The NIH Cardiovascular Bioengineering Symposium, 1-2 March 2019, Sydney, Australia

Invited Speakers

We're delighted that so many high-profile speakers, both local and international, have accepted our invitation to speak at this year's symposium. Details of our distinguished speaker panel are given below.

Prof Philippe Menasché, MD, PhD

Dr Philippe Menasché is currently a clinical cardiac surgeon at the Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou, Professor of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at the University of Paris Descartes, and co-leader of an INSERM (National Institute of Health and Medical Research) team devoted to cell therapy of cardiovascular diseases. He also has a part-time affiliation with the Department of Biomedical Engineering of the University of Alabama in Birmingham. The group has a long-standing interest in stem cells for the treatment of heart failure and has therefore developed small and large animal (including nonhuman primate) models of myocardial infarction and dilated cardiomyopathy. While the initial research has focused, both experimentally and clinically, on the transplantation of skeletal myoblasts, it has then moved towards the combination of cardiac progenitors derived from human embryonic stem cells (ESC) with a tissue engineering-based construct. The first-in-man trial testing this cell-loaded patch and primarily focused on feasibility and safety has now been successfully completed. In parallel, mechanistic studies have unraveled the predominant role of paracrine signaling and its mediation by the cell-derived extracellular vesicle-enriched secretome. Consequently, the group is now shifting its research towards a-cellular cell therapy based on the exclusive use of the secretome (isolated from pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac progenitor cells) with the objective of further streamlining the clinical translatability of this myocardial repair strategy.

Prof Michael Laflamme, MD, PhD

Dr. Michael Laflamme is the Robert McEwen Chair in Cardiac Regenerative Medicine at University Health Network and a Senior Scientist in the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute. After obtaining an undergraduate degree in Physics at Georgetown University, Dr. Laflamme completed the Medical Scientist (MD/PhD) Training Program at Emory University, where he studied the regulation of calcium homeostasis by beta-adrenergic signaling in adult ventricular cardiomyocytes. After residency in Anatomic Pathology and subspecialty training in cardiovascular pathology at the University of Washington Medical Center, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Charles Murry, investigating the role of exogenous and endogenous stem cells in myocardial repair. His independent research career has been largely focused on the development of cell therapies based on human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), and his laboratory has made a number of important contributions in this area including 1) protocols to guide the differentiation of hESCs and induced pluripotent stem cells into cardiomyocytes and specialized cardiac subtypes (e.g. ventricular myocytes versus pacemaker cells), 2) the first proof-of-concept study showing that the transplantation of hESC-CMs can “remuscularize” scar tissue and improve left ventricular contractile function in rodent MI models, and 3) the first direct demonstration that grafts of hESC-CMs can electrically couple with host myocardium following transplantation in injured hearts. Dr. Laflamme has been the recipient of honors including the Society for Cardiovascular Pathology Young Investigator Award, the Perkins Coie Award for Discovery, the ASGCT Outstanding New Investigator Award, and the UHN Co-Inventor of the Year. He is also a board-certified physician in Anatomic Pathology and practices diagnostic cardiovascular pathology.

Prof Nenad Bursac, PhD

Dr. Nenad Bursac is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Cell Biology, and Medicine at Duke University and one of the pioneers and leaders of the cardiac and skeletal muscle tissue engineering fields. In 1999, as a member of Dr. Robert Langer’ group at MIT, he demonstrated the first engineering of functional heart tissues using mammalian cardiomyocytes. His postdoctoral research with Dr. Leslie Tung at Johns Hopkins University resulted in new methods to control architecture and function of 2- and 3-dimensional heart cell cultures. Currently, Dr. Bursac's research involves use of cell, tissue, and genetic engineering techniques and electrophysiological and biomechanical studies to advance fields of somatic and stem cell based therapies for heart and skeletal muscle disease. For the last 20 years, Dr. Bursac’s work has pushed the boundaries of the field by demonstrating a number of “firsts”, including: the first use of bioreactors for functional cardiac tissue engineering; the first studies of electrophysiology and arrhythmias in engineered heart tissues; the first engineering of anisotropic cardiac tissue patch and methods to control patch anisotropy; the most functionally advanced mouse cardiac tissue patch; the first engineering of highly functional, large (40mmx40mm) heart tissues from human pluripotent stem cells; first engineering of functional human skeletal muscle tissues from primary and pluripotent stem cells; and first engineering of biosynthetic excitable cells and tissues for studies and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias and heart failure. Dr. Bursac has authored more than 100 scientific manuscripts, presented over 120 invited talks, and has mentored more than 30 PhD students and postdoctoral and medical fellows. He co-directs Regeneration Next Initiative at Duke University. He is a recipient of the Stansell Family Distinguished Research Award, Mendel Center Award, and Stem Cell Innovation Award. In 2014, Dr. Bursac was the president of the North Carolina Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Society. Since 2015, Dr. Bursac has been a Fellow of American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and since 2018 a Fellow of Biomedical Engineering Society. Dr. Bursac has served on various NIH grant review panels and is a member of editorial boards of Nature Scientific Reports and NPJ Regenerative Medicine.

