Plenary Sessions

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Sunday, September 26

A headshot of Dr. Regina Barzilay.Opening Plenary Session
2021 Wallace H. Coulter Lectureship Award
Artificial Intelligence in the Clinic: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Opportunities

Regina Barzilay, PhD
School of Engineering Distinguished Professor for AI and Health, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department
Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

By nature, many of the traditional clinical tasks such as risk assessment, prediction of treatment efficacy, and forecasting patient trajectory can be thought of as prediction problems. Given sufficient amounts of patient data with outcomes, a machine learning model can make predictions which often exceed in accuracy human experts. However, to make these tools more applicable in the clinical setting, we need to augment artificial intelligence models with the ability to explain their decisions to humans, and assess their uncertainty.

Monday, September 27

Dr. Margaret LiuCOVID-19: Vaccines and the Tango of Viral Evolution and Host Immune Responses

Margaret Liu, MD, DSchc, MDhc, FISV
CEO, PAX Therapeutics
Chairman of the Board, International Society for Vaccines

SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus that easily mutates; mutants that are not suppressed by the immune responses generated from prior infection or vaccination can then become dominant strains. Different types of immune responses have varying efficacy against different strains of a virus. From diseases such as influenza, we know that some antibodies are very strain-specific, while others can neutralize different strains. Antibody targets on a virus typically are proteins on the surface of the virus, and antibodies that target different regions of a protein (like the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2) can differ in their neutralization potency and the breadth of viruses that they can neutralize. T cell responses, unlike antibodies, are not directly activated by the virus protein, but rather by epitopes (small peptides from the virus) that are bound to MHC molecules on the surface of cells.

Vaccines that depend solely on antibody responses either need to be able to neutralize newly arising strains of a virus, or, as is the case with influenza, vaccines need to be remade annually to try to correspond to the current clinical circulating strains.

Tuesday, September 28

Dr. Bonnie RamseyThe Remarkable Journey from Bench to Bedside: Changing Lives for Individuals with Cystic Fibrosis

Bonnie Ramsey, MD
Endowed Chair in Cystic Fibrosis Research, Vice Chair for Research, Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine

Over the past 30 years, there has been a remarkable expansion in understanding of the genetic basis, molecular biology, and pathophysiology of cystic fibrosis (CF) resulting from loss of cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR) protein function. The most extraordinary accomplishment has been the international effort of patients, families, clinicians, scientists, and non-profit foundations to translate this scientific knowledge into approved therapies, termed CFTR modulators, that are transforming the lives of individuals with CF. This session will include the perspective of a clinician scientist who participated in the clinical development of this class of drugs and a person with CF who will describe the impact of this therapy on daily life. The CF story should serve as a model for any rare genetic disease group in developing novel therapeutic approaches.

Caley MauchLiving with Cystic Fibrosis: The Positive Impact of CFTR Modulator Therapy

Caley Mauch
Cystic Fibrosis Patient and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Public Speaker

Wednesday, September 29

Dr. Holden ThorpCurating and Documenting Research During Chaos: Lessons from COVID-19 and Beyond

Holden Thorp, PhD
Editor-in-Chief, Science Family of Journals
American Association for the Advancement of Science

The COVID-19 pandemic led to enormous scientific progress in a short time. The development of the vaccines and the understanding of the virus happened at unprecedented rates and with great success. However, the effects of the pandemic have been dramatic on the scientific workforce, on the speed with which publishing has occurred, and on the ability to build public trust in science. The Editor-in-Chief of the Science family of journals has an unusual perspective on this since outstanding research flows through the journals but also because the news and commentary sections of Science deal with the communications and policy arena. The scientific community needs to come together to face the enormous challenges posed by the need for greater trust in science in the public in the U.S. and beyond.

Thursday, September 30

Dr. Wilbur LamClinical Translation of Engineered Microsystems: From COVID-19 to Hematology and Hemostasis

Wilbur A. Lam, MD, PhD
W. Paul Bowers Research Chair
Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Chief Innovation Officer, Pediatric Technology Center
Emory University/Georgia Institute of Technology

Dr. Lam’s unique interdisciplinary approach to studying hematologic processes involves the development and application of microsystems technologies, microfluidics, and cellular mechanics to advance diagnostics and treatment. In this session, Dr. Lam will focus on updates in microsystems-based COVID-19 diagnostics and his own lab’s recent advances in miniaturization of diagnostic platforms, with a focus on hematology and hemostasis/thrombosis.

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