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Past Events



  Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Investments in Reducing Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases Burden

Special Citizen Science Guest Lecture
Niranjan Bose, Ph.D.

Campus Center, Multipurpose Room  6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Abstract: While diarrhea-related deaths have decreased globally, diarrheal diseases remain the second-leading cause of childhood deaths. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s investments are aimed towards saving and improving millions of lies thorough the development and delivery of low-cost interventions that prevent and treat diarrheal and enteric diseases. The presentation will provide an overview of the team’s strategy as well as a summary of the vaccine related investments in this field.Biography: Niranjan Bose is a Program Officer in the Enterics and Diarrheal Diseases (EDD) team at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and is responsible for a portfolio of grants, which include clinical development of enteric vaccines and the overall program management component for the strategic program team.Prior to joining the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he was with SDG Life Services, a unit of IMS Health, where he was a Senior Consultant and assisted clients in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries with strategy development, company valuations, preclinical research validation, revenue forecasting, and competitive assessments.  His doctoral thesis was on cholera pathogenesis, with a focus on developing the assembly mechanism for an attachment factor, which is currently being targeted as a vaccine target.  Niranjan’s research experience spans various aspects of preclinical research and target identification in the pharmaceutical industry and enzymatic applications in the biotechnology industry.  He has worked in academic and industrial development, assay development, vaccine target biogenesis, and rational drug design.  Niranjan holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Dartmouth College and an MS in biological sciences and a BS in pharmaceutical sciences from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India.  He also received the Business Bridge Diploma from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Sponsored by: Citizen Science Program
Amy Savage
  Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One Health: The Interplay of Human, Agriculture, and Environmental Health

Ron Taylor, Ph.D.
Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater  6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Biography: Ron Taylor received his B.A. degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo and his Ph.D. degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Maryland, where he studies mechanisms of bacterial gene expression in response to environmental stimuli.  During his postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School, he began his work on the identification and regulation of virulence determinants in the pathogenic bacterium, Vibrio cholerae.  He is currently Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and director of the Microbiology and Molecular Pathogenesis Program (M2P2) at Dartmouth College.  M2P2 is a dynamic collaboration of diverse colleagues within an interdisciplinary environment  dedicated to producing independent investigators in science.

The research in his lab focuses on vaccine and drug development for the prevention of epidemic cholera, which is spread aquatically in unhygienic conditions.  It is targeted on two broad areas relating to the study of Vibrio cholerae which is the bacterium that colonizes the human intestinal tract causing severe, potentially lethal diarrhea in infected individuals.  The first area of investigation deals with the interaction between the bacterium and the host.  The second objective is to understand the mechanisms by which Vibrio cholerae senses the environment and induces expression of virulence genes.  This work will lead to an understanding of the signals that trigger gene expression and how the process can be altered during infection.  The studies are generally applicable to a number of serous infections, such as meningitis, hemorrhagic colitis, sexually transmitted diseases, and infections associated with cystic fibrosis.

Sponsored by: Citizen Science Program
Amy Savage
  Friday, January 13, 2012

The Translational Research Program at U Penn: An Academic Paradigm for Integrated Translational Research

Michael Kalos, Ph.D.
Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater  6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Abstract: Successful establishment of translational research programs requires the effective integration of multiple and often disparate entities. In this presentation I will discuss the T cell Immunotherapy program at the University of Pennsylvania, a program with demonstrable success in the translation of novel T cell based therapies into the clinic.  We will focus on infrastructural elements whose implementation has been crucial for the successful establishment of this program, and discuss specific examples of the successful translation of novel therapies from the bench to the bedside. Biography: Dr. Kalos is a graduate from the University of Minnesota Medical school, where he received his degree from the Department of Microbiology with an emphasis in Genetics.  He completed two postdoctoral fellowships at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where he studied mechanisms responsible for regulating gene expression, and in the laboratory of Philip Greenberg in the Program of Immunology where, among other accomplishments, he played a pioneering role in the development of genetic approaches to redirect lymphocyte specificity through transfer of T cell receptor chains. Following his tenure at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research center, Dr. Kalos moved to Corixa Corporation, a biotechnology company in Seattle, where he played an instrumental role in the discovery and preclinical evaluation of novel cancer vaccines for prostrate and lung cancer, work that led to a number of issued patents.Following his tenure at Corixa, Dr. Kalos was recruited to the City of Hope as the founding director of the Clinical Immunobiology Correlative Studies Laboratory (CICSL), where he established and directed a GLP-level laboratory that focused on the development and application of molecular, flow-based, and biochemical assays to evaluate in a comprehensive manner the impact and effectiveness of early stage immunotherapy protocols.In December of 2008, Dr. Kalos was recruited to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where, as an Adjunct Associate Professor in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Founding Director of the Translational and Correlative Studies laboratory and a Member of the Translational Research Program of the Abramson Cancer Center, he is involved in the translational/clinical development and biomarker evaluation of novel cell based immunotherapeutic agents.  Dr. Kalos has authored multiple primary and review articles as well as book chapters of the steering committees for international biomarker and immunotherapy working groups. 

