, intralymphatic tumor growth, VEGF-C association with tumor metastasis and its inhibition by blocking the VEGFR-3 signal transduction pathway. Inhibitors of this pathway from his laboratory are phase 2 clinical trials in age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema. He demonstrated mechanisms of lymphedema, and developed growth factor therapy for lymphedema, which is now in phase 2 clinical trial. His most recent finding was the discovery of meningeal lymphatic vessels.
Manish Arora is the Professor and Vice Chairman of Environmental Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. His research focus is on the development of biomarkers to study early life programming of health trajectories. To achieve this, Dr. Arora and his team developed novel tooth matrix biomarkers that provide temporal exposure profiles over fetal and childhood exposure. He has proposed the Biodynamic Interface paradigm as a means to examine the role of environmental factors on health, a topic that he will discuss at the meeting. Dr. Arora is the recipient of the NIH Directors New Innovator Award, and the US Presidential medal (PECASE) from the office of President Barack Obama.
Andrew graduated from the University of London in 1990 with a First Class BSc (Joint Honours) in pharmacology and toxicology and then studied for his PhD with the Leukaemia Research Fund at the University of Wales College Of Medicine, graduating in 1994. He then joined the group led by Professor Andrew Newby for his post-doctoral work in Cardiff and developed adenoviral vectors for gene delivery studies in the cardiovascular system. He then transferred to a lectureship at the University of Bristol (Bristol Heart Institute) to continue studies on adenovirus-mediated gene transfer to assess vascular function and gene therapy. In 1999, Dr. Baker joined Professor Anna Dominiczak at the University of Glasgow as a Senior Lecturer in Molecular Medicine, then as Reader and in 2005 as Professor of Molecular Medicine. Andrew was awarded the Blandsford Prize (1990) in pharmacology and the “Update in Thrombolysis Research” (Berlin, 1998) for his publication entitled “Divergent effects of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1, -2 or -3 overexpression on rat vascular smooth muscle cell invasion, proliferation and death in vitro: TIMP-3 promotes apoptosis” which was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. In 1999, he was awarded the British Cardiac Society Young Investigator Research Prize for his work “Gene therapy for vein grafting: Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-3 (TIMP-3) inhibits neointima formation in vitro and in vivo in part by promoting apoptosis”. He was awarded the MakDougall-Brisbane prize from the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2008 and a fellowship from the Society in 2010. Also in 2010 he was awarded an Outstanding Achievement Award from the European Society of Cardiology and in 2011 received a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award. From August 2010 to November 2011 he was Acting Director of the Institute for Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow and in 2011 he was awarded a British Heart Foundation Chair of Translational Cardiovascular Medicine. In 2015 he was awarded a Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences and from 1st October, 2015 Andrew relocated his BHF Chair to the Centre for Cardiovascular Science at the Queen’s Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, UK. He became Head of Cardiovascular Science June 2017.
Dr Christer Betsholtz has a long-standing interest in how the different cell types of the blood vasculature interact in the process of blood vessel formation during angiogenesis, in organ-specific functions of blood vessels during adult physiology, and during disease and repair processes. He seeks to discover the identity of the secreted ligands, their receptors and signaling pathways by which endothelial cells signal to pericytes and other perivascular cell types, and vice versa. One of the organs in focus for his investigations is the central nervous system in which the blood vessels are endowed with, or adjacent to, barriers that regulate the selective passage of solutes and macromolecules to and from the brain parenchyma. He tackles these questions primarily in mouse models using a combination of techniques including mouse genetics, imaging and single cell RNA sequencing. Christer Betsholtz studied medicine and graduated from Uppsala University with PhD degree in 1986. Initially focusing on the role of platelet-derived growth factors in development and cancer, he became endowed Professor of Medical Biochemistry at Gothenburg University in 1994. Having found that PDGFB/R signaling drives the recruitment of pericytes to blood vessels, he became more broadly interested in mechanisms of angiogenic sprouting and the interplay between tip- and stalk cells in this process. After moving to Karolinska Institute in 2004 he turned his attention again to pericytes and their role in regulating the blood-brain barrier. Since 2013, he shares his time between Uppsala University as Professor of Vascular and Tumor Biology, and Karolinska Institute as Director of the Astra/Zeneca/Karolinska Integrated Cardio-Metabolic Center (ICMC).
