AMP2016 – Confirmed speakers


Philippe BULET

Dr. Philippe Bulet obtained his PhD in Animal Biology and Physiology and Biochemistry in 1984 from the University of Lille (France). Between 1990-2002, he had a progressive position of team manager at the laboratory of Pr JA Hoffmann (Strasbourg, France). He was Chief Scientific Officer of a Swiss Biotech company specialised in venoms and mass spectrometry (2002-2008), and director of a French research laboratory in Grenoble (2011-2012). His current research interests include: innate immunity, inflammation, oncology, natural peptides as therapeutics, molecular imaging, and marker discovery. In these areas, he has published over 145 papers in international peer-reviewed journals, including 21 book chapters and reviews. He has been invited speaker and tutorialist in several international conferences and workshops and is co-founder of the Natural Peptide To Drug (NP2D) international congress. He is the co-founder of two Biotech companies (Funzyme Biotechs, in Geneva, Entomed SA in Strasbourg) and co-author of 13 patents in the fields of innovative antibiotics. He is and was coordinator of several national and international industrial and academic research projects. Member of the scientific board of three biotech companies, he is external scientific expert of two research institutions. He owns a consultancy services company in life science projects since 2011


Dr. Delphine Destoumieux-Garzón is a researcher of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). Before she joined the CNRS in 2000, she was a Ph.D. student at the University of Montpellier (France) with Dr. Evelyne Bachère [1995-1998] and a post-doctoral fellow at University of California, Los Angeles (USA) with Prof. Tomas Ganz [1999-2000]. She has studied the role of AMPs from eukaryotes and prokaryotes in the innate immunity of vertebrates and invertebrates and in microbial competitions, respectively. Currently, she is the principal investigator of a research group studying host-pathogen interactions and adaptation in marine environments. She has focused her present research on the molecular interplay between hosts and microorganisms using the oyster-vibrio interaction as a model. One central question she is addressing is what makes the oyster pathogens and commensals able to circumvent their host antimicrobial response. The role of the environment in the emergence/selection of those adaptive traits is also part of her current scientific interests.




Dr. Stéphane Cociancich got his Ph.D. degree from Jules Hoffmann’s lab at University of Strasbourg, France [1994] where he isolated and characterized inducible antibacterial peptides from many insect orders and a scorpion species, and determined the mode of action of an insect defensin. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health at Bethesda, MD, USA [1995-1998] where he studied anti-malarial factors from mosquitoes. Since 2000, he works as a biochemist at CIRAD, the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development, in the Biology and Genetics of Plant-pathogen Interactions unit. He spent the last decade in thoroughly studying albicidin, a potent antimicrobial phytotoxin synthesized via the non-ribosomal pathway by the causal agent of sugarcane leaf scald disease Xanthomonas albilineans


Dr. Axel Innis did his PhD on the structural biology of TGF-β-like growth factors, their receptors and their inhibitors in the Department of Biochemistry of the University of Cambridge, under the supervision of Prof. Sir Tom Blundell (1998-2002). He then joined the group of Dr. R. Sowdhamini at the National Centre for Biological Sciences as a visiting fellow (TIFR, Bangalore, 2002-2004), where he developed a method for identifying functionally important sites in proteins. Following his time in India, Dr. Innis joined the laboratory of Prof. Thomas A. Steitz at Yale University (2004-2012). There, he chose to tackle a poorly understood aspect of bacterial translation: the regulation of ribosomal protein synthesis by the nascent polypeptide. He joined the European Institute of Chemistry and Biology (IECB) in Bordeaux as a group leader in January 2013 . His lab focuses on various aspects of the translational control of gene expression, in particular how nascent, synthetic and antimicrobial peptides regulate protein synthesis by interacting with the ribosome.


Dr. Robert Unckless will start a faculty position at the University of Kansas in August 2016. He completed his PhD at the University of Rochester with John Jaenike and Allen Orr in 2011 and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Cornell University with Brian Lazzaro and Andy Clark. Rob’s first career was as a high school science teacher from 1999 to 2006. His interest in antimicrobial peptides was sparked by a Drosophila genome wide association study for resistance to Providencia rettgeri, in which variation in Diptericin was by far the strongest association.

