We are happy to announce that we have four invited speakers for the conference, covering the topics stem cells, mitochondria, autophagy, and immunotherapy.

Prof. Abhishek D. Garg

Title of Talk: Toward reverse translationally-designed dendritic cell-based immunotherapy against cancer

Biography: Abhishek is currently assistant professor at KU Leuven, Belgium since Oct'2018 and heading the Cell Stress & Immunity (CSI) Lab since Feb'2020. He has several years of experience in cellular & molecular immunology, cancer cell death & stress responses, and cancer immunology & immunotherapy. During his PhD, he performed front-line research on damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) and immunogenic cell death (ICD) in cancer. Thereafter he continued as a postdoctoral researcher at KU Leuven, where he pursued studies on various immunological determinants of ICD and ICD-based DC vaccines. As head of the CSI Lab, his overarching vision is to exploit state-of-the-art reverse translational approaches (human to in vitro/in vivo & back), to facilitate translational immuno-oncology and enable successful transition of novel immunological concepts from benchside research to bedside reality. He has published >100 scientific papers that garnered >20’000 citation at h-index of >50. He has received various prestigious national or international awards and fellowships for his research achievements.

Prof. Micha Drukker

Title of Talk: The human axial stem cells

Biography: Prof. Micha Drukker is an expert in stem cell research for clinical applications. He gained his Ph.D at the Hebrew University before becoming a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University Medical School in the lab of Prof. Irving Weissman. He received tenure as a group leader and head of the induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell core facility at the Helmholtz Center in Munich in 2012 and 2018. Drukker became a full professor in Leiden University within the Leiden Academic Center for Drug Research (LACDR) in 2020 and the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). Prof. Drukker and his team investigate induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. They study how the flow of genetic information and the architecture of the nucleus through paraspeckles determine the proliferation and differentiation. On the application side, they develop methods to produce personalised lab grown tissue grafts. A special focus of his group is motor neurons, mechanisms of neurodegeneration, and development of stem cell drugs to treat neurodegeneration. In addition, Prof. Drukker promotes the creation of an iPS cell “Ark” to build a bank of stem cells and tissues for future conservation biology.

Prof. Tor Erik Rusten

Titel of talk: Autophagy in tumor growth and cancer cachexia, a nutritional relationship


Prof. Vanina Romanello

Titel of talk: Mitochondria-peroxisome interactions in skeletal muscle

Biography: Vanina Romanello is an assistant professor in general pathology at the University of Padova and a researcher at the Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine in Padova. She has a long track record investigating the mechanisms that control muscle mass in health and disease. Over the last ten years, she has focused on studying mitochondria quality control pathways, establishing a causal link between muscle-specific mitochondrial network alterations, muscle loss, and Fgf21-dependent disruption of whole-body homeostasis. Moreover, she showed that Fgf21 is a novel player in mitophagy and muscle loss. Her team is currently focused on investigating novel metabolic players involved in maintaining muscle health, such as the role of the peroxisomal mitochondrial interaction in muscle function in health and disease.