Speakers and Chairs
Introduction of the symposium speakers and chairs
Keynote Speakers

Ravi Majeti MD, PhD is the RZ Cao Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Hematology, and Member of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He was an undergraduate at Harvard, earned his MD and PhD from UCSF, and trained in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Dr. Majeti completed his Hematology Fellowship at Stanford, and is a board-certified hematologist. While at Stanford, he completed post-doctoral training in the laboratory of Irving Weissman, where he investigated acute myeloid leukemia (AML) stem cells and therapeutic targeting with anti-CD47 antibodies. With Dr. Weissman, he developed a humanized anti-CD47 antibody, initiated first-in-human clinical trials, and in 2015, co-founded a biotech start-up Forty Seven Inc. Forty Seven Inc., along with the lead anti-CD47 antibody magrolimab, was acquired by Gilead in 2020. Dr. Majeti directs an active NIH-funded laboratory that focuses on the molecular characterization and therapeutic targeting of leukemia stem cells in human hematologic disorders, particularly AML, and has published >100 peer-reviewed articles. He is a recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome Career Award for Medical Scientists, the New York Stem Cell Foundation Robertson Investigator Award, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Scholar Award. Dr. Majeti is a member of the Committee on Scientific Affairs for the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Task Force on Hematologic Malignancies. He also serves of the editorial boards of Blood, Cell Stem Cell, and Cancer Discovery.

Anthony Letai graduated from Princeton University with and A.B. in Physics, then received his MD and PhD at the University of Chicago, completing clinical training in Hematology and Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. After a post-doctoral fellowship with Stanley Korsmeyer, since 2004 Dr. Letai has run a laboratory at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to study how apoptosis can be evaded by cancer cells. Key to these studies is a novel assay - BH3 profiling.  He has led efforts to translate BCL-2, BCL-XL, and MCL-1 antagonists into the clinic.  These include venetoclax, a BCL-2 antagonist approved by the FDA for CLL and AML and now being tested across nearly all blood cancers, in combination with other drugs and with immune-oncology agents. The laboratory is also testing whether BH3 profiling can be used as a broad predictive biomarker to assign clinical cancer therapy. In an attempt to unite others across the world who also pursue ex-vivo functional testing, in 2018, he founded the Society of Functional Precision Medicine, and serves as its President. He is a recipient of the European Cell Death Organization Career Award, the Smith Family Prize for Outstanding Scientific Contributions and the National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award. 
Homepage: https://letailab.dana-farber.org/; SFPM.io;  Twitter: @ DrTonyLetai

Speakers and Chairs

Tero Aittokallio received his PhD in Applied Mathematics from the University of Turku in 2001. He then did his post-doctoral training in the Systems Biology Lab at the Institut Pasteur (2006-2007), with Dr. Benno Schwikowski, where he focused on network biology applications using high-throughput experimental assays and network analysis tools. In 2007, Dr. Aittokallio launched his independent career as a principal investigator in the Turku Biomathematics Research Group, where he received a five-year appointment as an Academy of Finland Research Fellow (2007-2012). Tero Aittokallio joined Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) as EMBL Group Leader in the fall of 2011. Dr. Aittokallio is also a group leader at Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital, and was selected as Professor of Biostatistics at University of Oslo in 2019.
Aittokallio’s research group develops computational-experimental approaches to identify target addictions and other druggable vulnerabilities in individual cancer patients. We make use of polypharmacological effects of drugs to inhibit cancer survival pathways and sub-clones in terms of multi-target synergistic and synthetic lethal interactions. Machine learning modelling is used to identify key players and their interaction partners in disease networks, as well as to suggest more effective and selective targets for personalized therapies. 

Evren Alici is the group leader of the Cell and Gene Therapy Group, HERM, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet. Evren received his MD at Ege University in 1999 and received his PhD from Karolinska Institutet in 2006. Evren's main research interests are natural killer cells, multiple myeloma, lentiviral and retroviral gene transfer, stem cell transplantation and immunology. I am an associate professor in the department of medicine, division of hematology at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. I lead a research group of 22 very talented individuals who focus their efforts, as agnostic as they can, on NK cell-based therapeutic approaches. My father is an emeritus professor in orthopedics and my mother is an emeritus professor in clinical immunology. As one would suspect, I got infected with both interests and did my medical studies in Izmir, Turkey. I then started voluntary work as well as specialist training in orthopedics and traumatology and traveled 4 continents finally ending up in Stockholm where I got involved in immunotherapy and gene therapy. We performed the first gene marking study in Sweden as well as the first allogeneic NK cell-based therapy in refractory cancer patients in what one may call a basket trial. Thereafter, I got very interested in the role of NK cells in patients with multiple myeloma and their induced recognition of autologous tumor cells. It led to an interesting discovery with ex vivo expanded and activated NK cells may be able to control myeloma development, especially in early lines of treatment. To be able to enable a clinical study, I co-founded a company with 12 other colleagues from our institute and we managed to fund an academic-sponsored clinical trial where we could see some signs of efficacy in a very small group of patients. This trial enabled us to expand into a randomized combination trial where we started also to utilize ADCC properties of the infusion product. It is an exciting journey where one of my former PhD students is now the principal investigator of this trial.
In parallel, during the last 18 years, I got more and more interested in genetically modified NK cells which led to protocols and utilization strategies that are currently being utilized in numerous clinical trials. We have also identified that NK cells can be more susceptible to genetic modification by simply transiently blocking intracellular viral sensing pathways. This enabled a lot of other approaches and another company creation, this time in the USA where we met a fantastic group of individuals that manage the company side and I can focus on ideation. I’m sure I forgot a lot of steps in between but this is, in a nutshell, what I recall spontaneously. I love the environment we are in and my collaborators and colleagues have led me to sit over a Christmas break with Hans-Gustaf to write a grant application to Sweden’s innovations office (a governmental body) which granted Hans-Gustaf, Kalle, and me to create a national competence center on next-generation NK cell-based therapies. This in turn further enabled our collaborations with industry partners as well as other research groups. The fun is just beginning!