Prof Åsa Gustafsson, PhD

Åsa Gustafsson received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California San Diego in 2001. She did her Postdoctoral Fellowship (2001-2005) at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla. She is currently a Professor in the Skaggs School Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California San Diego and the Vice Chair of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. Her research is focused on understanding the molecular pathways that regulate mitochondrial structure, function and turnover in cardiac cells. Current research is focused on a) examining how the E3 ubiquitin ligase Parkin and mitophagy receptors (BNIP3, NIX, FUNDC1) regulates removal of mitochondria in cells; and b) determining the molecular mechanisms by which BCL-2 family proteins regulate mitochondrial function, morphology and turnover in cells. Dr. Gustafsson has received several awards such as the Outstanding Investigator Award from the International Society for Heart Research and the Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association. Her research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Tobacco Related Disease Research Program, and the American Heart Association.

A/Prof Enzo Porello, PhD

A/Prof Porrello received his PhD in Physiology from The University of Melbourne in 2009. He was subsequently awarded an NHMRC/NHF C.J. Martin postdoctoral fellowship to undertake training at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, USA, under the guidance of Prof. Eric Olson. A/Prof Porrello returned to Australia in 2012 to establish the Cardiac Regeneration Laboratory in the School of Biomedical Sciences at The University of Queensland. In 2017, he was recruited back to Melbourne to take up a joint appointment at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and The University of Melbourne where he currently heads the Cardiac Regeneration Laboratory and co-directs the Melbourne Children’s Centre for Cardiovascular Genomics and Regenerative Medicine (CardioRegen). A/Prof Porrello is supported by a co-funded NHMRC Career Development Fellowship and Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship, as well as grants from the NHMRC, ARC - Stem Cells Australia and The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. He is a member of the Editorial Boards of Circulation and PLoS One. A/Prof Porrello’s research on heart regeneration in the newborn has been recognized by a number of awards including the Metcalf Prize for Stem Cell Research, Heart Foundation Paul Korner Innovation Award, Heart Foundation Researcher of the Year and A.K. McIntyre Prize (Australian Physiological Society).

Prof Burns C. Blaxall, PhD, FAHA, FACC, FISHR, FAPS

Burns C. Blaxall, PhD, FAHA, FACC, FISHR, FAPS is a Professor of Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where he is the founding Director of the Center for Translational Fibrosis Research. His primary appointment is in the Heart Institute, where he serves as Director of Translational Science and Co-Director of the Heart Institute Clinical Research Core and Biorepository. Dr. Blaxall received his PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University Medial Center. He has received numerous academic honors, including the Early Career Investigator Award from the American Heart Association (AHA), the Arnold “Arnie” Schwartz Award from the AHA Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences and the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Founder’s AHA Affiliate. He has extensive peer review service and chaired the Cardiomyopathy and Congestive Heart Failure NIH peer-review panel. His laboratory is focused on understanding the molecular signals associated with the onset and progression of heart failure and myocardial, renal and organ fibrosis, with a particular emphasis on identifying novel therapeutic approaches.

Prof Richard P. Harvey AM, PhD FAA FAHMS FRS

Professor Richard Harvey received his PhD in molecular biology in 1982 from the University of Adelaide. He undertook postdoctoral studies in embryology at Harvard University, then joined the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, establishing an independent group. In 1998, he relocated to the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, where he is currently Co-Deputy Director and Head of the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Division. His research focuses on the genetic basis of heart development and congenital heart disease pathology, as well as adult cardiac stem cells and cardiac regeneration.

