Gut Microbiota for Health World Summit - Washington 2021

Speakers, moderators & chairs
2023 GMFH Summit

Nicholas Arpaia

Dr. Arpaia received a B.S. in Biochemistry from the State University of New York, Geneseo in 2006 and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology (Immunology and Pathogenesis) from the University of California, Berkeley in 2011. His graduate work with Dr. Gregory M. Barton examined interactions between Salmonella typhimurium and the innate immune system and demonstrated that Toll-like receptor–sensing of S. typhimurium promotes pathogen virulence and immune evasion. As a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Alexander Y. Rudensky at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Dr. Arpaia investigated how tissue-resident leukocytes sense changes in their local environment and identified environmental signals that drive the differentiation and specialization of regulatory T (Treg) cell subsets. He began his independent laboratory as an Assistant Professor of Microbiology & Immunology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in 2016, where his research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that drive pro- vs. anti-inflammatory immune responses in mucosal barrier tissues and the tumor microenvironment. Dr. Arpaia serves as Co-Associate Director of the Integrated Doctoral Program in Cellular, Molecular, and Biomedical Sciences and Faculty Director of the Microbiology & Immunology Shared Resources Core. He was named a Searle Scholar in 2017 and received the Harold and Golden Lamport Award for Excellence in Basic Science Research in 2021.

Marie-Claire Arrieta

Dr. Marie-Claire Arrieta an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary in Canada. She received her undergraduate degree in Microbiology from Universidad de Costa Rica, and later received MSc and PhD degrees from the University of Alberta. Following her postdoctoral training at the University of British Columbia, she joined the departments of Physiology, Pharmacology and Pediatrics of the University of Calgary in 2016.

Her research program examines the interactions between the early-life gut microbiome and the infant’s immune, metabolic and neurological development. This work is framed around a translational approach, in which samples collected from children undergoing clinical care or enrolled in birth cohort studies are used to characterize the microbial alterations associated with asthma. Her research group also examines the causality and mechanisms of these associations in mouse models of inflammation, placing her work at a critical interface between clinical studies and experimental animal work.

As an advocate of science communication to the public, Dr. Arrieta has written a best-selling public book, Let Them Eat Dirt, and is involved in several science communication initiatives within Canada and abroad, including public talks, a second book and a documentary film project.

Giovanni Barbara

Giovanni Barbara is Full Professor of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, Chief of the Internal Medicine Neurovascular and Hepatic-Metabolic Division and Chief of the Gastroenterology Division at the University of Bologna, Italy.

He graduated summa cum laude in Medicine at the University of Bologna. He subsequently qualified in internal medicine and then in gastroenterology at the same University. He was trained partly in London, UK and completed a 3-year post-doctoral research fellowship in neuro-immunology at McMaster University, Canada.

Professor Barbara’s main research interests relate to basic and clinical aspects of Disorders of Gut-Brain Interaction and Neurogastroenterology, and he has authored more than 250 indexed peer-reviewed articles and reviews on these topics, published in various biomedical journals, including Gastroenterology, Gut, Journal of Clinical Investigation, PNAS and Trends in Pharmacological Sciences. He is, or has been, a member of the Editorial Boards of Gut, the American Journal of Gastroenterology, Neurogastroenterology and Motility, the American Journal of Physiology, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Professor Barbara has received national and international awards including those from the American Gastroenterological Association (1996), the Functional Brain Gut Research Group (1997), the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility (2000) and the Master Award in Gastroenterology from the American Gastroenterological Association (2007).

He is currently member of the Board of Directors of the Rome Foundation, Past-President of the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility (ESNM) and currently Chair of the Gut Microbiota and Health Section of ESNM.

Premysl Bercik

Dr. Bercik is Professor of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology at McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada. He is a clinician-scientist, with research interests including both clinical and basic research in the microbiota-gut-brain axis, functional bowel disorders, neuro-immune interactions and celiac disease. He published over 130 peer-reviewed papers; his current Google Scholar h-index is 65, with more than 18,000 citations. He was awarded the 2021 Research Excellence Award from the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology.

