The research by Miguel Soares at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Lisbon revolves around understanding the balance between inflammation, immunity and disease tolerance. Immunity evolved in multicellular organisms to limit the negative impact caused by invading microbes. The immune system cansense and target pathogenic microorganisms for containment, destruction or expulsion. Multicellular organisms also evolved another defense strategy to preserve organismal fitness without exerting a direct negative impact on microorganisms. This defense strategy, referred to as disease tolerance, relies on evolutionarily conserved stress and damage responses that limit the damage to tissues, caused by pathogenic microorganisms or indirectly by immune-aggression. Miguel Soares has revealed how basic metabolic pathways and commensal micro-organisms control disease tolerance to sepsis and malaria infections. With evidence mounting that much of the pathology in severe Covid19-patients is caused by excessive immunity, a mechanistic understanding of disease tolerance may lead the way to unorthodox novel treatments for current and future viral pandemics.
Hanneke Schuitemaker is the Global Head of Viral Vaccine Discovery and Translational Medicine at Johnson & Johnson‘s Janssen Vaccines & Prevention, and a Professor of Virology at the Amsterdam University Medical Center. In her position at Janssen, she has been on the lookout for emerging epidemics and has overseen the development of a universal flu vaccine as well as vaccines against Ebola, HIV, RSV, Zika virus and now SARS-CoV2. During this time, a revolution in vaccine development has taken place. Traditionally a lengthy process that could easily take 10 years, new vaccines are now designed, produced and tested at breakneck speed, with the recent FDA and EMA approvals having come within a mere 8 months after the first steps were taken. Although the well characterized adenovirus-based platform chosen for the SARS-CoV2 vaccine initially allowed less speedy development than possible with the new generation of RNA-vaccines, this disadvantage is now about to be offset by the fact that a single shot suffices to elicit effective immunity. With new pandemics increasingly likely, Hanneke Schuitemaker is at the basis of strategic decisions that have far reaching impact on global health and society as we know it.
Professor KY Yuen has a distinguished history in researching and combatting pandemics. His 1059 publications with over 66,000 citations are mainly related to the research of novel microbes or emerging infectious disease agents, which has led his team to the discovery of over 60 novel disease agents, 10 bacteria, 4 fungi and 2 parasites. During the outbreak of avian influenza virus H5N1 in 1997 in Hong Kong, Professor KY Yuen was the first to report in the Lancet about the unusual clinical severity and high mortality of patients infected with this virus, which could be identified by the in-house designed molecular test at his laboratory. During the outbreak of SARS in 2003, he led his team in the discovery of the SARS coronavirus and was honoured as one of the Asian heroes of the year by Time Asia Magazine. He has advised China and led the Hong Kong Public Health response to SARS-CoV-2. Yuen Kwok-yung is the Henry Fok Professor in Infectious Diseases and Chair of Infectious Diseases of Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong. He graduated from the Medical School at the University of Hong Kong and was awarded State Scientific and Technological Progress Award (Special class), the Justice of Peace by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China, and Gold & Silver Bauhinia Star Awardee of the HKSAR. He is also Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (Lond, Edin), Surgeons(Glas) and Pathologists(UK), Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (Basic Medicine and Health) Founding Member of Hong Kong Academy of Sciences.
Professor L. Zitvogel, MD (clinical oncology), PhD (tumor immunology), PU-PH University Paris Saclay (Clinical Biology), graduated in Medical Oncology in 1992.
She started her scientific career when she was at the University of Pittsburgh, US.
She became Research Director at Institut National de la Santé et Recherche Médicale U1015, and Scientific Director of the Immuno-Oncology program at Gustave Roussy, the largest cancer Center in Europe.
She has been actively contributing to the field of cancer immunology and immunotherapy. She pioneered the concept of immunogenic cell death and discovered the critical impact of gut microbiota in cancer immunosurveillance and therapies.
She was the recipient of many awards including the French National Academy of Medicine, the Translation Research INSERM Prize, the ASCO-SITC, the Brupbacher Awards 2017, the ESMO Immuno-Oncology Award 2017, the Baillet Latour Prize 2019 and the Griffuel Prize 2019.