Prof Rong Tian, MD, PhD

Dr. Rong Tian obtained her MD from the West China University of Medical Sciences and her PhD in Pharmacology from Aarhus University in Denmark. She is currently professor and director of the interdisciplinary Mitochondria & Metabolism Center at the University of Washington. Her work is recognized in three inter-related areas of cardiovascular diseases: bioenergetics, metabolism, and mitochondrial biology. In the past twenty years, her laboratory has made seminal contributions to the field by combining a vigorous in vivo metabolic phenotyping with the powerful technology of proteomics and metabolomics. Dr. Tian’s research is a major stimulus to the translational research that links basic science, engineering and clinical investigations as heart failure becomes a predominant diagnosis in our aging and obese population.

A/Prof Li Qian, PhD

Dr.Qian received her undergraduate degree in biology from Fudan University and a Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She then pursued postdoctoral training in cardiovascular and stem cell biology at Gladstone Institute, UCSF. Currently as Associate Professor and Associate Director for McAllister Heart Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill, Dr. Qian is exploring programming and reprogramming approaches for cardiac regeneration. In addition, Qian Lab takes advantage of traditional mouse genetics, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry and the recently advanced single cell omics technologies to investigate the fundamental events underlying the progression of various cardiovascular diseases as well as to discover the basic mechanisms of cardiac cell fate determination.

Lei Ye, PhD

Lei Ye graduated from Shanghai Medical University in 1996 where he completed his degree in clinical medicine. He completed a PhD at National University of Singapore in 2005. He was as Assistant Professor of Medicine at University of Minnesota from 2010 until 2014. Currently he is Principal Investigator at National Heart Research Institute Singapore, National Heart Centre Singapore. His research is devoted to cell therapy for treatment of heart failure and identification of molecular mechanism contributing to myocyte regeneration in large mammalian animal. His research is funded by awards from the Clinician Scientist Individual Research Grant and Open Fund - Individual Research Grant of National Medical Research Council, Singapore.

James Hudson, PhD

Dr James Hudson is the Group Leader for the Organoid Research Lab at QIMR Berghofer. He completed a double major in Chemical and Biological Engineering and subsequently completed his PhD on cardiac tissue engineering at The University of Queensland in 2011. He was then awarded a German Cardiology Society postdoctoral fellowship with Prof Wolfram-Hubertus Zimmermann in Germany, one of the world’s most prominent cardiac tissue engineering researchers. In 2013 Dr Hudson returned to Australia on a NHMRC ECF and is currently an NHMRC CDF and National Heart Foundation Future Leaders Fellow. Over his career Dr Hudson’s work has focused on the use of stem cell-derived heart cells for tissue engineering applications and is now working together with academic and industry partners discover new therapeutic targets for heart disease.

Prof Yuji Shiba, MD, PhD

Dr. Shiba is currently a Professor of Regenerative Science and Medicine, Cardiovascular Medicine at Shinshu University. After he obtained his MD from Shinshu University in 1998, he worked as a physician/cardiologist until he started his research training. He received his PhD in 2007 from Shinshu University and moved to the University of Washington (Mike Laflamme Lab) for post-doctoral training, where he started stem cell research. He moved back to Japan in 2011 and established his new lab.

Dr. Shiba is broadly interested in the use of stem cells for cardiac repair, but particularly emphasis on:
1) Electrophysiological consequences following the transplantation of stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes
2) Preclinical transplantation studies with non-human primates