Born in Kibbutz Hazor, Prof. Ido Amit earned his PhD in biological regulation at the Weizmann Institute of Science in 2007. He conducted a four-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Broad Institute of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, before joining the Weizmann Institute in 2011. He is the incumbent of the Eden and Steven Romick Professorial Chair.
Prof. Amit is a world leader and pioneer in the fields of single-cell genomics and clinical big-data analytics. He has spearheaded the application of these technologies to generate a comprehensive “google map” of the entire immune system and how it is perturbed in disease. Prof. Amit’s research addresses some of the most fundamental questions in immunology. His discoveries are enabling the development of new immunotherapy strategies,—wotking with the leading biopharma his discoveries are driving immense innovation in targeted immunotherapy for autoimmune disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer – which will lead to the next generation of immunoitherpahy treatments. In addition, Prof. Amit is renowned in the science community as a leader in immunogenomics, a new field aimed at detecting and engineering specific immune activity to combat disease.
Prof. Amit is the recipient of numerous awards for academic and scientific excellence, including the Michael Bruno Memorial Award from the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2020), the Sanofi-Institute Pasteur Junior Award (2019), recognition as an International Research Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (2017), the EMBO Gold Medal Award (2016), the Helen and Martin Kimmel Award for Innovative Investigation (2016), and the Rappaport Prize (2016) for his work in revealing the function of the immune system. He was elected as a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in 2017.

Dr. Pamela Becker is a Professor in the Division of Leukemia, Department of Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at City of Hope National Medical Center.  She has a joint appointment in the Department of  Hematological Malignancies Translational Science, Beckman Research Institute, City of Hope.  She received her AB degree in Biochemical Sciences magna cum laude at Harvard University, her MD degree from the Harvard Medical School-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Program and her PhD degree in Cell and Developmental Biology, Division of Medical Sciences, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She completed residency training in internal medicine at Beth Israel Hospital/Harvard Medical School and a postdoctoral fellowship in Hematology at Yale University School of Medicine.  Her laboratory research focus has been on hematopoietic stem cell gene therapy for inherited anemia and drug resistance in hematologic malignancies. When on the faculty of the University of Washington/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center 2003-2020, she developed an in vitro assay for drug sensitivity with custom panels for acute leukemia, multiple myeloma, and CML, including both FDA approved and investigational agents. The high-throughput assay received CLIA certification in 2015 as an in vitro diagnostic cancer test for which she remains the Medical Director. She has also conducted clinical trials in acute myeloid leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, multiple myeloma, hematopoietic cell therapy and gene therapy, as well as trials that utilize the high throughput drug screen.  

Lawrence Boise, PhD is the R. Randall Rollins Chair of Oncology and Professor in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology in the Emory University School of Medicine.  Dr. Boise also serves as the Associate Director of Education and Training in the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.  He received his PhD from VCU-Medicine and did his postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago.  Dr. Boise took his first faculty position at the University of Miami and rose to the rank of Professor before moving to Emory in 2009.  Dr. Boise was involved in early studies to identify genes that control cell survival and cell death and has been studying these processes to better understand how to improve our treatment of cancer, particularly the plasma cell malignancy multiple myeloma.  He has received funding from the National Cancer Institute, Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Dr. Boise serves as a Senior Editor at Molecular Cancer Research and is on the editorial board of Blood Cancer Discovery.  He is also the principal investigator of an NIGMS-funded training grant focused on supporting graduate students training in biochemistry, cell and developmental biology.

Jean-Pierre Bourquin (University Children’s Hospital Zürich) is a Full Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, Head of the division of Oncology, Hematology, Immunology, Stem Cell Transplant and Somatic Gene Therapy. Leading at the forefront of clinical and basic research in high-risk leukemia, over the last decades Prof. Bourquin and his group have established a cutting edge translational network to study pediatric and adult relapsed / refractory leukemia. His current flagship active translational research programs include an international Drug Response Profiling Registry serving international trials (INFORM, Hem-iSmart, IntReALL, AIOEP-BFM-ALL) and the INTeRCePT Project as part of the LOOP Zurich (intercept evolution to overcome treatment resistance in childhood and adult blood cancer, lead by Prof. Th. Zenz), a Clinical Research Priority Program of the University of Zurich, precision hematology/oncology and the ITCC Pediatric Preclinical precision oncology platform ITCC-P4. His major research focus is in understanding the fundamental transcriptional and metabolic dependencies in very high risk ALL, including international projects with other centers of excellence. 
Zurich is the largest clinical and research center for pediatric oncology in Switzerland. JPB authored more than 182 publications with >6713 citations in this field. He has recently been appointed to the board of directors of the European Hematology Association (EHA) and he is member of the Steering Committee for Hematologic Malignancies of the Innovative Treatment for Childhood Cancer (ITCC) Consortium. He also serves as a Chair of the Resistant Disease Committee of the International BFM Study Group that coordinates all relevant clinical projects for patients with relapsed and refractory ALL. 