Dr. Bercik’s research in microbiome spans over 25 years, originating with studies on the role of H. pylori in acid secretion, followed by the role of commensal bacteria on gut motility and visceral sensitivity, and finally exploring interactions between the microbiota and brain function. He strongly believes that while associations have been established between the microbiome and many gastrointestinal conditions, the future of microbiome research in gastroenterology resides in proving causality and increasing mechanistic understanding that will lead to novel therapies.


Matthew Carter

Matt is a member of Justin Sonnenburg’s lab at Stanford University in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. His research explores the avenues of communication between diet, the gut microbiota, host metabolism and host immunity. In Professor Sonnenburg’s lab, he uses computational and statistical approaches to analyze multi-omic data sets generated during human dietary intervention trials. Ultimately, the goal is to determine how diet can act as a lever for improving host health across a variety of demographic and pathologic contexts. Prior to arriving at Stanford, Matt worked at Caribou Biosciences, a biotech company based in Berkeley, California that develops CRISPR technology for human therapeutics. Matt holds a degree in Bioengineering from Cornell University.

Anne-Marie Cassard

Director of research at INSERM
University Paris-Saclay, France

A-M. Cassard (Doulcier) heads the team “Microbiome in liver disease: from susceptibility to treatment” at Inserm, Paris-Saclay, with Prof. G. Perlemuter, who heads the gastroenterology and nutrition department at the Antoine-Béclère University Hospital (APHP, France). AM Cassard obtained her PhD in endocrinology at Paris-South University (France). During her PhD and after her recruitment at INSERM, she focused on molecular mechanisms regulating the transcription of uncoupling protein 1, expressed in brown adipose tissue, then the role of an uncoupling protein 2 expressed in macrophage during inflammation. She joined G. Perlemuter to study nutritional liver disease and addressed the role of lipid and glucocorticoid-induced leucine zipper (GILZ) in kupffer cells and the role of CXCR4 in lymphocyte recruitment in NAFLD. Since 2007, they have studied the role of intestinal microbiota in nutritional disease in, particular in alcoholic liver disease, demonstrating that alcohol-induced liver injury is transmissible from patients with acute alcoholic hepatitis to alcohol-fed germ-free mice. Her most recent publications show that controlling IM by fecal transplant or fiber in ALD improves liver injury through regulation of the BA metabolism and the AhR signaling pathways. The hospital team currently manages clinical trials from this basic research.

Benoit Chassaing

Dr. Benoit Chassaing obtained his PhD in microbiology at the University of Clermont-Ferrand (France), identifying factors involved in the virulence of adherent and invasive Escherichia coli strains (pathovar involved in the etiology of Crohn’s disease). Following his PhD, he joined Georgia State University to work with Dr. Andrew T. Gewirtz on various subjects related to mucosal immunology, trying to decipher how genetic and environmental factors can perturb the intestinal microbiota composition in a detrimental way, leading to chronic intestinal inflammation and metabolic deregulations. Appointed assistant professor in 2015, his laboratory was relocated to Paris, France and focus on the understanding of mechanisms by which environmental factors – such as select food components – are involved in shaping detrimental microbiota, with a particular focus on intestinal inflammation and altered metabolism. His current research is using pre-clinical and clinical approaches, as well as in vitro modelling of the intestinal microbiota, to better define microbiota regulation and subsequent impact on intestinal health and metabolism.