Prof Hong Wang, MD, PhD, EMBA

Dr. Hong Wang received her medical training from JinagXi Medical School, an MS degree from Peking Union Medical University, a PhD degree in Biochemistry from University of Montreal, and an EMBA degree from Fox Business School in Temple University. She did her post-doctoral fellowship and then was a research associate in Harvard School of Public Health from 1996 to 1999. She joined faculty in Baylor College of Medicine as an assistant professor in 1999. She moved to Temple University School of Medicine as an associate professor in 2005, and became a tenured professor in 2007. Dr. Wang currently is Associate Dean for Research, Laura H. Carnell Endowed Chair, Director and professor for the Center for Metabolic Disease Research, Interim Chair for the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology and Professor of Pharmacology in Lewis Katz School of Medicine (LKSM). She teaches Pharmacology, Molecular Biology and Metabolic Disease in Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Graduate School, Podiatry School of Medicine, School of Dentistry at Temple University. She is an editorial member of multiple leading scientific Journals, including JCI, Circulation, ATVB, J Molecular & Cellular Cardiology and Clinical Medicine: Pathology. She is an associate Editor of Biomarker Research. Dr. Wang’s research focus on molecular mechanism underlying cardiovascular inflammation, atherosclerosis, vascular function, lipid and glucose metabolism. She is a leading scientist in hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy) – cardiovascular disease research. She has made significant contribution to the field, including 1) established the causative role of HHcy in atherosclerosis, 2) systemically investigated the role and mechanism of HHcy on vascular pathology, HDL metabolism and inflammatory monocyte differentiation, and 3) established hypomethylation as a key biochemical mechanism for selective endothelium injury in hyperhomocysteinemia.

Associate Prof Maria Kontaridis, PhD

Dr. Maria Irene Kontaridis is currently the Director of Research at the Masonic Medical Research Institute in Utica, NY. She also holds a part-time faculty appointment as an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Department of Medicine/Division of Cardiology in Boston, MA. Dr. Kontaridis received her undergraduate degrees (B.A. and B.S.) from the University of Florida in Classics and Chemistry, and subsequently, obtained her master's degrees both in Pharmacology and in Biomedical and Biological Sciences from Yale University in 1999 and 2001, respectively. In 2002, she was awarded a Ph.D. from Yale University for work with Dr. Anton Bennett on the role of protein tyrosine phosphatases, especially SHP2, in cell growth and skeletal muscle differentiation. Dr. Kontaridis' interest in continuing to work on SHP2 phosphatase led her to accept a postdoctoral position with Dr. Benjamin Neel, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in 2003. Her work as a postdoctoral fellow garnered extramural support from the American Heart Association and the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00). In 2007, Dr. Kontaridis was promoted to Instructor, and in 2008, was recruited to the Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology at BIDMC as an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. In 2015, she was named the Director of Basic Cardiovascular Research at BIDMC and in 2016 was promoted to Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. In 2018, Dr. Kontaridis took on a new role as the Director of Research at the Masonic Medical Research Institute in upstate NY. Dr. Kontaridis' independent research program focuses on the fundamental mechanisms underlying both congenital heart disease and end-stage heart failure, and the processes that lead to abnormal development, aberrant signaling and disease onset. She has made several seminal observations about SHP2 and its role in cardiac pathophysiology and disease, as well as in autoimmunity. Her work has been awarded grants from the Milton Foundation, the Children's Cardiomyopathy Foundation, the Saving Tiny Hearts Foundation, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, the Alliance of Lupus Research and the National Institutes of Health (NHLBI-R01s and NCATS-TRND) as well as has garnered support from industry and pharmaceutical companies (Novartis, GSK, Arqule).

Dr. Kontaridis is also actively involved in the medical and research community and has established herself in a number of significant leadership roles. In Boston, she served as co-chair for the Joint Committee on the Status of Women at Harvard Medical School, an important group dedicated to the development and leadership of women in the Harvard community. In addition, she also served as Chair of the Research Safety Committee at BIDMC, dedicated to development of proper work ethics and safety policies for research scientists. Dr. Kontaridis continues to be a member of the Harvard Medical School Biomedical and Biological Sciences Faculty Program, where she has a joint appointment in the department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and with the Leder Human Biology and Translational Medicine Program of Harvard Medical School. More nationally, Dr. Kontaridis is an appointed Fellow of the American Heart Association, where she has served as chair of the Early Career Committee for the BCVS Council and now serves on the Council of Operations as the Chair of all AHA Early Career Councils. In 2018, Dr. Kontaridis was elected to serve as a Council member for the ISHR-North American Section. She has also co-chaired and organized the Weinstein Conference for Developmental Cardiology in 2015 and the AHA BCVS Summer Conference in 2016. In 2018, she co-chaired the first ever Olympiad in Cardiovascular Medicine Symposium in Athens, Greece.

