Plenary Speakers

Plenary Lecture: Threats from Emerging Viruses
Monday, 25 September, 13:30-14:00

Helen Lazear Helen Lazear
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States

Plenary Lecture: Virus Morphogenesis
Tuesday, 26 September, 8:30-9:00

Richard Kuhn Richard Kuhn
Purdue Institute of Inflammation, United States

Plenary Lecture: Host Factors Driving the Virus Life Cycle
Tuesday, 26 September, 10:30-11:00

Mohsan Saeed Mohsan Saeed
Rockefeller University, United States
Systems biology approaches to unravel virus-host interactions
Studying how viruses interact with their hosts has provided us a wealth of knowledge about virus-host biology. These studies have historically relied on traditional reductionist approaches that focus on a pre-determined small set of host factors. Although these approaches have yielded notable insights into virus-host interplay, they do not provide a holistic view of the intricate relationship that viruses have with their hosts. The advent of systems biology approaches has circumvented these limitations and offered an unprecedented opportunity for global analyses of virus-host interactions. I will present two stories from our laboratory to highlight how we have harnessed the power of systems biology to answer important virological questions. The first story is about an overexpression screen that helped us identify a protein, SEC14L2, as a critical host factor for hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication. This discovery enabled us for the first time to grow HCV clinical isolates in cell culture. The second story is about an unbiased proteomics method that we have adapted to globally survey proteins targeted for cleavage in virus-infected cells. By applying this method to a panel of picornaviruses, we have identified known and several novel proteins commonly or uniquely targeted by these viruses. We have now begun to extend this method to additional viruses of human health importance, including HCV. These experiments will provide unparalleled insights into how viruses use proteolysis to remodel their host cells and create a favorable environment for their replication. Knowledge gained can then be used to improve antiviral strategies.

Plenary Lecture: Viral Pathogenesis and Cancer
Wednesday, 27 September, 8:30-9:00

Jane McKeating Jane McKeating
University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Plenary Lecture: Integrated Analysis of Human Antiviral Immune Responses
Wednesday, 27 September, 11:30-12:00

Alex Shalek Alex Shalek
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States
Approaching the Immune System as an Interacting Ensemble of Cells
Diversity in the mammalian immune system is essential for protecting the host against a broad range of threats, and is most clearly evident during dynamic processes such as differentiation and antigenic response. Recent years have witnessed transformative and intersecting advances in nanofabrication and molecular biology that enable deep profiling of low-input samples. Collectively, these afford new and exciting opportunities to study heterogeneity in immune responses, starting from the level of the single cell, with the potential to fundamentally advance our understanding of systems-level immune regulation in health and disease. Illustratively, I will discuss how we can leverage single-cell genomic approaches – and, in particular, single-cell RNA-Seq – to explore the extensive functional diversity among immune cells, and uncover, from the bottom-up, distinct cell states and their molecular drivers. Finally, I will discuss emerging experimental strategies for achieving the statistical power and control necessary to reconstruct intra- and inter-cellular circuits, enumerate and redefine cell states and types, and transform our understanding of systems-level cellular decision-making on a genomic scale.

Plenary Lecture: Vaccine Design and Development Against a Highly Variable Virus
Thursday, 28 September, 8:30-9:00

Dan Barouch Dan Barouch
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, United States

Plenary Lecture: Transmitting the Message that HCV Research Still Matters
Thursday, 28 September, 11:00-11:20

Stuart Ray Stuart Ray
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, United States
Transmitting the message that HCV research still matters
HCV is a major killer worldwide, and continues to spread. Curative treatments are transformative, but not a panacea. The study of HCV has revealed previously-unrecognized and broadly-applicable cell biology, innate and adaptive immune mechanisms, and pharmacologic innovations. In addition to the intrinsic value of fundamental research, HCV provides unparalleled opportunity to study human biology, successful and failed immune responses, and viral phylodynamics at multiple scales. In practical terms, ending the HCV epidemic requires improved (scalable) tools for diagnosis, management, and prevention of HCV infection. No major epidemic has been controlled without a vaccine, and there are ample reasons for this rule to apply to HCV - considering that the people most affected tend to have the least access to care.

Plenary Lecture: What's next for HCV?
Thursday, 28 September, 11:40-12:10

David Thomas David Thomas
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, United States
Global Implementation of Hepatitis C Treatment and Vaccination
We are about midway between the first report of a compound directly inhibiting HCV in vivo and the WHO deadline for elimination of HCV infection in 2030. There have been important advances including development of point of care tests to detect exposure to HCV infection, elimination of transfusion transmission of infection where testing is deployed, and of course, production of pangenotypic, safe treatments that eliminate HCV infection in nearly everyone who can afford them. HCV infection has already been eradicated from many patients, and several populations are on track for elimination. In the Netherlands, treatment has already been shown to reduce transmission. There also remain enormous challenges. Most of those infected around the world are not aware of their status. Confirmation of HCV antibodies cannot be done routinely at the point of care. Many of those with chronic infection have no access to efficacious safe medications and by the time some are cured they remain at increased risk for liver cancer. Resurgence of new infections in some areas like the United States also underscores the anemic support for HCV vaccine development and, more than 25 years later, the absence of a vaccine to prevent infection. In principle, HCV elimination goals can be achieved. Important lessons are rapidly emerging from programs in Australia, the Republic of Georgia, India, and several EU countries. With measures to promote testing and treatment uptake, a public health approach to HCV is possible. Even in the epicenter of HCV (Egypt) and even among the most difficult to treat (e. g., persons who inject drugs in India) there is substantial progress. Clearly expanded global commitment is needed to expand testing and treatment, finish vaccine development, and eliminate HCV by 2030.