Understanding mechanism of action and translating microbiome science into commercially viable therapeutics remains the biggest challenge in this emerging field. With that said, pharma and biotech across many different therapeutic indications and modalities are united in this global effort to bring novel microbiome-based therapies and diagnostics into the clinical domain. This session will include some of the most impactful and promising areas of the Microbiome field and panel discussions on the challenges for faster adoption.
Microbiome and Cancer
Jennifer Wargo, MD Anderon
Sandrine Miller-Montgomery, UCSD
The Gut/Brain Microbiome
Mary Conrad, Axial Biotherapeutics
Chris Reyes, Bloom Science
The Role of the Human Gut Microbiome on Various Diseases
Colleen Cutcliffe, Pendulum Therapeutics
Tor Savidge, Baylor College of Medicine
Nikole Kimes, Siolta Therapeutics
Pharma Drug Development
Karim Dabbagh, Second Genome
Ethan Grant, Gilead
Scott Jackson, NIST
Rita R. Colwell is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland and at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Colwell’s research interests are focused on global infectious diseases, water and health. She is currently developing an international network to address emerging infectious diseases and water issues, including safe drinking water for both the developed and developing world. Colwell served as the 11th director of the National Science Foundation from 1998 to 2004. Her major interests include K–12 sciences and mathematics education, graduate science and engineering education, and the increased participation of women and minorities in science and engineering. She has held many advisory positions in the U.S. government, nonprofit science policy organizations and private foundations, as well as in the international scientific research community. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, the Royal Society of Canada, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.
Dr. Sandrine Miller-Montgomery is Micronoma CEO, a start-up company focusing on the development and commercialization of cancer diagnostic solution using Liquid Biopsy targeting the microbial markers. Previously, she was executive director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation, which she co-directed with Pr. Rob Knight at UC San Diego. Her team focused on expanding industry and academic collaborations of microbiome research in various domains such as clinical applications (new drug pathway identification, novel diagnostic biomarkers discovery – such as the IP that led to Micronoma), environmental science (e.g identification of natural products from ocean sediment), or consumer world (e.g. nutrition and diet role on our microbiome and metabolome). Before her foray in academia, she had a long career in Biotech and most recently had led MO BIO Laboratories, now a QIAGEN Company, having started as their director of sales and marketing where her team contributed to the consistent business growth resulting in its acquisition.
Cancer Microbiome and Diagnostic Application
This talk will cover recently published paper on leading the major paradigm shift that cancer tissues are not sterile, that their microbiome is specific and that we can use this discovery toward cancer diagnostic applications using blood samples even for solid tumors.
Mary Conrad leads Microbiology and in vitro biology efforts at Axial Biotherapeutics, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company harnessing the gut-brain axis to develop novel therapeutics to improve the quality of life for people with Central Nervous System diseases and disorders, including Parkinson’s Disease and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Axial utilizes a mechanism-based approach to discover CNS therapies inspired by the microbiome. Mary’s experience includes leading cross-functional teams in projects from exploratory through candidate selection stages to discover antibiotics and microbiome-targeted therapeutics, as well as building teams and drug discovery capabilities in microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology and the microbiome. Mary studied at Princeton University and in the department of bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Colleen has over 20 years of experience managing and leading teams in biotech, pharma and academia. Pendulum is a startup company based in San Francisco that uses biological and computational insights into the microbiome to develop interventions for a variety of health and disease conditions. Before starting Pendulum, Colleen served as the Senior Manager of Biology at Pacific Biosciences, which is where she met her two co-founders. Prior to that, Colleen was a Scientist at Elan Pharmaceuticals. Colleen completed her postdoctoral research at Northwestern’s Children’s Memorial Hospital, received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Johns Hopkins University and received her B.A. in Biochemistry from Wellesley College. Colleen currently resides in Menlo Park, CA with her husband, 2 daughters, 2 dogs, and 2 birds…all contributing to a diverse microbiome!
Scott Jackson joined NIST in May of 2014 after 11 years as a principal investigator with the FDA. At FDA, his research focused on characterizing the global genomic diversity of enteric pathogens, with applications for food safety, bioforensics and public health. At NIST, Scott is currently the leader of the Complex Microbial Systems Group in the Biosystems and Biomaterials Division. In this current role, Scott is leading efforts to improve microbiome and metagenomic measurements by organizing inter-lab studies, developing reference materials and reference methods, and developing in vitro tools that allow us to better understand microbial community resilience and evolution. Scott completed his PhD research in the biochemistry and biophysics departments at The University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University, respectfully, where he focused on the evolution of mobile genetic elements using yeast as a model genetic organism. Scott performed huis undergraduate studies in Chemistry and Geology at the University of South Carolina.
