James Patrick Allison is an American immunologist and Nobel laureate who holds the position of professor and chair of immunology and executive director of immunotherapy platform at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas. His discoveries have led to new cancer treatments for the deadliest cancers. He is also the director of the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) scientific advisory council. He has a longstanding interest in mechanisms of T-cell development and activation, the development of novel strategies for tumor immunotherapy, and is recognized as one of the first people to isolate the T-cell antigen receptor complex protein. In 2014, he was awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences; in 2018, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Tasuku Honjo. The scientists’ groundbreaking work on the immune system has paved the way for a new class of cancer drugs that are already dramatically changing outcomes for patients.
Emmanuelle Charpentier was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020 for her joint work with Jennifer Doudna on the development of a method for genome editing. This technology, known as CRISPR-Cas, is revolutionizing research in the life sciences. CRISPR-Cas has opened entirely new possibilities in biotechnology and biomedical gene therapies that have an impact on society and humanity. Charpentier is Scientific and Managing Director at the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens in Berlin. Charpentier has devoted most of her scientific career to understanding the fundamental mechanisms of diseases, with a particular interest in infections caused by Gram-positive pathogenic bacteria such as Listeria, staphylococci and streptococci.
Dr. Rafi Ahmed is the Georgia Research Alliance Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and
Director of the Emory Vaccine Center at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA. He
earned his undergraduate degree from Osmania University in Hyderabad, India and his Ph.D. from
Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After completing his postdoctoral training in the
Department of Immunology at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla, CA, he joined the
Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the UCLA School of Medicine. He was at UCLA from
1984-1995 and moved to Emory University in 1995. His research efforts are directed towards: 1.
Understanding the mechanisms of immunological memory and using this knowledge to develop new
and more effective vaccines. 2. Defining the mechanisms of T cell exhaustion during chronic viral
infections and cancer and developing strategies for restoring function in exhausted T cells. Dr. Ahmed
is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine.
Prof Linda-Gail Bekker is the Director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre at the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town and Chief Executive Officer of the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation. She is an NRF A-rated physician scientist and infectious disease specialist. Her research interests include programmatic and action research around antiretroviral roll out and TB integration, prevention of HIV in women, youth and MSM. She has led numerous investigator-driven studies in HIV treatment, prevention and tuberculosis. Bekker is involved in a number of COVID19 vaccine trials and co-leads the Sisonke Phase 3B study which has seen the vaccination of 500 000 health care workers in South Africa. She is a past president of the International AIDS Society (2016-2018) and served as the International Co-Chair of the 9th IAS Conference, the 22nd International AIDS Conference, and the 2021 Research 4 Prevention Conference.
Vishva M. Dixit is Vice President of Research at Genentech. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS). He also serves on the medical advisory board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Gates Foundation Discovery Experts Group.
Dixit’s achievements in cell death research are detailed in Nature (2008, 453:271-273), Nature Cell Biology (2010, 12(5):415), Trends in Pharmacological Sciences (2013, 34(11):596-598) and Cell Death & Differentiation (2019, 26:597-604). These accounts highlight the pervasive excitement in the heydays of apoptosis research and his foundational contributions.
Alain Fischer obtained his medical degree (pediatrics) in 1979, he became professor of immunology at Paris Descartes University, then in 1991 director of an INSERM unit “Normal and pathological development of the immune system”. He was head of the “Pediatric Immunology and Hematology” unit (UIH) at the Necker Hospital (AP-HP) from 1996 to 2012. In November 2002, he was elected full member of the Academy of Sciences and in 2011 of the Academy of Medicine. He was the co-founding of the Imagine Institute for Genetic Diseases and its director (2007-2016). Alain Fischer was elected as an international member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine in 2017 and of the U.S. Academy of Sciences in 2019. Alain Fischer is an emeritus professor at the Collège de France, Chair of Experimental Medicine. His work has been recognized by numerous awards, including the Jeantet Prize (2001), the INSERM Grand Prix (2008), the Robert Koch Prize (2014), the Japan Prize (2015). Alain Fischer’s work has been devoted to the study of the human immune system through the characterization of numerous genetic defects and the understanding of their physiopathology. He developed gene therapy since 1999.
Christopher Garcia is a professor in the Departments of Molecular and Cellular Physiology and Structural Biology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a member of the National Academies of Science and Medicine. In addition to his role at Stanford, Garcia is a co-founder of several biotechnology companies, including Alexo Therapeutics, Surrozen, and 3T Biosciences. After receiving his Ph.D. in Biophysics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Garcia conducted postdoctoral research at Genentech, where he immersed himself in the nascent technologies of protein engineering and recombinant protein expression, and then at The Scripps Research Institute. Garcia’s research integrates approaches in structural biology, biochemistry and protein engineering to understand how cell surface receptors sense environmental cues through the engagement of extracellular ligands, and transduce signals. The overarching theme of Garcia’s laboratory is to elucidate the structural and mechanistic basis of receptor activation in systems relevant to human disease, and to exploit this information to design and engineer new molecules with therapeutic properties.
Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert joined the Nuffield Department of Medicine at Oxford University in 1994 and became part of the Jenner Institute (within NDM) when it was founded in 2005. Her chief research interest is the development of viral vectored vaccines that work by inducing strong and protective T and B cell responses.
