Current Plenary Speakers

Prof. Jennifer Elisseef, Johns Hopkins University
More information will be available soon.

Prof. Melissa Little, University of Melbourne

Professor Melissa Little, BSc PhD GAICD, FAAHMS, FAA is the Theme Director of Cell Biology at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia. She is internationally recognised for her work on the systems biology of kidney development. For more than two decades, her work has investigated the molecular and cellular basis of kidney development and disease. This fundamental research has underpinned her pioneering studies into potential regenerative therapies for kidney disease. As a result, her team have developed approaches for directing the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells to human kidney organoids. Her group are applying this knowledge to disease modelling, drug screening, cell therapy and tissue engineering. Professor Little is an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow at MCRI, Program Leader of Stem Cells Australia and Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Melbourne. Melissa is also President of the Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research, Vice-President of the Board of ISSCR, and immediate past President of ASSCR. A Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, Professor Little’s work has been recognised by many awards, including the GlaxoSmithKline Award for Research Excellence (2005), AAS Gottschalk Medal in Medical Sciences (2004), Eisenhower Fellowship (2006), ANZSCDB Presidents Medal (2015), Boerhaave Professorship, Leiden University (2015), UNSW Eureka Prize (2016) and the NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship Biomedical (2018), Honorary Doctorate, Leiden University (2019) and the prestigious Alfred Newton Richards Award (2019).

Prof. Shruti Naik, New York University

Dr. Shruti Naik is an Assistant Professor at New York University School of Medicine. She received her Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Pennsylvania-National Institutes of Health Graduate Partnership Program. There she discovered that normal bacteria living on our skin, known as the commensal microbiota, educate the immune system and help protect us from harmful pathogens. Her work unveiled how immune cells work with our microbial partners to prevent disease and has opened the door for microbiota-based therapies in the skin. As a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Fellow at the Rockefeller University, Naik found that epithelial stem cells can harbor a memory of inflammation which boosts their regenerative abilities. The Naik lab studies the dynamic interactions between immune cells, epithelial cells, and microbes in the skin with a focus on 3 major areas of research:  Tissue regeneration and cancer, host-microbe interactions, and early in life immunity. 
Naik is a strong advocate for increasing diversity in science and promoting the advancement of underrepresented and marginalized groups. For her research and advocacy, she has received numerous awards including the Regeneron Award for Creative Innovation, the L’Oréal For Women in Science Award, the Damon Runyon Dale F. Frey Award for Breakthrough Scientist, the Sartorius and Science Prize Finalist for Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapy, the Tri- Institution Breakout Award, the Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists and the International Takeda Innovators in Science Award.


Prof. Noriyuki Tsumaki, Kyoto University

Noriyuki Tsumaki is currently Professor at the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), Kyoto University, Japan, where he researches cartilage biology pathology, and regeneration using cell reprogramming technologies. He earned his M.D. from Osaka University, Japan, and joined the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery there in 1989. He completed his Ph.D. also at Osaka University in 1996 and soon after joined Yoshi Yamada’s laboratory at the National Institute of Dental Research, N.I.H., U.S.A., as a visiting fellow. He returned to Osaka University as Assistant Professor in 1998 and was promoted to Associate Professor at the Department of Bone and Cartilage Biology in 2007. Noriyuki joined CiRA as Professor in 2011.

Prof. Peter Zandstra, University of British Columbia
More information will be available soon.