Dr. Bjorkegren graduated from The Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden in 1995. In 1998, he completed his residency at the Karolinska University hospital and a PhD at the Karolinska Institutet on lipoproteins and atherosclerosis. In 1999 to 2001, Dr. Bjorkegren pursued a Fogarty Fellow Post-doc fellowship at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease at the University of California, San Francisco working with genetically modified mouse models of atherosclerosis and cardiometabolic diseases (CMDs). In 2013, Dr. Bjorkegren relocated to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai for a full Professorship in Genetics and Genomic Sciences. Dr. Bjorkegren applies multi-modal big data analysis to create new and reliable network models of human molecular biology in health and disease that can lead to better disease prediction, monitoring and therapies. This effort has led to the creation of clinical datasets of mainly coronary artery disease (CAD) patients in Sweden, Estonia and since 2013, at the Mount Sinai that are enriched for many data modalities including genetics, epigenetics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics and lipidomics combined with detailed clinical characteristics including imaging. Dr. Bjorkegren has a broad background in the design and analysis of clinical studies applying these systems genetics analysis tools to better elucidate the true complexity of common diseases. The focus of his studies has been the role of functionally associated genes in molecular networks driving disease. Vital to this approach of a more granular understanding of complex disease biology is to originate studies in humans suffering the disease whereas animal and cell disease model systems are chiefly used for the purpose of validating key disease drivers and processes first identified in humans (i.e. top-down vs. a bottom-up approach). In 2002, Dr. Bjorkegren was among the first clinical scientist to apply the emerging molecular profiling technologies to large clinical cohorts. This effort has now resulted in one of the world’s most unique CMD/CAD-related multi -omics datasets, STARNET, first published in Science 2016. The long-term goal of Bjorkegren’s research is to achieve a global understanding of regulatory-gene landscape that underlies CMDs and CAD to enable diagnostics and therapies of molecularly-defined subcategories of patients in the era of personalized medicine.
Manfred Boehm, MD is a Senior Investigator and Branch Chief at the Translation Vascular Medicine Branch, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, USA.
Dr. Boehm received his MD from the University of Heidelberg, Germany and completed his medical training at the Franz-Vollhard-Klinik, Charité, Humboldt Universtität and Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.
The Boehm Lab’s research interests are to identify and better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying human vascular diseases and to develop new therapeutic approaches. The aims of the Vascular Translational Program align with the principles of Precision Medicine, investigating how individual variations in genes, environment, and lifestyle contribute to vascular disease. This program was designed to link high-throughput sequencing data with molecular disease mechanisms to facilitate the development of targeted therapies for patients with vascular disorders. The Boehm Lab has successfully identified and/or is currently working on the mechanism underlying rare monogenetic diseases with vascular implications, including Arterial Calcification due to Deficiency of CD73 (ACDC), Systemic inflammation and early-onset recurrent stroke in children due to Deficiency of Adenosine Deaminase 2 (DADA2), STING-associated vasculopathy with onset in infancy (SAVI), and Hyper IgE syndrome (AD-HIES), a primary immunodeficiency caused by loss-of-function mutations in Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (STAT3), cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) and Degos disease. Research findings from these human rare monogenetic diseases with vascular implications have lead to novel treatment strategies for affected patients.
Peter Carmeliet, MD 1984, PhD 1989 (KU Leuven) is head of the Laboratory of Angiogenesis and Vascular Metabolism and former director of the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology. He performed a postdoc at the Whitehead Institute, MIT Cambridge USA. In 1992 he started his own research group, focusing on how blood vessels grow (angiogenesis) in health and disease. He published 688 papers (83 181 citations, h-index 138). He currently studies how endothelial cells (EC) change their metabolism during vascular branching, exploring the therapeutic potential of targeting EC metabolism for anti-angiogenic strategies. The role of several key metabolic targets in EC biology and angiogenesis in vivo is under investigation. Peter won various awards, including the Francqui Prize in Biological and Medical Sciences (2002), the Ernst Jung Prize in Medicine (2010) and the Heineken Prize for Medicine (2018). In 2015 King Filip of Belgium granted him the Noble title of ‘Baron’.
Valentin Fuster, MD PhD Director of Mount Sinai Heart and Physician-in-Chief of The Mount Sinai Hospital. Dr. Fuster is the General Director of the National Center for Cardiovascular investigation or CNIC (equivalent to NHLBI) in Madrid, Spain.
