2018 Speakers

Dr. Premysl Bercik obtained an MD degree from Charles University, Prague, Czechoslovakia. He then pursued post-graduate doctoral studies at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, where he investigated neural control of gastrointestinal motility. He trained as a postdoctoral research and clinical fellow at McMaster University under the supervision of Prof. Stephen Collins focusing on animal models of functional gastrointestinal diseases. Currently, he is Associate Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology, Director of the Clinical Motility laboratory and member of the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute at McMaster University, Canada. His clinical interest lies in functional bowel disorders, intestinal dysmotility, gastroparesis and celiac disease. His basic research focuses on the role of intestinal bacteria in gut-brain axis in the context of gut function, low-grade inflammation and behavior, including anxiety and depression. http://farncombe.mcmaster.ca/

Probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 Reduces Depression Scores and Alters Brain Activity: A Pilot Study in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Pinto-Sanchez MI, Hall GB, Ghajar K, Nardelli A, Bolino C, Lau JT, Martin FP, Cominetti O, Welsh C, Rieder A, Traynor J, Gregory C, De Palma G, Pigrau M, Ford AC, Macri J, Berger B, Bergonzelli G, Surette MG, Collins SM, Moayyedi P, Bercik P. Gastroenterology. 2017 Aug;153(2):448-459.e8. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2017.05.003. Epub 2017 May 5.

Dr. Stewart Campbell brings more than 22 years of drug discovery and development experience to the team, with an emphasis on CMC and manufacturing.  He has built and led R&D teams involved in a variety of environments from early stage research through to advanced clinical development in small start-ups to mid-sized companies.   Prior to joining Axial, Dr. Campbell held various leadership roles at biopharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing companies including Corden Pharma, Surface Logix and Insmed Inc. At Corden Pharma, Dr. Campbell served as Head of Product Management and Business Development for Carbohydrates and Lipids and as Head of Operations for Corden Pharma’s Woburn, MA manufacturing site.  Prior to Corden Pharma Dr. Campbell served as Vice President of R&D at Ancora Pharmaceuticals, successfully triaging the company through the acquisition and integration process by Corden Pharma. While at Surface Logix and Insmed, Dr. Campbell played an integral role in the discovery and development of five clinical stage drug candidates, including small molecules and biotherapeutics.

He holds a BSc with Honours in Chemistry from St. Francis Xavier University, a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the Queen’s University, and did post-doctoral research in natural product synthesis at Duke University. He has consulted for several start-up companies in multiple technology and therapeutic areas in the Greater Boston area and is co-inventor on 15 issued patents.

Martha Carlin is Co-founder and CEO of The Biocollective, a company that offers members the opportunity to participate in scientific discovery by providing microbiome samples for researchers. With consent, every sample is divided and sold to academic and commercial microbiome researchers. Phase I of the business is sample collection, preservation and building a base of research customers. Phase II offerings will include the opportunity for members to store a sample while they are healthy for potential use in the restoration of microbial balance in the future. Members will share in the revenues generated from the sale of their samples and ultimately in shared discoveries from their research customer base.

The BioCollective, links personal health history, metagenomics and microbiome analysis to uncover previously unknown links between chronic disease and diet, stress, and environment.

She is an entrepreneur and innovative systems thinker with a unique ability to connect dots to solve problems in new ways. She has been driven to solve the rise in complex disease through a systems approach, with the microbiome as the tool for connecting the dots, especially in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Diseases.

She is also an investor and advisor for Pure Cultures LLC, a contract manufacturer of probiotic cultures for the human and animal sectors. Pure Cultures products are tailored to meet their client’s needs. They offer single and multiple strain blends. In addition, they are a custom fermentation company offering a varying size of reactors to produce client’s proprietary probiotic strains.


Silke Cresswell, MD, is a movement disorder specialist who works at the Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre (PPRC). She is Associate Professor in Medicine/Neurology at the University of British Columbia (UBC) working as a clinician scientist at PPRC, as well as an active staff member at Vancouver General Hospital. She is also a member of the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health. The micro-organisms that are present in our gut are providing researchers who study Parkinson’s disease with a new frontier for investigation. At the University of British Columbia, Dr. Silke Appel-Cresswell is examining the role that fungi in the gut may play in influencing Parkinson’s disease. If she can demonstrate a connection between particular fungi and symptoms of Parkinson’s, her work could potentially open an avenue for early treatment involving antibiotic-like medications or probiotics.