Philippe NORMAND

Dr. Philippe Normand obtained his Ph.D. degree from Laval University of Quebec, Canada [1985] where he isolated and characterized hundreds of Frankia strains and initiated work on the physiology and the ecology of the actinorhizal symbiosis with plants such as the pionneer alder. His CNRS team (UMR 5557, Lyon) has initiated the study of Frankia genomes identifying upregulated determinants in symbiotic tissues and in collaboration with IRD colleagues began a complementary work of the host plant genomes (Alnus and Casuarina) by following 15000 unigenes and identifying several upregulated genes among which about 20 defensins. His team is studying the physiological modifications induced in Frankia by defensins and other upregulated genes


Jörn Piel obtained his PhD degree in 1997 with Wilhelm Boland on the chemical ecology of plant natural products. In 1998 he moved as a Humboldt postdoctoral fellow to the University of Washington, Seattlet, to study bacterial antibiotic biosynthesis with Bradley S. Moore and Heinz G. Floss. From 1999 to 2004 he headed a junior research group at the Max Planck Institute of Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany. In 2004 he became Associate Professor at the Department of Chemistry, University of Bonn. Since 2013, he is Professor of Microbiology at ETH Zurich. His research interests include the biosynthesis of marine and microbial natural products, which are studied at the genetic, biochemical, and chemical level. Focus is the metabolism of uncultivated and symbiotic bacteria, new enzymes in polyketide and peptide biosynthesis, and genome-based methods of natural product discovery.


Lluis QUINTANA-MURCI obtained his PhD in 1999 in the University of Pavia, where he started working in human population genetics and evolutionary biology. He began his faculty position in the CNRS in 2001, and since 2007, he heads the CNRS Unit of Human Evolutionary Genetics at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. His laboratory is focused on understanding (i) how natural selection and human demography have shaped the patterns of diversity of the human genome, (ii) the genetic control of gene expression related to immunity-related processes, and (iii) the influence of genetic variation and changes in lifestyle and ecologies of human populations on patterns of epigenetic variation. In particular, they are interested in exploring how pathogens and infectious diseases have exerted selective pressures on human genes, particularly on those involved in innate immunity, to unmask immunological mechanisms that have been critical for our past and present survival against infection.


Prof. Nita Salzman is a Professor of Pediatrics in the division of Gastroenterology, and also holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the Medical College of Wisconsin. She is an Associate Director of the MD, PhD program and a co-leader of the Immunology, Inflammation and Infection research unit of the Children’s Research Institute. Dr. Salzman received her M.D. and Ph.D. (in pharmacology) from New York University School of Medicine. She completed her clinical training (pathology) at the University of Pennsylvania, and postdoctoral research training at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (genetics) and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (microbiology and immunology), and was recruited to the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology at MCW in 2001. The Salzman laboratory studies innate host defense at mucosal surfaces, focusing on interactions between the mucosal innate immune system, enteric pathogens, and the microbiome, with a dual focus on both basic and translational research. Dr. Nita Salzman’s research is funded by NIH-NIAID, NIDDK, NIGMS and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America

William M. SHAFER

Prof. William Shafer (Ph.D. degree from Kansas State University [1979] and post-doctoral fellow at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill SOM [1979-1982]) has been on the Emory School of Medicine faculty since 1982 as a member of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Additionally, W. Shafer is Program Director for the Antimicrobial Resistance and Therapeutic Discovery Training Program of Emory University and Co-Director of the Emory Antibiotic Resistance Center. He has been funded by the NIH and the Department of Veterans Affairs for over thirty years for research on the molecular mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance expressed by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the causative agent of the sexually transmitted infection termed gonorrhea. Through the use of in vitro techniques and ex vivo and in vivo infection models the Shafer laboratory has linked mechanisms of antimicrobial peptide and classical antibiotic resistance to survival and fitness of gonococci during infection


Dr. Karin Thevissen obtained a Master of Science in Bioscience Engineering at the KU Leuven, Belgium, in 1992. In 1997, she obtained her PhD in Applied Biological Sciences at the KU Leuven, Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics (CMPG) with a fellowship of FWO-Vlaanderen. During her PhD, she investigated the mode of action of antifungal plant defensins, and spent 1 year abroad in the labs of Prof Colin Brownlee, Plymouth, UK and Prof Alexandre Ghazi, Orsay, France. From 1997 till 2005 she worked as postdoctoral researcher at CMPG. Since 2005 she is appointed as an Industrial Research Fellow, facilitating research in antimicrobial and anti-apoptotic drug discovery as well as enabling contacts with industry. As a coordinator, she manages various national (Flabicoat, KU Leuven) and international (FP7, COATIM) research consortia