The innumerable positions he has held include those of President of the American Heart Association, President of the World Heart Federation, member of the US National Academy of Medicine, where he chaired the Committee for the document on "Promotion of Cardiovascular Health Worldwide and presently Co-Chairs the Advisory Committee on “the Role of the United States on Global Health” as advisor to the new President, Member of the European Horizon 2020 Scientific Panel of Health, Council member of the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and President of the Training Program of the American College of Cardiology.
After qualifying in medicine at the University of Barcelona, Valentin Fuster continued his studies in the USA. He was Professor in Medicine and Cardiovascular Diseases at the Mayo Medical School, Minnesota and in 1982 at the Medical School of Mount Sinai Hospital, New York. From 1991 to 1994he was The Mallinckrodt Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief of Cardiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. In 1994, he was named director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Mount Sinai a post he has combined since 2012 with that of Physician-in-Chief of the Hospital.
Dr. Fuster has been named Doctor Honoris Causa by Thirty-three universities. He is an author on more than 1000 scientific articles (HI-187). He was named Editor-in-Chief of the journal Nature Reviews in Cardiology and recently Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the ACC's flagship publication and the main American source of clinical information on cardiovascular medicine (Impact factor 17.7). His research into the origin of cardiovascular events, which have contributed to improved treatment of heart attack patients, was recognized in 1996 by the Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research (highest award in Spanish speaking countries). And in June 2011 he was awarded the Grand Prix Scientifique of the Institute of France (considered a most prestigious award in cardiology), for his translational research into atherothrombotic disease.
Among his many achievements, it is noteworthy that Dr. Fuster is the only cardiologist to have received the highest awards for research from the three leading cardiovascular organizations: the American Heart Association (Gold Medal and Research Achievement Award), the American College of Cardiology (Living Legend and Life Achievement Award 2017) and the European Society of Cardiology (Gold Medal). In addition, in May 2014, King Juan Carlos I of Spain granted Dr. Fuster with the title of Marquis for his "outstanding and unceasing research efforts and his educational outreach work".
Dr. William A. Gahl earned his B.S. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972 and his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. He served as pediatric resident and chief resident at the University of Wisconsin hospitals from 1976-80. In 1984, he completed clinical genetics and clinical biochemical genetics fellowships at the NIH's Interinstitute Medical Genetics Training Program, which he directed from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Gahl elucidated the basic defects in cystinosis and Salla disease and helped bring cysteamine to new drug approval by the Food and Drug Administration as the treatment for cystinosis. His group described the natural history of Lowe syndrome, alkaptonuria, autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease, Chediak-Higashi disease, GNE myopathy, and Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome (HPS), and his lab discovered the genetic bases of gray platelet syndrome, Hartnup disease, arterial calcification due to deficiency of CD73, 3-methylglutaconic aciduria type III, 3 types of HPS, and neutropenia due to VPS45 deficiency. Gahl has published more than 450 peerreviewed papers and trained over 40 biochemical geneticists. He established American Board of Medical Specialties certification for medical biochemical genetics. He served on the board of directors of the ABMG and American Society of Human Genetics, as president of the Society for Inherited Metabolic Disorders, and was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. Dr. Gahl received the Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service from the AMA, the Service to America Medal in Science and the Environment, the RareVoice Award for a Government Agency Leader, the March of Dimes Pruzansky Lecture Award, and numerous other awards. In 2018, he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine.
Li-Ming Gan joined AstraZeneca 15 years ago and has been responsible for the preclinical atherosclerosis and heart failure pipeline between 2007-2011. Between 2011-2013, he worked as a Translational Science Director to help bridging the early projects into the human setting. Since 2013, Li-Ming was appointed as a Senior Director Physician in ECD. Li-Ming is currently the responsible medical science director for AZD4801 (MPOi) for HFpEF in phase 1, AZD8601 (VEGFmodRNA) for cardiac regeneration in phase 2A, AZD5718 (FLAPi) for high-risk CAD patients in phase 2A, and AZD3366 (anti-platelet) preclinical. In addition to the work at AZ, Li-Ming Gan also holds a position as professor/chief physician at the department of cardiology/Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sahlgrenska Academy.