Lars Bullinger holds a full professorship for “Hematology and Oncology” and he is the Medical Director of the Department of Hematology, Oncology and Cancer Immunology as well as the Charité Stem Cell Facility at the Virchow Campus of the Charité University Medicine in Berlin. He is engaged in translational research with a focus on the integrative analyses of “omics” and “next generation sequencing” data to further refine molecular tumor classification of both hematological malignancies and solid tumors and to implement insights into innovative precision medicine approaches. In addition, he is coordinating the Charité Leukemia, Stem Cell Transplant, and Advanced Cellular Therapy Programs. Furthermore, he is coordinating a HARMONY Alliance work-package, which is focusing on the collection and the analysis of big data covering all hematological malignancies in order to address many open research questions. Besides the HARMONY pilot project on acute myeloid leukemia, he is also coordinating the definition of hematologic malignancy core outcome sets that are relevant to all stakeholder groups.

Sascha Dietrich is a MD with interest in molecular medicine and training in Internal Medicine, Hematology and Emergency Medicine. He runs the lymphoma program at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. His research interest focusses on the aim to bring biology-based individualized treatment of lymphoma and leukemia into clinical practice and to understand the biological basis for differential response to cancer treatments.

Olli Dufva is a physician and PhD student in the Hematology Research Unit Helsinki, the laboratory of Satu Mustjoki at the University of Helsinki, Finland. He uses functional genomics and systems biology to understand immune responses to blood cancers for developing more effective immunotherapies. His work has included mapping the immunogenomic landscape of blood cancers by integrating transcriptomic and multi-omic data from over 10,000 patients with hematological malignancies. Moreover, he has applied high-throughput drug screens to discover immunotherapy-enhancing cancer drugs and genome-scale CRISPR screens to find resistance mechanisms to chimeric antigen receptor T cell and natural killer cell immunotherapies.

Bjørn Tore Gjertsen, MD, PhD is Professor of Hematology at the University of Bergen, working as Research Chief and Senior Consultant Hematologist at Helse Bergen Health Trust. In 2016 he was appointed as co-director for Centre for Cancer Biomarkers (CCBIO) Norwegian Centre of Excellence, University of Bergen. From 2010 to 2018, Gjertsen developed a phase I clinical trials unit at Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen. He has clinical practice in hematology, focused on clinical trials in chronic and acute myeloid leukemia, and is the chair of the Nordic AML Group and the Norwegian AML Group. In 2021, he was awarded the King Olav V Cancer Research Prize. His major research interest is development of targeted therapy and accompanying diagnostics in myeloid leukemia. His laboratory is working on intracellular signal transduction and regulation of the tumor suppressor protein p53. He has a special interest in single cell analysis and detection of circulating tumor cells. His work is supported by the Norwegian Cancer Society, the Helse Vest Healthy Trust, the Research Council of Norway and EU ERA PerMed. Dr. Gjertsen is member of EHA, ASH and ASCO, and he is co-founder of two small biotech companies. 

Dr. Caroline Heckman is a Research Director at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland – FIMM and University of Helsinki. She leads the Personalized Cancer Medicine and Translational Research Group, which focuses on the application of systems-wide approaches for better understanding of disease progression and drug resistance mechanisms, identification of drug response-associated biomarkers, and discovery of novel, rational drug combinations, especially for hematological diseases.

Prof. Merja Heinäniemi received a PhD in Biochemistry in 2007 and a docentship in Bioinformatics in 2014. She tenured to full professorship in 2021 and coordinates the training in Computational Biomedicine at the School of Medicine, University of Eastern Finland.

Her research group is based at the Institute of Biomedicine. Current efforts focus on pediatric leukemia and early treatment response.

Presently, there is insufficient knowledge to predict which patients may benefit from novel targeted therapeutics. Her team is focused on elucidating disease mechanisms that are related to aberrant regulation of cell states. Genome-wide technologies can reveal the collective activity of the genome, even at single cell resolution. These readouts capture the repertoire of cell states in tissues. Heinäniemi lab studies regulatory mechanisms that control changes in cell states, such as those active during cell differentiation or in response to drug treatments. Based on systems biology, bioinformatics and machine learning, the aim is to decipher key regulatory circuits formed by protein and RNA molecules from different multiomics datasets. 

Olli Kallioniemi, M.D., Ph.D. is director of the Science for Life Laboratory (www.SciLifeLab.se), a national infrastructure for life sciences in Sweden and also a professor in Molecular Precision Medicine at the Karolinska Institutet.  He directs a major new national SciLifeLab program on Data-Driven Life Science (DDLS) funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation over a 12-year period. 
 