Sponsored by: Citizen Science Program
Amy Savage
  Thursday, January 12, 2012

Should You Believe It? A Mathematical Perspective on the Science of News

Rebecca Goldin, Ph.D.
Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater  6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Abstract: News accounts are filled with numbers and implicit advice. How much coffee is too much? Is the internet making us smarter or dumber? Do vitamins improve our health or harm us? In contexts as diverse as criminal courts, opinion surveys, and our personal health, statistics are playing a larger and larger role. Despite our need for clear rendering of numerical information, many media account using statistics are misleading. Eye-catching headlines typically promote exaggerated benefits of medical treatment, exaggerated risks of everyday living, and tragic or comic opinions of survey respondents. We will use recent news accounts, both humorous and serious to illustrate this process and to suggest how to become savvy news consumers. Numbers can be powerful when we move past politics and morality to clarify what science actually tells us, what it does not, and what it cannot.Biography: Rebecca Goldin did her undergraduate work at Harvard University and earned her Ph.D. in Mathematics from MIT in 1999 under the guidance of Victor Guillemin.  She then went to the University of Maryland with a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship before joining the faculty at George Mason University in 2001, where she is currently an associate professor of mathematics.  Goldin’s mathematical research centers on questions in symplectic geometry, group actions on manifolds, and equivariant cohomology and K-theory.  In 2004 she joined Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) as their Director of Research.  STATS is a nonprofit affiliate of George Mason which aims to educate the public and journalists about the responsible use of statistics in reporting.She has had numerous grants from the National Science Foundation to support her work.  In 2007, she became the first recipient of the Ruth I. Michler Award.  Goldin has given many talks about both her research in mathematics and her work with STATS throughout Europe and Asia, as well as across the United States.

Sponsored by: Citizen Science Program
  Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mammals, Martians and Dinosaurs: Thoughts on the Origin of Microbial Virulence

Arturo Casadevall, Ph.D, M.D.
Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater  6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Abstract: Since the germ theory of disease was accepted at the end of the 19th century physicians and microbiologists have struggled with certain fundamental questions: What makes some microbes pathogenic? Are pathogenic microbes different from those that are not pathogenic? The experience with so called opportunistic microbes in the 20th century have provided important insights into the origin of virulence but the question of what makes environmental microbes pathogenic has remained enigmatic. Here the fungal kingdom provides important lessons. There are more than 1.5 million fungal species in the biota but only about 150-300 are pathogenic for humans, and of these, only 10-15 are relatively common pathogens. In contrast to mammals, insects and plants are highly susceptible to fungal diseases. Using insights from the fungal kingdom this talk will explore the origin of virulence among environmental fungi with no obvious requirement for animal association. In the presentation, Dr. Casadevall will develop the hypothesis that certain microbes acquire the capacity for virulence through interactions with non-animal hosts such as Protista. These interactions select for traits that, in propitious circumstances allow for mammalian virulence. The presentation will explore the notion that the relative invulnerability of mammals to fungal diseases occurs in part from their endothermy and homeothermy, which create a restricted environment for the overwhelming majority of fungal species. Next the presentation will visit the provocative hypothesis that fungal diseases contributed to both the extinctions at the end of the cretaceous that resulted in the demise of the dinosaurs and to the rise of mammals in the tertiary era. Finally, Dr. Casadevall will comment on potential consequences of climate warming for the emergence of fungal diseases in the late 21st century.Biography: Arturo Casadevall received his Ph.D. and M.D. degrees from New York University. His graduate thesis research was in the field of physical biochemistry and involved the study of DNA-protein structures in filamentous bacteriophages. Afterwards, he completed residency training in internal medicine at Bellevue Hospital in New York City where he witnessed first hand the effect of the HIV epidemic, an experience that made him very interested in research on infectious diseases. Dr. Casadevall subsequently completed postdoctoral training with Dr. Matthew Scharff at Albert Einstein College of Medicine investigating the molecular genetics of the immune response to Cryptococcus neoformans. Although his primary research work remains in the area of immunology, Dr.Casadevall has wide interests that include other microorganisms such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Bacillus anthracis. Dr. Casadevall is particularly interested in developing new conceptual approaches to the problem of microbial pathogenesis that include the contributions of both the pathogen and the host. He is Professor and Chair, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Division of Infectious Diseases, at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is Editor-in-Chief of mBio and serves as member of several editorial boards.

Sponsored by: Citizen Science Program