Eugene B. Chang, MD

Martin Boyer Distinguished Professor of Medicine
Director, Microbiome Medicine Program – University of Chicago

Eugene B. Chang is the Martin Boyer Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Director of the Microbiome Medicine Program at the University of Chicago. Dr. Chang’s studies focus on defining host-microbial interactions of the intestine, particularly in identifying communication signals/pathways that are involved in maintaining intestinal homeostasis. These studies are also aimed at better understanding how perturbations of enteric microbiota contribute to the development of complex immune disorders such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and metabolic diseases such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. Related to these studies, he has defined several potential mechanisms and mediators of action of gut microbiota that can restore and maintain intestinal and metabolic homeostasis.

Karine Clément

Karine Clément (MD, PhD) is medical doctor, full professor of Nutrition at Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital and Sorbonne University in Paris. Since 2002,
her research unit at INSERM works on the pathophysiology of obesity and related disorders particularly focusing on interorgan cross-talks (, @ClementLab).
From 2011-2016, she created and was the director of the Institute of CardiometAbolisme and Nutrition. KC has been first involved in genetics of obesity and contributed to the identification of monogenic forms of obesity, a field where new medical treatments are now available to patients. Her group is also exploring the link between environmental changes (as changes in lifestyle and nutrition), gut microbiota, immune system and tissue functional modifications (adipose tissue fibrosis and inflammation). KC and her group contributed to more than 450 highly cited publications (h-Index 101). KC received several national and international prizes and contributes to several science advisory boards and international consortia. Amongst them FP7-METACARDIS is a EU project dedicated to the study of gut microbiota in Cardiometabolic diseases and KC was coordinator of Metacardis for 6 years. KC is a member of several international groups and association (such as WOF, EASO, EASD, AFERO as vice president) and received several national and international prizes (such Irene Jolliot-Curie, Gallien, Fondation de France (Valade) and Jacoebaus International prizes).

Tanja Dapa

Originally from Slovenia, where I obtained a degree in Microbiology at the University of Ljubljana, I moved for my PhD to Novartis Vaccines research center in Siena, Italy (today GSK Vaccines), where I studied biofilm formation in the anaerobic pathogen Clostridioides difficile. For my first postdoctoral training, I moved to the lab of the world-leading expert in bacterial stress responses Dr. Ivan Matic in Paris, France, where I studied interactions between diverse stress responses in Escherichia coli. I next moved to the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Portugal, as a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Karina Xavier, where I studied the effect of diet on the evolution of the commensal bacterium Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (B. theta). Currently I hold a Maria Zambrano International Talent Attraction Fellowship, and I am working in the lab of Dr. Fernando Govantes at the Andalusian Centre for Developmental Biology in Seville, Spain, where I study host-microbe coevolution and bacterial motility.

Mahesh S. Desai

Mahesh S. Desai is the Group Leader of the Eco-Immunology and Microbiome team at the Luxembourg Institute of Health and is an Adjunct Associate Professor in ‘Gut microbiome in health and disease’ at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. He is working as a visiting scientist at the RIKEN Centre for Integrative Medical Sciences, Yokohama, Japan. He obtained his PhD at the International Max Planck Research School, Marburg, Germany, and underwent postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, USA.
Diet is a major driver of the gut microbiome, yet the microbiome-mediated mechanisms that link diet to various diseases are poorly understood. Research in Desai Lab focuses on discerning these mechanisms and the underlying immunological processes via interactions of the microbiome with the colonic mucus barrier, which serves as the first line of defense against the invading pathogens. Since the modern diet of developed nations includes significantly reduced dietary fiber, his lab seeks to understand how the fiber-deprived gut microbiome impacts our health and contributes to disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, food allergy and multiple sclerosis. His team aims to design dietary therapeutics to strengthen the mucosal barrier and to improve health.