Dr Gupta is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Associate Member at the Broad Institute and cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His research is focused on identifying new mechanisms of vascular disease using human genetic and genomic data. He has identified the distal regulation of Endothelin-1 as a mechanism of coronary artery disease by functionally interrogating the 6p24 GWAS locus. His independent laboratory in the Division of Genetics has recently identified functionally distinct populations of endothelial cells using droplet-based single cell RNA-sequencing. Dr. Gupta trained in Human Genetics as a post-doctoral fellow in the Kathiresan Lab at the Broad Institute. He completed clinical training in cardiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. He has been awarded the 2019 New Innovator Award from the NIH for his project, “A Genetic Approach to Identify the Common Mechanisms of Vascular Disease.”
Dr. Jason Kovacic graduated from The University of Melbourne Medical School in 1994, and then undertook residency and cardiology specialty training at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. Dr. Kovacic then completed a PhD at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, focusing on the application of cell therapy to treat patients with refractory ischemic heart disease. In 2007 Dr. Kovacic relocated to the USA, to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. At the NIH, Jason undertook a 2 year postdoctoral fellowship with the then Director of the NHLBI, Dr. Elizabeth Nabel. In 2009 Dr. Kovacic moved to Mount Sinai in New York. Now as an established physician-scientist and investigator at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Dr. Kovacic heads a cardiovascular research laboratory with a strong interest in the cellular, molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying cardiovascular disease. He is also very active in his practice as an interventional cardiologist, and in particular in the interventional structural heart program. Major career achievements include successful investigator-initiated clinical studies of cardiovascular progenitor cell therapy, molecular characterization of a novel vascular progenitor cell population, unravelling the pathobiology of fibromuscular dysplasia and spontaneous coronary artery dissection, numerous basic and translational studies on the biology and manifestations of atherosclerosis, and pioneering studies regarding the role of endothelial to mesenchymal transition (EndMT) in adult vascular biology and disease. In addition, Dr Kovacic is currently Director of the Cardiovascular Biorepository and ‘Omics Facility, Director of Cardiovascular Translational Science, and Acting Director of the Cardiovascular Research Center, all at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He is also a current standing member of the NIH Vascular Cell and Molecular Biology (VCMB) study section. In the past 12 months Dr. Kovacic has received several awards, including both the Cullman Family Award for Excellence in Physician Communication (for ranking in the top 1% nationally in provider communication by CMS’s CGCAHPS patient experience survey), and also the 2018 Dean’s Healthcare System Team Science Award.
Dr. Leeper is currently Professor of Surgery (Vascular) and Medicine (Cardiovascular) at Stanford University, where he serves as the Chief of Vascular Medicine and Director of Vascular Research. He holds degrees with honors in Chemistry and Medicine from the University of Chicago, received residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and completed advanced fellowships in Cardiology and Vascular Medicine at Stanford University.
Dr. Leeper is a clinically-active physician-scientist who is interested in the genetic determinants of cardiovascular disease. His laboratory predominantly focuses on atherosclerosis, and understanding why the immune system allows diseased cells to accumulate in the vulnerable plaque. His research is translational in nature, and focuses on advancing discoveries from bench-to-bedside for patients affected by heart attack and stroke.
Outside of Stanford, Dr. Leeper is actively involved in the American Heart Association, having served as the President of the Silicon Valley Board, the leader of several community-based wellness initiatives, and a member of the leadership of both the ATVB and PVD councils. He also is a Trustee of the Society for Vascular Medicine and is the incoming Vice Chair of the Gordon Research Conference on atherosclerosis.
Aldons (Jake) Lusis did his PhD in Biophysics and his postdoc in Molecular Genetics. Since 1980, he has been a Professor at UCLA in the Departments of Medicine, Microbiology, and Human Genetics.
His laboratory uses population-based approaches in mice and humans to study common, complex forms of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. Recent work in the lab has focused on the application of “systems genetics” approaches (involving the integration of clinical trait and “omics”-level data in populations) to address complex biological interactions. These include gene-by-environment interactions, tissue-tissue communication, and the role of the sex differences in cardiometabolic disorders.