Olli Kallioniemi’s research focusses in functional and systems medicine of cancer, with a focus on laboratory and data-driven approaches for improving the diagnostics and therapy of acute leukemias, ovarian and prostate cancer. 

Having received MD and PhD from the University of Tampere in Finland, he had a postdoctoral stay at UC San Francisco (1990-1993) and then a group leader role (1995-2001) at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. Before joining SciLifeLab in 2015, he was the founding director of FIMM – the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland at the University of Helsinki, as part of the Nordic EMBL partnership in Molecular Medicine (in 2007-2015) and has a continued joint affiliation with FIMM.

Olli Kallioniemi is an author of 400 publications in PubMed and has 21 issued patents. He has supervised 27 doctoral theses and 30 postdocs. He is a recipient of several awards, such as the NIH Director’s lecture, AACR team science award and the IFCC-Abbot Award for Molecular Diagnostics and the annual main medical prize in Finland. Olli Kallioniemi is a member of European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), European Academy of Cancer Sciences as well as the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institutet.

Mika Kontro, MD, PhD is an associate professor and a consultant in clinical hematology at the Helsinki University Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center. Mika Kontro earned his PhD thesis, entitled “Individualizing therapy for acute leukemia”, in 2017. He currently works as K. Albin Johannson Cancer Research Fellow (Finnish Cancer Institute) and as a Group Leader in Finnish Institute for Molecular Medicine (FIMM). He has a strong background in running clinical trials and was selected at 2017 for European Hematology Association Clinical Research Training program (CRTH). Mika currently chairs the Finnish AML Group and is a board member of the Nordic AML Group. Currently he leads a prospective multi-center AML trial VenEx utilizing ex-vivo drug sensitivity testing for individualized patient care.

Jan Krönke is a professor of hematology and oncology at the Charité, Berlin since 2020.  Dr. Krönke received an MD from Heidelberg University and completed his residency in hematology/ oncology at Ulm University Hospital where he studied genetics in AML in the group of Konstanze Döhner. From 2011 to 2014 he joined the group of Benjamin Ebert at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital/ Harvard Medical School as postdoc where he discovered that thalidomide analogs modulate the CRBN E3 ligase to induce ubiquitination and degradation of the neo-substrates IKZF1, IKZF3, and CK1α. After returning to Ulm University he became head of an Emmy Noether research group supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG). His current research focuses on the development of new protein degraders, drug resistance mechanisms and proteomic studies in multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia. 

After finishing her studies in Biochemistry at the University of Ljubljana, Klara Kropivsek did research in different areas, including biomaterials, epigenetics, and bispecific antibodies targeting hematological malignancies. The latter has led her to pursue her doctoral studies in the lab of Prof. Berend Snijder at ETH Zurich, where she started shifting her research towards personalized medicine. 
Klara Kropivsek’s work is predominantly on multiple myeloma (MM), a hematological malignancy of plasma cells in the bone marrow, where she focuses on the interplay between the immune system and cancer. In an observational clinical trial on MM, she has been combining patient clinical records with ex vivo drug screening and multi-OMICs to identify the determinants of the drug response variability and learn to better guide MM patient treatment in the future. 

Heikki Kuusanmäki, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM). Heikki received his PhD in 2018 at the University of Helsinki with the title “Targeting Key Survival Signaling Pathways for the Treatment of Leukemia”. During his PhD, Heikki performed drug screening experiments with primary leukemia samples and developed a flow cytometry-based drug sensitivity testing platform. His current research interest is to identify biomarkers for BCL-2 family inhibitors in AML and to develop strategies to overcome drug resistance. Heikki also works part-time at the Biotech Research and Innovation Centre (BRIC, Copenhagen) at Professor Krister Wennerberg’s research group.

Janne Lehtiö, PhD 
Professor in Medical Proteomics at Karolinska Institutet
Scientific Director, Science for Life Laboratory, Sweden
Head of Clinical Proteomics Unit, Karolinska Univ. Hospital

Janne Lehtiö has MSc degree from Helsinki University, Finland and PhD in engineering at Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden. Post the PhD, Lehtiö worked a few years in biotech industry in USA and Europe; and obtained his postdoctoral experience in cancer research at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. In 2015, he was selected to faculty Professor position at Karolinska Institutet and since 2021 holds shared clinical professor position at Karolinska univ. hospital heading cancer proteomics unit. Lehtiö is pointed as visiting professors at InFlames flagship program on immunology at University of Turku, Finland.

Lehtiö-labs major research focus in on proteome analysis, systems biology and cancer precision medicine. He’s lab is working from methods development to clinical applications mainly focusing on lung and breast cancer as well as in leukaemia research.
Lehtiö has also vast experience on research infrastructures, from heading core facilities and national infrastructure initiatives to expert assignments in the field of technology driven personalized medicine. Since 2018 Lehtiö serves, part time, as Scientific Director for SciLifeLab, Sweden’s national bioscience infrastructure and is engaged in SciLifeLab-KAW Data Driven Life Science program as steering group member and precision medicine area-lead. He also serves in Karolinska Comprehensive Cancer Center board of directors and scientific advisory boards for national infrastructures in both Finland (Biocenter Finland) and Norway (NAPI). 