Joël Doré

Joël is Research Director at INRAE Micalis Institute “Food and Gut Microbiology for Human Health” ( and Scientific Director of MetaGenoPolis (, offering unique expertise in quantitative and functional metagenomics. Gut microbial ecologist by training, Joel pioneered intestinal metagenomics towards food-microbe-host interactions as well as diagnostic applications. With > 38 years of academic research and > 250 publications, Joël aims to provide a better understanding of man-microbes symbiosis towards personalized preventive nutrition and precision medicine. Joel is laureate of the ERC-Advanced Homo.symbiosus and coordinator of EU program He is co-founder and scientific advisor of, a startup company dedicated to provide safe and standardized microbiotherapy solutions for the reconstruction of host-microbes symbiosis in the context of cancer therapy. He is also cofounder of and Member of the BoD of GMfH, he supports the scientific web-platform.

Francisco Guarner

Dr. Francisco Guarner graduated in Medicine at the University of Barcelona, trained Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Hospital Clinic (Barcelona); obtained PhD degree at University of Navarra (Spain). He was Research Fellow at Royal Free Hospital (London, UK), King’s College Hospital (London, UK), and Wellcome Research Laboratories (Beckenham, UK). He is Consultant of Gastroenterology at the Teknon Medical Centre (Barcelona, Spain). Member of the Steering Committee of the International Human Microbiome Consortium (, member of the Scientific Committee of Gut Microbiota for Health Section of the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility (, and past member of the Board of Directors on the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics ( Co-author of 321 publications on original research or reviews (Web of Science), holds an h-index of 66.

Yael Haberman

Dr. Yael Haberman is an MD-PhD clinician-scientist. To improve patients’ outcome, she combines large clinical dataset (supported by NIH, CCF, Gates foundation, and the Helmsley Trust), diet, OMICs, microbiome, and basic research to better understand pathogenesis, build predictive models, and identify new targets for interventions with a focus on Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). She is a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Sheba Medical Center, the head of the Sheba Microbiome Center, Senior Lecturer at the Tel Aviv University, and an adjunct faculty at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Gail Hecht

Dr. Hecht is Professor of Medicine and Microbiology/Immunology and served as Chief, Gastroenterology and Nutrition at Loyola University Medical Center until July 2019. She earned her MD from Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine, completed Internal Medicine Residency at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and her Fellowship in Gastroenterology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Her initial faculty appointment was at the University of Illinois Chicago where she rose through the ranks to Professor and was appointed Chief of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition. She relocated to Loyola in January 2013. She was Founding Editor and served as Editor-in-Chief until 2020 of the journal Gut Microbes published by Taylor & Francis Group. Dr. Hecht has been very active in the American Gastroenterological Association functioning as Chair of the Intestinal Disorders Section of the AGA Council, as Basic Research Councilor to the Governing Board and ultimately serving as President from 2009-2010.

Gianluca Ianiro

Gianluca Ianiro received his medical degree in 2009 summa cum laude at the Catholic University of Rome.He trained in gastroenterology at the same University. He is currently gastroenterologist at the Digestive Disease Center of the Fondazione A. Gemelli IRCCS and adjunt professor in gastroenterology at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Rome, Italy.

He has since gone on to establish himself as a key clinical and translational investigator focusing mainly in the field of intestinal microbiota with more than 190  peer reviewed publications including some of the best referral journal in Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine, including NEJM, Nature Medicine, Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology, ​Lancet Infectious Disease, Gastroenterology, Circulation, Annals of Internal Medicine, Gut, Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Pharmacology &Therapeutics, Clinical Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, etc.), and has received several research grants in support of his innovative research. He was the secretary or the leader of several international consensus conferences on fecal microbiota transplantation. He was in the Young Talent Group and in the Research Committee, and now in the Scientific Committee, of the UEG (United European Gastroenterology), and has been awarded as UEG Rising Star in 2020. His current research is focused mainly on disentangling the rules of donor microbiome engraftment and on investigating FMT in other indications beyond C. difficile.