Anders Malarstig PhD, is Director of Target Sciences at Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development, as well as an affiliate researcher at the Karolinska Institute. Dr. Malarstig obtained his PhD under professors Agneta Siegbahn and Lars Wallentin at Uppsala University, before taking up a postdoctoral research position in cardiovascular genetics and vascular biology at the Karolinska Institute. He then joined Pfizer in the UK as group leader of the Human Genetics unit, focusing on respiratory disease and chronic pain. In his current position with Pfizer in Stockholm, and affiliate researcher at Medical Epidemiology and Biostatics at KI, Dr. Mälarstig is responsible for developing and applying strategies for new drug targets and precision medicine. In that role, he chairs the international SCALLOP consortium, aimed at integrating proteomics, genetics and clinical phenotypes.
Manuel Mayr qualified in Medicine from the University of Innsbruck (Austria) in 1999. He soon decided that his interests lay in research and therefore took up full-time research training in 2001, when he moved to London to undertake a PhD. Upon completion of his PhD, he achieved promotion to Professor in 2011. He held a British Heart Foundation (BHF) Intermediate Research Fellowship, two BHF Senior Research Fellowships and has recently been awarded a prestigious BHF Personal Chair. His academic achievements have been recognised by the inaugural Michael Davies Early Career Award of the British Cardiovascular Society (2007), the inaugural Bernard and Joan Marshall Research Excellence Prize of the British Society for Cardiovascular Research (2010), and the Outstanding Achievement Award by the European Society of Cardiology Council for Basic Cardiovascular Science (2013).
Dr Miller is an Assistant Professor in Public Health Sciences and a resident member of the Center for Public Health Genomics at UVA. He is also a member of the Data Science Institute, Robert Berne Cardiovascular Institute, and holds secondary appointments in Biomedical Engineering and Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. The Miller Lab studies the genetic and environmental risk factors for coronary artery disease and other complex cardiovascular diseases using a combination of large-scale multi-omics profiling and genetic and drug perturbations (https://millerlab.org). They integrate computational and functional genomic analyses, vascular biology and systems pharmacology approaches to study causal regulatory networks driving the disease process. Their goal is to identify novel markers to better classify patients with cardiovascular disease as well as inform tailored treatments that target dysregulated pathways in the vessel wall. He earned his PhD in Pharmacology at the University of Rochester with Chen Yan, investigating cyclic nucleotide signaling pathways in the heart and completed his postdoctoral fellowship in human genetics and genomics at Stanford University with Tom Quertermous. He has been awarded a Pathway to Independence award (K99/R00) and R01 funding from NIH/NHLBI to investigate the genetic architecture of multiple coronary artery disease loci.
Dr. Christopher O’Donnell is a physician-investigator who is committed to translating population science discoveries to the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic, and other chronic diseases, to enhance the health and quality of life of patients, families and populations. He has two decades of executive leadership experience directing successful collaborative, interdisciplinary clinical and population research programs; founding and leading international multi-institution consortia and research networks; and steering strategy for large genomics programs at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Veteran’s Administration (VA) Healthcare System.
As Chief of Cardiology and Director for the Center for Population Genomics, of Boston VA, he oversees a robust clinical, teaching and research program for the Cardiology Section that includes over 75 full-time and part-time staff and serves as the main tertiary care referral center for the VA New England Healthcare System. He serves as Chief Scientist of the national VA Million Veteran Program. He is VA Principal Investigator and serves on the Executive Committee of the NIH Precision Medicine Initiative All of Us Cohort Program. Dr. O’Donnell is an internationally renowned genetic epidemiologist, a leader of international consortia and research networks, and co-founder and scientific director of the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) Consortium. His major research focuses on discovery of genetic and environmental determinants of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of death in men and women. His research team discovered multiple gene variants for CVD and its risk factors. Current research projects aim to translate novel CVD gene discoveries into functional understanding using genomewide techniques, including RNA sequencing and pluripotent stem cells. He currently helps steer the genomic/phenomic scientific strategy of the VA Million Veteran Program, a precision medicine study that has enrolled over 550,000 participants. He is author on >550 peer-reviewed articles and chapters, including reports in high impact journals such as NEJM, JAMA, and Nature Genetics and is listed as the top 1% most cited for both Clinical Medicine and Molecular Biology/Genetics on the 2015 Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers list. He is a member of the winning team for the highly sought after One Brave Idea Grant awarded late 2016 by the American Heart Association, Verily Life Sciences and Aztra Zeneca.
