Invited Speakers

Laura Alconcher

Dr. Laura Alconcher is the Chief of Pediatric Nephrology Unit, Hospital General Interzonal Dr José Penna,

Bahia Blanca Argentina and a Pediatric Nephrologist consultant in Fresenius Medical Care, Bahía Blanca.
She is also Assistant Professor in the Health Science Department, Universidad Nacional del Sur. Her main
area of clinical expertise are patients with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, especially Shiga-toxin producing
E. coli Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome and Congenital Anomalies of the Kidney and Urinary Tract.

Todd Callaway

Dr. Todd Callaway is an Associate Professor in ruminant microbiology and nutrition in the Department of Animal and Dairy Science at the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked in the USDA-Agricultural Research Service with a mission to reduce foodborne pathogenic bacteria and antimicrobial resistant bacterial carriage in food animals on the farm. Dr. Callaway is Editor in Chief for Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, and has served as an expert panelist for USDA, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization, and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). His research focuses on the gut microbiota in nutrition of cattle, and how the cattle gastrointestinal tract can impact food safety, animal health, and production efficiency.

Heather Carleton

Dr. Heather Carleton, MPH, PhD is the chief of the Enteric Diseases Laboratory Branch in the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Carleton joined the CDC in 2012 as a microbiologist and led the development of whole genome sequence-based analysis tools for the transition of the foodborne molecular surveillance network, PulseNet, from pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) to whole genome sequencing (WGS). Her group also leads the development of novel WGS analysis tools and metagenomics approaches of enteric pathogens.

Linda Chui

Dr. Linda Chui is a professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and her research focus is on the detection and characterization of enteric bacteria and food safety. She leads the enteric bacteria, foods and bacteria typing programs at the Alberta Precision Laboratory: Alberta Public Health Laboratory (ProvLab). Under her leadership, ProvLab became the first Canadian provincial public health laboratory to be certified by PulseNet CDC in 1999. Dr. Chui has been acting as the executive co-chair of PulseNet Canada since 2002, and also serves on many provincial, national, and international committees. She was one of the founding members of the National Molecular Diagnostic User Group (NMDUG) established in 2006. The NMDUG provides support to laboratories that perform molecular diagnostic tests, helps set guidelines and standards, and acts as a channel of communication between all the members across Canada. Dr. Chui is the team lead of an initiative that established a centralized, secure web-based system for tracking and managing all outbreaks in Alberta. She was the recipient of the Gold Medal of the Premier award by the Government of Alberta. She was awarded the team award for the President’s Excellence Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Innovation and Research. Dr. Chui was also recognized by FoodNet Canada for being a champion for promoting and protecting the health of Canadians. She has been involved in training medical residents, postdocs, graduate/summer students at the University of Alberta and was recognized and awarded for her excellence in teaching.

Stephen Freedman

Dr. Freedman is Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at the University of Calgary. He completed his residency at The Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto) and a pediatric emergency medicine fellowship at Children’s Memorial Hospital (Chicago). He obtained a Master’s of Science in Clinical Investigation at Northwestern University (Chicago). He is the Past-Chair of Pediatric Emergency Research Canada and currently serves as the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Professor in Child Health and Wellness and the Associate Dean, Clinical Trials, University of Calgary.

His research focuses on applying clinical research to improve outcomes in children seeking emergency department care. His focus is on the use of innovative, multidisciplinary approaches to solve complex problems. He has published over 220 peer-reviewed manuscripts and is the principal investigator on numerous multicentre clinical trials with funding support from CIHR and the NIH. Most recently, he received CIHR funding to lead several multi-national pediatric COVID-19 studies and joint NIH-CIHR funding to evaluate an intervention to prevent progression of disease in children infected with Shiga toxin producing E. coli.

Nicola Holden

Nicola Holden is a molecular bacteriologist, focusing on how bacteria adapt to environmental hosts and habitats. Her PhD (Univ. Edinburgh) examined how Salmonella enterica adapted to growth temperatures below the minimum growth threshold, before moving on to postdoctoral projects on uropathogenic E. coli and then STEC with David Gally (Edinburgh). She took up an independent position at the James Hutton institute (2007) to work on the same foodborne pathogens but switched to the plant kingdom, for associations with crop plants. There she focused on STEC O157:H7, which like many of the other members of the Enterobacteriaceae in the wider environment, has the functional capacity as a mesophile with a broad metabolic repertoire to easily adapt to a range of environmental conditions. Work on the molecular basis to the plant-microbe interactions uncovered how the bacteria adhere to plant tissue, which metabolic pathways are activated, and the response to different plant species, grown in different ways. This information has informed on transmission pathways and risk. She moved to Scotland’s Rural College as Professor of Food Safety (2020) to continue this work but in the context of the agri-food production microbial community, and has taken on a more strategic role and lead the Safe & Improved Food challenge centre.