Colleen R. Kelly

The focus of Dr. Kelly’s research and clinical practice is Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) and fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT). She was the principal investigator (PI) for the first placebo-controlled trial of FMT for treatment of recurrent CDI and one of the first investigators to sponsor of an investigational new drug application for FMT with the FDA, and has served on working groups around regulatory issues related to microbiota-based therapies. Dr. Kelly has been involved in industry-funded trials of live biotherapeutic products and collaborated on studies looking at FMT in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. She is interested in the long-term effects around manipulation of gut microbiota and is a PI for the NIH-funded FMT National Patient Registry which will answer important questions around real-world effectiveness and safety. In addition to coauthoring current FMT guidelines and participating in drafting the European Consensus Conference on FMT in Clinical Practice, she was the lead author for the recently published American College of Gastroenterology 2021 CDI treatment guidelines. Dr. Kelly is a Fellow in the ACG and is a Fellow and past member of the scientific advisory board for Gut Microbiome Research and Education of the American Gastroenterological Association.

Rupert W Leong

Professor Rupert Leong is Director of Endoscopy and Head of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Services at Concord Hospital, Clinical Discipline Head of Gastroenterology at Macquarie University Hospital, and Professor of Medicine at University of Sydney and Macquarie University, Sydney Australia. He completed gastroenterology and clinical immunology training at University of Western Australia and another 2 years of interventional endoscopy fellowship training at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong, as the Amy and Athelstan Saw Research Fellow. His MD thesis was Inflammatory Bowel Diseases in the Chinese Population, which later awarded him Researcher on the Rise of the Gastroenterological Society of Australia and the American Gastroenterological Association Fellowship awarded based on excellence in research. He subsequently received a Career Development Fellowship (level 2 clinical) of the NHMRC, which was awarded to only 5 individuals that year.

Pierre-Marie Lledo

Member of the European Academy of Sciences

Chairman of the Department of Neuroscience at the Pasteur Institute (2014-20120)

Head of the Laboratory “Perception and Memory” at the Pasteur Institute (since 2001) *

Director of the Unit “Genes and Cognition” at the French Center for Scientific Research (CNRS, since 2004) *

Director of the Teaching Graduate Program “Neuroscience” at the Pasteur Institute (since 2004)

Columnist to Les Echos (since 2017)

* Our laboratory is interested in deciphering how gut microbiome plays an important role in overall wellbeing by helping us make and absorb nutrients, supporting our immune system, and producing chemicals essential for brain function. In particular, we are investigating how the gastrointestinal system, its resident microbes, and the brain communicate via the gut-brain axis, a complex network of neurons, hormones, and proteins that allow the brain to send messages to the gut and vice versa.

Karen L. Madsen, PhD

Professor of Medicine, University of Alberta
Director of the Center of Excellence for Gastrointestinal Inflammation and Immunity Research

Dr. Karen Madsen is Professor of Medicine at the University of Alberta and Director of the “Center of Excellence for Gastrointestinal Inflammation and Immunity Research (CEGIIR)”. After receiving her BSc (Hon) and MSc degrees in Biochemistry at the University of Manitoba, she completed a PhD degree at the University of Calgary in the area of gastrointestinal physiology. She did postdoctoral training in gastrointestinal inflammation and immunology at the University of Alberta. Her research program is funded by Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Weston Foundation, and Alberta Health Services. The goal of her research program is to gain a mechanistic understanding of environmental and dietary influences on host-microbial interactions in order to design effective therapies to treat human disease based on manipulation of the gut microbiome.

Meriem Messaoudene

Meriem Messaoudene PhD, is specialized in immuno-oncology and how it is impacted by the microbiome. After studying at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie and the Institut Pasteur (Paris, France), she went on to complete a PhD at the Université Paris-Saclay on the role of NK cells in human metastatic melanoma. She then continued her studies as a post-doctoral student in Pr. Laurence Zitvogel’s lab (Institut Gustave Roussy, France), investigating the efficacy of a new class of T-cell bispecific antibodies in breast cancer therapy. In 2018, she joined Dr. Bertrand Routy at the CRCHUM (Montréal, Canada), where she began work on a research program focused on the microbiota and cancer with the goal of developing new therapeutic strategies to safely increase ICI responses through manipulations of the microbiota. In all her studies, Meriem Messaoudene has been and continues to be deeply involved in studying the impact of the microbiota on the efficiency of the immune checkpoint blockades in cancer, and how the microbiota can be harnessed to improve patient outcomes.