I am an Associate Professor in Statistical Genetics at the Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences at Mount Sinai NYC. After completing a PhD at Imperial College London on methods for detecting selection in the human genome I shifted focus to methods development in GWAS, first producing the multi-trait GWAS method MultiPhen and then the popular polygenic risk score software PRSice. While much of my applied work relates to psychiatric disorders and Alzheimer’s disease, the main focus of my group is on methods and software development in Statistical Genetics for application to any outcome.
Elin Org has received a PhD degree in molecular biomedicine from the University of Tartu, Estonia. She completed a postdoc at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she investigated the host-microbiome interactions both in mice and human cohorts. Since 2016, she is employed as a senior research fellow in genomics and microbiomics at the Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu, Estonia. Her research group focused on human-associated microbiome studies, particularly studying the role of microbiome in metabolic traits, colorectal cancer development and to drug response. She recently established a population-based microbiome cohort from participants of the Estonian Biobank cohort, which currently include oral and gut microbiome samples from 2400 Estonians. She is also participating the MiBioGen consortium – an international consortium aiming at understanding the role of genetics in microbiome composition. She recently obtained an EMBO Installation Grant for studying the role of microbiome in type 2 diabetes and drug respond.
Dr. Gary K. Owens is Professor in the Departments of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics as well as Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Division at The University of Virginia. He is also the Director of the Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center which consists of 14 resident laboratories and over 120 affiliated laboratories conducting cardiovascular research at the University of Virginia. Dr. Owens also is the Director UVA’s NIH Cardiovascular Training Grant, and NIH funded Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SRIP) a program he founded in 1990 while serving as Associate Dean for the Graduate Programs in the School of Medicine, a position he held from 1988-2007. He is also the Director of the AstraZeneca – UVA Cardiovascular Research Alliance and previously directed the UVA combined MD/PhD (NIH MST) Program from 1998-2014.
Dr. Owens is internationally recognized for his pioneering studies of genetic, epigenetic, and molecular mechanisms that control differentiation and phenotypic transitions of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC), and how these transitions impact the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart failure, and aneurysms as well as cancer, diabetes, and metabolic disease/obesity related syndromes. Indeed, his recent studies have shown that SMC phenotypic transitions play a much more significant role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis than has been previously appreciated, and are regulated by activation of multiple stem cell pluripotency genes including Klf4 and Oct4.
He is the past chair of the NIH National Heart Lung and Blood Program Project Parent Review Committee, and the NIH Cell Biology Study Section. He is also the past President of the North American Vascular Biology Organization the largest vascular biology society in the world, and was Chair of the 2003 Vascular Biology Gordon conference, and co-Chair of the 2006 Asilomar Vascular Biology Conference. From 2007-2010 he served as Chairperson of the NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Board of Scientific Councils which is responsible for reviewing all intramural research programs in this NIH Institute. Dr. Owens has also received numerous awards including the 1988 Bowditch Award of the American Physiological Society (their highest honor for an investigator under 40 years of age), was the 2004 Robert M. Berne Lecturer of the American Physiological Society, and 2008 AHA Russell Ross Memorial Lecturer.
Dr. Owens has authored >185 primary research papers and numerous book chapters and reviews that in aggregate have been cited 19,976 times. This includes three papers cited over 1000 times each, 55 that have been cited over 100 times each, and an average citation per paper of 72.4 His Web of Science H-index is 75. He has mentored over 45 pre-doctoral and post-doctoral students, many whom now hold prestigious positions in academia and industry. He has numerous patents, and was a founder and the Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of Setagon, Inc. a UVA Startup Company that developed a novel nanoporous metallic controllable elution drug delivery technology for use on drug eluting stents and other implantable metallic biomedical devices. Setagon, Inc. was acquired by Medtronic Corporation in November 2007 in a $100M milestone deal with $20.5M paid at closing. Dr. Owens now serves as CSO of Nanomedical Systems (NMSI), a new company founded to conduct milestone studies as part of the Medtronic-Setagon acquisition. Medtronic is utilizing the technology in development of a new generation non-polymeric drug eluting stent and hope to be in clinical trials in the near future. In addition, NMSI is currently using their patented nanoporous coatings to improve the tissue adherence-repair properties of neurovascular devices used in treating cerebral aneurysms.