Dr. Savidge's research interests include studying microbial-neuroimmune interactions in the gastrointestinal tract and nervous systems. This work has established new disease susceptibility biomarkers to Clostridium difficile infection and Fecal Microbiota Transplantation failure, as well as identifying new precision-based microbial therapy for recurrent C. difficile infection based on population-scale metagenomics and functional microbiome analysis.
Karim Dabbagh joined Second Genome in 2014. Prior, he served as Vice President of R&D at Pfizer where he led the Immunoregulation department, an R&D group focused on innovative approaches to elicit homeostatic immune responses for the treatment of immune related disorders. At Pfizer, he also led External R&D Innovation for Immunology, Neurosciences and Cardiovascular/Metabolic Therapy Areas. Before joining Pfizer, Karim was the founder of Modus BioMedicine, a biotechnology company focused on treatments for transplantation and autoimmune disease. Leading to that, Karim spent nine years at Roche in Inflammation Discovery Research. Karim obtained his PhD in Biochemistry from University College, London and his BSc (Hons) in Biotechnology from Imperial College, London. He completed postdoctoral fellowships at the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco and at Stanford University where he worked on elucidating the role played by the microbiome in the hygiene hypothesis.
Dr. Wargo’s career commitment is to advance the understanding and treatment of disease through science. After completing her medical degree, she entered surgical residency training at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School where she became interested in the biology and treatment of cancer. During her training, she completed 2 fellowships in surgical oncology with a focus on immunotherapy for cancer. Dr. Wargo was recruited to the Division of Surgical Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital in July 2008 and had an active research laboratory focusing on melanoma tumorigenesis and immunotherapy for cancer. One exciting finding involved data describing the effect of BRAF-targeted therapy on tumor antigen expression in melanoma as a basis for combining targeted therapy and immunotherapy in the treatment of this disease. Dr. Wargo validated those findings in patients treated with BRAF inhibitors. She has continued critical studies to better understand the effects of BRAF inhibition on immune responses in melanoma, and established a unique set of serial tumor biopsies and blood samples from patients enrolled on clinical trials on BRAF inhibitors. Through analysis of these samples, she contributed significantly to the world literature regarding resistance mechanisms and the effect of targeted therapy on anti-tumor immunity.
Ethan Grant joined Gilead Sciences in 2016 and currently leads efforts to implement biomarker analysis strategies in inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune disease clinical trials. In addition, he leads a cross-functional team within the company exploring the influence of the gut microbiome on therapeutic responses. Prior to Gilead, Ethan provided biomarker expertise for clinical studies in rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other inflammatory diseases at MedImmune/AstraZeneca and held various positions in early drug development at Schering-Plough and Millennium Pharmaceuticals. Ethan obtained his PhD in Immunology at Harvard University and his BA in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology at Northwestern University.
Dr. Reyes is a biophysicist and entrepreneur with a passion for creating solutions to improve our health, environment and economic sustainability. Dr. Reyes has founded two companies focused on developing therapeutics to address serious medical needs as well as a tech company focused on connecting people to socially conscious commerce solutions. His first company Eclipse Therapeutics, a cancer stem cell focused start-up, resulted in a successful acquisition in 18 months. Dr. Reyes has a Ph.D. in Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco and B.A. in Molecular and Cell Biology, Biophysics from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Reyes was a postdoctoral fellow at The Scripps Research Institute. Dr. Reyes has received honors from the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation and was a McNair Scholar.
Developing The Next Generation Of Living Medicines
Bloom Science is developing genetically optimized living medicines that target diseases in neurology, immunology and oncology. Our unique approach elucidates connections between clinical outcomes, the microbiome, and critical disease pathways. We then use genetic tools to engineer superior biopharmaceutical properties in our microbiota therapeutics.
Dr. Nikole Kimes is Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Siolta Therapeutics, a San Francisco-based biotech company developing novel microbiome-focused precision strategies for the prevention and treatment of inflammatory diseases. As the lead executive driving Siolta’s early-stage development, Dr. Kimes heads a talented team of scientists, blending microbiology, immunology, and bioinformatics expertise to leverage microbiome data for the improvement of patient stratification and development of precision microbial therapeutics. An inventor of Siolta’s technology, her research in Dr. Susan Lynch’s lab at the University of California San Francisco, provided the foundation from which the translational research program at Siolta Therapeutics has developed.