Claire Jenkins

Dr. Claire Jenkins is head of E. coli, Shigella,Yersinia & Vibrio Reference Services Deputy Head Gastrointestinal Bacteria Reference Unit, Public Health England

Mohamed Karmali

Mohamed Karmali graduated in Medicine from the University of Glasgow in 1972 and went on to specialise in Internal Medicine and Medical Microbiology at the Universities of Glasgow and Toronto. Formerly Head of Microbiology at Toronto’s Sickkids Hospital (1989-1998), and Director-General of the Laboratory for Foodborne Zoonoses, Public Health Agency of Canada (1999-2016), he now enjoys retirement and occasional consulting work. In the 1980s Karmali led a team at, Sickkids Hospital, which implicated multiple serotypes of Verotoxin (VT)-producing E. coli (VTEC) in the aetiology of the haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and provided evidence that VT was directly involved in its pathogenesis. He continued to make many diverse contributions in this area of research throughout his career. He organized the first International VTEC symposium in Toronto in 1987 and served as Chair and subsequently member of the International VTEC Symposium Steering Committee.

Diana Karpman

Diana Karpman is professor of pediatrics at Lund University, Sweden. She obtained her MD at Sackler School of Medicine and her PhD at Lund University. She combines clinical duties in the field of pediatric nephrology with research and teaching. Her research focusses on novel molecular mechanisms of, and treatment options, for kidney diseases, particularly STEC-HUS, utilizing laboratory in vivo and in vitro models and patient samples. Dr. Karpman is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Swedish Research Council’s Scientific Council for Medicine and Health and a Wallenberg Clinical Scholar. She heads the Skåne Center of Excellence in Health.

John Leong

Dr. Leong is Trilling Professor and Chair, Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine. The major focus of his laboratory is the interaction of bacterial pathogens with host cells. He has investigated the ability of enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) to alter the mammalian cytoskeleton upon colonization of intestinal epithelial cells. He was involved in the generation of a mouse model for EHEC infection utilizing a Shiga toxin-producing version of Citrobacter rodentium, a natural murine pathogen that colonizes the intestine in a manner highly similar to EHEC. This model provides an outstanding experimental system to investigate the pathogenesis of EHEC infection and disease. He is currently collaborating with Drs. Cheleste Thorpe and Priya Kailasan Vanaja to investigate mechanisms of Shiga toxin delivery to and intoxication of host cells. Dr. Leong has served on numerous NIH review panels, as a divisional chair of the American Society for Microbiology and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Andres Matuseek

Head of Division, Professor Division of Laboratory Medicine

Oslo University Hospital

Maite Muniesa

Dr. Muniesa’s interests are focused on bacteriophages and their role as mobile genetic elements. She has

studied Shiga toxin phages, phages encoding antibiotic resistance genes and the ecology of phages in
different biomes, including the human body. She has developed projects based on the relationship
bacteriophages/bacterial hosts, the application of bacteriophages infecting enteric bacteria and Bacteroides
as indicator microorganisms for the fecal pollution and recently, the use of bacteriophages as biocontrol
agents against plant pathogens and the diversity of bacteriophages in different viromes. Dr. Muniesa has
coordinated several research projects and contracts and published more than 150 manuscripts in
international peer-reviewed journals and specialized books.
She has been granted by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Comptes de Barcelona
Foundation and was a Ramon y Cajal researcher from the Spanish Ministry. Dr. Muniesa has been recalled as
an expert in water pollution by the UN in Cyprus and in antibiotic resistance in the environment by the FAO.
She is scientific advisor and project evaluator of different international agencies in USA, South America and

She is currently Head of the Microbiology section and senior member of the MARS group (Health

related water Microbiology) in the University of Barcelona, she belongs to the International Water
Association, FEMS, Spanish Society of Microbiology, Spanish Society of Virology, International Society for
Viruses of Microorganisms, and Spanish Bacteriophage network FAGOMA.

Nick O’Boyle

My research involves the study of molecular mechanisms underpinning the pathogenesis of several bacterial pathogens. In particular, I am interested in how the sensing of environmental cues at the host-pathogen interface is integrated to allow the co-ordinated regulation of virulence factors. The pathogenic E. coli comprise a diverse group of pathogens, some of which are restricted to their native environment within the gut, while others exhibit niche flexibility, being capable of colonising and causing disease at extraintestinal sites. My postdoctoral work at the University of Glasgow (United Kingdom) involved a deep investigation into the differential responses of distinct E. coli pathotypes to niche-specific environmental signals, with particular emphasis on the D-amino acid D-serine. I recently moved to University College Cork (Ireland) to establish my independent research programme where I hope to explore these relationships further and ultimately develop novel therapeutic interventions for the treatment of clinically important infectious diseases.

Libby Onyeka

Dr Libby Onyeka is a lecturer at the Department of Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Nigeria, where she teaches undergraduate courses on zoonosis and environmental health; as well as veterinary epidemiology and biostatistics.