Professor Leppä achieved her MD and PhD degrees at the University of Turku. Then, as a fellow of the Finnish Academy of Sciences she turned to the European Molecular Biology Laboratories, Heidelberg, Germany to extend her research on cellular signaling and regulation of gene expression. Since 2004 she has worked as a medical oncologist at the Helsinki University Hospital Cancer Centre, since 2010 as a head of lymphoma unit and since 2012 as a professor of clinical oncology. Since 2007, she has been a chair of the Nordic large B-cell lymphoma working group. Her ongoing special research interests are to develop and optimise treatments for lymphoma patients and to identify biologically relevant prognostic factors.

Olli Lohi, M.D. Ph.D., works as a chief physician in Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Division of Tampere University Hospital. Dr. Lohi received his PhD in the field of cell signaling from the University of Oulu in 1999 and did his post-doctoral training in Cambridge, UK, studying EGFR signaling. He currently leads a research group that focuses on the genomics and molecular mechanisms that lie behind the onset and evolution of childhood lymphoblastic leukemia. Lohi is actively involved in clinical trials that aim to bring targeted therapies for pediatric cancers. Lohi serves as a co-chair of the NOPHO Leukemia & Lymphoma Biology working group and is a NOPHO representative in the ALLTogether Scientific committee. 

Dr. Satu Mustjoki, MD, PhD is a professor of Translational Hematology at the University of Helsinki, Finland. She is director of the Translational Immunology Research Program at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland (www.helsinki.fi/trimm). Her own research group at the Hematology Research Unit Helsinki (www.helsinki.fi/hematology) consists of 30 members involving both basic and clinical scientists in hematology and immunology. Her group’s current research interests focus both on tumor immunology and on the molecular mechanisms of T-cell malignancies and associated autoimmune disorders.

Hematologist, chief physician and associate professor at Copenhagen University with +10 years hands-on experience in hematology research laboratories across Europe and US. Chairing the Nordic CLL Study Group and heading the CLL research laboratory and clinical research program at Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark. Combining genetic and functional characterization of CLL and microenvironmental cells, MRD testing and diagnostic work up for CLL based on the EuroMRD and ERIC collaborations, along with epidemiological studies. Impacting current practice in CLL, co-authoring ESMO guidelines, TP53 guidelines, flowcytometry- and MRD-guidelines for CLL in addition to 100 peer-reviewed publications. Founding member for the clinical GAIA/CLL13, VISION/HO141, HO158, HO159 and CLL17 trials, thus leading the way for testing targeted therapy in CLL. Founder of the PreVent-ACaLL phase 2-3 trial, the first Machine Learning based clinical trial in CLL. Thus, applying a uniquely strong background across all the disciplines needed for translational research in CLL feeding into extended decision matrices for lymphoid malignancies based on medical Artificial Intelligence for precision medicine.

Established senior leader with a Ph.D. in genetics and 20+ years of Pharma experience. 

Led several franchises in the personalized medicine arena across multiple therapeutic areas along the drug development value chain.
Deep understanding of pharmaceutical development, stakeholder management including regulators and business operations. Extraordinary perspective in leveraging innovative approaches to expedite drug development and address the complexities of emerging data.
In depth experience in diagnostic device development aimed at delivering differentiated therapies to patients. Strategic thinker with superior ability to link preclinical approaches to clinical development. 
Strong leadership capabilities, results-oriented, conveys a sense of urgency and drives for closure.

Dr. Tea Pemovska is a translational cancer systems biologist with particular expertise in drug screening assays and associated analysis pipelines in the context of blood cancers. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences and her master’s in Pharmaceutical Sciences / Drug Innovation at University College Utrecht and Utrecht University (Utrecht, The Netherlands). She completed her Ph.D. in Personalized Cancer Medicine / Chemical Systems Biology in the group of Dr. Krister Wennerberg at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), University of Helsinki (Finland). In 2016 she joined the group of Prof. Giulio Superti-Furga at the Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (CeMM) as an EMBO postdoctoral fellow, where she focused on the identification and characterization of metabolic dependencies in hematological malignancies with compound libraries. In 2020, she was recruited at the Department of Medicine I, Division of Hematology and Hemostaseology, the Medical University of Vienna in the Functional Precision Hematology Group led by Prof. Philipp Staber as a senior researcher. Her research interests lie in the use of drug sensitivity data to unravel disease biology and personalized therapy options for cancer patients.

Vilja Pietiäinen  (MSc, PhD) is a senior scientist and a team leader at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM, HiLIFE, University of Helsinki, Finland). She is a co-director of EuroBioImaging -affiliated FIMM High Content Imaging and Analysis core unit (FIMM-HCA) and coordinator of FIMM undergraduate education strategy. Her research focuses on the functional precision medicine of solid tumors, including urological cancers and more recently, pediatric solid tumors, empowered by multidisciplinary team science and international cross-laboratory validation of assays (such as EU ERA PerMed COMPASS project). She is particularly dedicated to developing phenotypic imaging -based ex vivo drug testing of patient-derived cancer cells. 

