Meet The Expert sessions

The Union World Conference will hold a series of Meet The Expert sessions, consisting of a short live talk followed by a discussion. These are included in the main conference programme. So far the following MTE sessions are confirmed:

Wednesday 21 October

09:45-10:45 CEST: TB vaccine for children

Presenter: Elisa Nemes (South Africa) and Mark Cotton (South Africa)

Elisa Nemes bio: Dr Nemes completed her PhD in HIV-specific T cell immunology in Italy and France. She then worked on paediatric immune responses to HIV and tuberculosis in Cameroon. She joined the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative in 2011, where she is involved in the scientific supervision of clinical trials of new tuberculosis vaccines, development of immunodiagnostics and basic immunological studies on adaptive and innate immunity to M. tuberculosis in HIV infected and uninfected children, adolescents and adults. Dr Nemes is centrally involved in collaborative projects aimed at defining immune correlates of protection from M. tuberculosis infection and tuberculosis disease.

Mark Cotton bio: Prof Cotton is Head of Division of Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Director of the Children’s Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Unit at Tygerberg Children’s Hospital, Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University. He completed a 3 year fellowship in paediatric infectious diseases at University of Colorado- Denver, and also conducted laboratory-based research on apoptosis in paediatric HIV under the supervision of Dr Terri Finkel at the National Jewish Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Immunology. On return to Tygerberg Academic Hospital, he completed a PhD on the role of apoptosis in paediatric HIV infection. He has been conducting a number of multicentre trials focusing on TB and HIV in children. He is a member of WHO technical task teams on HIV staging, ART and guidelines for Tuberculosis in children since 2004. He is a Specialist in Pediatric Infectious Diseases with extensive experience in managing HIV-infected children. He has been co-PI and investigator in a number of randomized clinical trials in children, both studies ART strategy and isoniazid prophylaxis and also ARV pharmacokinetics in HIV-infected children. The majority of studies are funded through the International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trial Group (IMPAACT). He is also the director of the Children’s Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Unit (clinical trial unit).

18:15-19:45 CEST: Using existing and emerging digital technology to enhance virtual, remote and supportive patient care and management during and beyond COVID-19

Presenters: Bruce V Thomas (United States), Kateryna Gamazina (Ukraine)

Re-Imagined, Person-Centered Care: The Future is Now. In high-burden regions across the world, health outcomes from treatable, curable, or preventable disease remain sub-optimal.  In addition, major gaps and delays exist at every step in the care cascade, and person-centered care is the exception and not the rule.  The good news – the desire to “re-imagine” TB, HIV, dengue, and other care is, thanks to COVID-19, higher than ever.  The even better news – across disease states and across every step in the patient journey, there are myriad existing/emerging, affordable, scalable, proven-effective digital health technologies that can enable such re-imagined, virtual, person-centered care.  Let’s talk about what has happened (including recent, real world experience from Ukraine), is happening, and needs to happen to make that vision reality.

Kateryna Gamazina bio: Dr. Kateryna Gamazina is an infection disease and public health specialist who for the past 15 years has served as PATH’s Country Leader in Ukraine. She is a Director of ASCENT project in Ukraine and previously was a Director for a Challenge TB/Ukraine project. Under her leadership, PATH has made significant progress in introducing and expanding TB control innovations in Ukraine. She has managed numerous social science and biomedical research studies. In addition, she regularly consults with other PATH country programs around the world on TB and HIV strategic planning and program implementation.

Bruce V Thomas bio: Bruce Thomas is the Founder & Managing Director of The Arcady Group. He is a visionary leader, a recognized expert in the fields of medication adherence, digital health technologies,  and innovation delivery and scale-up and a highly successful leader of, and adviser to, purpose-driven businesses. As both a consultant and grantee to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bruce (i) leads the  development, testing, and scale-up of new approaches to improve adherence and support differentiated care for TB and HIV patients in India, China, and Africa, (ii) assists in the scale-up of innovative approaches like the World Mosquito Program’s Wolbachia method to control dengue, zika, and other vector-borne diseases, and (iii) supports the work of the Gates Foundation-funded Medicines for All Institute in developing and scaling new manufacturing approaches and processes to reduce the cost of, and improve access to, essential global health treatments.  Bruce has also consulted to Novartis, UNITAID, USAID, and the Stop TB Partnership on matters relating to digital health technologies and their potential use in enhancing patient management and improving health outcomes.  Previously, as President of MWV Healthcare, a $7B global packaging company, he led the establishment of a proprietary manufacturing system and supply chain to bring generic pharmaceutical products to North America in ready-to-dispense, adherence-enhancing packaging in support of Walmart’s breakthrough $4 generic program.