With strong research interest in epidemiology of transboundary animal diseases, including those caused by zoonotic food borne bacterial pathogens, at the animal/human/environment interface. Her current research focus includes molecular characterization of diversity in the STEC population associated with beef value chain, and mapping of Lassa fever and African swine fever hotspots in Nigeria.
She recently obtained her PhD in Veterinary Epidemiology from University of Pretoria, South Africa where she worked on the “Prevalence, Risk Factors and Molecular Characteristics of O157 and Non-O157 Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia Coli (STEC) In Beef Production, Beef and Beef Products”. Using STEC as a model, the study applied the ‘farm to fork’ approach, to provide relevant epidemiological data as a proactive strategy for the purpose of improving biosecurity and reducing impending outbreaks. She has produced several high-quality publications from her doctoral research.
Dr Onyeka is a member of several national and international professional bodies.

Vanessa Sperandio

Vanessa Sperandio is the Chair of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was the Jane and Bud Smith Distinguished Chair in Medicine, and a Professor in the departments of Microbiology and Biochemistry at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She got her bachelors in biology, and her masters and PhD in Molecular Genetics in the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Brazil. She was a Latin American Pew Fellow in Biomedical Sciences (1997), an Ellison Foundation New Scholar (2004), a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases (2006), and a National Academy Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow (since 2007). She is the recipient of the ASM 2015 Eli Lilly and Company-Elanco Research award, and a winner of the 2014 GSK Discovery Fast-track challenge. In 2013 she was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM), and in 2022 she was elected Chair-Elect of the AAM. She was elected as an American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) fellow in 2022. Her research investigates chemical, stress and nutritional signaling at the interface amongst the mammalian host, beneficial microbiota and invading bacterial pathogens. The main tenant of research in her laboratory is the study of how bacterial cells sense several mammalian hormones leading to rewiring and reprogramming of bacterial transcription towards host and niche adaptation. She has also identified several bacterial receptors to mammalian hormones, and reported that invading pathogens hijack these inter-kingdom signaling systems to promote virulence expression. She also translated these basic science concepts into strategies to develop novel approaches to anti-microbial therapy.

Ana Umpiérrez

Research Scientist, Department of Microbiology, Instituto de Investigaciones Biológicas Clemente Estable, Montevideo, Uruguay.

Ana obtained her B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Biological Sciences at Universidad de la República in Uruguay. She is a member of the postgraduate program PEDECIBA-Biología of the Faculty of Sciences and the postgraduate program of the Faculty of Veterinary, both from Universidad de la República. She is also a member of the National System of Researchers in Uruguay. Her research focuses on the study
of Escherichia coli, including Shiga-toxin producing E. coli, from bovine and environmental origin. Her current work is focused on the genomic and phenotypic characterization of STEC from diverse origins, including human, bovine, meat-procesed food and environmental strains that circulate in Uruguay.

Yanwen Xiong

Dr. Xiong is a professor at National Institute for Communicable Disease Control and Prevention, China CDC Surveillance and control strategies on diarrheagenic Escherichia coli in China. His research interest are Molecular epidemiology and pathogenesis of pathogenic Escherichia spp., especially Shiga toxin-producing E. coli and E. albertii

William (Bill) Marler

An accomplished attorney and national expert in food safety, William (Bill) Marler has become the most prominent foodborne illness lawyer in America and a major force in food policy in the U.S. and around the world. Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, has represented thousands of individuals in claims against food companies whose contaminated products have caused life-altering injury and even death.


Bill began litigating foodborne illness cases in 1993, when he represented Brianne Kiner, the most seriously injured survivor of the historic Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, in her landmark $15.6 million settlement with the company.  The 2011 book, Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak that Changed the Way Americans Eat, by best-selling author Jeff Benedict, chronicles the Jack in the Box outbreak and the rise of Bill Marler as a food safety attorney.


Bill Marler’s advocacy for a safer food supply includes petitioning the United States Department of Agriculture to better regulate pathogenic E. coli, working with nonprofit food safety and foodborne illness victims’ organizations, and helping spur the passage of the 2010-2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.  His work has led to invitations to address local, national, and international gatherings on food safety, including testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce.


At little or no cost to event organizers, Bill travels widely and frequently to speak to food industry groups, fair associations, and public health groups about the litigation of claims resulting from outbreaks of pathogenic bacteria and viruses and the issues surrounding it.  He gives frequent donations to industry groups for the promotion of improved food safety, and has established numerous collegiate science scholarships across the nation.


Bill graduated from the Seattle University School of Law in 1987, and in 1998 was the Law School’s “Lawyer in Residence.”  In 2011, he was given Seattle University’s Professional Achievement Award.

Maurizio Brigotti

Maurizio Brigotti is Associate Professor of General Pathology at the School of Medicine of the University of Bologna (Italy). He leads the Laboratory of Molecular Pathology of Bacterial Toxins in the Department of Experimental Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine (University of Bologna). His research focuses on the pathogenesis and prevention of HUS and, in particular, on the role of Shiga toxins, at the molecular and cellular level, in triggering HUS in STEC-infected patients. He has recently patented a drug useful in the prevention/treatment of HUS. He served as a member of the local organizing committee of the 10th International VTEC Symposium in Florence 1987 and as a member of the International VTEC Symposium Steering Committee.