John F. Cryan is Professor & Chair, Dept. of Anatomy & Neuroscience, University College Cork and serves on the University’s Governing Body.  He is also a Principal Investigator in the APC Microbiome Institute. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) and PhD from the National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland. He was a visiting fellow at the Dept Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Australia, which was followed by postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA and The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California. He spent four years at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Basel Switzerland, as a LabHead, Behavioural Pharmacology prior to joining UCC in 2005. Prof. Cryan’s current research is focused on understanding the interaction between brain, gut & microbiome and how it applies to stress, psychiatric and immune-related disorders at key time-windows across the lifespan. Prof. Cryan has published over 340 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and has a H-index of 73. He is a Senior Editor of Neuropharmacology and of Nutritional Neuroscience. He is on the editorial board of a further 15 journals. He has edited three books including “Microbial Endocrinology: The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis in Health and Disease” (Springer Press, 2014). He has received numerous awards including UCC Researcher of the Year in 2012; the University of Utrecht Award for Excellence in Pharmaceutical Research in 2013 and being named on the Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher list in 2014. He was a TEDMED speaker in Washington in 2014 and is President-elect of the European Behavioural Pharmacology Society.

Prof. Cryan’s current research interests include the neurobiological basis of stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders including depression, anxiety and drug dependence. Moreover, his group is also focused on understanding the interaction between brain, gut & microbiome and how it applies to stress and immune-related disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome and obesity and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. He is also interested in applying novel approaches to facilitate drug/siRNA delivery to the brain in vivo.

Melanie Gareau, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the University of California Davis in the School of Veterinary Medicine in the department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology. Dr. Gareau studied physiology at McMaster University where she obtained her PhD in the laboratory of Dr. Mary Perdue assessing the impacts of early life stress on gastrointestinal physiology. She then completed post-doctoral studies at the Hospital for Sick Children with Dr. Philip Sherman focused on the microbiota-gut-brain axis following infection with a bacterial pathogen. Dr. Gareau then did additional training with Dr. Kim Barrett at UC San Diego, prior to starting her own group at UC Davis in 2014. Dr. Gareau’s laboratory is primarily interested in studying the microbiota-gut-brain axis and how intestinal dysbiosis can detrimentally impact behavior, particularly cognitive function. By using mouse models of infection with enteric bacterial pathogens or administration of beneficial probiotic bacteria, her group has shown that this can impact cognitive function, and regulate anxiety-like behavior. In addition, her laboratory has a particular interest in how the microbiota-gut-brain axis responds to stimulation with psychological stressors and under conditions of intestinal inflammation, such as in models of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). These studies are funded by the NIH and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

Dr. Derrick MacFabe is Assistant Professor and Director of the Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group, Depts. of Psychology (Neuroscience) & Psychiatry (Division of Developmental Disabilities), Lawson Research Insitute at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada. He is also a faculty member at Queen’s University (Kingston, Canada- Medicine). As the principal investigator of the Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group, he is examining the role of genetics, biochemistry and environment on the identification and possible treatments of autism spectrum disorders. Dr. MacFabe’s research concerning potential gastrointestinal links in autism has been listed among the “Top 50 Scientific Discoveries in Canada” by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and was recently shown on the “Autism Enigma” (Nature of Things- CBC). Gut Bacterial Metabolites as Possible Environmental Triggers of Autism Spectrum Disorder – From Animal Models to Human Populations Clinical observations suggest that gut and dietary factors, transiently worsen, and in some cases appear to improve, symptoms in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Recent evidence suggests ASD as a family of systemic disorders of altered immunity, metabolism and gene expression. Pre- or peri-natal infection is emerging as a major risk factor for ASD. Can a common environmental agent link these disparate findings? This lecture outlines basic science and clinical evidence that short chain fatty acids, present in diet and produced by opportunistic gut bacteria following carbohydrate ingestion, may be key triggers in ASD. Dr. MacFabe presents his current research examining propionic acid, a major fermentation product associated with ASD associated gastrointestinal bacteria, and its ability to produce reversible behavioral, electrographic, neuroinflammatory, metabolic and epigenetic changes closely resembling those found in ASDs. It discusses the hypothesis that ASDs are produced by pre- or post-natal antibiotic resistant bacterial infections in sensitive sub populations, which may have major implications in ASD cause, diagnosis and treatment. YouTube feature on Dr. MacFabe here.

Dr. Eliezer Masliah is the new director of the National Institute of Aging’s Division of Neuroscience. Masliah received his M.D. from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1982. He completed a postgraduate residency training in pathology at the National Institutes of Health in Mexico City in 1986. Following a fellowship in neuropathology and neurodegenerative disorders at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), he held joint appointments in their departments of neurosciences and pathology.