Marie-Laure Michel

Marie-Laure Michel received her PhD degree in Immunology from Paris Sorbonne University in 2008, and she moved to the Cancer Research Institute in London where she completed a postdoctoral training, before coming back in France to initiate a second postdoctoral project at the Institute Necker-Enfants Malades (INEM). Over her experiences in Paris and London, her research has focused on innate T cells and the characterization of their development and regulation requirements. In February 2015, she started as a senior researcher in the group of Pr. Harry Sokol at Micalis Institute (INRAE, Jouy-en-Josas, France). Her current research focus lies on innate T cells and their interaction with gut microbiota in health and various pathologies such as inflammatory bowel disease. Based on in vitro and in vivo experiments, she develops different projects to explore how commensal bacteria regulate the pro and anti-inflammatory properties of innate T cells.

Emeran Mayer

Emeran A Mayer is a Gastroenterologist, Neuroscientist and Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, the Executive Director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress & Resilience at UCLA and Founding Director of the Goodman Luskin Microbiome Center at UCLA. He is one of the pioneers and leading researchers in the bidirectional communication within the brain gut microbiome system with wide-ranging applications in intestinal and brain disorders. He has published 410 scientific papers, co edited 3 books, published the best selling The Mind Gut Connectin book in 2016 and the Gut Immune Connection book in June 2021. He is the recipient of the 2016 David McLean award from the American Psychosomatic Society and the 2017 Ismar Boas Medal from the German Society of Gastroenterology and Metabolic Disease.

R. Balfour Sartor

R. Balfour Sartor, MD, a physician scientist, is the Midget Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill SOM. Dr. Sartor received his MD from Baylor College of Medicine, where he completed his Internal Medicine residency prior to pursuing a combined clinical and research Gastroenterology fellowship at UNC He is Co-Director for the NIDDK-funded Center for Gastrointestinal Biology & Disease, Director of the NIH-funded National Gnotobiotic Rodent Resource Center and was the founding Director of the UNC Multidisciplinary IBD Center. His clinical interests are in treating difficult to manage IBD patients, with ongoing translational research to identifying microbial and genomic biomarkers that predict risk of post-operative recurrence of Crohn’s disease and microbial factors associated with recurrent pouchitis. His research focuses on developing and applying rodent models of chronic, immune-mediated intestinal inflammation relevant to IBD and performing clinically relevant translational studies involving IBD patients.  Dr. Sartor investigates genetically-determined immune responses to luminal resident bacterial subsets using gnotobiotic mice and patient-derived samples, and studies the influence of environmental factors, including diet, on intestinal microbiota composition and function.  Dr. Sartor has published over 400 articles, editorials, chapters and has edited 5 books. Dr. Sartor has trained over 60 postdoctoral fellows and graduate students.  In addition, he has led multiple large multidisciplinary consortium studies that have extensively impacted the IBD field. In 2020, he received the American Gastroenterological Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Basic Science.

Michael Scharl

Michael Scharl is a Gastroenterologist at the University Hospital Zurich (CH), where he holds the position of a senior attending physician and heads the Translational Microbiome Research Center; he is also an assistant professor at the Medical Faculty of the University of Zurich, where, as of August 2022, he holds a “professorship ad personam” with focus on “Translational Microbiome Research”.
After completing his doctoral thesis at the University of Regensburg (D) in 2007, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Diego, USA (2007-2009). In 2012, he was awarded the venia legendi in Experimental Oncology by the University of Zurich. After his board certifications in general internal medicine (2015) and gastroenterology (2016) he became an attending physician in 2016 and was awarded the Peter-Hans-Hofschneider Professorship in Molecular Medicine in 2017.
Research in the Scharl Lab focuses on innate and adaptive immune responses in the pathogenesis of intestinal inflammation and cancer with the aim to achieve a better understanding of the complex interplay of genetic predispositions, intestinal microbiota and aberrant immune responses in the development of the diseases. A major focus is to explore and advance the therapeutic application of the microbiome to ultimately establish precision medicine approaches in the clinic.

