30th Annual Meeting of the Society for Virology

25.3-27.3.2020 • Berlin

30th Annual Meeting of the Society for Virology

25.3-27.3.2020 • Berlin

Congress details



Plenary speakers

Professor of Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine

Roberto Cattaneo received his undergraduate degree from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and his PhD from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, where he characterized the transcription of hepatitis B virus.  As post-doc at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, he discovered adenosine-to-inosine hypermutation of viral RNA, and messenger RNA editing by polymerase stuttering. In 1991 Dr. Cattaneo received the Swiss Talents for Academic Research and Teaching award.  

At Mayo Dr. Cattaneo studies how viruses take control of cells, and how they spread.  Fundamental research highlights include mechanistic analyses of receptor interactions and membrane fusion, and the discovery of a “host exit receptor” explaining why measles is the most contagious human virus.  Dr. Cattaneo group also generates vectored viruses that can deliver genes and treat disease, in particular different types of cancer.  In 2004 he established the Virology and Gene Therapy track of Mayo Graduate School.    

Dr. Cattaneo has authored about 150 primary publications, about 40 reviews, and holds several patents. He serves on the editorial board of several journals, and has held leadership positions in the American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy and the American Society for Virology.  His honors include state-of-the-art lectures at national and international congresses of Microbiology, Virology, and Gene Therapy.  Several of his students and postdoctoral fellows are full professors at Universities in Europe and North America.

Andreas Diefenbach is Professor and Chair of Microbiology at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Berlin Institute of Health

He also is a Senior Group Leader at the German Rheumatism Research Center. His lab studies how the immune system coordinates adaptation of multicellular organisms to their environments (e.g., microbiota, nutrients). The lab has particular interest in the role of Innate Lymphoid Cells (ILC) in these processes. Another focus of his research is the transcriptional and epigenetic control of cell fate decisions in the innate immune system.
Andreas studied Medicine at the University of Erlangen and graduated in Microbiology and Immunology (1998). He obtained postdoctoral training at the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of California Berkeley (1999-2002). Prior to joining Charité, he was an Assistant Professor at the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, New York University (2003-2006), a Full Professor at the University of Freiburg (2006-2013) and Professor and Chair of Medical Microbiology at the Johannes-Gutenberg-University Mainz (2013-2016).
As a Physician Scientist, Andreas has been supported by grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the European Research Council, and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). He is the coordinator of the DFG Priority Program 1937 (“Innate Lymphoid Cells”). His numerous awards include the Main Scientific Prize of the German Society of Hygiene and Microbiology. He was a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences USA & Alexander-von-Humboldt-Stiftung and is an elected member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. Since 2017, he is recognized as a Highly Cited Researchers (Clarivate Analytics) in the field of Immunology.

Ron Fouchier is professor in Molecular Virology at Erasmus MC Rotterdam.

He obtained a PhD in 1995 for HIV/AIDS research at the University of Amsterdam and continued HIV work at the University of Pennsylvania as postdoc. Late 1998 he started a Molecular Virology research line on respiratory viruses, in particular influenza, at Erasmus MC. His team identified or characterized various “new” viruses, such as human metapneumovirus, human coronavirus NL63, SARS coronavirus, MERS coronavirus, and influenza A virus subtype H16. Currently, his research is focused on respiratory viruses of humans and animals, antigenic drift, and influenza virus zoonoses, transmission and pandemics. Fouchier is elected member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW), the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW) and Academia Europeae. In 2006 he received the Heine-Medin award of the European Society for Clinical Virology and in 2013 the Huibregtsen award for top innovative science with societal impact. Fouchier is a web-of-science Highly Cited authors, with >400 peer-reviewed publications, cited >35,000 times (HI 90).

Christine O’Connor is an Assistant Professor of Molecular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute in the Department of Genomic Medicine.

She obtained her PhD in Microbiology in 2006 from the University of Virginia, where she studied the gammaherpesvirus, KSHV. She continued herpesvirus research, completing two post-doctoral fellowships at Princeton University and the Cleveland Clinic, focusing on cytomegalovirus-encoded GPCRs. Prior to joining the faculty at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. O’Connor spent two years at the University at Buffalo-SUNY as an Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology. Her lab’s current focus is to understand the mechanisms underlying CMV latency and reactivation, with a particular interest in the contributions of the viral-encoded GPCRs to these phases of infection. Dr. O’Connor serves as an academic editor for PLOS ONE and as an editorial board member for the Journal of Virology. She has also received many accolades and was recently named as a Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D Scholar Finalist.