As head of UCSD’s Experimental Neuropathology Laboratory, he investigated synaptic damage in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, multiple system atrophy and AIDS-related dementia. His laboratory developed novel models of neurodegeneration as well as new gene therapies, small molecules and experimental immunotherapies for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Four of the experimental therapeutic approaches developed at his laboratory have now passed Phase I clinical trials. As the director of autopsy services at UCSD Medical Center, he also directed the neuropathology core of the NIA-supported Shirley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

A prolific author with approximately 800 original research articles and 70 book chapters, Masliah has some familiarity with NIA as a past member of the NIA National Advisory Council on Aging, the NIA Neuroscience of Aging Study Section, and the Cellular and Molecular Biology of Neurodegeneration Study Section. He has also served as an advisor in the expert panels to revise the criteria for the neuropathological diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease organized by the NIA and the Alzheimer’s Association, at expert meetings and workshops to advise in the use of preclinical models for Alzheimer’s Disease and at a series of NIH-hosted Summits on Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Masliah served as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Alzheimer’s Association from 2010-2016.

Emeran A. Mayer emeran-meyer-md-phd--ncx42qo39v0y4ze626eyf7j9fy2j30oo7dgj9rz3xq (1)
Director, G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience
Division of Digestive Diseases, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Dr Emeran A. Mayer is a Gastroenterologist, Neuroscientist and Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Physiology and Psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.  He is the Executive Director of the G Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress & Resilience, co-director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center at UCLA, and member of the steering committee of the UCLA Microbiome Center. As one of the pioneers and leading researchers in the role of mind-brain-gut interactions in health and chronic disease, he has made major scientific contributions to the area of basic and translational enteric neurobiology with wide-ranging applications in clinical GI diseases and disorders. He has published more than 300 scientific papers (h-factor 100), and co-edited 3 books.  He is the recipient of the 2016 Paul D McLean award from the American Psychosomatic Society and the Distinguished Mentor Award from the American Gastroenterological Association.  In addition to his ongoing research in chronic visceral pain and irritable bowel syndrome, his work has expanded into other areas of brain gut microbiome interactions, including the role of the gut microbiota brain interactions in inflammatory bowel disorders, food addiction in obesity, autism spectrum disorders.

Dr. Mayer has been interviewed on National Public Radio, PBS and by many national and international media outlets including the Los AngelesTimes, Atlantic magazine, Time and Newsweek Magazine and National Geographic Explorer. He has spoken at UCLA TEDx on the Mysterious Origins of Gut Feelings in 2015, and his book The Mind Gut Connection has been published by Harper&Collins in July of 2016 and has been translated into more than 10 languages.

Filip Scheperjans, MD, PhD, is a Neurologist at Helsinki University Central Hospital. Dr. Scheperjans, MD, PhD, studied medicine at the University of Düsseldorf (Germany) and gained international experience as a visiting student in London, New York and Helsinki. He did his doctoral thesis about histological and neurochemical anatomy of the human brain in the laboratory of Prof. Karl Zilles. After graduation in 2006 Dr. Scheperjans continued his research at the Institute of Medicine at the Research Center Jülich and his thesis was awarded best thesis of the medical faculty in 2008. After moving to Finland, he started his training in neurology at Helsinki University Central Hospital. During this period Dr. Scheperjans completed a clinical research fellowship to develop his expertise in conducting clinical studies and trials. His main interests in neurological research are movement disorders and acute neurology including stroke, status epilepticus and neuroimaging. In 2013 Dr. Scheperjans received a degree as specialist in neurology. Currently he is continuing research on the involvement of microbiota in PD. In a ground-breaking study, funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Dr. Scheperjans showed that the intestinal microbiome is altered in PD and is related to motor phenotype.

Sangram S. Sisodia is the Thomas Reynolds Sr. Family Professor of Neurosciences and Director, Center For Molecular Neurobiology, Department Of Neurobiology at The University of Chicago.

A significant effort of his laboratory has been to develop and characterize transgenic animals that express FAD-linked variants of PS1 and APP to clarify the underlying biochemical and pathophysiological alterations that cause AD. His group has exploited these animals, as well as animals in which they have conditionally inactivated PS, to clarify issues relevant to axonal trafficking of membrane proteins, neurodegeneration, neuronal vulnerability, gene expression and APP/Ab metabolism. A significant effort is focused on understanding the cell non-autonomous effects of FAD-linked mutant PS1 expression on hippocampal neurogenesis. In future studies, they will focus heavily on the mechanisms that are responsible for the observed effects using temporal and system-specific conditional gene inactivation approaches. Extending their demonstration that enriched environments and exercise modulates Abeta metabolism and deposition in vivo, their ongoing efforts are focused on the role of polypeptides encoded by genes that are selectively regulated in these settings. Most recently, they have been exploring the impact of the microbiome in modulation of amyloid deposition in mouse models of AD, with two recent publications in this area.