Bernd Schnabl, MD

Professor of Medicine
Director, San Diego Digestive Diseases Research Center

Dr. Schnabl is a trained gastroenterologist and physician-scientist. He received his MD degree from the University Freiburg in Germany. After finishing his residency in internal medicine, he completed a gastroenterology fellowship at Columbia University in New York City. He joined the Division of Gastroenterology at UC San Diego in 2008 and he is currently Professor of Medicine. He is staff physician and attending at the VA San Diego Medical Center in La Jolla and the UCSD Medical Center. He is the Director of the NIH-funded San Diego Digestive Diseases Research Center (SDDRC). His research focus is to understand the complex multi-directional interactions that occur between the gut microbiota and the liver. Dr. Schnabl has published extensively in such highly-regarded journals as Nature, Nature Communications, Cell Host & Microbe, Journal of Clinical Investigation and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and he has authored multiple reviews and book chapters. Dr. Schnabl is the principal investigator of a VA Merit Award, several NIH, foundation and industry-sponsored grants. He serves as Associate Editor for Journal of Hepatology.

Harry Sokol

Harry Sokol, is Professor in the Gastroenterology department of the Saint Antoine Hospital (APHP, Paris, France), the co-director of the Microbiota, Gut & Inflammation team (INSERM CRSA UMRS 938, Sorbonne Université, Paris), group leader in Micalis institute (INRAE) and coordinator of the “Paris Center for Microbiome Medicine” ( Harry Sokol is an internationally recognized expert in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and in gut microbiota fields. He published over 300 papers on these topics in major journals (including Gut, Gastroenterology, Cell Metabolism, Cell Host & Microbe, Nature communication, Nature Medicine). His work on the role of the gut microbiota in IBD pathogenesis led to landmark papers describing the IBD-associated dysbiosis (imbalance in gut microbiota composition) and the role of the pivotal commensal bacteria Faecalibacterium prausnitzii in gut homeostasis and in IBD. Currently, his work focuses on deciphering the gut microbiota-host interactions in health and diseases (particularly IBD), in order to better understand their role in pathogenesis and develop innovative treatments. Harry Sokol is exploring particularly the role of the microbiota in tryptophan and energy metabolism for which he is recipient of two ERC grants. Beside basic science, he is also involved in translational research. He is the current president of the French group of Fecal Microbiota Transplantation ( and the head of the APHP Fecal Microbiota Transplantation Center, he coordinated a pilot randomized control trial evaluating Fecal Microbiota Transplantation in Crohn’s disease and he is currently coordinating 2 phase III nationwide randomized control trial evaluating this approach in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Harry Sokol co-founded Exeliom biosciences (

Twitter: @h_sokol

Helen Vuong

Helen Vuong earned her B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She continued her graduate education at UCLA, earning her Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology under the mentorship of Dr. Nicholas C. Brecha. During her graduate studies, Vuong investigated the anatomical and electrophysiological regulation of retinal microcircuits by neuropeptides, including somatostatin and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide. She continued her postdoctoral tenure in Dr. Elaine Y. Hsiao’s lab. In her independent laboratory, Dr. Vuong aims to elucidate the role of the maternal microbiome in fetal brain development, including modulation of neuronal connectivity, activity and function, and behavior. She is a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award fellow, where she conducts research while pursuing her passion in education and outreach. In addition, Vuong was recently awarded the NIH-National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Pathway to Independence Award that will facilitate her independent research laboratory at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.