Dr Serge Braun
Scientific Director of AFM-Telethon and President of the CRO Genosafe
Serge Braun, PharmD, PhD, is currently Scientific Director of AFM-Telethon, the French Muscular Dystrophy Association, and President of the CRO Genosafe, a company specialising in the quality control of gene therapy products. He has 10 years’ university experience and has spent 10 years in the biotechnology sector. He obtained his degree in Pharmacy and a PhD in Pharmacology from Louis Pasteur University, Strasbourg. From 1990 to 1992 he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Neuromuscular Center attached to the University of Southern California’s School of Medicine in Los Angeles, USA. From 1992 to 1995, he returned to the School of Pharmacy in Strasbourg as research assistant to work on the pathogenesis and treatment of different genetic and acquired neuromuscular diseases. In 1995, he joined France’s largest biotech company, Transgene, in Strasbourg, where he was appointed Vice-President of Research and developed his career in the fields of the gene therapy of genetic diseases and immunotherapy of cancer. Several products have now reached Phase III clinical trials. Dr Braun also co-founded Neurofit, a CRO specialising in preclinical testing in respect of both the central and peripheral nervous system. He has been Vice-President of Alsace BioValley, the tri-national not-for-profit initiative to develop a major biotech cluster in Europe. He currently serves as scientific expert or member of the Scientific Board for a number of state bodies and non-profit associations, venture capitalists, biotechs and bioclusters, as well as reviewer of major scientific journals.
Dr Johan Hoebeke
Retired CNRS Research Director
Johan Hoebeke recently retired from his position as Research Director within the CNRS. He graduated with a BSc (1959) and PhD (1965) in Biochemistry from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. After teaching for 5 years at the University of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo), he joined the research laboratories at Janssen Pharmaceutica (Belgium). Upon his return to academic research, he worked as senior scientist in the Pathological Biochemistry Department of the Free University of Brussels (Belgium) before joining the CNRS, first at the Jacques Monod Institute in Paris and then at the François Rabelais University in Tours. He spent a sabbatical period in the Wallenberg Laboratories at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden). Immediately prior to retirement he was employed as CNRS Research Director in the Department of Immunological and Chemical Therapeutics at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Strasbourg (France).
His research interests are concerned with physical chemistry as applied to molecular immunology and molecular pharmacology. He has more than 250 publications to his name in peer-reviewed international journals, as well as 8 patents.
Professor Sylviane Muller
Deputy Director of the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (IBMC)
Prof. Sylviane Muller is currently Deputy Director of the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (IBMC). She was awarded her PhD from Louis Pasteur University, Strasbourg, following which she spent two years as post-doctoral researcher at the Max-Planck Institute in Freiburg. Prof. Muller is Chair and Director of the CNRS Immunopathology and Therapeutic Chemistry Unit attached to Strasbourg University, and Head and Coordinator of the Drug Discovery Center for Cancer and Inflammation, holder of the Medalis 'Laboratory of Excellence’ (LabEx) award. In 2001, she set up her own CNRS laboratory at IBMC, where she concentrates her activity on systemic lupus erythematosus and autoimmune diseases. Prof. Muller’s team is particularly interested in understanding the molecular and cellular pathways involved in autoreactive lymphocytes activation and the events leading to cell death/living phenomena (apoptosis, autophagy) that are central to lupus. Combining a fundamental knowledge of lupus with longstanding experience of peptide immunochemistry, Prof. Muller and her team have developed a highly novel strategy based on synthetic peptides, designed to modulate the aberrant immune response and restore immune system functions in lupus mice and patients.
Prof. Muller has co-founded two companies, NeoSystem (now Polypeptide France, Strasbourg) in 1986, and ImmuPharma-France (Mulhouse, France/London, UK) in 2002. She is co-inventor of 30 patents (most of them licensed) and has published over 300 articles in international peer-review journals. Prof. Muller has been invited to present her work to numerous national and international institutions. She has co-organised international conferences on autoimmunity and lupus. She received the Apollo-B award from Roche in 2007, an international award of excellence from the Endocrine Society and Pfizer, Inc. San Diego in 2009, and the CNRS Silver Medal, also in 2009. She is Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur (2010).
Dr Alain Wagner
Director (CNRS) of the Laboratory of Functional Chemosystems at the University of Strasbourg
Alain Wagner is currently Director (CNRS) of the Laboratory of Functional Chemosystems at the University of Strasbourg. He obtained his PhD in synthetic chemistry at the University of Strasbourg in 1991. During his post-doctoral training in a Silicon Valley start-up (Affymax), he developed an interest in the promising fields of catalytic antibodies and combinatorial synthesis. Dr Wagner was recruited by the CNRS in 1994 to develop projects combining chemistry, biology and technology. Following his promotion to research director in 2001, he took sabbatical leave to found and manage Novalix Pharma (2002). He later took an active part in the creation of Phytodia, a company specialising in the development of active ingredients for cosmetic and nutraceutics (2007), and eNovalys (2009). Back at the CNRS, he took over the lead at his current laboratory in 2007. Alain Wagner engages in cutting-edge research, centred on innovation and industrial value creation. The team he manages pioneers the possibilities yielded as a result of controlling exogenous chemistry in living organisms. This up-and-coming field is the seed of scientific progress and promises major advances in a great many therapeutic, diagnostic and technological applications. Dr Wagner has published more than 120 articles in peer-reviewed journals and is the inventor of 17 patents.
Professor Jörg Wischhusen
Head of the Experimental Tumor Immunology Department of Würzburg University’s Medical School
Currently Head of the Experimental Tumor Immunology Department, Jörg Wischhusen trained as a biochemist at the University of Tübingen. Parallel to his studies, he was awarded a concert diploma as classical pianist from the conservatory in Winterthur/Zurich. After graduating from Tübingen University in the field of molecular neuro-oncology, he became research group leader at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Clinical Research in Würzburg, where he focused on mechanisms of tumor progression and immune escape. Since 2013 he has been head of the Experimental Tumor Immunology Department of Würzburg University’s Medical School. Prof. Wischhusen’s current research is directed towards tumor-host interactions in ovarian and breast cancer, with a strong focus on tumor-initiating cells and their ability to evade immunosurveillance. Strategies to relieve local suppression of NK and T cell effector functions by cytokines and other soluble factors are being investigated for their potential therapeutic use. A proprietary antibody targeting a divergent and highly tumour-specific member of the TGF-β superfamily is being developed for clinical studies in this context. In addition, Prof Wischhusen’s group has identified cancer-associated miRNA profiles from peripheral blood which are of great interest for ovarian cancer diagnostics.