Prof dr. Gerard Pasterkamp, MD, is manager of the division LAB within the UMCU. He acts as principal investigator in the laboratory of clinical chemistry. His research interests are in the field of cardiovascular biology and innovation in biomarkers and drug targets. The research group houses the largest atherosclerotic plaque biobank worldwide: Athero Express including >4000 patients. This biobank has generated new insights into determinants of plaque destabilisation. The laboratory also invests in the excavation of genetic determinants of atherosclerotic plaque characteristics. He coordinates national and EU based consortia with the aim to unravel biomarkers and mechanisms of atherosclerotic disease. His translational profile is noted in the private public consortia he is involved in. He is supervising three public private grants that have been rewarded with the aim to develop novel biomarkers and imaging technology to detect cardiac ischemia and endothelial dysfunction. In 2018 he obtained a LeDucq grant together with Prof G Owens (Virginia University) on the role of smooth muscle cell plasticity in the atherosclerotic plaque.
I am an Associate Professor in Bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin since September 2013. A major focus of my lab is to understand how interactions between diet and the gut microbiome modulate metabolic and cardiovascular disease.
Humans studies have revealed consistent alterations in the gut microbiomes of patients with cardiometabolic and aging-associated diseases. A major focus of my group is to understand how variations in the gut microbiome modulate the effects of diet and host’s susceptibility to cardiometabolic disease. To address these issues we use a combination of hypothesis-generating, sequencing-centered analyses of microbiomes from humans and mice, followed by proof-of-principle/proof-of-mechanism studies in gnotobiotic mouse models of disease and classic bacteriology experiments. Our work is helping move the field from associations to causal relationships and shedding light into the mechanisms by which gut microbes modulate health. Recent work from our group has identified bacterial pathways and metabolites that modulate epigenetic programing, metabolic disease and atherosclerosis. The studies listed below exemplify mechanistic studies on the gut microbiome, diet and cardiometabolic disease from my lab.
1. Kasahara K, Krautkramer KA, Org E, Romano KA, Kerby RL, Vivas EI, Mehrabian M, Denu JM, Bäckhed F, Lusis AJ, Rey FE. 2018. Interactions between Roseburia intestinalis and diet modulate atherogenesis in a murine model. Nature Microbiology 3, 1461-71.
2. Romano KA, Martinez-del Campo A, Kasahara K, Chittim CL, Vivas EI, Amador-Noguez D, Balskus EP, Rey FE. 2017. Metabolic, Epigenetic, and Transgenerational Effects of Gut Bacterial Choline Consumption. Cell Host Microbe 22(3):279-90 (PMC5599363)
3. Kreznar JH, Keller MP, Traeger LL, Rabaglia ME, Schueler KL, Stapleton DS, Zhao W, Vivas EI, Yandell BS, Broman AT, Hagenbuch B, Attie AD, Rey FE. 2017. Host genotype and gut microbiome modulate insulin secretion and diet-induced metabolic phenotypes. Cell Reports 18(7) 1739-50. (PMC28199845)
4. Krautkramer KA, Kreznar JH, Romano KA, Vivas EI, Barrett-Wilt GA, Rabaglia ME, Keller MP, Attie AD, Rey FE*, and Denu JM. 2016. Diet-microbiota interactions mediate global epigenetic programming in multiple host tissues. Mol Cell 64(5):982-992 (PMC5227652)
5. Romano KA, Vivas EI, Amador-Noguez D, Rey FE. 2015. Intestinal microbiota composition modulates choline bioavailability from diet and accumulation of the proatherogenic metabolite trimethylamine-N-oxide. mBio 6(2):e02481-14
Hester den Ruijter, PhD is a translational scientist and principal investigator at the Laboratory of Experimental Cardiology, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands. Her research focusses on sex differences in cardiovascular diseases. She has been trained in fundamental research as well as in clinical epidemiology. Currently, she coordinates national and European translational consortia on sex differences in cardiovascular diseases with a focus on improving the diagnosis of heart disease in women. Her work has been rewarded by the Utrecht University fund for its societal impact with the Agnites Vrolik price. In addition, she is board member of funding agency “Vrienden van het UMC Utrecht” and is an active member of The Young Academy of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences.
Nilesh Samani is Professor of Cardiology at the University of Leicester and Consultant Cardiologist at the Cardiac Centre, Glenfield Hospital. Between 2003 and 2016 he was also Head of the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Leicester and between 2009 and 2016, Director of the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Unit. Since 2016, Professor Samani has also served in the role of Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation where he is responsible for overseeing the BHF’s research funding and medical activities.