Dr. Yana Pikman is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and attending physician in the hematological malignancy group at the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Hospital Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Her translational research program focuses on the: 1) implementation of clinical genomics, 2) characterization and validation of novel genomic findings, 3) development of biomarkers and correlative biology studies for early phase clinical trials, and 4) development of combination drug approaches for pediatric patients with acute leukemia. Her collaborative research program bridges the gap between basic and clinical research. She is the overall PI for the 15-institution LEAP Consortium Matched Targeted Therapy clinical trial, determining the feasibility of identifying actionable alterations with a matched therapy for pediatric patients with relapsed/refractory or high risk leukemias and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). The LEAP study is also identifying functional vulnerabilities in pediatric leukemia as well as developing pre-clinical patient-derived models, which she is using to test treatment hypotheses, with the goal of clinical translation to influence patient treatment or clinical trial development. Her work on targeting CDK4/6 in acute lymphoblastic leukemia has informed an ongoing pediatric clinical trial. 

Dr. Porkka received his medical degrees at the Universities of Turku and Helsinki in Finland. He has received clinical training in oncology, internal medicine and hematology.

Dr. Porkka`s research experience includes clinical epidemiology, clinical cancer research, human molecular genetics (genetic mapping of complex diseases), basic and applied cancer research on characterization of leukemia-specific proteins and ligands (post-doctoral visit at the Burnham Institute, La Jolla, USA).

Dr. Porkka`s current research interests relate to molecularly targeted therapies and immunotherapy of hematological malignancies. He has been the principal investigator in >40 Phase I-III clinical drug trials (academic and company-sponsored) on acute and chronic leukemias and performed closely linked translational science projects focusing on predictive biomarker discovery. He focuses on individualized therapy of relapsed acute leukemia and particularly interested in applying novel computational tools for integration and harmonization of deep disease profiling and clinical datasets residing in hospital datalakes for machine-assisted diagnostics, treatment selection and clinical trial matching.

Dr. Porkka is the principal investigator in the Finnish Hematology Registry and Biobank (FHRB; fhrb.fi), which is a national, population-based registry and biobanking effort commencing in 2011. He is the past chairman of the Finnish Hematology Association.

Dr. Porkka is an active member of the European Hematology Association (EHA), served in the EHA Board and Executive Board 2015-2022. He was the chair of the scientific program committee for the EHA annual meeting in 2020.

Prof. Porkka has more than 150 original publications in international peer reviewed journals, such as New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, Nature Medicine, Nature Genetics, Cancer Discovery, PNAS, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Blood, and Leukemia.

Bo Porse is a Professor at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He did his PhD at the University of Copenhagen, and joined Claus Nerlov´s group for his postdoc. In 2001 he became the head of the Section of Gene Therapy Research at Copenhagen University Hospital, before taking up the directorship at the Finsen Laboratory in 2011. In 2018, he was one of the founders of the DanStem-integrated “Program of Translational Hematology” and became the head of the program in 2019. Dr. Porse is interested in stem cells in normal and malignant hematopoiesis where he explores the cross-talk between epigenetics and transcriptional control. By combining large-scale analyses of patient material and refined mouse models, he aims to gain fundamental insights into normal and malignant stem cell biology with constitute a framework for ongoing and future translational efforts.

Ilya Shmulevich received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, in 1997. His graduate research was in the area of nonlinear signal processing, with a focus on the theory and design of nonlinear digital filters, Boolean algebra, lattice theory, and applications to music pattern recognition. From 1997-1998, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Nijmegen Institute for Cognition and Information at the University of Nijmegen (now Radboud University) and National Research Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands, where he studied computational models of music perception and recognition, focusing on tonality induction and rhythm complexity. In 1998-2000, he worked as a senior researcher at the Tampere International Center for Signal Processing at the Signal Processing Laboratory in Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland. While in Tampere, he did research in nonlinear systems, image recognition and classification, image correspondence, computational learning theory, multiscale and spectral methods, and statistical signal processing.

This background proved to be fruitful for undertaking problems in computational biology at a time when genomic technologies were beginning to produce large amounts of data. In 2001, he joined the Department of Pathology at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center as an Assistant Professor and held an adjunct faculty appointment in the Department of Statistics in Rice University. He and his colleagues developed statistical approaches for cancer classification, diagnosis, and prognosis, and applied them to the study of metastasis, cancer progression, and tumor heterogeneity for multiple different cancer types. He co-developed the model class of probabilistic Boolean networks (PBNs), which has been applied to the study of gene regulatory networks in cancer.

Dr. Shmulevich joined the ISB faculty in 2005 where he is currently a Professor. Dr. Shmulevich directed a Genome Data Analysis Center within The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) consortium. He also directed one of three NCI Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots, which is now operating as an NCI Cancer Genomics Cloud Resource (isb-cgc.org).

Dr. Shmulevich’s research interests include theoretical studies of complex systems, including information theoretic approaches, as well as the application of image processing and analysis to high-throughput cellular imaging. His main research interest is multiscale modeling for cancer therapy.