Dr Jelena Rnjak-Kovacina, PhD

Dr Jelena Rnjak-Kovacina is a Senior Lecturer and Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow researcher at the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, UNSW Sydney. Her research interests are at the interface of biology and engineering, focusing on the development of biomimetic biomaterials that direct cell interactions for enhanced vascularisation and treatment of cardiovascular disease. She completed her doctoral degree in Anthony Weiss' lab at the University of Sydney, studying synthetic human elastin as a biomaterial for skin tissue engineering. Her postdoctoral research in David Kaplan's group at Tufts University in Boston focused on novel biomaterials developed from silk fibroin to address a number of clinically unmet needs. She participates in the medtech sector through a range of activities including her role as the Treasurer and Secretary of the Australasian Society for Biomaterials & Tissue Engineering and as a member of the Centre for Commercialisation of Regenerative Medicine Australia Scientific Advisory Board.

Song Li, PhD

Dr. Song Li earned his B.S. and M.S. from Beijing University, and had his Ph.D. and postdoctoral training at UC San Diego. He joined the faulty in bioengineering at UC Berkeley in 2001, and he moved to UC Los Angeles in 2016, where he served as the Chair of Bioengineering Department. Dr. Li’s research is focused on cell engineering, mechanobiology and tissue engineering. The work from his laboratory has contributed to the understanding of how biophysical factors regulate the vascular remodeling, stem cell differentiation and cell reprogramming. His lab also develops novel micro/nanomaterials for in situ tissue engineering, drug delivery and immunoengineering. Dr. Li has been elected as a Fellow of American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, a Fellow of Biomedical Engineering Society, and a Fellow of the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering.

Prof Teng Ma, PhD

Teng Ma, PhD, is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Florida State University. Research in Dr. Ma’s group focuses on understanding the cellular, physiological, and biomechanical processes of tissue regeneration using adult mesenchymal stem cells and on developing enabling technology in cell therapy and tissue regeneration. Dr. Ma has published over 100 research articles in stem cell bioengineering and holds 4 US patents in bioreactor and regenerative technology. He is a recipient of the Developing Scholar Award at FSU (2008), an alumnus of the US Frontiers of Engineering (2006) and German and US Frontiers of Engineering (2010) by the US National Academy of Engineering. He was elected a Fellow of American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) in 2017. His research has been supported by National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Defense (DOD), the American Heart Association (AHA), and Florida Biomedical Research Program.


  • Postdoctoral Fellow, College of Medicine, Ohio State University, 2000
  • Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, The Ohio State University, 1999
  • B.S., Chemical Engineering, Tianjin University, 1989

Research Interests

  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Bioengineering and Tissue Engineering
  • Bioreactor for stem cell expansion

Prof Stephen Leeder AO, MD, PhD, DMedSc, FRACP, FFPH, FAFPHM, FRACGP (Hon), FRSN

Stephen Leeder is Professor Emeritus of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of Sydney. He is currently Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Epidemiology and Director of the Research and Education Network, Western Sydney Local Health District.

Professor Leeder has a long history of involvement in public health research, educational development and health policy. His interest in public health was stimulated by spending 1968 in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. He was the foundation professor of community medicine at Newcastle University and Director of the Rockefeller Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics in Newcastle in its early years. In 1986, he moved to Westmead Hospital in Sydney to direct its Department of Community Medicine before becoming Dean of the Faculty of Medicine during its period of major educational reform and graduate admission in 1996–2002.

In 2003-04, Professor Leeder worked at Columbia University, New York, in the Earth Institute and Mailman School of Public Health, developing a substantial report with his colleagues, based on research data and scientific interpretation, of the economic consequences of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in developing economies. The report, A Race against Time: the challenge of cardiovascular disease in developing economies, concentrated upon the macroeconomic consequences of CVD. He remains interested in the political and economic significance of chronic illness and has a research interest in the management and support of patients with chronic illness.

In recent years, Professor Leeder has directed the development of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy, a collaborative centre between the Australian National University and the University of Sydney. He held the position of Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Journal of Australia from January 2013 until April 2015 and was Chair of the Western Sydney Local Health District Board from 2011 to 2016.