Professor Samani’s main research interests are in cardiovascular genetics and in the role of biological ageing in age-related diseases.
Tom is an established scientist whose scientific achievement is most well-known in the field of cardiovascular development and function. He made a seminal-discovery of vascular endothelial-specific receptors, Tie1 and Tie2. In a series of collaboration with Regeneron scientists, he also uncovered physiological functions of angiopoietins, ligands for Tie2. Most recently, he is studying inter-organ communications at the systems and organismal levels in an effort to deconvolve the design systems of the human body function and ultimately create “The Virtual Human Atlas”. He is also an accomplished triathlete at the Ironman distance.
Director, The Thomas N. Sato BioMEC-X Laboratories, Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International, Kyoto, Japan
Professor, V-iCliniX, Nara Medical University, Nara, Japan
Scientific Founder and Chair of Board of Directors, Karydo TherapeutiX, Inc.
Adjunct Professor, Cornell University, Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, New York, USA
Affiliate Member, Centenary Institute, Sydney, Australia
Eric Schadt, PhD, is founder and CEO of Sema4, a patient-centered predictive health company built on the idea that more information, deeper analysis, and increased engagement will improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Dr. Schadt also serves as the Dean for Precision Medicine and Mount Sinai Professor in Predictive Health and Computational Biology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He was previously Founding Director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology, and Professor and Chair of the Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences. Dr. Schadt is an expert on constructing predictive models of disease that link molecular biology to physiology to enable clinical medicine. Over the past 20 years, he has built groups and companies (Merck, Rosetta, Sage Bionetworks, Pacific Biosciences, Icahn Institute, and now Sema4) to elucidate the complexity of human diseases. He has published more than 350 peer-reviewed papers in leading scientific journals and contributed to discoveries relating to the genetic basis of common human diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease. Now, with Centrellis™, Sema4’s innovative health intelligence platform, Dr. Schadt is using advanced network analysis to build better models of human health and deliver personalized insights for patients.
Heribert Schunkert MD is Professor of Cardiology of the Technische Universität München and Director of the Cardiology Department, German Heart Centre Munich since 2012. He completed a research fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, USA and clinical fellowships at Beth Israel Hospital, Universitätsklinikum Regensburg, and the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA, before he became assistant and associate professor in Regensburg. From 2002-2012 Prof. Schunkert was Director of Internal Medicine and Cardiology at the University of Luebeck. He conducts research in the molecular genetics of multifactorial cardiovascular disease, coordinates several EU- and BMBF-sponsored projects as well as the European-American Leducq network CADgenomics to identify the genetic roots of myocardial infarction. He is the author of more than 600 publications in international journals.
Lars Wallentin became the first Professor of Cardiology at Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden in 1991 and was Head of the Department of Cardiology from 1991 to 1999. In 1992 he started and became the first chairman of the Swedish Registry of Acute Cardiac Care (RIK-HIA). In 2001, he founded the Uppsala Clinical Research Center and was its first Director until 2008. Over the last 20 years he has been the chairman and principal investigator of many national and international clinical trials. The group of Professor Wallentin has developed many new concepts concerning pathogenesis, diagnosis, risk stratification, antithrombotic and interventional treatments in acute coronary artery disease and stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation where they have pioneered the use of molecular biomarkers for prognostication and decision support.
Professor Wallentin has published more than 700 papers in peer-reviewed international
Journals. He was the President of the Swedish Cardiac Society, and from 2000 to 2002, he founded and served as President of the Swedish Heart Association. He has also received several prestigious research awards and was in 2010 honored with the European Society of Cardiology Gold Medal for his outstanding contributions to the science and practice of cardiology.
Dr. Xia Yang is currently a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology and a member of the Institute of Quantitative and Computational Biology at UCLA. Her lab focuses on developing and applying multi-tissue multi-omics systems biology approaches to understand the gene networks perturbed by genetic and environmental risks of complex human diseases including cardiometabolic diseases and brain disorders (https://yanglab.ibp.ucla.edu). She received her PhD degree in Molecular Genetics with an emphasis on Bioinformatics from Georgia State University and obtained postdoctoral training at UCLA under the guidance of Dr. A. Jake Lusis. She subsequently worked as Senior Scientist at Merck & Co./Rosetta Inpharmatics and also led the Systems Biology group at Sage Bionetworks before returning to UCLA as a faculty member.