Dr. Shmulevich is a co-author or co-editor of six books in the areas of computational biology. He holds Affiliate Professor appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering and Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington and has held affiliate appointments in the Department of Signal Processing in Tampere University of Technology, Finland and in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering in Strathclyde University, Glasgow, UK.

Dr Raija Silvennoinen has a research position at Helsinki University Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center Hematology and at Kuopio University Hospital. She is working as a consulting hematologist at Kainuu Central Hospital and Iisalmi and Varkaus Hospitals. She is a Principal Investigator of Finnish Myeloma Group and has led three investigator initiated multiple myeloma trials in Finland and one in Nordic -Baltic area. She is a member of the Board of Nordic Myeloma Study Group and a member of Internal Myeloma Society and International Myeloma Working Group. 

Sigrid S. Skånland received her PhD from the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at University of Oslo in 2009, under the supervision of Prof. Kirsten Sandvig. She was then awarded with a long-term EMBO fellowship to do her post-doctoral training in the Molecular Signaling Group of Prof. Ivan Dikic (2009-2011) at the University Hospital Frankfurt, Germany. From 2011, Skånland has been affiliated with the research group of Prof. Kjetil Taskén, first at the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine in Norway (NCMM), currently at Oslo University Hospital. Here, she has established her own research group focusing on functional precision medicine in haematologic cancers, in particular the B-cell malignancy chronic lymphocytic leukemia. By performing functional analyses including ex vivo drug sensitivity screening and single cell signaling analyses, her aim is to identify biomarker signatures that can predict treatment outcomes for the individual patient. In 2020, Skånland was awarded a prestigious European Commission ERA PerMed research grant on tailoring the targeted treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Berend Snijder is Assistant Professor of Molecular Systems Biology at the ETH Zurich in Switzerland, supported among others by a professorship from the Swiss National Science Foundation, an ERC Starting Grant, and public/private partnerships with pharmaceutical companies. Berend received his MSc degree in Biomedical Sciences with honors from the University of Amsterdam, and performed his PhD studies working on image-based screening and cell-to-cell variability analyses in the lab of Lucas Pelkmans at the IMSB, ETH Zurich, for which he was awarded the ETH Medal. For his postdoctoral studies he joined the lab of Giulio Superti-Furga at the Center for Molecular Medicine in Vienna, where he developed an image-based ex vivo drug screening platform called Pharmacoscopy, for which he received a Young Investigator Award from the Austrian Society for Hematology and Medical Oncology. There, he co-founded the biotech startup Allcyte GmbH. Allcyte has been acquired by Exscientia in 2021. The Snijder Lab is further developing and applying pharmacoscopy, striving to improve treatment selection in cancer and gain systems-level insights into why patients respond differently to medications. Please see https://snijderlab.org for more information.

Philipp B. Staber, MD, PhD, is an Associate Professor, Director of the lymphoproliferative disease program, and an Attending Physician at the Division of Hematology & Hemostaseology at the Medical University of Vienna. 
After obtaining his MD, Dr Staber served as an intern, and resident in internal medicine at Medical University of Graz. He completed his PhD in Graz, and at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, US. From 2009 to 2014 he conducted a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of Harvard Medical School. He completed his fellowship in hematology and oncology at Medical University of Graz and Medical University of Vienna. 
In the last five years at Medical University of Vienna Philipp Staber started his own research laboratory with currently 13 members, published several papers in high-impact journals, and raised € 6 million of research funding. He has an active translational research program focusing on studying functional switches in his laboratory, and a clinical research group leading clinical trials to evaluate novel therapeutic strategies and functional precision medicine approaches in patients with lymphoma, T-PLL, CLL and other hematologic malignancies.

Dr. Szegezdi is an associate professor in biochemistry at the University of Galway (formerly known as National University of Ireland, Galway). She received her PhD degree in 2000 at the University of Debrecen, Hungary in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology after which she took on a postdoctoral researcher position at the National University of Ireland, Galway (now University of Galway) studying cellular stress responses and regulation of cell death signalling pathways. Since 2010, ES established her own research group at the University of Galway. At present she is the co-ordinator of the Doctorate School in Integrative Genomics (EU-H2020-MSCA-COFUND- 945385) and the DISCOVER H2020-RISE programme. She also leads Blood Cancer Network Ireland, a nationwide research network for blood cancer research in Ireland, focusing on pre-clinical research, biobanking, early-stage clinical trials and registry in blood cancers. Research in her laboratory focuses on the molecular wiring of cancer cells and the tumour-microenvironment driving drug resistance at single cell level using genomic, biochemical and cell biology assays. A particular focus is how genetic heterogeneity drives drug resistance and how interactions between malignant cells and the tumour microenvironment evolve with disease progression underpinning drug resistance and leukaemia relapse.  

