Plenarsprecher

Stephan Harbarth earned in 1993 his medical degree from Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany, and completed his residency in internal medicine and tropical medicine at Munich University Hospitals. After serving as a clinical fellow in the Infectious Diseases Division in the Department of Internal Medicine at Geneva University Hospitals, Dr Harbarth completed his master’s degree in epidemiology at Harvard University in Boston. He is board certified in infectious diseases and was appointed full professor at the University of Geneva in 2018. Dr Harbarth’s work has garnered several awards. His group is currently conducting several clinical and epidemiological studies to evaluate key questions related to the control of the acquisition, transmission and infection by multidrug-resistant microorganisms and related clinical and health-economic burden. He participates in several ongoing large-scale EU-funded studies (REVERSE, ECRAID, COMBACTE) and coordinated the DRIVE-AB project to address this public health threat.

Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu is an Assistant Director General at the World Health Organisation (WHO), leading the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence.

Prior to this, Dr Ihekweazu was the first Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and led the agency between July 2016 and October 2021. He also served as Interim Director of the West Africa Regional Centre for Surveillance and Disease Control from January to December 2017.

Dr Ihekweazu trained as an infectious disease epidemiologist and has over 25 years experience working in senior public health and leadership positions in several national public health institutes, including NCDC, the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the UK's Health Protection Agency, and Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

Vanessa Sperandio is the Chair of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She was the Jane and Bud Smith Distinguished Chair in Medicine, and a Professor in the departments of Microbiology and Biochemistry at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She got her bachelor’s in biology, and her masters and PhD in Molecular Genetics in the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Brazil. During her Ph.D. she was the recipient of a fellowship from the Brazilian government to perform part of her Ph.D. research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where she later also pursued her post-doctoral training. She joined the faculty at the Microbiology Department at UT Southwestern in 2001. She was a Latin American Pew Fellow in Biomedical Sciences (1997), an Ellison Foundation New Scholar (2004), a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases (2006), and a National Academy Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow (since 2007). She is the recipient of the ASM 2015 Eli Lilly and Company-Elanco Research award, and a winner of the 2014 GSK Discovery Fast-track challenge. In 2013 she was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM), and in 2022 she was elected Chair-Elect of the AAM. She was the 2015-2016 Division D chair of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM), the chair of the ASM Education Awards selection committee since 2015, a member of the ASM Microbe program committee for 2017-2019, chair of the HMB Track ASM Microbe program committee 2019-2021, and the chair of the ASM Press committee (2016-2022). She was elected as an American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) fellow in 2022. She was also a member of the national advisory committee of the Pew Latin American Fellows Program and the advisory committee for the Burroughs Wellcome Fund’s Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases.

She currently serves on the editorial boards of mBio, Infection and Immunity, Journal of Bacteriology, and Gut Pathogens. Her research investigates chemical, stress and nutritional signaling at the interface amongst the mammalian host, beneficial microbiota and invading bacterial pathogens. The main tenant of research in her laboratory is the study of how bacterial cells sense several mammalian hormones leading to rewiring and reprogramming of bacterial transcription towards host and niche adaptation. She has also identified several bacterial receptors to mammalian hormones and reported that invading pathogens hijack these inter-kingdom signaling systems to promote virulence expression. She also translated these basic science concepts into strategies to develop novel approaches to anti-microbial therapy.