Plenary Session Speakers
Other Speakers

Speakers Short Bio

Prof. Francesca Levi-Schaffer

Francesca Levi-Schaffer is a Professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute for Drug Research, School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine. She holds the Isaac and Myrna Kaye Chair in Immunopharmacology. Prof. Levi-Schaffer was born in Italy and completed her PharmD degree at the University of Milano, her PhD degree in Immunology at the Weizmann Institute, Israel, and her post-doctorate at Harvard Medical School.

Prof. Levi-Schaffer has published 164 articles in peer-reviewed journals, 88 reviews and editorials and 25 book chapters. She has two patents and one provisional patent pending. She is Chairperson of the National Committee of IUPHAR representing the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, was instrumental in the establishment of an Immunopharmacology Section in the IUPHAR and currently serves as its first Chairperson. She is a member of the Israeli Ministry of Health Committee for Human Experimentation of New Drugs; 1st Vice-President and member of the IUPHAR Executive Committee (2018-2022); member of the Board and Secretary General (2018-20) of World Allergy Organization; and a former Council member (2016-18) of the Collegium Internationale Allergologicum (CIA).

Prof. Levi-Schaffer’s expertise is in immunopharmacology of allergy focusing on mast cells and eosinophils, their activating and inhibitory receptors, their cross-talk for a better prophylaxis/treatment of allergic diseases.

Prof. Mauro Perretti

Mauro has published over 350 papers, with >22,000 citations and an H Factor of 81 (Google Scholar). After BSc in Medicinal Chemistry (University in Florence, 1985) and a MSc in Pharmacology and Toxicology (1988), Mauro started his career at the Sclavo Research Centre under the leadership of Prof Luca Parente. In 1991, he joined Prof Rod Flower at the William Harvey Research Institute, and in 1996 he gained his PhD (LON). Mauro’s career has been shaped by fellowships from the Arthritis Research Campaign, a post-doctoral one (1997-2002) followed by a senior fellowship (2002-2007). In 2001 Mauro gained his personal chair by Queen Mary University of London. Centre Lead from 2001-to 2013, Mauro acted as Deputy Director of the William Harvey Research Institute from 2006 to 2013, taking on Co-Directorship in the period 2013-2015. In 2015 he became Dean for Research and Research Impact of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. Mauro is Fellow of the British Pharmacological Society (FBPhS, 2004), of the Academia Europea (2010) and of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (2015).
His group, over the years, has pioneered the concept that acute inflammation resolves, naturally, by the engagement of endogenous mediators that activate a series of non-redundant processes (inhibition of immune cell trafficking, efferocytosis, tissue repair) typical of what they now call the Resolution of Inflammation. When resolution is not properly it contributes to chronic inflammatory diseases. They study the pathophysiology of some pro-resolving pathways (eg. Annexin A1 and its peptides, Melanocortins, omega-3 derived bioactive lipid mediators) and aim to identify novel receptors amenable for the development of innovative anti-inflammatory therapeutics. A current focus is on pro-resolving GPCRs, such as formyl peptide receptors and melanocortin receptors, aiming to guide the development of novel therapeutic approaches with the establishment of Resolution Pharmacology (see recent reviews): Molecular pharmacology and cell biology protocols are complemented by integrated biology models (intravital microscopy for vascular responses, peritonitis, paw oedema, airpouch) including models of disease (arthritis, myocardial infarct and stroke). Each project is different in its practicality since it is the scientific question that drives the experimental protocols to be applied or developed, hence creativity is a must! They are acutely aware of the importance to assess the relevance of our research in clinical settings, as this would accelerate the development of innovative therapeutics modelled on resolution; currently, the focus is on rheumatology, cardiac surgery, sepsis and vasculitides.
Expression of the pro-resolving receptor FPR2
Expression of the pro-resolving receptor FPR2 (a GPCR that transduces the actions of AnnexinA1 and Lipxin A4) as revealed by Green Fluorescence Protein detection, using a unique mouse colony engineered with this reporter under FPR2 promoter (funded by The Wellcome Trust).
Microcapsules (MC; green) can be used to deliver biologically active molecules to modulate the interaction between human leukocytes and the endothelium. (Collaboration with Prof Sukhorukov, QMUL).