Kjetil Taskén (born 1965, M.D., Ph.D.) was appointed Professor of Medicine at University of Oslo (UiO) in 2001 and has since 2018 served as Head of the Institute of Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital (OUH) where he is also Group Leader for the Cell Signaling and Immune Regulation Group (approx. 20 people) in the Dept. of Cancer Immunology. He was the Director of the Biotechnology Centre of Oslo, UiO from 2003 to 2016 and the founding Director of Centre for Molecular Medicine Norway (NCMM), Nordic EMBL Partnership, UiO where he served from 2008 to 2018. He established and directed the national infrastructure for academic chemical biology and drug screening (Nor-Openscreen, coupled to EU-Openscreen) and was the national director for EATRIS (translational medicine). More recently he has been key in building the national cancer precision medicine initiative for Norway (InPreD molecular diagnostics infrastructure, IMPRESS-Norway national clinical trial and CONNECT public-private partnership) and is Director of the OUH Centre for Precision Cancer Medicine. He is a partner in the K.G. Jebsen Centre for B Cell Malignancies. He has served or serves on a number of evaluation panels, SABs and Editorial Boards, including ERC StG panel LS3 (2014-20), the IMI Scientific Committee (2017-22), and Cancer Research UK New agents committee (2019-). Taskén received the Anders Jahre Medical Prize for younger scientists in 2002 (Nordic award), and won the King Olav V’s Prize for Cancer Research (national life-achievement award) in 2016. He was elected to the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in 2005. Taskén is author of >290 publications and inventor > 20 patents (>14,000 citations, h-index =62). Current research is in tumor immune evasion mechanisms and immune regulation and in functional precision medicine and drug screening for different solid and blood cancers.

Markus Vähä-Koskela is a senior researcher with a PhD in applied virology. He has worked with preclinical cancer models to evaluate the anti-cancer potency of targeted small molecules, oncolytic viruses and immunotherapies. Since 2015, Markus has worked at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) as a project manager, specializing on biomarker discovery and development of novel cancer treatments in hematological and gastrointestinal cancers. Markus also collaborates with computational experts to build new tools and databases for cancer precision medicine.

Krister Wennerberg, Ph.D. is a professor at the Biotech Research and Innovation centre at University of Copenhagen since 2017. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Uppsala University, Sweden. He received his postdoctoral training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. Following his postdoc, he worked as an R&D scientist at Cytoskeleton, Inc. and then as an assay development group leader at Southern Research Institute in Birmingham, AL, USA. In 2010, he joined the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), University of Helsinki as a FIMM-EMBL Group Leader where his efforts in functional precision medicine started. Focusing on acute myeloid leukemia and high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma, his research is centered around the use of functional precision medicine approaches to understand mechanisms of drug sensitivity and resistance in individual cancers and the subsets of cells that persist current therapies and drive cancer recurrence. Through this knowledge, he aims to identify new effective precision cancer medicine strategies that can be explored in clinical trials.

Dr. Janghee Woo is a senior clinical program lead at Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research (NIBR) and a clinical assistant professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. He is leading the early clinical development of malignant hematology programs and translational hematology research in NIBR. His research focuses on enhancing the molecular characterization of hematologic disorders and early therapeutic intervention for myeloid disorders, with a particular interest in clonal hematopoiesis and early myeloid malignancy. Prior to joining Novartis, he was an attending physician in the hematologic malignancy clinic and blood/marrow transplant center at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and the University of Washington (UW). He obtained a Ph.D. at  Harvard University in 2011 after receiving an MD degree at Seoul National University in 2004. He completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Albert Einstein Medical Center in 2014,  followed by Hematology/Oncology fellowship at Fred Hutch/UW in 2017. He was an NCI Paul Calabresi Scholar and a recipient of the Celgene Hematology Award and Evans MDS Young Investigator Award.

Dr. Jun J. Yang is currently a Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He is also a member of the Hematological Malignancies Program of St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center. His research program focuses on pharmacogenomics of pediatric cancers, especially acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). His group has led studies to identify genomic causes of a variety of drug resistance and toxicity phenotypes in children with ALL, many of which have been clinical implemented, as described in his publications in JAMA, Nat Genet, Lancet Oncology, J Natl Cancer Inst, J Clin Oncol etc. More recently, Dr. Yang has developed an imaging-based pharmacotyping platform to comprehensive define drug sensitivity profiles ex vivo for all leukemia patients at St. Jude, which are integrated with extensive genomic profiling to enable functional precision medicine.

I am a senior physician in charge of the lymphoma program in the Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology at the University Hospital Zurich. After training in Freiburg, London, Philadelphia and Ulm, I moved to the University Hospital, German Cancer Research Center and National Center for Tumor Diseases in Heidelberg, where I developed a translational research program on precision medicine for lymphoma. In 2015, I became a full professor at the University of Heidelberg and a Division Head at the German Cancer Research Center in 2017. Our research aims to advance the understanding of molecular and genetic lesions in the pathogenesis of blood cancer subtypes and use this understanding to exploit it therapeutically in clinical care. For my work on precision medicine in leukemia and lymphoma, I received multiple academic prizes including the Franziska Kolb Prize (Leukemia Research), the Hans‐Jochen‐Illiger prize (Cancer Research) and the Paul‐Martini Prize (Clinical Pharmacology).
Over the last years, my group has focused on understanding the governing principles underlying drug response and developed practice changing use of novel drugs in blood cancer. We use high‐throughput drug screening and omics‐profiling to leverage precision medicine in blood cancer with a strong focus on lymphoid malignancies.