Prof Rao is a renowned structural biologist whose research focus is on the study of pathogenic infectious agents. His work has provided ground-breaking insights into viral infection, replication and assembly, and into energy and metabolite transport, drug resistance and cell wall synthesis in Mycobacteria tuberculosis. His most recent work on Africa Swine Fever Virus, picornaviruses, herpesvirus, Mycobacteria tuberculosis provided much-needed structural data for the design and development of new anti-viral and anti-TB drugs. To date, Prof Rao has published 360 peer-reviewed papers in international scientific journals with over 16,000 citations.    Like most of elder generation pioneering Chinese scholars, Professor Rao’s career is tightly linked to UK collaborations, which emanated from his research at Oxford University. He is one of the most successful and influential scientists of his generation who returned to China from the UK. He has actively promoted international scientific exchanges and cooperation between China and the rest of the world. Furthermore, he is a leading advocate for scientific research and education within China. This is evidenced by his membership of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2003, Third World Academy of Science (TWAS) in 2004, the International Eurasian Academy of Sciences in 2014 and the Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2015.   He has also contributed significantly to the governance of academia with his scientific discipline. He has served as the President of Nankai University, one of the top 10 universities in China (2006–2011), and as the Director-General of the Biophysics Institute, Chinese Academy of Science (2003–2007). He is currently President of China Union of Life Science Societies, President of the Biophysical Society of China (2003–2018) and President of the International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics (2014–2017). At home and abroad, Professor Rao enjoys a high academic reputation, and is an inspiration to his colleagues, collaborators, staff and students.

Marilyn Roossinck is a Professor of Virus Ecology at Penn State University.

She obtained her PhD for work on Hepatitis B Virus from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and did postdoctoral work at Cornell University in plant virology. In 1991 she began a faculty position at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, a private research foundation focusing on Plant Biology, where she continued her work on plant viruses.  She spent several years focusing on virus evolution, beneficial viruses of plants and fungi, and she later pioneered work on virus discovery in wild plants.  She moved to the Penn State Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics in 2011, where she continued work on plant and fungal virus ecology.  She currently serves as editor for Advances in Virus Research, mSphere, and Virus Evolution, and is the Evolution and Ecology Councilor for the American Society for Virology.

I am a population geneticist studying human evolutionary history.

A particular interest is in reconstructing population structure and dispersals of both ancient humans and their associated pathogens, to understand how their interaction has shaped their genetic diversity. In order to achieve this goal, I use computational and statistical modeling of large-scale genomics datasets, combining both present-day and ancient DNA.

I obtained a Master’s of Science in Biotechnology from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Vienna, Austria in 2004, and a PhD in Genetics from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain, in 2010. Between 2010 and 2014 I was a postdoctoral scholar at the Department of Genetics, Stanford University, USA. Since then I have held an appointment as Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Peter Simmonds is Professor in Virology in the Nuffield Department of Medicine and Senior Fellow in University College, Oxford.

He graduated in Medicine and completed his College of Pathology exams in 1995. He was appointed as Professor of Molecular Virology at the University of Edinburgh (1997) and Professor of Virology in Oxford in 2017. Following a successful defence of his PhD in Edinburgh, he has worked primarily in the area of virus genetics, evolution and pathogenesis, with particular interests in drivers of virus sequence change, and effects of structural and compositional parameters of RNA virus genomes on recognition and induction of innate antiviral responses. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Committee for Taxonomy of Viruses, and plays an active role in the development of new classification approaches for the vast numbers of newly discovered viruses arising from new sequencing technologies. He has an ongoing research / development programme in clinical virology in diagnostic assay development and assessment of the risk of newly discovered human viruses to human health. He is a member of the UK National Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) and the UK Panel for Elimination of Polio, Rubella and Measles. He has been awarded the Gardner Lectureship, European Society for Clinical Virology, Sept, 2015 and elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE). Simmonds is a web-of-science Highly Cited author, with >520 peer-reviewed publications, cited >52,000 times and an h index of 116 (Google Scholar).

My research focus is to design and develop analytical, computational, and mathematical methods to understand the fundamental processes that govern the evolution of influenza viruses.

The aim is to translate this understanding into the prediction of possible future antigenic variants to guide next generation influenza vaccines. My work is highly interdisciplinary and involves substantial global collaboration with experimental virologists, immunologists, epidemiologists, clinicians and vets to quantify the selection pressures on influenza viruses to better understand their evolutionary dynamics, and to inform control strategies.

Sean P. J. Whelan Ph. D received his B.Sc. degree in Microbiology and Biochemistry, from the University of Birmingham, and a Ph.D. in Molecular Virology from the University of Reading.

Following post-doctoral training at the University of Alabama at Birmingham he started his own laboratory at Harvard Medical School, becoming Professor and Head of the Program in Virology. He joined Washington University in Saint Louis in 2020 as the Marvin A Brennecke Professor and Chair of Molecular Microbiology. He is a member of the American Academy of Microbiology, an Editor of Fields Virology, Virology, PLoS Pathogens and serves on the editorial board of Journal of Virology. He pioneered reverse genetic approaches to manipulate the genome of vesicular stomatitis virus, identified cellular receptors for several emerging viruses including Ebola and Lassa and solved the atomic structures of vesicular stomatitis virus and rabies virus polymerases.

Susanne Herold (Giessen/DE)
Karla A. Kirkegaard (Stanford, CA/US)