Dr. Randy Schekman is a Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He studied the enzymology of DNA replication as a graduate student with Arthur Kornberg at Stanford University. His current interest in cellular membranes developed during a postdoctoral period with S. J. Singer at the University of California, San Diego. Among his awards are the Gairdner International Award, the Albert Lasker Award in Basic Medical Research and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which he shared with James Rothman and Thomas Südhof. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, a Foreign Associate of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, a Foreign Associate of the Royal Society of London and an Honorary Academician of the Academia Sinica. In 1999, he was elected President of the American Society for Cell Biology. From 2002-2017, he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Annual Reviews of Cell and Developmental Biology. From 2006 - 2011 he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Proceedings of the NAS. In 2011, he founded and until 2019 served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Open Access journal, eLife, sponsored by the HHMI, Wellcome Trust and the Max Planck Society. Beginning in 2019, Schekman became the scientific director of ASAParkinson’s, an effort supported by the Sergey Brin Family Foundation to identify and support basic research on the mechanisms of Parkinson’s Disease initiation and progression (https://parkinsonsroadmap.org).
Schekman’s laboratory investigates the mechanism of membrane protein traffic in the secretory pathway in eukaryotic cells. Currently the lab investigates the mechanism of biogenesis of extracellular vesicles including how small RNAs are sorted for secretion in exosomes and the means by which these vesicles are internalized and function in target cells.
Dr. Robin A. Robinson is a respected authority on the development of breakthrough biomedical technologies, and a seasoned expert in consummating collaborations with leading US government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, academic research groups, and foreign governments, for which he was cited in 2018 as one of the top 100 innovators in medicine by The Medicine Maker.
Notably, Dr. Robinson was appointed as the first Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with an annual budget of $1.35 billion and a staff of 250 scientists and medical experts. He brought BARDA into prominence as one of the top 10 fully integrated R&D organizations worldwide supporting advanced development and acquisition of more than 240 drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, and medical devices for man-made biodefense threats, pandemic influenza, and emerging infectious diseases including Ebola and Zika viruses. 32 of these medical countermeasure products that BARDA supported were approved and licensed by the FDA during his 12-year tenure.
Dr. García-Sastre is Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. For the past 25 years, his research interest has been focused on the molecular biology of influenza viruses and several other negative strand RNA viruses. During his post-doctoral training in the early 1990s, he developed, for the first time, novel strategies for expression of foreign antigens by a negative strand RNA virus, influenza virus. He has made major contributions to the influenza virus field, including 1) the development of reverse genetics techniques allowing the generation of recombinant influenza viruses from plasmid DNA, (studies in collaboration with Dr. Palese); 2) the generation and evaluation of negative strand RNA virus vectors as potential vaccine candidates against different infectious diseases, including malaria and AIDS, and 3) the identification of the biological role of the non-structural protein NS1 of influenza virus during infection: the inhibition of the type I interferon (IFN) system. His studies provided the first description and molecular analysis of a viral-encoded IFN antagonist among negative strand RNA viruses. These studies led to the generation of attenuated influenza viruses containing defined mutations in their IFN antagonist protein that might prove to be optimal live vaccines against influenza. His research has resulted in more than 480 scientific publications and reviews. Dr. García-Sastre is the director of the Center for Research on Influenza Pathogenesis (CRIP), one of the five NIAID funded Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance.
During Juergen's 25 year scientific career, He has studied pathogen-host interactions in various infectious disease models including avian and swine influenza viruses, African Swine Fever virus, Rift Valley Fever virus, prion diseases and Borna Disease Virus. On these topics, He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts. Is the editor for Virus Genes and serve on editorial boards for other scientific journals. Currently, he is the Director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) and prestigious Regents Distinguished Professor appointment at Kansas State University with the distinction of a Kansas Bioscience Authority Eminent Scholar.
Dr. Kevin J. Gilligan is a virologist and emerging disease subject matter expert with over 30 years of experience in the research and development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics that address public health needs. As a National Research Council Fellow at the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Disease (USAMRIID), Dr. Gilligan developed the first prototype that induced protective immunity against a lethal challenge of Ebola infection. Following that, Dr. Gilligan and his team at Bayer Blood Products Division developed the 1st practical assay for measuring prion infectivity in blood products such as IGIV and Factor VIII. Dr. Gilligan served for 9 years as Unit Chief and Project Officer in Pandemic Influenza at HHS/BARDA, supporting the development of drugs, vaccines and diagnostics as emergency countermeasures. Under his leadership, the contract to develop IV peramivir to treat influenza infection resulted in an FDA approval in December of 2014, under the brand name Rapivab®.