Thursday 22 October

09:45-10:45 CEST: BCG protection against COVID-19

Presenter: Carolina Barillas-Mury (USA)

An epidemiological study was carried out to assess the global linkage between BCG vaccination and COVID-19 mortality. After mitigating multiple confounding factors, several significant associations between BCG vaccination and reduced COVID-19 deaths were observed. This study highlights the need for mechanistic studies behind the effect of BCG vaccination on COVID-19, and for clinical evaluation of the effectiveness of BCG vaccination of adults to confer protection from severe COVID-19.

Carolina Barillas-Mury bio: Dr. Barillas received her B.S. in biology from the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala in 1981, her M.D. from Universidad Francisco Marroquín de Guatemala in 1985, and her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Arizona in 1992. From 1992 to 1993, she did postdoctoral training at the University of Arizona. She then went to Harvard University in 1994 and the European Molecular Lab until 1998. She was an assistant professor in the department of microbiology, immunology, and pathology at Colorado State University from 1998 to 2003. She joined the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research in 2003 and became a senior investigator in 2010.

18:15-19:15 CEST: The external quality assessment of Cepheid GeneXpert® diagnostic assays

Presenters: Heidi Albert (South Africa), Patricia Hall (United States) and Tarak Shah (India)

GeneXpert networks pose unique challenges for quality assurance efforts from National TB Programs and reference laboratories (RLs), as they are expansive and flexible in their geography, number, patient population and test type. This session brings together three experts in international GeneXpert-based External Quality Assessment (EQA) with a range of experience from EQA guidance and tool development to national and multi-country program design, introduction and management. Participants will engage with experts to review what ‘EQA’ really means, learn what is practically needed to implement an EQA program and discuss challenges and opportunities associated with EQA programme administration in the era of COVID-19.

Tarak Shah bio: Dr. Tarak Shah is working as a Medical Officer with FIND to support access initiatives for TB diagnostics. He is supporting India’s National TB Program to scale up one of the largest external quality assurance (EQA) program for GeneXpert testing in the world. Besides EQA for molecular testing, he has lead several lab projects of FIND such as establishing TB Culture and DST laboratories, strengthening quality management systems (QMS) for TB Labs to achieve ISO 15189 accreditation, Laboratory Information Management System, e- learning tools, bio-safety and more. Besides TB, he has keen interest in Anti-Microbial Resistance and health systems strengthening.

Patricia Hall bio: Dr. Patricia Hall leads the TB and Clinical Monitoring Team (International Laboratory Branch) at US CDC, manages a WHO Supranational TB Reference Laboratory (Atlanta, GA USA) and serves as Vice Chair of the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Laboratory Initiative. She holds a PhD in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from Emory University and a Master of Science in Evolutionary Development. Patricia leverages 17 years of laboratory research and project management experience to oversee a GeneXpert-based proficiency testing program across 24 countries, development of quality assurance (QA) practical guidance and tools and review TB/HIV quality assurance performance in PEPFAR-supported countries.

Heidi Albert bio: Dr. Heidi Albert is Head of FIND South Africa and part of FIND’s Access team, supporting Ministries of Health to introduce and scale up new diagnostic tools. She holds a PhD in Pharmacy and Pharmacology from the University of Bath, UK, and a Masters in Public Health specializing in Health Economics from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.  She has 20 years’ experience in TB diagnostics development, implementation and quality improvement in low and middle income countries.  She served on the Global Laboratory Initiative (GLI) core group from 2014-2018, and has been a lead contributor to multiple global and national TB diagnostic guidelines and tools, including several focusing on quality assurance.  She currently leads work on data-driven diagnostic network optimization to inform national strategic planning and donor investment for TB, HIV and other diseases.

Friday 23 October

09:45-10:45 CEST: HIV and COVID-19

Presenter: Linda Gail-Bekker (South Africa)

Prof Linda-Gail Bekker is Deputy Director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre at the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town and Chief Research Officer of the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation. She is a physician scientist and infectious disease specialist. Her research interests include programmatic and action research around antiretroviral roll out and TB integration, prevention of HIV in women, youth and MSM. She has led numerous investigator-driven studies in HIV treatment, prevention and tuberculosis. She is a past president of the International AIDS Society and served as the International Co-Chair of the 9th IAS Conference and 22nd International AIDS Conference and will co-chair the Research 4 Prevention Conference to be held in January 2021.

09:45-10:45 CEST: Health and well-being post TB.

Presenter: Jeremiah Chakaya Muhwa (Kenya)

Successful outcome of tuberculosis (TB) care and treatment is currently based on cure (laboratory evidence of mycobacterial eradication from the site of disease) and or completion of drug treatment. For many people who suffer an episode of TB, successful treatment of TB means a return to good health with no symptoms, no limitation of activity and no long term psychological consequences. However a significant but variable proportion of people who experience an episode of TB, life is never the same with persistence of symptoms and progressive limitation of physical activity, which leads to inability to work and is thus impoverishing and with major consequences on quality of life.  This session will summarise the burden of post-TB chronic disease with an emphasis on the lung and discuss measures that may be undertaken to prevent, identify and provide care to those who suffer post chronic lung disease.