Nathalie Vergnolle

Nathalie Vergnolle, research director at INSERM, is since 1 January 2016 as head of the Research Institute for Digestive Health. She is also responsible for the team “Pathophysiology of the intestinal epithelium.”

Before conducting her research in Toulouse, Dr. Vergnolle spent 10 years at the University of Calgary (Canada) in the Department of Pharmacology. Her work has highlighted the role of several mediators involved in inflammation and pain. In collaboration with researchers from INRA and the Pasteur Institute, her team produced bacteria expressing a human protein, elafin that can protect the body from intestinal inflammation. Her researches have earned him international recognition and are supported at European, national and regional level. They have led to very active academic and private collaborations.

Michael Spedding

Michael SPEDDING, PhD, FBPhS, Secretary General, IUPHAR and President of Spedding Research Solutions (Paris). Joined BPS 1976; secretary/chair NC-IUPHAR from 1990-2015, now 90 subcommittees of 700 scientists (IUPHAR/BPS guidetopharmacology.org). Interests: drug discovery and development (11 compounds into Phase I, one to market; 3 ‘assists’); brain circuits in cognition, stress and psychiatry. Research programs for ALS, glioma, and neuroinflammation via collaborations. Michael obtained his BSC, PhD and lectured at Sunderland, eight years at Merrell Dow research in Strasbourg (calcium channels), then Director of Pharmacology at Syntex, Edinburgh. He set up Servier’s new CNS centre (Paris, and a Budapest centre for medchem). >200 publications, >30 patents, Thomson-Reuter’s 3000 influential scientists, h-index: 58. Michael has been a competitive athlete for 54 years (>110,000 kms run) and is interested in how evolution and the trophic/inflammatory interface modulates such activity. To conteract age-related slowing, he also does entry-level car racing (club Lotus).

Anna Meseguer

She got her degree in Biology by the Universitat Autónoma of Barcelona (UAB) and received her Ph.D. in the Experimental Tumor Immunogenetics field, under the direction of Professor Dr. Lloyd J. Old, at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in New York, in 1986. Then, she moved to Rockefeller University (Center for Biomedical Research) in New York, where she was granted with a post-doctoral fellowship from the NIH Endocrinology Training Program in Medicine to work on the molecular mechanisms of androgen regulation of gene expression, in kidney. She was later hired in the same laboratory with a tenure-track position (Research Investigator II) for two more years. In October 1990, she returned to Barcelona to create a new Biomedical Research Unit at the Vall d’Hebron Hospital, establishing her own research group on Renal Physiopathology. Since then, she has been PI and leader of many competitive national and international projects (35) and very active in pre- and post-doctoral fellows training. She has directed 18 Ph.D. thesis (7 more currently ongoing) and 39 Master thesis. Her group has received the Quality Mention from the Generalitat of Catalunya since 2005 and has been always focused to translational research, trying to correlate androgen action in kidney with injury/regeneration processes, hypertension, metabolism and cancer. The group is very active in innovation and has obtained several patents. One of them won the second prize in the VALORTEC contest from the Generalitat of Catalunya, was granted in USA and Europe and is now under an exclusive option agreement, pending of execution in USA. She has been recently appointed member of the American Association Cancer Research (AACR) Genitourinary Cancer Research Grants Scientific Review Committee. From 2012 until 2018, she was Associate Director for basic and translational research at VHIR. Currently, she is member of the Internal Scientific Advisory Board, Coordinator of the VHIR Research Training Committee and, since 2008, Associate Professor in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department at the Medical School of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). She is also the coordinator of the Master on Translational Biomedical Research of the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR).

Lluis Montoliu

Lluis Montoliu (Barcelona, Spain, 1963) graduated in Biological Sciences (1986) and obtained his PhD in Molecular Genetics (1990) at the University of Barcelona. Currently, he is a Research Scientist of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and established his laboratory at the National Centre for Biotechnology (CNB), in Madrid (Spain) since 1997, after two postdoctoral periods in Heidelberg (German Cancer Research Center, 1991-1995) and Barcelona (Autonomous University of Barcelona, 1995-96). Since 2007 he was also appointed researcher at the Spanish Research Initiative on Rare Diseases (CIBERER-ISCIII) where he is now serving at its Steering Committee. He has been Honorary Professor at the Autonomous University of Madrid for 20 years (1998-2018), and, since 2007, is the Director of the Spanish node of the European Mouse Mutant Archive (EMMA/INFRAFRONTIER) Spanish node.