Sean M. Wu MD, PhD, FACC

Wu graduated from Stanford University in 1992 where he completed majors in Biological Sciences and in Mechanical Engineering. He subsequently completed an MD-PhD training at Duke University School of Medicine and an internal medicine residency at the Duke University Hospital. He then completed a clinical and research fellowship in cardiovascular medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School (HMS) and at Boston Children’s Hospital. He was an Assistant Professor of Medicine at HMS from 2009 until 2012 when he returned to Stanford where he is now an Associate Professor of Medicine and, by courtesy, Pediatrics, an Associate Director at the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute, and also the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children Endowed Faculty Scholar, Stanford University School of Medicine. His research is dedicated to the identification of molecular mechanisms regulating cardiac lineage commitment during embryonic development and the biology of cardiac progenitor cells in development and disease. His research is funded by awards from the NIH/NHLBI, NIH Director's New Innovator Awards, NIH Director Pioneer Award, American Heart Association Established Investigator Award, California Institutes for Regenerative Medicine, the Endowed Faculty Scholar Award from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children/Child Health Research Institute at Stanford, among others.

Prof. Dr. Wolfram-Hubertus Zimmermann, MD

Wolfram-Hubertus Zimmermann, M.D., is Professor of Pharmacology, and Director of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University Medical Center, Georg-August-University in Göttingen. He studied Medicine at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, DUKE University Medical School in Durham, Harvard Medical School in Boston, and the University of Cape Town. He graduated from Medical School in 1998 and earned his doctorate from the University of Hamburg in 2000. In parallel, Dr. Zimmermann completed a second academic degree in Molecular Biology at the University of Hamburg in 2001. He trained at the Institutes of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen and the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, where he was promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor (Juniorprofessor) in 2003. Dr. Zimmermann completed his training in Pharmacology and Toxicology in 2006 (board certification) and was awarded the Venia Legendi (and Habilitation) in Pharmacology and Toxicology in 2007. He was appointed to his current position at the Georg-August-University in Göttingen in 2008. Dr. Zimmermann’s research interests include novel pharmacological and cell-based approaches to repair failing organs with a special emphasis on tissue engineered heart repair. Since 2011, Dr. Zimmermann is the speaker of the Göttingen partner site of the German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK). He also serves as a clinical consultant in pharmacology and toxicology and reviewer for numerous journals and granting agencies. Dr. Zimmermann has published >150 articles and book chapters (H-index: 42) and is an inventor of several patents on different aspects of myocardial tissue engineering, stem cell biology, phenotypic drug screens, and innovative therapy development. He is a founder of myriamed GmbH (2012) and Repairon GmbH (2014) to accelerate the development of innovative drugs and translate tissue engineered organ repair.

Joshua Hare, MD PhD

Dr. Joshua Hare is Chief Sciences Officer, Senior Associate Dean for Experimental and Cellular Therapeutics, Director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute (ISCI), and Louis Lemberg Professor of Medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Hare is a practicing cardiologist and an expert in cardiovascular medicine, specializing in heart failure, myocardial infarction, inflammatory diseases of the heart, and heart transplantation. He is an internationally acknowledged pioneer in the field of stem cell therapeutics for human heart disease, currently seeing and evaluating patients from all over the world for this new experimental therapy. Dr. Hare has published multiple clinical trials testing the use of mesenchymal stem cells in patients with heart or age related disorders and is the Principal Investigator of two major NHLBI programs that advance cell based therapy. He has published over 300 publications and reviews in the peer reviewed literature, holds numerous investigational new drug authorizations (INDs) from the FDA for cell therapy, and has been awarded several U.S. patents.