Dr. Jeremiah Chakaya bio: Dr. Jeremiah Chakaya hails from Kenya where he was born, educated and practices and teaches respiratory medicine. He graduated from the University of Nairobi with a basic degree in medicine and surgery (MBChB) in 1985 and a master’s degree in internal medicine (M.Med) in 1992. He then went on to study lung medicine at the National Lung and Heart Institute, University of London at the Royal Brompton Hospital and at the Kyorin University Hospital in Tokyo, Japan. Dr Chakaya worked as a TB and Lung disease researcher at the Centre for Respiratory Diseases Research and later served as the TB Program Manager at the Ministry of Health between 2003 and 2006. At the international level, Dr Chakaya has held several positions including, Vice Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Board, Chair of the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for TB (STAG-TB ) of the World Health Organization (WHO), Chair of the Global Fund’s Technical Review Panel (TRP) and President of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union). Dr Chakaya is a founder member of the Respiratory Society of Kenya (ReSoK) and has remained closely engaged with this organization.  He is a member of the Pan African Thoracic Society and serves in the executive committee of this organisation. In April 2020 he took up a position as Professor for Global Respiratory Health at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom. He teaches on a voluntary basis at the school of medicine, Kenyatta University, after many years of work with the Kenya Medical Research Institute.

18:15-19:15 CEST: Clinical management of COVID-19.

Presenter: Carlos del Rio (USA)

In this session the participants will hear about the current management of patients with COVID-19.

Carlos del Rio, M.D., is Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, and professor of global health and epidemiology at the Rollins School of Emory University.  He serves as the Executive Associate Dean of Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Health System, and is the co-director and principal investigator of the Emory Center for AIDS Research. Outside of Emory, Dr del Rio is the Foreign Secretary of the National Academy of Medicine, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of PEPFAR and member of UNAIDS Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee.  Dr. del Rio also works on emerging infections, epidemic and pandemics.  During the 2009 Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) he was a member of the WHO and CDC advisory teams and during the COVID-19 pandemic Dr. del Rio has been a leader locally and nationally, doing research, developing policies, writing scientific publications and making countess media appearances. Before joining Emory faculty in 1996, del Rio was executive director of CONAIDA, the agency of the Mexican government responsible for AIDS Policy.

18:15-19:15  CEST: Global epidemics and pandemics resulting from zoonotic diseases: the role of the World Organisation for Animal Health.

Presenter: Keith Hamilton (France)

Keith Hamilton is Head of the Preparedness and Resilience Department at the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). Keith is a veterinarian with a background in international health. At the OIE, he has worked on emergency management; pandemic preparedness; emerging infectious diseases; capacity of veterinary services; and on global strategies for biological threat reduction. From 2015-2017, he was recruited by Kansas State University (USA) College of Veterinary Medicine to establish an international programme. Prior to joining the OIE, he worked for the UK Government (2004-2007) advising on policies for exotic animal disease surveillance and control. Earlier experiences include mixed animal practice in the UK, Australia, and India, and in field disease surveillance and control programmes. He was educated at Liverpool University Veterinary School and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Saturday 24 October

09:45-10:45 CEST: Impact of COVID-19 on TB: what is happening in Europe? 

Presenter: Giovanni Battista Migliori (Italy)

The session will start with a brief overview of Prof. Migliori’s career focused on the events and the opportunities which directed it towards the fight against TB. Participants are encouraged to interact and pose questions relevant for their career development.

The second part of the session will be devoted to discuss TB and COVID in Europe. Specific questions will be posed, and participants will be invited to respond and discuss the main issues around the topic.

The preliminary results of an ongoing TB and COVID-19 study will be used to answer, by the extent possible, the questions posed and to open a window on future developments.

Prof. Migliori bio: Specialist in Respiratory Medicine and Medical Statistics, and Auditor of Quality Systems, with >30 years of work supporting National TB Programmes in all continents, he is Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for TB and Lung Diseases at Maugeri Foundation, Tradate, Italy, active in TB control, training and research. Hon. Prof. at the Queen Mary University, London, he has published >550 peer-review papers on TB and respiratory diseases (H-index 68; >18,000 citations) in different languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian), including the latest guidelines of WHO, ECDC and ATS/IDSA/ERS/CDC. He is currently Chief Editor of the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Section Editor of the European Respiratory Journal, and Associate Editor of Pulmonology and of the Jornal Brasileiro de Pneumologia. Former Secretary General of the ERS, President of The Union European Region and member of WHO STAG (the WHO technical advisory group), he is chair of the GTN (Global Tuberculosis Network).

09:45-10:45 CEST: COVID-19 links to smoking under tobacco industry interference

Presenters: Elif Dagli (Turkey), Mary Assunta (Australia)

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Thank you for joining us. See you in 2021.