Including his PhD, from 1986, where he worked in plant molecular genetics, in maize, he has been always working on the genetic modification of organisms (GMOs). Since 1991 he has been working in several scientific projects within the field of animal transgenesis. At the CNB he leads a research team interested in basic science, to understand the mechanisms controlling gene expression and organization in mammalian genomes, and in applied science, generating animal models for the study of human rare diseases, such as albinism. He has contributed significantly to animal transgenesis methods developing artificial chromosome transgenesis. He has also pioneered the use and dissemination of gene-editing CRISPR approaches in Spain for the functional analysis, in vivo, of regulatory elements found in the non-coding genome. Currently, he is involved in collaborative efforts towards the universal genetic diagnosis of all known forms of albinism and collaborates with patient’s associations, such as ALBA, the Spanish association in support of people with albinism. He has published more than 100 articles and co-invented several patents in the field.

He is the current President of the European Society for Pigment Cell Research (ESPCR) and serves at the boards of additional societies (IFPCS, IMGS, ACB, SEG). In 2006, he founded the International Society for Transgenic Technologies (ISTT) for which he has served as President since inception to 2014. He is a member of the CSIC Ethics Committee and the Ethics Panel of ERC in Brussels. In addition to research, he is also interested in bioethics, education and popular science. In 2018 he has received the ISTT Prize, for his outstanding contributions to animal transgenesis, the Honor Plaque from the Association of Spanish Scientists (ACE) for his contributions to Spanish Science and the SINCronizados Award by the Agencia SINC for his commitment with popular science and collaboration with journalists and media.

Guillermo Díaz

Dr. Guillermo Antonio Díaz-Araya (Ph.D) is Associate Professor of the Department of Pharmacological and Toxicological Chemistry of the Faculty of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences of the University of Chile. He obtained his PhD in Biological Sciences from the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM, Madrid, Spain). His academic area is teaching pharmacology. His research area focuses on the study of cardiovascular pharmacology using in vitro and in vivo models. He specializes in the study of cardiac fibroblast function associated with the development of cardiac fibrosis. In particular, they have studied a broad class of receptors, which are key in the secretion of extracellular matrix proteins, growth factors, cytokines, chemokines and molecular adhesion proteins. His recent research focuses on the interaction of cardiac fibroblasts with cells of the immune system.

Patricia Rijo

Patrícia Rijo is a Chemist (1999), MSc in Medicinal Chemistry (2003) and PhD in Pharmacy, with specialty in Medicinal Chemistry (2011). She works in Natural Products Chemistry focus on Plectranthus genus, involved in cancer and antimicrobial infections. Since 2002, she has published more than sixty full papers in peer-reviewed international journals indexed, eighteen papers in other peer-reviewed international journals, four book chapters, thirty oral communications, and two international patents. She is the PFS (Phytochemistry and Food Science) group leader of CBIOS (Research Center of Biosciences and Technologies) and member of CBIOS Science Board (Scientific Director for Communication and External Relations). She is a member of the editorial board of three international journals and Guest editor of two special issues. P. Rijo has received nine national and five international distinctions. She has supervised five PhD theses and is currently supervising other three PhD students and she has previously supervised approximately forty Master dissertations, research trainees and graduate theses in related areas of interest.  She is involved in network programs such as COST Action CM1407 (2015-2019), also as the communication and dissemination representative, COST Action (CA17104) and CYTED (Red Temática 115RT0488). P. Rijo is the general secretary of Sociedade Portuguesa de Fitoquímica e Fitoterapia (SPFito) and member of Sociedade Portuguesa de Química, Phytochemical Society of Europe (PSE), and Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (GA). She is a collaborador of i-MED (Research Institute for Medicines and Pharmaceuticals Sciences) since 2009, and she is a member of the scientific council of the School of Health Sciences and Technologies of Universidade Lusófona.  Dr. Rijo has integrated the Organizing Committee of several international and national meetings (local organizer of COST Action CM1407 meeting and Training-school-2017) and participates regularly in public outreach activities.