Professor Gilbert is Principal Investigator at the Pandemic Sciences Institute at the University of Oxford and Oxford Project Leader for ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, a vaccine against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This vaccine, tested by the University of Oxford in clinical trials of over 23,000 people in the UK, Brazil and South Africa, is now in use in over 180 countries in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and is estimated to have saved more than six million lives.
An NRF A1 rated scientist, CEO and President of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), Professor Glenda Gray is a qualified pediatrician and co-founder of the internationally recognised Perinatal HIV Research Unit in Soweto, South Africa. Prior to her appointment at the SAMRC, she was the Executive Director of the Perinatal HIV Research Unit, an affiliate of Wits University. Glenda’s global profile includes a role as Co-PI of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), an international collaboration for the development of HIV/AIDS prevention vaccines.
As the COVID-19 pandemic developed, she was among the first to lead public discourse on the issue, and to move quickly to establish COVID-19 vaccine trials in South Africa, utilizing the experience and network developed over the years for the HIV vaccine work. Glenda served as a Protocol Co-Chair of the multi-country Ensemble Study investigating the single-dose Ad26.COV2.S vaccine as an emergency response intervention. When South Africa’s national vaccine roll-out faltered, her international stature enabled her to negotiate a donation of 500 000 doses of the Ad26.CoV.2 vaccine before any emergency use authorization was available and conduct a phase 3B open-label study in health care workers, called the Sisonke Study.
She received South Africa’s highest honour – the Order of Mapungubwe – for her pioneering research in PMTCT. Other prestigious accolades include the Nelson Mandela Health and Human Rights Award for significant contributions in the field of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Selected as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, Forbes top 50 women in Africa, honorary degrees include: DSc (honoris causa Simon Fraser University), DSc (honoris causa Stellenbosch University), and LLD (honoris causa Rhodes University). She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the Academy of Science of South Africa, the African Academy of Science and the World Academy of Science. She is fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. She is a member of the board of GARDP, AAHI and a member of the WHO TB-STAG.
Professor Henry Mwandumba is a physician-scientist based in Malawi. He is Director of the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Research Programme (MLW) and Head of the Mucosal and Vascular Immunology Group at MLW, Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and Kamuzu University of Health Sciences in Malawi, and Honorary Consultant Physician at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi and the Royal Liverpool University Hospital in Liverpool, UK. Henry studied medicine at the University of Zimbabwe School of Medicine and specialised in General (Internal) Medicine and Infectious Diseases in Liverpool. His research focuses on understanding the immunopathogenesis of HIV-associated illnesses to improve patient outcomes. His research has three major themes: HIV, Tuberculosis and Vascular diseases. Henry is Immediate Past President of the Federation of African Immunological Societies (FAIS) and Immediate Past Treasurer of the East, Central and Southern Africa College of Physicians (ECSACOP). His research is supported by funding from the Wellcome Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the German Research Foundation (DFG). He was Cornell University’s Distinguished African Scholar in 2015, was awarded the MRC/DfID African Research Leader Award in 2017, the Royal Society Africa Prize in 2019 and the Weber-Parkes Prize in 2022.
“We are delighted to host the first IUIS Congress in Africa. This is truly a pivotal moment for IUIS and science in general, and a recognition of the tremendous growth of science in Africa in the last 3 decades. The congress will inspire a new generation of inquisitive immunologists within and outside of the African continent”.
Timothy A. Springer is an American biochemist and immunologist. He received his Bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley and his PhD in biochemistry from Harvard University in 1976. He is currently the Latham Family Professor in the Departments of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Springer discovered many of the molecules and mechanisms of cell-cell adhesion in the immune system, including LFA-1, Mac-1, CD11c/CD18, CD2, LFA-3, ICAMs 1, 2, and 3, selectin-mediated rolling, and the three steps required for homing of leukocytes from the bloodstream into tissues. He has characterized integrins at every level from original discovery and function to the structures of the three states in the conformational ensemble, thermodynamics and ligand-binding kinetics, and kinetics of conformational transitions. He has received the Crafoord, Gairdner, and Lasker awards and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The work in his lab and companies he has founded, LeukoSite, Moderna, Scholar Rock, and Morphic Therapeutic have resulted in many therapeutics including Entyvio for ulcerative colitis and Covid19 vaccines.
Özlem Türeci is a German physician, scientist and entrepreneur. In 2008, she co-founded the biotechnology company BioNTech, which in 2020 developed the first messenger RNA-based vaccine approved for use against COVID-19. Türeci has served as BioNTech’s chief medical officer since 2018. Since 2021, she has been Professor of Personalized Immunotherapy at the Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON) and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. She studied medicine at Saarland University in Homburg and received her doctorate from the Medical Faculty of Saarland in 1992. Her research focused on the identification and characterization of tumor-specific molecules and the development of immunotherapies against cancer. In 2002, she completed her habilitation qualification at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz in the field of molecular medicine. Özlem Türeci works as a medical scientist and basic researcher in the field of immunology. She researches target structures in order to develop new therapies against cancer, infectious diseases and diseases of the immune and nervous systems. One focus is on the identification and characterization of tumor-specific molecules and the development of personalized therapeutic approaches.