Session Moderators

Prof Gemma A Figtree, MB BS, DPhil (Oxon), FRACP, FCSANZ, FAHA

Gemma is a clinician researcher whose principal clinical interests lie in the provision of rapid percutaneous intervention to patients suffering heart attacks, as well as advanced cardiovascular imaging of both myocardial and coronary pathology. She is a Professor in Medicine at the University of Sydney, and Research Lead for Cardiothoracic and Vascular Health at the Kolling Institute and for Northern Sydney Local Health District. She is the Director of the University of Sydney’s multi-disciplinary Cardiovascular Initiative, and co-leads the Cardiovascular Theme for Sydney Health Partners, a NHMRC Advanced Health Research and Translation Centre. Gemma completed her DPhil at Oxford University in 2002 supported by a Rhodes Scholarship and has continued in the fundamental research field of oxidative signalling. She is committed to improving the care for heart attack patients- using her expertise in molecular biology to develop methods of identifying those at highest risk of adverse outcome, and discovering novel therapies to prevent and treat events, inspired by her clinical work as an interventional cardiologist. Discoveries in her Laboratory have been published in leading journals Circulation, European Heart Journal, and FRBM, with > 130 publications. GF is a principal investigator on grants >$6.5 mill. She is a current NHMRC Practitioner Fellowship, having been awarded the NHMRC Excellence Award for Top Ranked Practitioner Fellow in 2017. She is committed to the advancement of her field, and serves as a member of the Editorial Board of leading international cardiovascular journals Circulation and Cardiovascular Research. Her research and clinical perspective and leadership are recognised by her membership of the Scientific Board of Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (responsible for International Relations), and her appointment to the Expert Advisory Panel for NHMRC Structural Review of Grants Program (2016-17), as well as the Clinical Issues Committee of the Heart Foundation. She is committed to the promotion and advocacy of cardiovascular research, recently appointed as President of the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and serves/has served as a non-executive Director on multiple community Boards.

Associate Prof Joel L. Berry, PhD

Joel Berry, Ph.D. was born in Atlanta, Georgia USA and received his Bachelor degrees in biology and in mechanical engineering at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). In 2000, he received his doctorate in Biomedical Engineering from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina specializing in cardiovascular fluid mechanics, medical imaging, and tissue engineering. He has been an associate professor of biomedical engineering at UAB since 2010. His early research focused on modeling the fluid and solid mechanical effects of metallic stents placed in arteries as well as the fluid mechanical effects of vascular cell development in engineered arteries. His current research centers on development of a three-dimensional tissue engineered model system for breast cancer that could be used to culture individual cancer cells from patients and permit testing of a panel of chemotherapeutics for drug development. Dr. Berry is director of the undergraduate program in Biomedical Engineering at UAB and teaches undergraduate level bioinstrumentation and an undergraduate course pairing biomedical engineering students with physicians to innovate solutions to unsolved clinical problems.

Prof Hala Zreiqat, PhD, FIOR

Hala Zreiqat is a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Sydney and both a National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellow (2016-2020); Fellow of International Orthopaedic Research (FIOR) of the ICORS International College of Fellows (2018); Director of the Australian Research Training Centre for Innovative Bio-Engineering; Co-Director of the Shanghai-Sydney Joint Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine Lab at Shanghai JiaoTong; Honorary Professor Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Adjunct Professor Drexel University.

She is the 2018 New South Wales Premier’s Woman of the Year. The King Abdullah II Order of Distinction of the Second Class - the highest civilian honour bestowed by the King of Jordan (2018). Fellow of International Orthopaedic Research (FIOR) of the ICORS International College of Fellows.

Her research is on the development of novel engineered materials and 3D-printed platforms for regenerative medicine, particularly in orthopaedic, dental, and maxillofacial applications. She has established national and international industry collaborations to translate her discoveries into approved medical devices. Her pioneering development of innovative biomaterials for tissue regeneration has led to one awarded (US) and 7 provisional patents, and several collaborations with inter/national industry partners. She has been awarded more than $17 M in competitive funding including from the NHMRC, ARC and the NSW Medical Devices Fund. She is the past president of the Australian & New Zealand Orthopaedic Research Society; founder and Chair of the Alliance for Design and Application in Tissue Engineering (ADATE) (2006-present); founder of IDEAL Society (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Action Leadership) at Harvard University (2017-); member of the National Health and Medical Research Senior Research grant review panel, the Australian Research Council Expert College and German Research Foundation. Prof. Zreiqat’s overall objective is to advance collaborative research ventures and build educational and industry linkages nationally and internationally in the field of musculoskeletal disorders and biomaterials research.

Prof Andrew Boyle, MBBS, PhD

Andrew Boyle is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Newcastle. He is a practising cardiologist and has studied regenerative therapies to reverse cardiac remodelling following myocardial infarction for over 15 years. He has experience in preclinical studies and early phase clinical trials with numerous stem and progenitor cell types. HIs current research focuses on the extracellular matrix and its role in remodelling and regeneration.