Ramón Sotomayor

He is chemist & pharmacist (2002) and Ph.D. in Pharmacology (2008). Currently, He is associate professor at Universidad de Valparaíso and work in neuroendocrinology, neuropharmacology and neurochemistry. He was president of Chilean Society of Pharmacology and he is member of several international societies. Now, he is interested in studying the effects of neonatal reprogramming with sex hormones on brain dopaminergic areas involved in reward and locomotion.

Pietro Ghezzi

Pietro Ghezzi is Chair of Experimental Medicine at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. He has a long-standing interest in the role of cytokines and oxidative stress in disease. The widespread belief, among both scientists and the public, that oxidative stress causes many diseases, and the resulting myth about antioxidant supplements have stimulated his research around the molecular mechanisms of redox regulation, theories of causation and how health news spread online.

Matthijs Blankesteijn

His main research focus is on signaling mechanisms controlling the remodeling of the heart in response to a pathological stimulus such as pressure overload or ischemia. In this context we discovered the role of WNT signaling in processes associated with cardiac remodeling such as fibrosis and angiogenesis. They have developed a collection of peptide fragments of WNT to act as inhibitors of the signaling pathway. Studies from his group and others have shown that pharmacological inhibition of Wnt signaling has a beneficial effect on infarct healing with smaller infarcts and a better preservation of cardiac function. The activation of cardiomyocyte regeneration in the border zone has recently been proposed as a potential mechanism, which is in line with the well-established role for WNT signaling in the control of stem cell differentiation. In the meantime, it has become evident that WNT signaling is essential form embryonic development but becomes relatively dormant in the adult organism. This may explain why interventions in WNT signaling have relatively few side effects and could be further developed towards clinical application.

Jorge Fuentealba

His research work focuses on the study of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that induce the development of neurodegenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer’s Disease. During this time they have characterized a series of effects associated with the toxicity of amyloid beta peptide (Aβ), especially its soluble oligomeric species (SO-Aβ). The energy imbalance that occurs in the neuron during the development of the toxic effects of these SO-Aβ, impacts the mitochondria and induces a leakage of ATP from the cytosol; Considering this ATP released, they determine how the activation of purinergic receptors (P2XR), potentiate the cytotoxic effects of this misfolded protein. Additionally, they have characterized a series of molecules from natural sources that have effects on neuronal network activity. They have shown neuroprotective effects of this compounds associated with the activation of different pathways linked to neuroprotection. Thus, they have shown that alkaloids of different chemical nature have activity on the neural nicotinic receptor alpha7, and the neuroprotection pathways associated with their activation, which partially prevents the effects of SO-Aβ. Some of their studies have shown some selectivity of the toxic effect on excitatory neurons, and their implications in the mechanisms of neurotransmission part of our current investigations.

Mª José Alcaraz

María José Alcaraz, PharmD, Ph.D., is full Professor in Pharmacology  at the Department of Pharmacology, University of Valencia, Spain, and former Head of this Department. Postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Pharmacology, King’s Col. London and visiting researcher at the Unité 348 INSERM, Paris. Besides acting as editor for several international journals and expert for scientific projects evaluation in different countries and international organizations, she has played an active role in international cooperation with Latin America. María José Alcaraz has supervised 30 competitively funded research projects and many preclinical development projects for pharmaceutical companies and received research awards from the Esteve Foundation and Almirall. As head of  the “Pharmacology of Inflammation” group, at the Institute for Molecular Recognition and  Technological Development, Valencia, Spain, her research focuses on  the mechanisms of inflammation control and cytoprotective approaches in articular conditions. An important area of investigation has been the role of Nrf2/HO-1 in inflammatory and degenerative disorders. The aim is the identification of mechanisms of disease, biomarkers and novel targets for therapeutical intervention by using in vivo assays and ex vivo systems of human explants and human or animal cell cultures, including innate immune cells, mesenchymal stem cells and articular cells, in addition to extracellular vesicles.