Antibiotic-induced perturbations in microbial diversity during post-natal development alters amyloid pathology in an aged APPSWE/PS1ΔE9 murine model of Alzheimer’s disease. Minter MR, Hinterleitner R, Meisel M, Zhang C, Leone V, Zhang X, Oyler-Castrillo P, Zhang X, Musch MW, Shen X, Jabri B, Chang EB, Tanzi RE, Sisodia SS. Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 5;7(1):10411

Antibiotic-induced perturbations in gut microbial diversity influences neuro-inflammation and amyloidosis in a murine model of Alzheimer’s disease. Minter MR, Zhang C, Leone V, Ringus DL, Zhang X, Oyler-Castrillo P, Musch MW, Liao F, Ward JF, Holtzman DM, Chang EB, Tanzi RE, Sisodia SS. Sci Rep. 2016 Jul 21;6:30028.

philipstrandwitzDr. Philip Strandwitz is a specialist in the microbiome, with a focus on the gut-brain-axis. Philip received his PhD in Biology under the guidance of Dr. Kim Lewis at Northeastern University, where he focused on cultivating unique bacteria from the human gut microbiota. Here, he discovered the first reported bacterium that required the neurotransmitter γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) for growth. Taking advantage of this unique lifestyle, he utilized this discovery to rapidly identify and culture a panel of GABA-producing bacteria from the human gut microbiota, dramatically expanding existing knowledge on the GABA-modulatory potential of bacteria living in the human intestines. Since then he has assembled a broad range of clinical and academic collaborators to further profile the link between the human microbiome and the gut-brain-axis. Philip has presented at numerous conferences, including those held by the New York Academy of Science, Keystone Symposia, and the American Society of Microbiology. He is now CEO as Holobiome, a company he co-founded to translate microbiome science into novel therapeutics to treat diseases of the central and enteric nervous systems. Holobiome announced an early stage research collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Innovation LLC, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. and Janssen Research & Development, LLC in early 2018, is currently sponsored by Amgen for wet lab space at LabCentral in Cambridge, MA

Dr. Jun Sun joined University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in Sept. 2015. Before Joining UIC, she was a tenured Associate Professor at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, U.S.A. (Dec. 2011- August 2015). Before joining Rush University in 2011, she was an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Microbiology, and Immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, where she has been on the faculty since 2007. From 2002 to 2007, she served as a Research Associate (Assistant Professor) at the University of Chicago. Dr. Sun earned a B.S. and a M.S. in Genetics from Wuhan University, China and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Institute of Toxicology and Pharmacology, Beijing, China. She did postdoctoral work at the National Cancer Institute, NIH for cancer research (Dr. William Stetler-Stevenson) in 2000 and Emory University for intestinal inflammation research (Dr. James Madara) in 2001. Her research interests are host-bacterial interactions in inflammation and cancer. Her key achievements include (1) characterization of gut microbiome and vitamin D receptor in intestinal homeostasis and inflammation, and (2) identification and characterization of the Salmonella effector protein AvrA that activates the beta-catenin pathway and inhibits intestinal epithelial inflammation in host-bacterial interactions. Her senior-authored publications on VDR and bacteria was highlighted in Nature Reviews in 2011 and recently published in Gut, the leading GI journal, in 2014. In the 2014 James W. Freston meeting: Therapeutic Innovations in Microbiome Research and Technology, AGA, her group was awarded two travel awards (out of total 8 awards). She was also invited to write reviews, editorials, and comments on microbiome and human diseases published for peer-reviewed journals. She will organize and chair a Featured Topic Symposium entitled “Mechanisms underlying host-microbiome interactions in pathophysiology of human diseases”, for the Experimental Biology and an APS internal symposium on microbiome in 2016.

Dr. Sun is a fellow of American Gastroenterological Associate (AGA). She has published over 110 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Cell Stem Cells, Nature Reviews, Gut, JBC, American Journal of Pathology, and American Journal of Physiology-GI. She is the senior author/corresponding author for over 40 research papers and 20 reviews. She is in the editorial board of more than 10 peer-reviewed international scientific journals. She services study sections for the NIH, American Cancer Society, and other research foundations. Her research is supported by the NIH NIDDK, NY State STEM IDEAL Award, the American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award and a few other research awards. She is also an inventor of four therapeutic patents for anti-inflammation and anti-cancer. Her lab has developed the first model using intestinal-stem derived organoids to study host-bacterial interactions (Physiological Reports, 2014). Her featured paper also reports a novel humanized mouse model to study the tumor progress in HIV infection (AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, 2014).

Dr. Sun has been actively participated in the leadership activities in local institute, professional societies, and community service. She has extensive experience working with clinicians, basic researchers, fellows, and graduate students. She has good understanding of woman scientists’ needs. She served the Nominating Committee for the Intestinal Disorders Section [AGA Institute Council] (2012-2014) and Award Committee of American Physiology Society (APS)(2012-2014). She was selected to participate in the very first AGA Women’s Leadership Conference in 2014. She has served AGA Women’s Committee (2012-2015) and is currently AGA Women’s Council (2014-), AGA China Task Force Committee, and APS International Committee (2015-).